Day 4 of the General Assembly of the UN for Paul Magnette

date: 27 September 2012

On this fourth day of the ministerial part of this 67th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, Development Cooperation Minister Paul Magnette had a meeting with Deputy Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Gyan Chandra Acharya, with the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, the First Vice-President of Burundi and took part in a working lunch on the Great Lakes.

Least developed countries 

After Minister Magnette was yesterday (Wednesday 26/09) joint chair of the meeting on least developed countries (LDCs), he today had a bilateral meeting with the recently appointed Deputy Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Mr Gyan Chandra Acharya. Both men discussed the implementation of the action programme for the next ten years that was approved a year ago in Istanbul, the recent decisions of the Rio+20 Summit and the importance for the LDCs of taking the path towards sustainable development. The transitional period in which countries find themselves on exiting the category of LDCs can be hazardous. Paul Magnette: “Special assistance has to be provided for the dozen or so countries that could cease to be in the category of LDCs by 2025. This will be the subject of the Resolution Belgium will submit in October to the Second Commission of the General Assembly of the UN.”

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Belgium is a loyal partner of the UNFPA and works closely with this multilateral organisation. Our country therefore endorses its missions in terms of reproductive health and family planning. Free access to contraception represents a significant improvement in quality of life. Last year Belgium contributed some EUR 5,500,000 to the fund, making it the 15th biggest donor. And the development minister intends further strengthening the collaboration in various ways, to the great satisfaction of the Executive Director of the UNFPA, Mr Babatunde Osotimehin. He in turn explained the priorities for the next strategic plan for 2014 to 2017.

Burundi

The meeting between Minister Paul Magnette and the First Vice-President of Burundi Thérence Sinunguruza and Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Kavakure took place within the context of the recent decision to release an incentivising tranche of EUR 50 million and the donor conference later this year. After the European Commission and the World Bank, Belgium is the largest donor in Burundi (around 45 million in 2011). Minister Magnette stressed the importance of freedom, both for the press and for civil society, political pluralism and called for vigilance that must be maintained to ensure that the legal system does not apply double standards. He also emphasised the crucial role of the Burundese tax service in the fight against fraud and corruption. The demands on that front and with regard to the implementation of the national strategy for Good Governance will be analysed each quarter. For the time being, however, little progress has been noted and the minister therefore asked for efforts in this area to be intensified.

Great Lakes

This General Assembly is dominated by the situation in Syria and the Sahel. Our country therefore called for a meeting to also be organised on the Great Lakes, a region with which our country has close ties, both historically and today. The humanitarian situation has seriously declined there due to the conflict in West Congo. Development Cooperation Minister Paul Magnette is concerned about the poor living conditions in the region. Paul Magnette: “Political stability urgently has to return to the region of the Great Lakes. Only then can the physical safety of the population be guaranteed and development projects start up again.” Minister Magnette also wants to set aside additional funds for the most pressing needs of the population.