India’s UN envoy questions fairness of development panel set up by Ban

United Nations, Jan 5 (IANS) India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin has questioned in a cryptic Tweet the fairness of the composition of a panel dominated by developed nations on sustainable development that Ban Ki-moon set up in his final moments as Secretary General.

The UN announced the creation of the committee of “eminent scientists and experts to draft the Global Sustainable Development Report” on Tuesday, the third day after Ban’s term had ended. It asserted that “the group is diverse, seeking to balance a wide range of relevant scientific disciplines, expertise and regional perspectives”.

Akbaruddin tweeted soon afterwards: “Equitable? 10 of the 15 members of @UN panel on Sustainable Development are from 35-member @OECD.”

The panel, whose task is mostly to review the progress of developing countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN for 2030, has 10 members from the 35-nation Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) and only five from the other 158 nations of the UN, most of which are developing countries.

Asked by IANS to elaborate on the tweet, Akbaruddin declined, saying: “The Tweet is self explanatory.”

The Secretary-General’s Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, who also had the same role under Ban, on Wednesday defended the composition of the panel .A

“Regarding the specific membership, the effort was made to reach out to people across a variety of regions,” he said. “I wouldn’t have anything further to say about how the different members were chosen.”

The UN announcement said the committee members who will draft a report to be published in 2019 on the progress in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals were chosen “after an extensive consultation process with member states and relevant United Nations organizations”.

Diplomats from developing countries dispute this and say they were not aware of any “extensive consultation” for selectingthe panel members.

“Something appears to be wrong with the process that led to such an outcome,” said a diplomat.

The diplomats also questioned the secrecy around the formation of the panel, which was announced only after Ban had left the UN.

The committee’s co-chairs are Endah Murniningtyas, a former Indonesian Deputy Environment Minister and Peter Messerli, a professor of sustainable development at Switzerland’s University of Bern.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

–IANS

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