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Doha Mandate adopted at UNCTAD XIII

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The “Doha Mandate” has been adopted after intense all-night deliberations that concluded the thirteenth Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII) in Doha, Qatar April 26, 2012.

According to a press release issued by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Mandate sets out agreed conclusions on policy analysis and the role of UNCTAD on the overall theme of the Meeting — “Development-centred globalization:  towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development”, covering key priorities considered over the past week.

They included enhancing and enabling the economic environment to support inclusive development; strengthening all forms of cooperation and partnership for trade and development; addressing persistent and emerging development challenges and their implications for trade and development; and promoting trade, investment, entrepreneurship and related investment policies to foster economic growth and sustainable development.

Accompanying the Mandate, the ECA said was a political declaration known as the “Doha Manar”, referring to the Arabic term for beacon. The Manar recognizes the significance of the revolutionary protests occurring over the past year and notes that the winds of change blowing in many parts of the world today “attest to the desire of populations for responsive policies that foster participatory and inclusive approaches to development towards achieving prosperity for all.”

In addition, it recognizes “the need to make our common economic life more conducive to progressive structural change, more productive of inclusive and sustainable growth and development and more effective in fostering broad-based inclusion in a new and more robust social contract.”

“Development-centred globalization sets the stage for inclusive growth and development and contributes towards reducing poverty and creating jobs,” the Mandate states, and adds that development strategies should be inclusive and designed to meet human needs.

With regard to the role of UNCTAD, which has been a point of contention among member states in the past week, the ECA indicated it was agreed that it should contribute to global efforts to transition towards a green economy; continue to monitor and assess the evolution of the international trading system and its trends from a development perspective; and continue to support the specific needs of least developed countries, small island developing States, middle-income countries and those with economies in transition.

The representative of Zimbabwe, speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, said:  “The road to Doha was long and at times strewn with challenges; Nonetheless, consensus had been reached.” He added: “Of course, we could have done more, but such is the nature of the give-and-take process.”

The conference, held from April 21-26, was the first major United Nations ministerial gathering focused on trade and development since the 2008-2009 economic and financial crisis.

By Ekow Quandzie

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