Civil society organizations urged Governments to strengthen the mandate of the UNCTAD, including on tax issues and trade imbalances, and commended the United Nations body for having been the first to warn about the global financial crisis.
Gathering in Nairobi, some 200 civil society representatives from all over the world are seeking to influence the intergovernmental negotiations on the new work programme of UNCTAD, to be defined over the next four days.
Civil society's demands were presented in a declaration to a packed room at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre. Recalling that UNCTAD had been the first organization to spot the impending global financial crisis, representatives of civil society organizations argued that UNCTAD was uniquely positioned to help reverse the trends that had led to the crisis in the first place.
"It is absolutely critical to strengthen UNCTAD's integrated approach to the evolution and management of globalization," said Deborah James, Director of International Programmes of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.
Civil society organizations were united in their demands.
They appealed for a stronger mandate for UNCTAD to deal with debt issues that would go beyond debt management, such as debt crisis prevention and resolution. They urged Governments to give UNCTAD a more prominent role in the work being done on global tax issues, such as corporate tax avoidance. They also wanted its work on global trade imbalances to be strengthened.
The outcome of government negotiations in Nairobi will set work priorities for UNCTAD over the next four years. This means the decisions in Nairobi will have strong implications for the organization's role in helping countries meet the new development targets they set in 2015, including an end to global poverty by 2030.
The civil society declaration was the result of consultations held over the past four months among more than 400 trade unions, farmer and business associations, think tanks and advocacy groups.