World Leaders Adopt Doha Political Declaration as Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries Concludes
Document Provides ‘Clear Blueprint for Recovery, Renewal, Resilience’ in World’s Most Vulnerable States, Underlines Deputy Secretary-General
DOHA, 9 March — The fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries concluded today with world leaders adopting a Political Declaration that welcomed the Doha Programme of Action and strongly committed to its implementation throughout the coming decade.
The Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries was adopted at the first part of the Conference, held on 17 March 2022 in New York. The second part of the Conference, held in Doha, Qatar, from 5 to 9 March 2023, brought together around 5,000 participants — including 47 Heads of State and Government, officials of intergovernmental organizations, representatives of civil society organizations and other stakeholders — under the theme “From Potential to Prosperity”.
Through the Declaration, Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives participating in the Conference recognized that despite some positive results, progress fell short of the goals and targets set out in the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011–2020. They noted with concern that the least developed countries remain marginalized in the world economy and committed to advancing the concrete deliverables outlined in the Doha Programme of Action. These include exploring the feasibility of a system of stockholding, an online university, an international investment support centre and a sustainable graduation support facility.
The Declaration also requested the Secretary-General to ensure the full mobilization and coordination of all parts of the United Nations system to facilitate coordinated implementation of the Doha Programme of Action and expressed appreciation to the Government of Qatar for hosting the second part of the Conference in an excellent manner.
Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, observed in closing that the Doha Programme of Action represents a clear blueprint for recovery, renewal and resilience in the world’s most vulnerable countries. It will help the international community respond to key challenges facing least developed countries, increase their resistance to climate change and help to safeguard hard-won development gains. “But success is not automatic,” she stressed, noting the importance of massive, directed financing. This is why the Secretary-General has called for reform of the international financial architecture, coupled with an increase in development financing in an amount of at least $500 billion annually.
If backed up by the necessary financing, she stressed, this plan could “future-proof” least developed countries against some of the issues holding them back from fulfilling their potential. Stressing that responsibilities “do not stop and start with the signing of documents or attending conferences”, she said that while the Doha Programme of Action is designed for the least developed countries, it is a compact owned by the entire international community.
Echoing those words, Rabab Fatima, Secretary-General of the Conference and Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, noted the adoption of the Doha Political Declaration by consensus. Reflecting on how to translate the momentum created by the Conference into practical outcomes, she said that two words repeatedly uttered in Doha stand out above all others — “partnership” and “graduation”. The international community must make sustainable graduation a reality for all least developed countries, she stressed, calling for more meaningful partnership towards that end going forward.
She urged those present, upon leaving Doha, to consider “what we can contribute to implementing to Doha Programme of Action in our own context and capacities”. Emphasizing that political commitment is the “fuel that will drive the engine of progress”, she welcomed expressions of national ownership of the Doha Programme of Action and urged development partners to tailor their national cooperation policies in a manner that meets the expectations and aspirations of least developed countries. She added that such countries have — by far — the most untapped potential in the world, stressing that, by removing the barriers that stand in their way, least developed countries “will surely be able to chart a prosperous future for themselves”.
Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of Malawi and Chair of the Group of Least Developed Countries, described the Conference as “a triumph of style and of substance”. The stakes could not have been higher when the Conference began, he said, recalling the many calls for stronger partnerships made over the past five days. Developed countries were reminded of their official development assistance (ODA) commitments, he said, stressing that it is time to fulfil that historic commitment to allocate between 0.15 per cent and 0.20 per cent of their gross national income. If this, and other promises in the areas of trade, investment and technology transfer can be honoured, then we will leave with fresh hope that the Doha Programme of Action will be implemented in full.
Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, also delivered closing remarks as President of the Conference. His country began its preparations for this Conference in March 2019, he said, noting the various regional thematic dialogues and activities that led to the adoption of the Doha Programme of Action. Noting the commitments pledged during the last five days, he stressed the need for practical measures and recalled his own country’s significant financial pledges. Qatar will place least developed countries at the heart of international cooperation, he said.
At the outset of the meeting, the following speakers presented summaries of the Conference’s eight interactive dialogues: Nancy Tembo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malawi on “Investing in people in least developed countries to leave no one behind”; Ugyen Dorji, Chief of Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bhutan on “Leveraging the power of science, technology and innovation for the sustainable development of least developed countries”; Alhaji Fanday Turay, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone on “Structural transformation as a driver of prosperity in least developed countries”; Albert Shingiro, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation of Burundi on “Enhancing the participation of least developed countries in international trade and regional integration”; Seve Paeniu, Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Tuvalu, on “Addressing climate change and supporting the environment”; Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tonga on “Sustainable recovery from the pandemic and building the resilience of least developed countries against future shocks”; Sorasak Pan, Minister for Commerce of Cambodia on “Resource mobilization and strengthened global partnerships for sustainable development in least developed countries”; and Mariam Chabi Talata Zimé Yérima, Vice-President of Benin on “Supporting sustainable and irreversible graduation from the least developed country category”.
The Conference also heard summaries of discussions from stakeholder forums that took place on the margins of the Conference from the following speakers: Nelly Kashumba Butete Mutti, Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, on the Parliamentary Forum; Chris Sharrock, Vice-President of United Nations Affairs and International Organizations at Microsoft, on the Private Sector Forum; Chantal Umuhoza, Executive Director of SPECTRA, on the Civil Society Forum; Humphrey Mrema, Youth Delegate from the United Republic of Tanzania, on the Youth Forum; and Sosten Alfred Gwengwe, Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs of Malawi, on the South-South Cooperation Ministerial Meeting.
In other business, the Conference adopted the resolution titled “Credentials of representatives to the Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries” (document A/CONF.219/2023/2) and accepted the additional credentials from Angola, Brazil and Japan.
The Conference also adopted its report and authorized the Rapporteur-General to finalize the document in conformity with the practice of the United Nations.