News / Europe

Turkey Hosts UN Summit on World's Least Developing Nations

A general view of the 4th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, May 9, 2011
A general view of the 4th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, May 9, 2011

"I declare open the 4th United Nations conference on the least developed countries," said Turkish President Abdullah Gul as he opened the five-day meeting.

President Gul addressed the opening session with a bleak picture, saying that despite billions of dollars in aid the global picture has failed to improve since the first meeting in Paris in 1971.  

"There were 25 least developed countries in 1971. Today, number of those countries increased to 48. This situation is not sustainable," said Gul. "Although the least developed countries account for 13 percent of the world's population, they receive only one percent of the global economy's output."  

Since the United Nations introduced the category of least developed countries, only Botswana, Cape Verde and Maldives have developed enough to be removed from the list. Qualification for the list includes a per-capita annual income of less than $750, and an increase to more than $900 for graduation. Other factors considered include malnutrition, child mortality and education levels.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seen during a meeting at the 4th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, May 9, 2011
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seen during a meeting at the 4th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, May 9, 2011

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also addressed the conference and warned of dual threats of rising food and energy prices disproportionally hitting the poorest nations. He also was critical of the developed countries for their failure to honor their commitments.

"We have received a lot of very generous pledges in the past, therefore accountability will be very important. And now the United Nations will monitor the progress report as well as this delivery of their commitment," he said.

But the organizers of the conference say there are some signs that offer hope, pointing out that in recent years, many of the countries have started to record "relative high growth rates."  Secretary Ban called for greater international investment, saying it is not charity, but is the chance of helping to sustain global economic growth.  

The private sector has been given a more prominent role than in previous meetings. One of the main themes of the conference is focusing on building greater support among the LDC countries, in what is called south-to-south cooperation.  Stress also is being put on building more ties with emerging economies.  

The choice of an emerging economy to host the U.N. meeting for the first time is extremely important, according to World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

"It is absolutely significant that Turkey and emerging countries host these events. The emerging markets are rising, the poorer countries are looking to them, because it was not so long ago that they themselves were struggling with poverty," Okonjo-Iweala said.

Okonjo-Iweala added that "many of the emerging markets' countries still continue to have significant numbers of poor people living in them."

"So you can see the poorer countries can relate to them.  So it is very significant that one of them like Turkey offers to host a country like this because it has lot to share with the poor countries," said Okonjo-Iweala.

Turkey is paying for the conference, as well as expenses of many of those attending, all part of its growing commitment to support international development. Analysts say it is something Turkey can increasingly afford, having tripled its gross domestic product since 2001.  

Last year, Ankara donated $1 billion in aid.  That is less than one percent of the country's GDP, a 10-fold increase in less than a decade. In hosting the U.N. meeting, observers say Turkey wants to position itself as a bridge between the developed and least developed countries in the world.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs