Section 3. Economic Issues



1.  The 41st Session of the General Assembly


(1)  Based on the report of the "Group of High-Level Intergovernmental Experts" on administrative and financial reform at the United Nations, the Second Committee, which concerns itself with economic issues, strove to rationalize the meetings both in quality and in quantity by cutting the number of meetings and meeting hours, concentrating on priority issues and reducing the number of resolutions submitted and adopted.

(2)  A resolution on external debt problems of developing countries was adopted by consensus. These were difficult problems outstanding, because the positions of developed and developing countries on these issues were poles apart. The 40th session of the General Assembly failed to adopt a resolution on them, and no agreement was worked out even at the resumed session in May 1986.

The resolution adopted at the 41st session confirmed the need for strengthening international cooperation to solve the debt problems and agreed on the elements that should be taken into account in addressing the problems of indebtedness of developing countries, such as effective pursuance of growth-oriented adjustment policies by indebted nations and the support for their efforts from developed countries, international financial institutions and commercial banks.

(3)  The United States submitted two draft resolutions on "Fight against locust and grasshopper infestation in Africa" and "Indigenous entrepreneurs in economic development," which were both adopted by consensus. The Soviet Union, as at the 40th session, introduced a draft resolution on " international economic security," succeeded in getting it adopted by voting with 21 more votes for it than in the previous session and 20 less votes against or abstentions.

(4)  It was decided to hold the seventh session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva from July 9 to 31, 1987, with appropriate adjustments of the dates and programs of work with the Economic and Social Council.

(5)  An "omnibus" resolution on special economic assistance to 14 countries was adopted, which was in contrast with 20 separate resolutions for the same purpose at the 40th session. The " omnibus" resolution was a product of efforts to rationalize the meetings by curtailing the number of resolutions.

(6)  Kiribati, Tuvalu and Mauritania were newly included in the list of the least less developed countries (LLDC), bringing the number of LLDC to 40.



2.  Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)


(1)  The second regular session of ECOSOC in July 1986 took up "interrelated of money, finance, debt, resource flows, trade and development" as a priority issue. But the council held little substantive discussion on the issue and decided to refer it to the 41st session of the General Assembly at the request of the Group of 77. On the second priority issue of "development of human resources," a resolution calling on the Secretary-General to prepare a report to the 42nd session of the General Assembly was adopted by consensus.

(2)  Representatives of many member countries focused on "interrelated issues" in their general statements, and, in reference to economic reconstruction and development in Africa, praised the results of the special session on Africa held in May 1986.

Other issues discussed at the Council included "Net transfer of resources from developing to developed countries," "international economic security," "confidence-building in international economic relations" and "protection against products harmful to health and the environment."

(3)  It was noteworthy that the United States was active in submitting several draft resolutions such as "The role of entrepreneurship in promoting economic development," "Internal evaluation and effective management of programmes of the U.N. system," "Inclusion of Israel to the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)."



3.  United Nations Support for Africa


(1)  The special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Critical Economic Situation in Africa held at the United Nations headquarters in New York from May 27 to June 1, 1986, and unanimously adopted the "United Nations Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development (1986-1990)." The "Programme of Action," while emphasizing the importance of self-help efforts by African countries and the need for their economic reforms and structural adjustments, confirmed international support for their endeavors. The well-balanced programme is rated high as a useful guideline for future development of Africa.

(2)  Many countries sent high-level delegations to the special session on Africa, including 33 cabinet ministers, such as U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and President Abdou Diouf of Senegal who concurrently was president of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Former Foreign Minister Saburo Okita led the Japanese delegation. It was the first time in the history of the United Nations that a special session of the General Assembly was held to discuss economic problems of a single region, which signified the strong interest of member states in support for Africa.

(3)  The "Office for Emergency Operations in Africa (OEOA)," which was established on January 1, 1985, was disbanded in October 1986, in view of the improvement in food supply in Africa from the initial crisis state.



4.  United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)


(1)  Japan places great importance on activities of ESCAP as the converging point of its policies toward the United Nations and in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan hosted annual sessions of ESCAP in Tokyo five times in the past, and has been extending active cooperation, both financial and personnel.

(2)  The 42nd session of ESCAP was held in Bangkok from April 2 to May 2, 1986, and Motoo Ogiso, former Ambassador to Thailand, led the Japanese delegation. Discussions at the session focused on "Human Resources Development in Asia and the Pacific," the main theme at both the 42nd and the 43rd sessions, and the "Transport and Communications Decade for Asia and the Pacific (1985-1994)," which started in 1985.

(3)  Other major ESCAP meetings held during fiscal 1986 included the Meeting of Trade Ministers, the Meeting of Ministers of Industry and Technology, the 13th session of the Committee on Natural Resources, the sixth session of the Committee on Development Planning and the 10th session of the Committee on the Shipping, Transport and Communications.



5.  United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)


(1)  Kenneth Dadzie of Ghana was appointed as Secretary-General of UNCTAD in January 1986, and a full-scale preparatory work for the seventh session of UNCTAD started under his leadership.

(2)  The Trade and Development Board (TDB) at its 33rd session in the autumn of 1986 decided to hold the seventh session of UNCTAD for about three weeks in Geneva in July 1987. The Board also decided to narrow down the agenda to four major issues-resources for development (of developing countries), commodities, international trade and the least less developed countries.

(3)  On development financing and debts, developing countries again raised the issue of net negative transfer of resources (1) at the Committee on Invisibles and Financing related to Trade, as they did at the preceding sessions of the Economic and Social Council and the United Nations General Assembly, an indication of the seriousness of financing problems in developing countries.

(4)  Concerning commodities, negotiations to revise the International Cocoa Agreement and the International Natural Rubber Agreement, both with clauses related to buffer stocks, were concluded in July 1986 and March 1987, respectively, after difficult talks affected by the financial debacle of the International Tin Council (ITC) in October 1985. Efforts were made toward the establishment of study groups on nickel copper and some other commodities. UNCTAD continued its work on the improvement of processing, marketing and distribution of commodities and the proposed establishment of an additional facility to compensate for shortfalls in commodity export earnings,(2) but no progress was made due to the difference of opinions between developed and developing countries.

(5)  On trade issues, developing countries at the 32nd session of TDB in March 1986 submitted a draft resolution which was likely to prejudice the forthcoming new round of multilateral trade negotiations. But no substantive discussions took place at that session, as developed countries were united in asserting that the work of setting rules for international trade should be left to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and there was lack of unity among developing countries.



6.  United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


The 33rd session of the Governing Council was held in Geneva in June 1986.

The meeting discussed "human resources development" proposed by Japan at the previous session of the Governing Council, which led to a deeper understanding of the importance of "human resources development" in promoting development of developing countries, and adopted decisions on the role of UNDP in this area and other matters. The Geneva session also reviewed country programmes of as many as 44 countries in the Committee of the Whole ahead of the start of UNDP's Fourth Programming Cycle (1987-1991).

It was also decided the next meeting of the Governing Council would discuss policy matters in general centering on a report of the UNDP Administrator.



7.  United Nations World Food Council (WFC)


Twelfth Ministerial session of the World Food Council was held in Rome in June 1986. At the meeting they mainly discussed Africa's transition to food-centered development and possible solutions of instability in international food trade, and confirmed the need to further improve related policies in the future.


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(Notes) 1. An argument that a net flow of resources from developing to developed countries and international financial institutions is larger than the opposite flow.

         2. A proposal to upgrade a system for compensating for export earning decline of commodity-exporting countries with loans.