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OHRLLS Interviews Dr. Arjun Karki

OHRLLS: In your capacity as the global coordinator of the Civil Society Steering Committee, what do civil society organizations expect to come out of LDC IV?

AK: In light of the soon approaching LDC-IV, civil society organisations across the globe are gearing up in consolidating a strong pro-poor LDC agenda, placing the most vulnerable and the marginalised LDC populations at its centre – bearing in mind, that both poverty and vulnerability are endemic in LDCs and this fact is often carelessly overlooked by stakeholders. We have been mobilising our constituency and beyond towards LDC-IV, and are receiving overwhelming support and solidarity in our collective cause towards defending LDC interests. It’s an ethical urgency to reverse the past four decades of development failure in LDCs that has unjustifiably cost the lives and livelihoods of the poor and the vulnerable LDC peoples and we as civil society, expect Istanbul to recognise this urgency. Istanbul is being seen as a historical point of departure in terms of a new progressive development action for the LDCs, truly paving the road for a constructive decade that will witness at least half of the LDCs graduating eventually leading towards a world without LDCs!

OHRLLS: You were actively involved in UN LDC III in 2001, in your opinion how do you perceive the preparatory process and the outcome of LDC IV different from the past conferences?

AK: Definitely, the enhanced role of civil society in LDC-IV preparatory process is different from the past conferences which I reckon is also due to the fact that the role of civil society has been recognised in the UNGA Resolution 63/227 thus providing the necessary legitimacy and credibility of a key stakeholder. Having said this, the enhanced policy space exercised by civil society however would be gauged by the quality of outcome document of LDC-IV so we are looking forward to LDC-IV being indeed different in this regard. The organisation of Pre-Conference events this time has facilitated necessary substantive dialogues on current as well as future challenges in LDCs nonetheless the preparatory process can still be considered to be running under time constraint as compared to the LDC-III.

Additionally, post-LDC III saw the creation of the UN-OHRLLS for LDCs and currently as the Secretariat of the LDC-IV, it does definitely make a positive difference. Nonetheless, I would like to underscore the point that the outcome of LDC-IV must contribute towards the capacity-building of OHRLLS, civil society as well as other stakeholders defending LDC interests.

OHRLLS: What are the approaches that you would suggest the international communities to take on to address these emerging challenges such as climate change and financial crisis faced by LDCs?

AK: As I mentioned earlier, to start with, the international community must go for a radical shift in terms of development action in LDCs taking it as an ethical emergency. And, this means contributing towards a holistic development that factor in human development in the real sense – of productive capacities, social protection, equity, human security – going beyond the dominant market-led economic growth model that literally kills peoples and our already degrading environment. The international community must adhere to policy coherence and this in turn will bolster pro-poor policy response by LDCs thus marking genuine global partnership for development. The current trend of drastic cuts in official development assistance (ODA) has and will further jeopardise development financing in LDCs hence the international community must reaffirm and honour their oft-repeated commitment towards LDCs. New and additional Climate Adaptation funds for LDCs should be non-negotiable given that LDCs are the least responsible for the climate disaster while unjustifiably most affected.

OHRLLS: Could you elaborate a little bit more on some specific and immediate actions that are most strategic and visionary to address the urgent challenges and priorities for LDCs?

AK: One specific and immediate action at the LDC-IV should be an agreement for a dedicated mechanism that would kickstart the immediate follow-up of implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action drawing on the momentum of LDC-IV. In fact, such an agreement should be preferably arrived at before Istanbul! A global campaign on LDCs – that has been missing until now – is the need of the hour! This campaign should be multi-faceted in terms of LDC-specific advocacy, capacity-building, research and resource generation that will contribute towards a sustained focus and attention towards pro-poor development in LDCs.

One of our key campaigns call for immediate and unconditional cancellation of all LDC debt which if materialised at the LDC-IV would instead release the resources towards development financing in LDCs. We also support the calls for Crisis Mitigation and Resilience Building Fund and Currency Transaction Tax that would contribute towards addressing the developmental challenges in LDCs.

Source: UN OHRLLS Website (11 February 2011)