Speech by TWN's Director at G77-UNDP Award Ceremony

The following is the full text of the speech by Martin Khor, Director, Third World Network, in accepting the Group of 77-UNDP Award for ECDC-TCDC (Economic and Technical Cooperation Among Developing Countries) for 1996, on 27 September 1996.

The Third World Network is very happy to receive this award today from the Group of 77 and the UNDP, for which we thank you very much.

This award to the TWN marks a milestone in the relationship between the states and governments of the developing countries, and the civil society organizations of the South, of which the TWN is a representative.

It also marks the growing recognition by the UN system of the important role of the NGOs.

For several years now, the TWN has attempted to mobilize some of the best talent and energies of the NGOs and experts of the South to support the delegations and policy makers of the G77 and China, in fora such as the UNCED, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the Social Summit, the Biodiversity Convention and the World Trade Organization.

My colleague, Mr Chakravarthi Raghavan, has also for the past 16 years, been producing the SUNS Bulletin daily, to provide news and analyses of various negotiations and developments in an effort to articulate and communicate the views of the developing countries.

In the countries of the South, our network of NGOs and experts are helping to bring the views and aspirations of communities to the attention of policy makers, so that there can be implementation of the principles and proposals of the UN Conferences and Conventions.

We believe that in this era of globalization and liberalization, it is imperative for civil society to work together with the governments in the South to defend and promote our collective interests, to better the lives of our communities and people.

I would like to inform your Excellencies about an initiative the Third World Network took earlier this month with the G77 countries in Geneva. The TWN organized a two-day Seminar on the "The WTO and Developing Countries" to examine a wide range of issues that are being debated in the preparation of the first WTO Ministerial Meeting this December.

The Seminar concluded that the developing countries are now very pre-occupied with reviewing and adjusting national policies to the Uruguay Round agreements and that at this stage, the WTO agenda should not be loaded with more and new issues such as trade and investment, labour standards and corruption.

In particular, the TWN and also the South Centre have prepared position papers urging G77 countries to be cautious about accepting moves by some industrial countries to introduce the issue of a multilateral investment agreement in the WTO. This agreement seeks to give rights to foreign corporations to entry and establishment in developing countries and to be given national treatment, or be treated like local firms. Many experts and countries believe that this controversial and vital issue should be debated in a more appropriate venue like UNCTAD.

Should any of the countries wish to obtain more details on the Seminar, TWN would be pleased to make this available.

On behalf of the Chairman of the TWN, Mr Mohammed Idris, and my colleagues including Chakravarthi Raghavan (Chief Editor of the SUNS), Vandana Shiva (India), Roberto Bissio (coordinator of our South America secretariat) and Charles Abugre and Yao Graham (coordinators of our Africa secretariat), I would like to express appreciation for your recognition of the small contribution that TWN has made in South-South cooperation.

This award will motivate us on to facilitate greater collaboration between the people and across the continents wherever the South exists. Thank you.




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