Crisis in Africa Dominates Work of Economic and Social Council at Second 1985 Session
Crisis in Africa dominates work of Economic and Social Council at second 1985 session
Measures to continue to alleviate the critical economic situation in Africa through both international and regional co-operation were recommended at the July session of the Economic and Social Council.
"We cannot fail in our duty to assist African governments in their efforts to save their population from famine, starvation and even death", Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar told the Council in a message read on his behalf by Jean Ripert, Director-General for Development and International Economic Co-operation.
"We should not lose sight, however, of the ultimate objective, which is the long-term well-being of all Africans. The task of improving Africa's economic performance and of building a better future for Africans will be a long-term process."
In a wide-ranging text approved unanimously (resolution 1985/80), the Council strongly urged the international community to "intensify its efforts" to increase substantially the flow of resources--particularly of a concessional character--to Africa, and to address in a comprehensive manner the critical problem arising from "negative ro insufficient flows of resources" due to the heavy debt burden and depressed commodity export earnings of African countries.
Donor countries in particular were asked to support African regional and subregional institutions engaged in implementing economic recovery programmes and economic self-reliance for their member countries.
The Council recognized "the urgent need to support the rehabilitation and development" of the industrial, manufacturing, transport and communications sectors, improved scientific and technological capabilities, health services and human resource development--all "crucial for a sustained and integrated process of development of African countries".
The international community, while continuing to address the African emergency, should also support medium- and longer-term development actions "without which no lasting solutions to the emergency situation can be found", the Council stated.
The Secretary-General was asked (decision 1985/199) to submit proposals in 1986 on the international year for the mobilization of financial and technological resources to increase food and agriculture in Africa. The General Assembly has suggested such a year might be observed in 1991.
The Council also acted on the role of African women in development, aid to least developed countries, and problems of the continent related to industrialization, migrant workers, and transport and communications.
Resolutions on questions related to southern Africa and the Middle East, in particular aid to Palestinians in occupied territories, were also adopted at the Council's second regular session for the year, held in Geneva from 3 to 27 July.
A total of 77 texts were approved on a wide range of economic and social topics, including water, minerals, food and narcotic drugs. International economic and social policy and cooperation and co-ordination within the United Nations system were also among issues considered.
Statements: Council President Tomohiko Kobayashi (Japan), in an opening statement on 3 July, warned that the Council must do everything possible to avoid the obstacle of the "politicization" of its debates. The Council was meeting in a political climate slightly better than that of last year, one that justified a little more hope, but which required redoubled efforts for increased and better co-ordinated economic and technical co-operation to deal effectively with problems of the world economy, particularly economies of many developing countries. "Politicization" of the discussion of essentially economic problems in a forum designed to consider those problems entailed the risk that members would look elsewhere for opportunities to discuss them seriously.
Shuaib Uthman Yolah, Under-Secretary-General, Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, told the Council that a fresh approach was needed to restore a consensus for economic and social development which had prevailed for most of the 40 years of the United Nations. It was not enough for each country to set its own house in order, particularly if that created new difficulties for other countries. There was clearly a need for a higher degree of macro-economic policy co-ordination, particularly by key industrialized countries.
At the opening of the African debate on 22 July, Jean Ripert, Director-General for Development and International Economic Co-operation, read a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General, stressing that a large proportion of the food aid needed up until the end of the year had been supplied, though serious transport and distribution problems remained in certain areas; second, African Governments, and the United Nations system had made every effort to ensure that emergency operations were carried out within the framework of longer-term needs; third, there was effective collaboration within the United Nations system; and finally, there had been progress, in the field, in the co-operation between United Nations organizations bilateral aid agencies and private voluntary organizations.
The Secretary-General also said that unless fundamental causes underlying Africa's economic and social crises were attacked through measures of structural transformatin, the African countries would be unable to free themselves from the plight of repeated emergencies. Priority action was needed with regard to food production and rural development. In a growing number of countries, efforts were needed to combat the spread of deserts.
Africa texts: The Council strongly urged (1985/63) the African least developed countries to prepare, with the assistance of the Economic Commission for AFrica (ECA), for the mid-term global review of the implementation of the Substantial New Programme of Action for the 1980s for the Least Developed Countries. Those countries were called on to increase agricultural production, especially of food. The international community was asked to provide them with technical and financial assistance for agricultural and rural development.
The Council requested (1985/67) Governments and international organizations to execute national programmes to integrate African women in development, taking into account the Arusha Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of African Women beyond the United Nations Decade for Women. States which had not yet done so were asked to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and States which had signed it were asked to ratify it and to ensure its application.
The United Nations Development Programme was asked (1985/62) to continue financial support to the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning.
The Executive Secretary of the ECA was called on (1985/65) to contact donor countries and financial institutions so as to promote the programme for the Transport and Communications Decade in Africa (1978-1988).
Efforts to implement the programme for the Industrial Development Decade for Africa (1980-1990) were also requested (1985/61).
The Executive Secretary of the ECA was asked (1985/64) to arrange for an in-depth study of the situation of African migrant workers in both receiving and sending countries.
With regard to the Europe-Africa permanent link through the Strait of Gibraltar, the Council noted (1985/70) studies on the subject and efforts made by Morocco and Spain as co-sponsors of the project, in co-operation with Governments of countries concerned, international organizations and research institutes of the western Mediterranean.
Southern Africa: The Council requested the organizations within the United Nations system to do everything possible "as a matter of urgency" to render increased assistance to Namibia. The Council also noted the "deteriorating situation" in South Africa, its acts of aggression and efforts to destabilize States in the region. United Nations organizations were asked to increase their assistance to the front-line and neighbouring States and to liberation movements. It adopted resolution 1985/59 by a vote of 39 to 1, with 9 abstentions.
The Council, in considering activities of transnational corporations (TNC) in southern AFrica, condemned the South African regime, its system of apartheid and its illegal occupation of Namibia. All TNCs were urged to terminate their investments in South Africa and to end collaboration with the racist regime. It welcomed as a positive first step the measures taken by certain home countries of TNCs to restrict further investments in South Africa and on bank loans to the racist regime. Resolution 1985/72 was adopted by 35 votes in favour to 2 against, with 8 abstentions.
Middle East: The Council also adopted several texts on Middle East questions, including one concerning Israeli economic practices in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. By decision 1985/177, approved by 49 votes in favour to 1 against, with no abstentions, the Council asked the Secretary-General to report on the financial and trade practices of the Israeli occupation authorities in the occupied territories, for submission in 1986 to the General Assembly.
the Council also drew the attention of the international community to the need to disburse aid to the occupied Palestinian territories only for a benefit of the Palestinian people, requesting the relevant programmes of the United Nations system to intensify efforts, in co-operation with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), to provide economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people. The text (1985/57) was adopted by a vote of 44 to 1, with no abstentions.
The Council, in resolution 1985/58, called for the urgent lifting of Israeli restrictions imposed on the economy of the occupied territories, asking those concerned to facilitate the establishment of a seaport and a citrus plant in the occupied Gaza Strip and a cement plant in the occupied West Bank (42 votes to 1, with 4 abstentions).
Member States and organizations within the United Nations system were also asked (1985/56) by the Council to mobilize assistance to Lebanon for its reconstruction and development.
Natural resources: Regarding natural resources, the Council, expressing concern over the African regional drought, asked (1985/49/A) the ECA to look into the development of water resources in drought-stricken countries of the region, with a view to formulating short-term and long-term frameworks for action at the national and international levels.
The Council asked the General Assembly to urge implementation of the goals of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1985/167). Governments were asked to strengthen national capabilities for policy formulation and for monitoring water supply and sanitation programmes; to implement national strategies to develop needs for skilled human resources; and to improve mobilization and utilization of national financial resources.
The Secretary-General was asked (1985/50) to continue activities related to the application of microcomputer technology in the assessment, development and planning of natural resources in such areas of development and dissemination of appropriate software technology.
the Council welcomed (1985/51) the efforts of the United Nations Revolving Fund for Natural Resources Exploration to promote preinvestment follow-up to its successful mineral discoveries in co-operation with recipient Governments.
Food: Stressing the need to keep food and agricultural issues at the centre of global attention, the Council decided (1985/196) to transmit to the Assembly in 1985 a draft resolution by which the Assembly would reaffirm that urgent action be taken to increase food production. Priority attention was needed at national, subregional and international levels for the timely delivery of food to those requiring assistance, especially in African countries. The international community should provide, as a matter of "extreme urgency", the logistic agricultural inputs and fulfill the unmet aid needs of the drought- and famine-affected African countries.
By the same text, the Assembly would urge the World Food Council to mobilize greater efforts to overcome hunger, to review and report on major problems, and to continue to serve as a co-ordinating mechanism in the field of food and other related policy matters within the United Nations system.
By a separate decision, the Council recommended (1985/73) that the General Assembly consider at its fortieth session the pledging target for contributions to the World Food Programme for the biennium 1987-1988. The pledging conference for contributions to the Programme is to be convened in early 1986.
Economic and social policy: On long-term trends in economic development, the Council recommended (1985/178) that the Assembly request the Secretary-General, when preparing the updated version of the overall socio-economic perspective, to focus on conclusions pertaining to possible domains, mechanisms and forms of international economic co-operation designed to facilitate structural adjustment within the world economy and bring closer a new international economic order.
It also asked (1985/179) the Secretary-General to submit the full report on the overall socio-economic perspective of the world economy to the year 2000 to the General Assembly at its fortieth session.
The Council also transmitted (1985/181) a draft resolution to the Assembly by which Member States would be urged to conduct in good faith negotiations initiated in recent years in the United Nations on international economic problems and to bring them to a successful end by reaching mutually acceptable and just solutions.
Other actions: The Council decided (1985/79) that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs should hold a special five-day session in 1986 to consider the scheduling of substances under the provisions of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, follow-up action to General Assembly resolutions, the 1985 report of the International Narcotics Control Board and other urgent matters.
The name of the Economic Commission for Western Asia was changed to the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (1985/69).
Convinced that ocean resources represent an important contribution to the development process, the Council asked the Secretary-General to pursue, in co-operation with United Nations organizations, activities relating to the economic and technical aspects of marine affairs and to report on new developments in this area to the Council at its second regular session of 1989 (1985/75).…
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Publication information: Article title: Crisis in Africa Dominates Work of Economic and Social Council at Second 1985 Session. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: UN Chronicle. Volume: 22. Publication date: July-August 1985. Page number: 17+. © 1998 United Nations Publications. COPYRIGHT 1985 Gale Group.
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