Promoting entrepreneurs requires more than just finances

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Created: 06 April 2016

The drumbeat over the last decade- for entrepreneurship in Uganda sounds louder each year. With youths as a prime target, Uganda has financed the Youth Enterprise Scheme, Youth Venture Capital Fund and the Youth Livelihood Program to nurture entrepreneurial dreams.

The Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program, akin to Kenya’s Women Enterprise Fund established in 2007, is in the offing in response to women’s needs for affordable credit.

Whereas pecuniary input is incontestable, sustaining an economy that thrives on entrepreneurs will require government to empower all stakes that reinforce entrepreneurship.

To drive interstate trade, 95 per cent of whose goods are transported by road, government has invested in roads connecting major border points. With access to Elegu and Juba eased, the volume of trade with Congo and Sudan respectively is certainly higher.

However, the farmer in Koch Lamina or on the banks of River Agago who supplies tomatoes in South Sudan remains underserved if, after rains, his truck cannot navigate the murram access to his farm every fortnight to load 70 to 80 boxes of Assila tomatoes.

The country’s over 20,000kms of community roads which link production zones, is where districts need to invest if they are to deliver the local level impetus for wealth creation.

Whereas access to the national grid is way below the 80 per cent target, sights of 108 electrified district headquarters are evidence of work in progress. In Butaleja district, where rice growing dominates livelihoods, value-addition, until recently, was hampered by low voltage from Tororo Rock sub-station. With Nagongera sub-station completed, cottage industries in Butaleja will be set for a boundless course.

Value-addition, as the country’s thrust for industrialization, will cling on nothing other than entrepreneurs’ ease of access to electricity. A vast part of Uganda still lags behind in Information and Communication Technology infrastructure in an age when technology is increasingly-defining how business is conducted.

Budding tech-entrepreneurs like Rodgers Ahabwe who developed E-Shule, an app that manages school tasks, including monitoring fees payment, will find themselves less competitive if they are weakly connected to internet. With investments in broadband infrastructure, we can begin to sow seeds for Uganda’s Silicon Valley that we envision by 2040.

To choose Hazel Namuwaya’s Zaft juice, which hit the market from Ttulain 2013 over South Africa’s Ceres, preference leans on quality. When farmers in Nakaseke, eager to trade with Kenya, dry maize on mats and it gets discolored, falling below EAC standards which regard discoloration as an indicator of mycotoxin, it is quality on trial.

Tanzania, which pegged its Youth Fund to agricultural ventures, rejected a consignment of 15,000 tonnes of maize from Uganda in 2013 citing quality concerns. By 2002, lamentably, Kenya had 17 laboratories for testing products while Uganda and Tanzania had none.

For entrepreneurs such as Namuwaya, perhaps the strategic question to weigh is: how can government match investments for effective monitoring of standards of imports with controlling quality of domestic products?

Inadequate warehousing infrastructure also continues to eat into the worth of Uganda’s agricultural yield. Reliance on private storage facilities that are hardly standardized not only puff up producers’ overheads but also risk compromising quality.

Barley farmers in the Bukwo-Kapchorwa grain belt have for- tunes of their grain fields eroded as costs of storing, cleaning, sorting and re-bagging their produce undercut their comparative advantage over Kenya’s grain producers.

Advances in knowledge creation endorse the need to protect indigenous know-how. How can promising entrepreneurs like Geoffrey Munyegera in Mayuge who, without formal education, fabricated a tractor, which ploughs, threshes maize and irrigates, safe-guard privately-produced knowledge? In Uganda’s creative economy, incessant wars among youthful artistes are fueled by copyright-related weak spots.

The decisive question that will exercise policy minds is “what level of intellectual property protection is needed to balance between incentives for innovation and avenues for competition?” Government’s explicit responsibility in raising awareness about the link between innovation and the need to protect knowledge creation is particularly imperative to emerging entrepreneurs.

Making entrepreneurship East Africa’s next frontier will require governments’ commitment to various pledges that incentivize business. The Luo agripreneur who, out of the abundance of sugarcane, is producing bio-ethanol from molasses in Kisumu needs motorable roads to his farm to reap from Kenya’s energy demand.

The curio art pieces by gifted youth, sought after by tourists visiting Amboni caves and Tongoni ruins in Tanga, are now imitated as lack of a trade mark hurts their sales.

In Turkana and Isiolo are households that thrive on apiculture whose honey can compete for shelves in regional supermarkets if supported to meet standards. Not that finances matter less, but the broader obligation to quality, intellectual property, market access, infrastructure as some of the nodes that constitute an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to thrive, is paramount.

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Les agences de l'ONU mettent en garde contre une escalade de la crise alimentaire au Soudan du Sud

Photo: ©AFP/ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN

Une femme sèche du sorgho à Panddap, Bahr El-Ghazal, l’un des états avec le taux de malnutrition le plus élevé.

5 avril 2016, Djouba – Un conflit interne et de faibles précipitations continuent de réduire la production agricole au Soudan du Sud, contribuant à un déficit céréalier de 381 000 tonnes, soit une hausse de 53 pour cent par rapport à 2015, et aggravant une pénurie alimentaire déjà considérée comme grave, mettent en garde aujourd’hui deux agences des Nations Unies.

Les prix des céréales ont été multipliés par cinq depuis le début de l’année dernière et il est maintenant de plus en plus difficile pour les populations de manger à leur faim, selon le rapport d’une mission d’évaluation des récoltes et de la situation alimentaire au Soudan du Sud réalisée conjointement par l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture (FAO) et le Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM).

La crise au Soudan du Sud est caractérisée par des niveaux de faim alarmants. Près de 5,8 millions de personnes, soit presque la moitié de la population du pays, se demandent d’où viendra leur prochain repas, tandis que le taux d’insécurité alimentaire a maintenant atteint les 12 pour cent, le double de l’année précédente.

«Le Soudan du Sud fait face à des conflits meurtriers, des difficultés économiques et de faibles pluies. Tous ces éléments réunis aggravent le déficit alimentaire susceptible d’accroître le nombre de personnes souffrant de la faim et de la malnutrition» a déclaré Joyce Juma, Directrice du Bureau de pays, PAM. «Ce rapport indique clairement que l’amélioration de la situation alimentaire passe par une résolution pacifique du conflit».

«L’insécurité alimentaire s’est propagée dans des zones auparavant considérées comme relativement stables, ce qui souligne l’impact cumulatif du conflit, de la récession économique et des chocs climatiques» a indiqué Serge Tissot, Représentant de la FAO au Soudan du Sud.

L’échec de la production localisée, les marchés paralysés par la crise

Le déficit céréalier au Soudan du Sud est surtout dû aux faibles précipitations dans certaines zones de l’État de Bahr-el Ghazal et dans celui d’Équatoria et à l’interruption des activités agricoles en raison de l’aggravation de l’insécurité.

Les familles sont forcées de faire face à la flambée des prix des céréales, provoquée à la fois par une forte dévaluation de la monnaie locale et par des frais de transports en hausse.

La liaison entre les zones productrices de céréales – surtout celles des États d’Équatoria et de Bahr-el-Ghazal – et les principaux marchés est de plus en plus difficile en raison de l’aggravation de l’insécurité, de la prolifération des barrages routiers et des taxes exorbitantes prélevées de manière ponctuelle auprès des transporteurs sur les principaux axes commerciaux.

«Malgré un énorme potentiel de production agricole – plus de 90 pour cent des terres au Soudan du Sud sont cultivables – seulement 4.5 pour cent des terres disponibles étaient cultivées lors de l’indépendance du pays en 2011. À présent, après deux ans de guerre civile, ce pourcentage a considérablement baissé en raison de l’insécurité généralisée, des dommages causés à la production agricole et de la limitation des pratiques agricoles traditionnelles» a indiqué M. Tissot.

«Pourtant la production agricole est possible dans les zones stables au sein des États touchés par les conflits, et est plus importante que jamais. Les communautés ne peuvent compter ni sur les marchés ni sur les livraisons d’aide alimentaire et ont donc besoin de produire par elles-mêmes», a-t-il ajouté. «La FAO travaille avec des agriculteurs, des pêcheurs et des éleveurs en leur fournissant des kits d’aide d’urgence, des semences, des outils, ainsi que des formations et des conseils en matière de santé animale.»

Réduire le déficit alimentaire

Le rapport propose une série de recommandations pour des actions à court-terme afin de lutter contre la faim, de renforcer la production agricole nationale et de réduire le déficit alimentaire en 2016 et d’ici l’année prochaine.

La plus urgente des priorités est l’amélioration immédiate de la sécurité à travers le pays. De plus, des agences telles que le PAM, la FAO et les organisations partenaires ont besoin d’un accès continu et de ressources en vue de fournir une aide alimentaire et des moyens de subsistance aux populations les plus vulnérables vivant dans les zones confrontées à des niveaux élevés d’insécurité alimentaire, surtout dans les régions du Nil Supérieur et de l’Équatoria-Oriental. Le cas échéant, l’aide aux moyens de subsistance – comme des semences et des outils – qui permettent aux communautés de produire leur propre nourriture est nécessaire pour faire face aux perturbations des marchés.

Il est possible d’améliorer l’accès de ces personnes aux micronutriments – et aux protéines – grâce à la distribution de kits de pêche et à l’utilisation de bons de nutrition qui seront vendus en échange de légumes cultivés localement, de poisson ou encore de lait. 

D’autres recommandations incluent: soutenir les récoltes de 2016 sur l’ensemble du territoire en assurant l’accès au matériel agricole et aux intrants de pêche; renforcer les champs-écoles paysans dans le domaine de l’agriculture et de l’élevage; étendre les campagnes vétérinaires visant à assurer la santé du bétail; et contribuer au rétablissement des moyens de subsistance, lorsque cela est possible, en aidant à préparer la terre et en facilitant l’accès au matériel agricole dans les zones de conflit.

En 2016, la FAO et le PAM, avec leurs partenaires, soutiendront les efforts visant à améliorer la disponibilité en nourriture, à renforcer les moyens de subsistance et à accroître la résilience.

La FAO a lancé un appel de fonds de 45 millions de dollars, dans le cadre de l’appel humanitaire de 2016, afin d’aider 2,8 millions de personnes avec des semences, des outils et d’autres intrants pour accroître la production, assurer la santé du bétail et consolider les efforts du gouvernement visant à améliorer la sécurité alimentaire. Le déficit de financement actuel s’élève à 16,1 millions de dollars.

Le PAM envisage de fournir une aide alimentaire et un soutien en matière de nutrition spécialisée à près de 3 millions de personnes au Soudan du Sud en 2016. Cependant, l’Organisation présente déjà un déficit de financement de 241 millions de dollars pour les six prochains mois.

À propos de la FAO La FAO dirige les efforts internationaux de lutte contre la faim. Elle aide les pays à moderniser et à améliorer les pratiques agricoles, forestières et halieutiques, et à garantir une bonne nutrition pour tous. La FAO consacre une attention particulière au développement des zones rurales où vivent 70 pour cent des pauvres et des affamés du monde. Pour plus d’informations: www.fao.org ou suivre la FAO sur Twitter @FAOnews@FAOSouthSudan

À propos du PAM Le PAM est la plus grande agence humanitaire qui combat la faim dans le monde. Il distribue de l’aide alimentaire dans les situations d’urgence et travaille aux côtés des communautés pour améliorer la nutrition et renforcer la résilience. Chaque année, le PAM assiste quelque 80 millions de personnes dans environ 80 pays. Suivre le PAM sur Twitter @wfp_media @wfp_africa

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Istanbul Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries, Subsidiary Body Elections Focus as Economic and Social Council Opens Coordination Session

Launching a series of coordination and management meetings for its 2016 session, the Economic and Social Council today took stock of current strategies and identified new ways in which the United Nations and its partners could better coordinate efforts to support the world’s least developed countries and ensure no nation or person was left behind in global development.

The meeting aimed to substantially contribute to the upcoming high-level midterm review, to be held from 27 to 29 May in Antalya, Turkey, on progress in implementing the 2011-2020 Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries.

Opening the dialogue, Heidi Schroderus-Fox, Director of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, who served as the moderator, said the review was taking place at a critical time, following the adoption of several landmark agreements in 2015.  She said the outcome report on the midterm review would be presented at the Council’s next coordination and management meetings in June.

Taffere Tesfachew, Director of the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said the review should focus on lessons that could be drawn from the recent trade performance of least developed countries and steps those nations should take to capitalize on duty-free and quota-free market access opportunities in order to double their share of global exports by 2020, as called for by the Istanbul Programme of Action and Sustainable Development Goal 17.

As the drop in commodity prices would slow the least developed countries’ steady export growth over the past decade, the issue of export diversification must return to the forefront of their development agenda, he said.  Least developed countries needed more support to build production capacity and reduce the cost of trade.  In addition, the assumption in the Istanbul Programme of Action that trade-driven growth would automatically generate concrete benefits in social development needed a rethink as data in the past 25 years showed poverty reduction was not as expected in least developed countries in Africa.  The review should also call for urgent implementation of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ministerial decision on preferential rules of origin for those nations.

Robert Chase, Senior Adviser to the Director of Operations Risk, Operations Policy and Country Services at the World Bank, said the 48 least developed countries were the institution’s core clients.  They accounted for 12 per cent of the world’s population but only 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP); all faced capacity and institutional constraints and grappled with global challenges such as climate change, alarming health pandemics, slowed growth and rising inequality.  Development interventions in such countries were high risk but also high return.

The International Development Association, a World Bank lending arm offering credits and grants for programmes that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions, had provided $22 billion for fragile and conflict-affected countries since 2000, and dedicated 40 per cent of its overall resources to least developed countries from 2010 to 2013, he said.  In 2015, the Bank pledged to provide direct support to help such nations improve tax systems and increase transparency as a way to eliminate safe havens for illicit financial flows, a move which could provide more resources than direct financial assistance.  The Bank was working with the United Nations system to coordinate the Association’s infrastructure.

It was also working to strengthen public-private partnerships, he said, pointing to the Bank’s advisory services for construction of a 19-kilometre rapid transit system in Dakar aimed at accommodating rapid growth and urban planning challenges in the Senegalese capital.  He also cited partnerships for a road expansion project in Lao People’s Democratic Republic and a $3.1 billion scheme to sustainably develop the Niger River basin of Nigeria.  Despite such successes, much had to be done to support the least developed countries, he said, stressing that:  “No one should live in conditions of abysmal and extreme poverty.”

Babatunde Omilola, Head of Development Planning and Inclusive Sustainable Growth Team of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said UNDP was helping to mainstream the Istanbul Programme of Action into national development strategies and the work of United Nations funds, programmes and agencies.  From 2008 to 2012, half of UNDP’s resources went to help least developed countries in areas such as democratic governance, the environment and graduation from least developed country status.  The Programme provided analytic studies, policy direction and advice on how to better coordinate and engage development partners and carry out impact assessments.

Since 2012, UNDP country offices had supported Bhutan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh upon their graduation from least developed country status, advising them on ways to create medium-term development plans, build capacity and facilitate South-South exchanges, he said, noting that sustainable development focused on trade and productive capacities, and that green growth was vital.  UNDP had placed a strong emphasis on inclusive growth, he said, citing examples in Africa, where the Programme had provided $100 million annually through the United Nations Capital Development Fund to enhance the private sector’s contribution to trade, growth and poverty reduction.  In Uganda, more than $2.6 million had been provided for an agricultural development strategy to connect producers to markets.  Since 2012, UNDP had supported 12 least developed countries in the extractive industries.

Aynul Hasan, Director of Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), speaking via video link, said the number of least developed countries in the region had decreased from 14 in the 1990s to 12, seven of which were close to graduation.  Their economic growth rate had dropped; nevertheless, the countries were performing reasonably well.  In early 2000, ESCAP helped the Maldives to develop a six-year plan that enabled the island nation to graduate from least developed country status.  Last year, UNDP and ESCAP extended a partnership launched in 2001 to help Maldives achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

She said that the ESCAP report on the least developed countries, to be released in May, would focus on their ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, using network analysis to help them towards that end.  China, India and other developed States had advised the least developed countries on how to integrate the post-2015 development agenda into their planning processes.  ESCAP was partnering with regional development banks to help those nations with tax cooperation, infrastructure financing, inclusive financing and capital market matters.

Taufiqur Rahman, Head of the Least Developed Countries Unit, WTO, also speaking via video link, said WTO supported least developed States through negotiations, technical support and capacity-building, earmarking more than 40 per cent of its technical aid to those nations.  A programme kept the Istanbul Programme of Action under review and allowed WTO members to offer preferences to services and suppliers from least developed countries.  In 2012, the guidelines for those States to accede to the WTO were streamlined; since then four such countries — Vanuatu, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Yemen and Samoa had graduated from least developed status and had joined the global trade body.  Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Liberia had completed the accession process, bringing to 36 the number of least developed States with WTO membership.

In 2013, during the Bali Ministerial Conference, the first-ever multilateral guidelines on rules of origin were issued, making it easier for least developed countries to qualify for preferential market access, he said.  The Bali Package also granted duty-free and quota-free market access to some services.  Least developed countries had been granted a 17-year transition period, until 2033, to comply with Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which was particularly important with regard to pharmaceutical provisions.

In the last few years, WTO had delivered important outcomes, eliminating agricultural export subsidies, a long-standing demand for least developed countries which enabled them to better compete on world agricultural markets, he said.  Yet, challenges remained to further integrate those nations into world trade, he stressed, echoing the concerns of Mr. Tesfachew that the steep decline in commodity prices in the last few years had hindered the least developed countries’ share in world commodity and commercial exports.

When the floor was opened to delegations, the representative of Bangladesh said the least developed countries must be granted the preferential trade treatment they deserved, regretting that the long-promised duty-free and quota-free market access had yet to materialize.  Meaningful market access was of key importance.  At 2 or 3 per cent, the least developed countries had poor representation in decision-making in the World Bank Group, and that must change, as must tax collection policies.  He asked the WTO for more tangible support for accession to the global body.

Turkey’s representative stressed the importance of timely implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, particularly following adoption of the post-2015 development agenda.  He strongly encouraged participation in next month’s midterm review in Antalya.

The representative of the United States asked how United Nations partners could keep the development agenda focused on least developed countries and integrate support for them related to trade and capacity-building at the national level, while China’s representative called for stronger coordination among them.

In response, Mr. Rahman said WTO’s focus was on least developed countries and would remain so in the foreseeable future.  WTO members had given them special attention, including through his Unit.  Mr. Hassan added that ESCAP had a dedicated unit for States with special needs, including the least developed countries, and it had an intergovernmental body platform.  The next ESCAP report would focus on how to adapt the Sustainable Development Goals in the national plans of least developed countries.

Mr. Omilola said that from 2006 to 2012 half the global resources of UNDP were dedicated to least developed countries and the Programme aimed to increase that figure to 75 per cent.  UNDP was working with myriad United Nations agencies to harmonize their agendas and integrate poverty eradication and environmental conservation.  He noted coordination among them in capacity-building, South-South exchanges and in helping graduation from least developed country status.

Mr. Chase said the World Bank conducted a systematic diagnostic for each individual country to devise a suitable framework for a partnership with the country.  It was essential to have country-driven approaches and problem-solving solutions around which United Nations agencies could organize.  The financial institution was in the process of replenishing its funding for its International Development Association, which would enable it to remain focused on least developed countries.  Regarding the role of least developed countries in decision-making, he said the Bank was undergoing reform of a dynamic formula to address items such as systematic resilience and climate change.

Mr. Tesfachew said that Lao People’s Democratic Republic was the only least developed country that had achieved all eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and that, with that in mind, UNCTAD was focusing on those countries to ensure they fared better with the Sustainable Development Goals.  The agency reported annually to the Secretariat on its support for the least developed countries.  Yet, coordination with other agencies was not easy as they could have conflicting points of view and advice for least developed countries.  When processes were country-driven and resources were given with conditions, coordination tended to occur.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council adopted without a vote four draft decisions contained in the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (document E/2016/32 (Part I)) on its 2016 regular session, held from 25 January-3 February and 16 February.  The drafts called for Council action.

By the terms of draft decision I, the Council, among other things, granted consultative status to 206 non-governmental organizations, closed without prejudice consideration of the request for consultative status by 23 such organizations after they had failed to respond to queries over the course of two consecutive Committee sessions, and decided to close the application for such status submitted by Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.

By the other three drafts, the Council took note of the withdrawal of the consultative status requested by one non-governmental organization, decided to reinstate the status of one such organization that had submitted its outstanding quadrennial report, and it took note of the Committee’s report.

After that action, the United States representative took the floor, expressing alarm at the increasing trend of limiting civil society’s participation in the United Nations system, including by blocking the applications of non-governmental organizations and silencing them.  In the past three years, more than 50 countries had enacted measures to restrict civil society and in 2016, for the first time, the Committee denied a non-governmental organization the ability to speak before its application was considered.  Governments could only achieve the best outcomes with the help and engagement of civil society partners, who were part of the daily fibre in her country.  All civil society representatives should be allowed to express their views and the United Nations should strive to accredit as many non-governmental organizations as possible.

The Council also decided to postpone its special meeting on international cooperation in tax matters to a later date.

Elections

The Council also held elections to fill vacancies in many of its subsidiary bodies.  Members had before them an agenda, containing information on the candidates for each of the vacancies (document E/2016/1/Add.1).

International Narcotics Control Board:  In two rounds of secret balloting, the Council elected — among candidates nominated by Governments — Sevil Atasoy (Turkey), David T. Johnson (United States), Galina A. Korchagina (Russian Federation), Luis Alberto Otarola Peñaranda (Peru) and Alejandro Mohar Betancourt (Mexico) to the Board for a five-year term beginning 2 March 2017.  The other candidates were Parviz Afshar (Iran), Chafika Bensaoula (Algeria), Wolfgang Artur Goetz (Germany), Amalia Margarita Laborde García (Uruguay), Ana dos Passos da Conceição Mamede Graça (Angola), Maria Lucia Oliveira de Souza Formigoni (Brazil), Ahmed Kamal El Din Samak (Egypt), Sri Suryawati (Indonesia), Luis Yarzabal (Uruguay) and Fadi Mustafa Yousef Alattiat (Jordan).

In a single round of secret balloting, the Council also elected — among candidates nominated by the World Health Organization (WHO) — Cornelius de Joncheere (Netherlands) and Richard Mattick (Australia) for the same term.  The other candidates were Mohammed Tamouh Abou-Saleh (Syria), Lukas Radbruch (Germany) and Emran Razaghi (Iran).

Statistical Commission:  The Council elected by acclamation six members for four-year terms, beginning 1 January 2017:  Belarus (Eastern European States); Colombia and Mexico (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (Western European and other States).  It deferred balloting for two members from Asia-Pacific States to its next meeting.

Commission on Population and Development:  The Council elected by acclamation eight members to four-year terms, beginning at the first meeting of the Commission’s fifty-first session in 2017 and expiring at the close of the Commission’s fifty-fourth session in 2021.  They included Cameroon, Madagascar and Mali (African States); Japan (Asia-Pacific States); Brazil, Cuba and Mexico (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Belgium (Western European and other States).

The Council postponed the election of two members from the Asia-Pacific States, one member from the Eastern European States and three members from the Western European and other States for the same term.

Taking action on an outstanding vacancy, it elected by acclamation Turkmenistan (Asia-Pacific States) for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring at the close of the Commission’s forty-ninth session in 2016.

Commission for Social Development:  The Council elected by acclamation 17 members for a four-year term, beginning at the first meeting of the Commission’s fifty-sixth session in 2017 and expiring at the close of its fifty-ninth session in 2021:  Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Malawi and Sudan (African Group); China and Turkmenistan (Asia-Pacific States); Brazil (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Switzerland (Western European and other States).

It postponed the election of two members from the Asia-Pacific States, two members from the Eastern European States, two members from the Latin American and Caribbean States and three members from the Western European and other States for the same term.

It went on to elect by acclamation the United States (Western European and other States) to fill an outstanding vacancy for a term beginning on the date of election until the close of the Commission’s fifty-eighth session in 2020.

Finally, it postponed the election of two members from the African States for a term expiring at the close of the Commission’s fifty-eighth session, one from the Eastern European States for a term expiring at the close of the fifty-seventh session in 2019, and three from the Western European and other States, including one for a term expiring at the close of the fifty-fifth session in 2017 and two for a term expiring at the close of the fifty-eighth session.

The Chair, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), appealed to the regional groups concerned to submit candidates for those unfilled seats at the earliest opportunity.

Commission on the Status of Women:  The Council elected by acclamation 11 members to four-year terms, beginning at the first meeting held in 2017 of the Commission’s sixty-second session and expiring at the close of the Commission’s sixty-fifth session in 2021.  They included Namibia, Niger and Tunisia (African States); China and Bahrain (Asia-Pacific States); Estonia (Eastern European States); Chile and Peru (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Canada, Ireland and Israel (Western European and other States).

Commission on Science and Technology for Development:  The Council elected by acclamation 16 members to four-year terms, beginning 1 January 2017:  Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria (African States); Japan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan (Asia-Pacific States); Hungary and Russian Federation (Eastern European States); El Salvador and Brazil (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Austria, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland (Western European and other States).

It postponed the election of one member from the African States, two members from the Latin American and Caribbean States, and one member from the Western European and other States for the same term.

Committee for Programme and Coordination:  The Council nominated seven members for election by the General Assembly for three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2017 and expiring on 31 December 2019:  Egypt, Eritrea and Senegal (African States); China, Bangladesh and Republic of Korea (Asia-Pacific States); and Haiti (Latin American and Caribbean States).

The Chair reminded the Council of two outstanding vacancies on the Committee, both from the Western European and other States group, one for a term expiring on 31 December 2017 and the other for a term expiring on 31 December 2018.  Both terms would begin on the date of election by the General Assembly.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:  The Council elected by acclamation Chen Shiqiu (China) and Waleed Sadi (Jordan), from the Asia-Pacific States; Laura-Maria Craciunean (Romania) and Zdzisław Kedzia (Poland), from the Eastern European States; Lydia Carmelita Ravenberg (Suriname), from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Mikel Mancisidor de la Fuente (Spain) and Michael Windfuhr (Germany), from the Western European and other States, to a four-year term beginning 1 January 2017.  It deferred balloting for two members from the African States to its next meeting.

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues:  The Council elected by acclamation Gervais Nzoa (Cameroon), from the African States; Seyed Mohsen Emadi (Iran), from the Asia-Pacific States; Jesus Guadalupe Fuentes Blanco (Mexico) and Tarcila Rivera Zea (Peru), from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Jens Dahl (Denmark) and Brian Keane (United States) to a three-year term beginning 1 January 2017.  It deferred balloting for one member from the Eastern European States to its next meeting.

Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):  The Council elected by acclamation 11 members to three-year terms, beginning 1 January 2017:  Angola (African States); China and Saudi Arabia (Asia-Pacific States); Czech Republic and Russian Federation (Eastern European States); Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Germany, Norway, Spain and United Kingdom (Western European and other States).

With Switzerland resigning from the Executive Board effective 31 December 2016, the Council elected Canada to complete its term, beginning 1 January 2017 and expiring 31 December 2018.  It also elected France and Ireland to complete the terms of Australia and Finland, respectively, beginning 1 January 2017 and expiring 31 December 2018.

Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)/United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS):  It elected by acclamation 11 members to three-year terms, beginning 1 January 2017:  Mauritius (African States); China and Iran (Asia-Pacific States); Albania and Republic of Moldova (Eastern European States); Cuba and Panama (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Germany, Netherlands, Norway and the United States (Western European and other States).

With Spain, Austria, Belgium, Turkey and Canada resigning their seats effective 31 December 2016, the Council elected Australia, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to complete their terms of office — on 31 December 2018, in the case of Australia and Denmark, and a year earlier for the others.

Executive Committee of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women):  The Council, filling 18 vacancies from the regional category in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 2010/35, elected by acclamation Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia (African States); Bahrain, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and Yemen (Asia-Pacific States); Belarus and Montenegro (Eastern European States); and Belgium, Denmark and France (Western European and other States) for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2017 and expiring on 31 December 2019.  It deferred to its next meeting balloting for three seats from the Latin American and Caribbean States.

Executive Board of the World Food Programme:  The Council elected by acclamation three members to three-year terms, beginning 1 January 2017, from States included in the lists contained in the annex to document E/2016/9/Add.10.  They included Sudan from List A; Mexico from List C; and Finland from List D.  In the absence of candidates, the Council postponed the election of one member from List A, one from List B and one from List D for the same term.

Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS):  The Council elected by acclamation six members to three-year terms, beginning 1 January 2017:  Algeria and Madagascar (African States); India and Indonesia (Asia-Pacific States); Belarus (Eastern European States); Mexico (Latin American and Caribbean States); and the United States (Western European and other States).

It postponed the election of one member from the Western European and other States for the same period.

In addition, the Council elected by acclamation Sweden and Portugal (Western European and other States) to complete the terms of Switzerland and the Netherlands, which were resigning their seats, from 1 January 2017 until 31 December 2018.

Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat):  The Council elected by acclamation seven members to four-year terms, beginning 1 January 2017.  They included Benin, Libya, Madagascar and Somalia (African States); China (Asia-Pacific States); Paraguay (Latin American and Caribbean States); and France (Western European and other States).  It postponed the election of one member from the African States, three members from the Asia-Pacific States, two members from the Latin American and Caribbean States and three members from Western European and other States for the same term.

The Chair reminded the Council of five outstanding vacancies, all from Western European and other States, including two for a term expiring on 31 December 2016, two for a term expiring on 31 December 2018 and one for a term expiring 31 December 2019, all beginning on the date of election.  He went on to appeal to that regional group to submit nominees at the earliest opportunity.

Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission:  The Council elected by acclamation Belgium for a two-year term beginning on 1 January 2017 and expiring on 31 December 2018.

It postponed the election of one member from the African States, one member from the Asia-Pacific States, one member from the Eastern European States, one member from the Latin American and Caribbean States, and two rotational seats as decided by Economic and Social Council resolution 2015/1, for a two-year term beginning on 1 January 2017.

Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting:  The Council elected by acclamation Kazakhstan and the Philippines (Asia-Pacific States) and Ukraine (Eastern European States) for a term beginning the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2018.  It postponed the election on 21 outstanding vacancies, including four from the African States, one from the Asia-Pacific States, three from the Latin American and Caribbean States and eight from the Western European and other States for terms expiring on 31 December 2017, and two from the Asia-Pacific States, one from the Eastern European States and two from the Latin American States for terms expiring on 31 December 2018, with all terms beginning on the date of election.

Committee for the United Nations Population Award:  The Council elected by acclamation Benin, Gambia and Ghana (African States), Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti and Paraguay (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Israel (Western European and other States) to a term beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2018.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 6 April, to continue elections to its subsidiary bodies.

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British economy slowed by Brexit fears

Britain’s economy appears to have slowed since the start of this year as worries about the global economy, government spending cuts, and a vote on staying in the EU take their toll, a closely watched survey showed yesterday.

Financial data company Markit said its Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for services recovered only slightly last month after reaching its lowest in nearly three years in February. 

Official data last week showed Britain’s economy did slightly better than thought at the end of 2015, but the Markit figures, which economists use as a guide to future official numbers, suggest 2016 got off to a weak start.

Markit said its services PMI pointed to a fall in quarterly economic growth in the first quarter to 0.4%, from 0.6% in the final three months of 2015. Britain’s economy grew 2.3% last year and is expected to grow by 2% this year.

“Business confidence remains in the doldrums as concerns about the global economy continue to be exacerbated by… issues such as Brexit and the prospect of further government spending cuts announced in the Budget,” said Markit’s chief economist, Chris Williamson.

If Britain votes to leave the EU, the country’s shipping sector faces years of disruption, a representative body has warned. Shipping contributes some £10bn (€12.4bn) annually to the UK economy.

“No one has left the EU before, and the EU may seek to ‘punish’ the UK for leaving, in order to discourage others from leaving too,” said Guy Platten, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping trade association.

* Reuters

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Amid freeze in Iceland, warmth in Delhi

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: April 6, 2016 4:05 am

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AS ICELAND’S Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned on Tuesday night, becoming the first major casualty of the Panama Papers revelations, there was uncertainty over the remaining leg of his Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson’s visit.

Sveinsson, who held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday, is on a visit to India from April 3-9. He is scheduled to attend conferences in Bengaluru and Mumbai.

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“As the government of the day has resigned in Iceland, there is a strong possibility of the minister cutting short his visit. However, the situation is fluid, and we are in constant touch with our counterparts from Iceland,” said a source on Tuesday night.

South Block’s protocol officials were in touch with Iceland embassy’s officials, as the developments unfolded rapidly on Tuesday.

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Meanwhile, Sveinsson also met Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday. By all accounts, the meetings were quite successful, Indian diplomats said, as both sides decided to enhance economic cooperation.

“Good meeting with Mrs @SushmaSwaraj on #India & #Iceland ties; #Bollywood #GenderEquality #ClimateChange #arctic,” Sveinsson tweeted.

During his talks with Swaraj, the two sides called for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN. Resolving to expand economic ties, the two sides also agreed that a Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement between India and the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) would facilitate greater flow of bilateral trade, according to a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs.

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In 2008, negotiations were launched for a free trade pact between India and EFTA, a grouping comprising four countries of Europe which are not part of the European Union. Both sides are yet to firm up the pact. Besides, Iceland, the other EFTA member countries are Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

In their talks, Swaraj and Sveinsson condemned terrorism in all its forms, saying the menace constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. “They reaffirmed that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed. In this context they called for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT),” a joint statement said.

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“The two countries expressed support for forward movement in the Intergovernmental Negotiations on UN Security Council reforms, and reiterated their commitment to initiate text-based negotiations within the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly,” it said.

“Both ministers also underlined their shared interest in strengthening global non-proliferation objectives. In this regard, Iceland expressed its support for India’s membership in the relevant multilateral export control regimes,” it said.

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