Many of the issues to be discussed in the following days were highlighted at the opening session of civil society activities at the UN LDC 4 on May 8th. The Chair of the Civil Society Steering Group, Mr Arjun Karki, criticised the poor monitoring and implementation of the last Plan of Action which was concluded in Brussels, ten years ago. He mentioned that the biggest problems faced by the LDCs include the lack of good governance and widespread corruption, missing peace and security, deficient productive capacity and poor access to finance. However, he pointed to systemic structural deficiencies to explain why most LDCs remain extremely poor:
"Just three countries have graduated from LDC status. This shows the failure of the neoliberal paradigm", he said, calling for a paradigm shift.
An UNCTAD representative underlined that the LDCs need to create 2,2 million jobs per year just to accommodate the new entrants in the labour market. If LDCs fail to provide for them, and don’t take advantage of youth power, they will face exacerbated social problems. Other concerns raised in the opening session include food, climate and financial crises, limited progress in achieving the MDGs, using ODA for consumption instead of investment and limited technology transfers.
The UN Non Governmental Liaison Service (UN NGLS) presented the Istanbul Plan of Action and identified open issues:
- political declaration
- Quota Free Duty Free access, which is not yet decided
- and ODA, where LDCs asked for higher commitments.
The UN NGLS criticised the G20 for not including LDC countries in their composition, but also the incoherency of many of their decisions with wider UN goals.
The union representatives asked for employment to be at the centre of discussions and also raised the issues of poor regional integration, the climate change challenge, the exhausting competition faced by LDCs and other concerns on trade liberalisation, as well as the increasingly precarious and informal forms of employment.
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