Africa: NGO UNCTAD Statement, 6/26/96

Africa: NGO UNCTAD Statement, 6/26/96

Africa: NGO UNCTAD Statement
Date Distributed (ymd): 960626

Last year South Africa accepted the four year presidency of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and agreed to host its IX international meeting. The conference was held in Midrand, South Africa from 27 April-10 May 1996. A parallel NGO conference was held immediately preceding the official conference.

[Note: The following is excerpted from the full statement, which is available by e-mail from the Institute for African Alternatives (]


Market Doesn't Replace Need for Development Cooperation

(This declaration was prepared by the parallel NGO Conference to UNCTAD IX, held from 24-28 April 1996, in Midrand, South Africa. The list of African organizations and individual participants is attached below)


This declaration emerges from the discussions amongst African NGOs, labour, religious and other civil society organisations who came together in a parallel conference prior to UNCTAD IX. ...

We share a common vision of a world which recognises its essential interdependence while embracing human diversity in all its forms; where justice and equity for all peoples is the first priority, and in which principles of democracy and popular participation are universally upheld so that the creation of a peaceful, cooperative and sustainable future is secured.

The current system of globalisation and liberalisation has had devastating effects upon African economies. Our countries have been pushed backwards into increasing debt, de-industrialisation, agricultural decline, environmental degradation, poverty and deepening inequality. Those worse affected, such as children, youth and women, are already at the margins of society. Financial and physical resources continue to be drained out of Africa. Its marginalisation is both a product of an inequitable international system and of factors internal to African economies and polities.

We oppose a system which places growth above all other goals, including human well-being, and which undermines national economic development and social security. We see that this system creates incentives for capital to externalise its social and environmental costs. It over-exploits and destroys the natural environment and encourages the unsustainable use of resources. It turns social services into commodities out of reach of the poor, generates jobless growth, derogates the rights of workers and undermines trade union and other democratic rights.

This global system has resulted in an ever greater concentration of power and control over resources into the hands of a relatively few transnational corporations and financial institutions. This process has exacerbated inequalities within and between countries, actively encouraged competition for investment and financial resources, and discouraged regional cooperation and integration amongst African countries. However, we affirm that globalisation and liberalisation are not irresistible processes but are the product of human agencies and can therefore be influenced and changed.

With respect to UNCTAD itself, we are concerned that it has largely taken on board the 'realities' of the liberalising globalised world order, although it does adopt a more holistic and questioning approach and raises issues of particular concern to the developing world. We are concerned at the relative inaccessibility of UNCTAD to the voices of non-governmental organisations and social movement representatives. Nonetheless, we believe that UNCTAD can play a useful role as a monitoring, research and policy development organisation and as a capacity building and technical support institution to governments and non-governmental forces in Africa. ...


... African countries have for many years already been subject to such liberalisation processes through the imposition of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs). The neo-liberal economic paradigm makes our governments unresponsive to our basic economic and social needs, forces open our economies to the advantage of external traders and investors and makes African countries ever more dependent upon the richer industrialised countries and their transnational corporations. Our countries are being recolonised, and the responsibility of our governments to us is being replaced by their responsiveness to the needs and interests of TNCs and their home governments.

In this context we make the following key recommendations:

1.1 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must heed the calls from their non-governmental organisations and social movements to resist the imposition of SAPs and other liberalisation programmes. These are damaging to people and economies and to governments' own policy independence and relevance.

1.2 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must be transparent in their dealings with the Bretton Woods Institutions and other external agencies and, by providing full information and resources to their own people, enable us to be more effective players and active partners in the struggles against liberalisation programmes.

1.3 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must take responsibility for their own actions and not use the pretext of their obligations to external agencies and international forces as excuses for their own faults and their failures to respond to the democratic demands and development needs of their own people.

1.4 UNCTAD as a research and capacity building organisation focused particularly upon the needs of less/least developed countries must support the right, and provide the technical and policy backup for governmental and non-governmental organisations and social movements in Africa, to pursue development programmes that are relevant to their visions and needs. ...


The attraction of foreign investment through the creation of 'conducive conditions' are presumed - including by UNCTAD - to be the essential pre-condition for economic development worldwide. ...

Our experience of foreign investment in Africa is that it is minuscule in scale, concentrated in the extractive sectors, and while it has limited positive linkages into our economies it has many negative economic, social and environmental effects. The purported necessity to attract foreign investment is utilised by financial institutions and foreign governments as an instrument to impose their policies upon our governments. In the same way debt obligations are deliberately maintained by creditors - particularly the Bretton Woods Institutions - on account of the policy leverage it gives them over governments and countries under debt management programmes.

In this context we make the following key recommendations:

2.1 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must resist such dependence upon foreign investment by mobilising all possible internal financial sources and development resources, including community, cooperative, and national public and private enterprise. Furthermore, governments must play direct social and economic development roles on more democratic, participatory and accountable bases than hitherto.

2.2 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS should have recourse to Official Development Assistance (ODA) while they work towards mobilising alternative resources. Such ODA should be allocated through transparent consultative processes and utilised in appropriate and accountable ways.

2.3 AFRICAN COUNTRIES must insist on the cancellation of external debts that cannot be repaid in order to enable the mobilisation of internal resources for investment. Any further external borrowing must be subject to clearly defined development aims and transparent democratic consultations and controls.

2.4 UNCTAD should conduct objective analyses of, and monitor, the operations of transnational corporations (TNCs) around the world, especially their effects on local communities, national economies and the environment. ...

2.5 UNCTAD should continue its work on monitoring the nature and effects of the astronomical and volatile speculative international financial flows promoted by financial deregulation and liberalisation. It should produce effective proposals for regulatory controls upon such dangerous financial forces.


The new multilateral rules-based trade regime that emerged out of the Uruguay Round of GATT has removed theoretically the unilateralist threats and pressures by strong countries that have long featured in international trade relations. However, neither in its creation, nor in its content and application is the new world trade regime, under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), an equitable or impartial system. ...

In this context we make the following key proposals:

3.1 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must adopt joint negotiating positions in the forthcoming meeting of the WTO in Singapore at the end of this year in order to expose and oppose the limitations that Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) will impose upon national investment strategies. They must also resist the inclusion within the WTO of the proposed Multilateral Investment Agreement (MIA). This would remove any governmental regulatory controls, open up African countries to foreign investors completely, and destroy local enterprises and farms.

3.2 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must similarly oppose the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) which is forcing countries to open up their service sectors to transnational corporations. At the same time, Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) are imposing further financial and legal restrictions on access to technology, with the danger of the further appropriation by private enterprise of the world's resources and human knowledge.

3.3. While powerful governments are creating conditions for the rapid opening up of the markets of developing countries, AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must struggle together for the right to formulate and utilise appropriate trade and development strategies for their countries. This includes targeted and transitional tariff policies and other instruments in the interests of their economies and peoples.

3.4 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must resist trade arrangements which result in the continent being used as a dumping ground for dirty industries and hazardous materials. ...


Harmonisation, coordination and cooperation in technical, economic, environmental, social and political spheres is essential in an increasingly integrated and interdependent world. Such cooperation is particularly important for African countries. It is the essential basis for them to combine their resources and form larger markets, and achieve economies of scale in investment and production. This would enable them to create appropriate forms of self-sustaining development, as well as participate more effectively - to the degree and in the directions that they judge necessary - in a highly competitive world economy. ...

In Africa we see our governments paying mere lip service to the aims of regional and continental integration. While signing formal cooperation and integration agreements they continue to have recourse to unilateral rather than multilateral strategies and pursue policies that create competition rather than cooperation between potential development partners.

In this context we make the following key proposals:

4.1 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must resist the impetus toward 'solo' integration into a hostile global economy that is being promoted by SAPs and other unilateral liberalisation programmes.

4.2 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must enter into serious multilateral negotiations with fellow members of formal regional agreements and turn these into real processes of cooperation and integration; while at the same time recognising and supporting multifaceted and informal processes of cross-border trade and other forms of bottom-up cooperation and integration.

4.3 AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS must make the entire process of regional cooperation and integration more transparent and democratic. It is only on the basis of direct popular participation, and as a people- driven process, that regional integration will be real, sustainable and secure, and where the rich diversity of peoples' cultures will be respected and built upon.

4.4 UNCTAD must support regional integration amongst LDCs by all means, including the defence, extension and utilisation of the 'special and differential' provisions inserted into the Uruguay Round as a gesture towards the particular difficulties of LDCs. Fragile as these concessions are, the allowances for negotiated multilateral preferential and free trade agreements amongst LDCs must be upheld and implemented. ...


We must develop our own capacities to analyse and understand the implications of globalisation and liberalisation. In this respect, NGOs must prioritise capacity building, as well as lobbying governments and international agencies, such as UNCTAD, toward the creation of an enabling environment for this. ...

Therefore we recommend that:

5.1 NGOs demand from our governments, UNCTAD and other international organisations full information and participation in the decision-making processes on all agreements and processes relating to questions of international trade and development.

5.2 NGOs utilise such sources, together with our own independent research and experiences, to develop effective input into national, regional, and international debates and negotiations on these issues. ...

5.5 NGOs must create effective and mutually supportive alliances with counterpart organisations and networks in other countries of the South and the North on the basis of our shared problems, our concern for our planet and our common humanity.

Parallel NGO Conference to UNCTAD IX: African Organizations and Delegates

African International Trade Centre, South Africa (Mamadou Malick Bal, Juan Kirsten, Nalig Matatla, Christina Moabelo)**Akanani Rural Development Association, South Africa (Fred Bila)**All Africa Conference of Churches, Kenya (Khepi Shole)**Alternative Information & Development Centre, South Africa (Brian Ashley)**Arab Network for Environment and Development, Egypt (Emad Adly)**Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants, South Africa (Younaid Waja)**Bureau de Liaison des Ong et Associations, Burkina Faso (Rosina G E Kabore)**Centre for Southern African Studies, South Africa (Dot Keet)**Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana (Kwaku Anane)**Co-operative for Research & Education, South Africa (Dale Tiflin)**Community Action Research Programme, Zambia (Bandawe Banda)**Congress of South African Trade Unions, South Africa (Martin Nicol)**Development Innovations & Networks, Zimbabwe (Rudo Mabel Chitiga)**Development Innovations and Networks, South Africa (Zaida Harnecker)**District Development Forum, South Africa (Greekson Zweni)**Econews Africa (TWN), Kenya (Ms Wagaki Mwangi)**Economic & Cultural Promotion Agency, Ethiopia (Yemataworke Haile)**Ecumenical Advise Bureau, South Africa (Christiaan van der Merwe)**Ecumenical Documentation and Information Centre for East and Southern Africa, Zimbabwe (Richard Chidowore)**Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation, South Africa (Molefe S Tsele)**Environment et Development au Maghreb, Morocco (Zahra Tamouth)**Environmental Monitoring Group, South Africa (Roben Penny)**Environmental Development Agency, South Africa (Victor Munik)**Foundation for Contemporary Research, South Africa (Murray Michell, Abdou Maliq Simone, Ginny Volbrecht)**Friends of the Earth - Ghana, Ghana (Douglas Fifi Korsah-Brown)**Group for Environmental Monitoring, South Africa (Gillian Addison, David Fig)**IDASA, South Africa (Shirley Robinson)**Institute for African Alternatives, South Africa (Rachel Houghton, Ernest Maganya)**International Labour Resource Information Group, South Africa (Victor Ngaleka)**International South Group Network, Zimbabwe (Yashpal Tandon)**International Youth & Student Movement for the United Nations, Zimbabwe (Rudo Shalom Peace Mungwashu)**IRED, Zimbabwe (Bhekumusa Maboyi)**Just Exchange, South Africa (Neziswa Everett Jordan, Felicity Seragile)**Kenya Consumers' Organisation, Kenya (Jasper A Okelo)**Khanya College Community Division, South Africa (Oupa Lehulere, John Pade, Ighsaan Schroeder)**Land & Agriculture Policy Centre, South Africa (Rosalind Kainyah)**League for Woman and Child Education, Cameroon (Pauline Biyong)**Lesotho NGO Business Commission Development, Lesotho (David T S Seakhoa)**Lutheran World Federation, Swaziland (Z M Nkosi)**Lutheran World Federation, Zimbabwe (Zivaishe Zinyoro Ratisai)**National NGO Coalition, South Africa (Laura Joyce Nondwe Kganyago, Sakina Mohamed)**National Labour & Economic Development Institute, South Africa (Vishwas Satgar)**National Community Media Forum, South Africa (Ashraf Alf Patel, Oscar van Heerden)**National Centre for Development Cooperation, Tanzania (Richard Kinisa Ndaskoi)**National Council of Churches of Kenya, Kenya (Ramala Akinyi Matinde)**National Community Media Forum, South Africa (Tshepo Rantho)**National Progressive Primary Health Care Network, South Africa (Bernice Ruth Langson)**NGOs Coordinating Committee, Zambia (Maggie S Kapihya)**Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress, Zimbabwe (Mr Livion Njini)**Philisisizwe Association for Development Trust, South Africa (Thabi Shange)**Public Services International, South Africa (Hassen Lorgat)**Reconstruction & Development Council, South Africa (Mahlengi Bhengu, Tebogo Phandu)**SANDON, South Africa (Tsietsi Maleho, Pal Martins)**Service d'appui aux Initiatives Locales de Developpement, Cameroon (Martin Nzegang)**Southern African Non-Governmental Development Organisations Network, South Africa (Naseegh Jaffer)**South African Students Congress, South Africa (Malemolla David Makhura)**Southern Centre for Energy and Environment, Zimbabwe (Tendayi Arnold Kureya)**The Association of NGOs, The Gambia (Fatma Baldeh)**Third World Network, Ghana (Hormeku Teiteh)**Transkei Rural Development Co-ordinating Forum, South Africa (Mpho Brian Lerutle)**Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre, South Africa (Sister Angelical Lamb)**ZAKHE, South Africa (Ferdie Engel)

Message-Id: <> From: Date: Wed, 26 Jun 1996 22:36:48 -0500 Subject: Africa: NGO UNCTAD Statement

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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