Strengthening negotiating capacities

The involvement of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in strengthening negotiating capacities, broadly defined, can be divided into three parts. First, is UNCTAD's assistance, towards strengthening the technical capacity of developing countries in on-going negotiations, primarily for multilateral rule-making and development. UNCTAD's crucial contribution has resulted in developing countries being more actively involved in the multilateral regime building process. Second, and to an extent indistinguishable from the first, is UNCTAD's active engagement in conceptual development on trade-related issues, for example, in the services sector and in trade, finance and environment issues. While these might not be immediately relevant to a current set of negotiations, they are the building blocks for emerging agendas of international negotiations. Third, comes UNCTAD's long-standing involvement in assisting regional bodies to strengthen their capacities and stimulate greater economic cooperation among developing countries.

UNCTAD has provided considerable technical cooperation in the framework of the [Multilateral Trade Negotiations] (MTN). Over a decade ago, developing countries, then only marginal to the rule-making processes of the international trading system, were assisted in the [Tokyo Round]. Circumstances had changed dramatically by the time the [Uruguay Round] was nearing conclusion and UNCTAD's support to developing countries has been an important and positive input into the final outcome. Through activities largely funded by UNDP, UNCTAD enabled many developing countries to be highly articulate negotiators, especially in those areas vital to their interests. High-quality research was undertaken which has left an imprint on the entire negotiating process, particularly in the services sectors, which were relatively new areas for multilateral rule-making. Developing countries have been virtually unanimous in saying that such projects were of invaluable assistance in enabling them to deal with market access issues, in responding to developments in the service sector and in intellectual property, and, for those countries which are seeking to enter [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] (GATT), in clarifying the implications of accession. It is also significant to note that UNCTAD's assistance did not only strengthen the negotiating capacities of developing countries but served the interests of all parties by elucidating a number of substantive issues and so assisting in policy development. If there was a shortcoming in this area, it was the relative failure to be more attentive to the potential for institutional development in developing countries, or to use to the maximum the intellectual expertise available in selected developing countries.

An other area in which UNCTAD has made an important contribution, with funds both from extrabudgetary sources and from the regular budget, is in the broad area of financial resources for development. There is a continuing process of intergovernmental negotiations in institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, and especially in the context of bodies associated with these institutions such as the Development Committee. Support extended to the G-24 (the group of developing countries within IMF and IBRD) has taken the form of innovative research on improvements to international financial and monetary arrangements and these have had a conceptual impact on the provision of finance for development. UNCTAD's support to selected developing countries in their negotiations with the Paris Club is generally recognized as productive. The experience, the expertise, and the accumulated knowledge, information and data which UNCTAD possesses have made it a valuable resource centre for developing countries engaged in debt negotiations. This is a good example of how a very modest outlay, judiciously used, results in a disproportionate and welcome saving in resources for hard-pressed developing countries. UNCTAD has also been usefully involved in the [ACP-Lome Negotiations], though it might have been more constructive had UNCTAD been able to play a larger role.

UNCTAD's technical cooperation work in strengthening regional and subregional institutions has a long history: organizations such as the Asian Clearing Union, the Bangkok Agreement, SADCC in Southern Africa and Latin American regional arrangements have benefited from UNCTAD's work, through advice on issues such as tariff arrangements, financial clearing systems, and other forms of closer collaboration. UNCTAD continues to strengthen the trading impact of the GSTP. Much technical cooperation work in Economic Cooperation Among Developing Countries has been determined by bodies such as the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, whose agendas have themselves been closely influenced by both regular and technical cooperation activities of UNCTAD.

Law Arbitration
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions