For UNCTAD Ministerial, NGOs Call For Development Focus, Not Trade Rules Enforcement 14/07/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Days before a major meeting of the governing body of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), over 100 non-governmental organisations worldwide are calling for the organisation to maintain its development role and not help implement international and regional trade rules. The 14th quadrennial ministerial Conference of UNCTAD is taking place from 17-22 July in Nairobi, Kenya. The theme for this 14th edition is “From decision to action: moving toward an inclusive and equitable global economic environment for trade and development.” A community leader in Kenya plants a tree The ministerial conference is the highest decision-making body of UNCTAD and sets UNCTAD’s mandate and work priorities for the next four years. The programme of the conference is here. A letter written by a network of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) called Our World Is Not for Sale, and endorsed by a large number of international, regional and national organisations, voiced concerns about UNCTAD becoming an “implementation mechanism for trade agreements concluded elsewhere.” “While a multilateral system of trade rules is preferable to a fragmented system, the rules must be fair and balanced, taking into account the various levels of development across the UN membership, rather than focused on trade liberalization or simply increasing trade flows,” the letter said. The group refers to a Pre-Conference negotiating text of 3 June. The text compiles the textual proposals put forward by various groups and individual delegations in connection with the first reading of the draft negotiating text for the quadrennial conference, according to the document, which also signals different contributions. The original “zero draft Pre-Conference negotiating text” from February 2016 is here [pdf]. In particular, the letter refers to an addition by the Group of 77 developing countries in paragraph 8 stating that UNCTAD should contribute to “promoting a more just, fair, and equitable global economic environment,” in particular through the implementation of the new UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The letter also supports the proposal by the G77 in paragraph 5.bis calling for special and differential treatment for developing countries. The G77 also proposed in paragraph 8 that UNCTAD should also support the strengthening of a development-oriented multilateral trading system which is universal, rules-based, predictable, more inclusive, open, non-discriminatory and equitable. “Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and SDT [special and differential treatment] are long-standing multilaterally-negotiated principles that recognize that developed and developing countries cannot be treated in the same manner because of their differing development and economic circumstances,” the NGOs said in the letter. On technology transfer, the letter says it “is essential to the enabling of sustainable development in developing countries and UNCTAD should continue to take a lead role in supporting these efforts by developing countries (Paras 48, 60 (l), 82 (dd)) rather than in enforcing intellectual property rules that benefit protectionist patent – and copyright – holders in developed countries (Para 60 (q)).” “We believe that the further UNCTAD moves toward seeing developing countries mainly as engines to increase trade – and thus deviating from its mission to support the use of trade for development, the more it risks redundancy and irrelevancy,” the letter concludes. As of 7 July, the letter had been endorsed by some 15 international steering groups, such as Public Services International and Third World Network Africa; 11 international and regional organisations, such as ActionAid International, and over 80 national organisations from developing and developed countries. Image Credits: UN Photo/Riccardo Gangale Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."For UNCTAD Ministerial, NGOs Call For Development Focus, Not Trade Rules Enforcement" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.