Pakistan urges strengthening of global financial institutions for debt sustainability

UN General Assembly adopts resolution pushing states to justify veto use

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UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the developing countries’ Group of 77 and China, has voiced concern over the increasing debt vulnerabilities of developing countries, and called for strengthening the international financial institutions for long-term debt sustainability.

Speaking in the UN Financing for Development Forum on Tuesday, Ambassador Munir Akram said the developing countries were facing a triple challenge — Covid-19, environmental and economic — exacerbating the existing inequalities within and between countries.

“It is feared that owing to the extreme economic hardship, unsustainable debt burden, high borrowing cost, rising inflation, illicit financial flows, and difficulties in accessing concessional finance, many developing countries would not be able to recover soon from the crisis and achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals),” he said.

Pakistan is the current chairman of G-77 and China, which now has 134 members and is the United Nations’ biggest intergovernmental group of emerging countries.

Road to recovery from Covid-19 Pandemic and achievement of the 2030 development agenda would first of all need ensuring equitable access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines at affordable prices, the G-77 chairman said.

The Group, he said, also calls for the elimination of safe havens that create incentives for the transfer of stolen assets and illicit financial flows, and emphasizes the return of stolen assets to the countries of origin.

The Group reiterates its call for the upgrade of the Committee of Experts in Tax Matters to a UN intergovernmental body, as there is still no single global forum for tax cooperation at the intergovernmental level.

 

Public financing should be scaled up to catalyze private investments in sustainable and resilient infrastructure that will help to achieve the 2030 Agenda, with the UN system providing support to the developing countries for maintaining a pipeline of bankable projects.

The Group urges developed countries to fulfill their unmet Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments to developing countries to achieve the national target of 0.7 % of gross national income (GNI) and 0.15 to 0.20 % of ODA/GNI to the least developed countries.

In addition, Ambassador Akram said, the Group emphasizes for special and differential treatment for developing countries in harnessing the developmental benefit of international trade.

“The Group remains alerted by the increase in the unilateral and protectionist measures that will not only undermine the multilateral trading system, but also will lead to negative impact on access of the developing countries’ exports to the global markets, the G-77 chairman said.

States are strongly urged to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the U.N. Charter that impede the full achievement of economic and social development.

While appreciating historic allocation of $650bn SDRs (Special Drawing Rights), the Pakistani envoy said, “We encourage countries with strong external positions to voluntary channel at least $250bn SDRs to all developing countries in need.”

“We therefore call upon the developed countries to honor their commitment and provide financial resources of at least USD 100 billion per year to assist developing countries in their climate change actions with at least half allocated to adaptation.” he added. Adding to this, he United Nations General Assembly Tuesday voted to adopt a resolution that would require the five permanent members of the Security Council to justify their use of the veto in future.

Pakistan backed the resolution, sponsored by 83 members, which was adopted by consensus.

Under its terms, the 193-member Assembly will automatically meet within 10 days, if the veto is used in the 15-member Council by one of its five permanent members.

China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States have the power to veto Security Council resolutions, enshrined in the UN Charter – a right accorded to them because of their key roles in establishing the United Nations.

Speaking in explanation of his vote, Ambassador Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, highlighted a paragraph in the resolution noting that its provisions are “without prejudice” to the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council reform. The long-running talks are deadlocked with India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, known as G-4, campaigning for permanent seats on the Security Council, while Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Peace (UfC) group opposes any expansion in the permanent category and is advocating for more non-permanent members.

“It is clear that the trigger for holding the General Assembly session in the wake of a veto from a permanent member is a situation where the Council is prevented from acting on questions relating to maintenance of international peace and security,” the Pakistani envoy said.

Following the adoption of the resolution, any such use will now trigger a General Assembly meeting, where all UN members can scrutinize and comment on the veto.

The resolution comes in the wake of Russia’s use of the veto in the Council, the day after it invaded Ukraine, calling for it’s unconditional withdrawal from the country.

Liechtenstein’s UN Ambassador, Christian Wenaweser, introduced the draft entitled Standing mandate for a General Assembly debate when a veto is cast in the Security Council, adopted without a vote.

The resolution, which will take immediate effect, accords on an exceptional basis, precedence to the veto-casting States in the speakers list, of the subsequent General Assembly debate, thereby inviting them to account for the circumstances behind the use of the veto.

Liechtenstein began work on the initiative to scrutinize the veto more than two years ago, together with a core group of States, said Ambassador Wenaweser, “out of a growing concern” that the Council had found it “increasingly difficult” to carry out its work in accordance with its mandate under the UN Charter, “of which the increase in the use of the veto is but the most obvious expression”.

Noting that all Member States had given the Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agreed that it acts on their behalf, he underscored that the veto power comes with the responsibility to work to achieve “the purposes and principles of the UN Charter at all times”.

“We are, therefore, of the view that the membership as a whole should be given a voice when the Security Council is unable to act, in accordance with this Assembly’s functions and powers reflected in the Charter,” particularly Article 10, he said.

Article 10 spells out that the Assembly may discuss any questions or matters within the scope of the Charter or the powers and functions of any organs provided for within it, and, except as provided in Article 12, “may make recommendations to the Members of the United Nations or to the Security Council or to both on any such questions or matters.”

In putting the text forward, the Liechtenstein Ambassador described it “as an expression of our commitment to multilateralism, with this Organization and its principal organs at the forefront,” adding that “there has never been a stronger need for effective multilateralism than today”.

“And there has never been a stronger need for innovation in order to secure the central role and voice of the United Nations in this respect”.

After extensive individual and collective outreach and consultations, in bilateral and various group settings, he explained that the text was first circulated to the Member States on 3 March and made available to a wider public on 12 April.

On 19 April it was discussed in an open format with all interested States, who have helped to refine and improve it.

The adopted text stands as a “straightforward, legally sound and politically meaningful” resolution, the Ambassador said, which will shine a light on the use of the veto moving forward, and allow input from all Member State.

 

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