21 May 2009

OCTs Eligible for UN Summit on Economic Crisis

The United Nations is convening a three-day summit of world leaders from 1 to 3 June 2009 at its New York Headquarters to assess the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression. The aim is to identify emergency and long-term responses to mitigate the impact of the crisis, especially on vulnerable populations, and initiate a needed dialogue on the transformation of the international financial architecture, taking into account the needs and concerns of all Member States.

The United Nations summit of world leaders in June was mandated at the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development (ICFD), held in December 2008 in Doha, Qatar. Member States requested the General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann to organize the meeting “at the highest level”. The ICFD contained a provision for the participation of associate members of regional economic commissions at the 2008 Doha Conference, and in the original ICFD held in Monterrey, Mexico in 2002, in the capacity of observer. The June Summit has maintained that provision for the associate members.

As a matter of background, the utilisation of this category of participation for associate members of regional economic commissions in UN economic and social development conferences was first employed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Brasil, and was the creation of the Working Group of Non-Independent Caribbean Countries of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) through its subsidiary body of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC).

This category was later used to facilitate the direct participation of the associate Associate Member Countries (AMCs) of either ECLAC, or its counter part Economic Commission and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in most UN world conferences in the economic and social sphere since 1992. The level of participation of the Associate Member Countries (AMCs) has been mixed, however, given the insufficiency of available information to the governments of the AMCs.

These issues were analysed in a targeted 2004 study, and a broader follow-up analysis in 2007, carried out for ECLAC on the access of associate member countries to the UN world conferences, and to the programmes and activities of the United Nations system as a whole. These studies were carried out by Independent Governance Expert Dr. Carlyle Corbin, former Minister of State for External Affairs of the Virgin Islands Government, and founding chair of the ECLAC Working Group of Non-Independent Caribbean Countries - later changed to the Working Group of Associate Member Countries.

The 2004 study focused specifically on the inclusion of Associate Member Countries (AMCs) of the United Nations regional economic commissions in United Nations world conferences, and in United Nations special sessions and summits, in the economic and social sphere. The identification of issues of particular concern to these countries emanating from the outcome of these respective United Nations proceedings was an important phase of the research.

The 2007 analysis provided a comprehensive background of the longstanding mandate and legislative authority for the participation of AMCs in the wider United Nations system in furtherance of enhanced international organization participation of associate member and other non-independent countries. The study also formulated a comprehensive plan of action for the further integration of the AMCs in the United Nations process emanating from the findings. It was the first such comprehensive study of its kind aimed at the inclusion of the non-independent countries in the UN system. Efforts are underway to update the two studies and to design modalities to disseminate the information to the AMCs.

These studies are available on the website of the Subregional Headquarters of ECLAC at: http://www.eclac.cl/portofspain/default.asp?idioma=IN

According to Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, President of the 63rd Session of the General Assembly, "the UN Summit on the economic crisis in June will provide the international community with "an historic opportunity — and a collective responsibility — to bring new stability and sustainability to the international economic financial order."

The Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), most of which are associate members of either ECLAC or ESCAP, have an important opportunity to benefit from the international deliberations at the Summit given the impact of the crisis on their respective economies. They should actively participate in the proceedings at the highest level.

Further information on the Summit is available on the UN website at: http://www.un.org/ga/econcrisissummit/.

Eligible Associate Members to the UN Conference

American Samoa
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
French Polynesia
Netherlands Antilles
New Caledonia
Puerto Rico
Turks and Caicos Islands
US Virgin Islands