UN-HABITAT has been granted observer status to the institutions of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP Group). The decision, which takes effect from 1 December 2004, was taken at the 80th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers held in Brussels, Belgium, from 29 November to 3 December 2004.
From left to right: HEM Jacques Obia, Ambassador of Congo-Brazza to Belgium and EU institutions and Member of the TROIKA of the ACP Committee of the Ambassadors, Mr André Heitz, Director of WIPO Brussels Office, HEM Jean Robert Goulongana, Secretary General of ACP and Jean Bakole
Coming just over a month after UN-HABITAT and ACP signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote sustainable urbanization and the eradication of poverty in ACP countries, the Observer Status gives UN-HABITAT a greater opportunity to engage in concrete dialogue with the ACP Group and the European Union and to promote the inclusion of human settlements development among the priorities for the next programme of action under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).
The Council called on the European Investment Bank to set up regional agencies in all the six ACP regions to promote the use of the Investment Facility by enterprises in ACP Countries. The Investment Facility was established in 2003 as a risk-sharing financial instrument to finance projects in the ACP partner countries and promote the development of private sector and commercially-run public enterprises in ACP countries.
As part of the preparation for the next World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference to be held in Hong Kong in December 2005, the Council agreed to organize a meeting of ACP Trade Ministers in the first half of 2005 to defend the interests of the ACP Group and define the Group’s expectations and objectives of the forthcoming WTO Conference.
The Council of Ministers also elected of Sir John Kaputin, from Papua New Guinea, as Secretary-General of the ACP Group with effect from 1 March 2005, and granted Observer Status to two other UN agencies: the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). UN-HABITAT was represented by the Acting Head of its Brussels Liaison Office with the European Union and Belgium, Mr. Jean B. Bakole.
The ACP Group was established on 6 June 1975 to manage the preferential economic and aid relationship of its members with the European Union. It now has 79 members drawn from Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries.