World leaders call for new vision to reverse profound poverty

11:05, May 10, 2011      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (R) answers questions during a press conference after the opening ceremony of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey, May 9, 2011. The United Nations started conference on the least developed countries here on Monday. (Xinhua/Ma yan)

The UN chief and other world leaders gathered here on Monday for a conference, calling for a new vision to reverse the profound poverty in 48 poorest countries and trying to lay a firm foundation for their integration into the world economy.

Speaking at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "Instead of seeing LDCs as poor and weak, let us recognize these 48 countries as vast reservoirs of untapped potential."

Ban said that investing in these poor countries is an opportunity for all rather than charity, adding: "that will help to propel and sustain global economic recovery and stability."

"It provides a massive opportunity for South-South cooperation and investment. The world's rapidly emerging economies need both resources and markets. LDCs can provide both and are increasingly doing so," he added.

The 5-day conference is attended by about 10,000 representatives, including heads of state or government, ministers and specialists.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed developed nations Monday for their indifference to -- and responsibility for -- the conditions of the world's least developed countries.

"This conference aims to establish a vision on how the world will struggle against poverty and hunger. But I am sorry to say that the developed, rich countries have not shown satisfactory interest in this important conference."

He noted that those who were ignoring or neglecting such global concerns were being seriously unfair to both their countries' peoples and to all people in the world.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said in his speech Monday that developed former colonialist countries share responsibility for the underdevelopment of the world's least developed countries.

"For 400 years, most countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia have been left under the domination of slave traders and colonialists. Wealth and natural resources have been taken from these countries and people (have been left) in pain," Ahmadinejad said.

He noted that the LDCs had thus been denied the right to develop by an unfair and imbalanced international economic system.

President of United Nations General Assembly Joseph Deiss said: "Eradicating poverty and reducing vulnerability in the least developed countries is a duty that we have towards the millions of people living in those countries."

The first representative of a least developed country to speak this morning was Boni Yayi, President of Benin, who said that since the Brussels Conference in 1981, nations such as his had been at the center of the international community's concerns and the countries themselves had made strong efforts to record gains in governance, human development, health and other areas.

To accelerate progress, the Istanbul Conference must produce an ambitious, realistic action program that would generate concrete results.

He said that prominence should be given to productive investment and social promotion measures, urging "more imagination, more pragmatism" to enable least developed countries to diversify their exports, gain access to markets and enhance their infrastructure.

The Istanbul Conference should be a "watershed event," producing an outcome that ensured "renewed and robust global solidarity" to uplift least developed countries, asserted Jhala Nath Khanal, Prime Minister of Nepal and Chair of the Global Coordination Bureau of the Least Developed Countries.

A "new dawn of hope" required reform of global institutions, including the United Nations, to make them more effective in meeting the expectations of the most needy.

The UN chief spoke loudly for investment in the least developed countries: "Most LDCs are rich in resources. All have young and vibrant populations."

According to the United Nations, there are 48 least developed countries in the world today, compared to 25 in 1971. Only three countries so designated have managed to graduate from such a status over the past three decades: Botswana, Cape Verde and Maldives.

Source: Xinhua
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