Acting unanimously today, the General Assembly decided on an exceptional basis to provide Angola — which had stood poised to graduate from the United Nations list of least developed countries — with an additional preparatory period of three years, in light of socioeconomic vulnerabilities exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Adopting the resolution titled “Extension of the preparatory period preceding the graduation of Angola from the least developed country category” (document A/75/L.57) without a vote, the 193-member Assembly expressed deep concern at the prolonged economic recession being experienced by Angola, as well as the vulnerabilities now worsened by the global crisis triggered by COVID-19.
While granting Angola three additional years before its effective date of graduation, Member States also reiterated their invitation to the country to prepare a “national smooth transition strategy” with support from the United Nations and in cooperation with bilateral, regional and multilateral development and trading partners.
Introducing the resolution at the meeting’s outset, the representative of Guinea spotlighted the many shocks to the global system brought about by COVID-19 over the last year. Emphasizing that the pandemic has significantly exacerbated development challenges facing the world’s least developed countries and reversed years of hard-won gains, he said the Group of Least Developed Countries now seeks to draw the attention of the global community to those most vulnerable to COVID-19’s shocks.
He noted that, following Vanuatu’s graduation from the least developed countries category in December 2020, 11 more States remain on track for graduation. While strides have been made towards implementing the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, many challenges remain. The perception of graduation “could benefit from a shift” in which graduation is not seen as a goal in itself, but as a step closer to national self-reliance. Indeed, he stressed, graduating countries must be able to move off the list “on a strong footing” and with the confidence needed to make graduation smooth and irreversible.
Two delegates spoke briefly in explanation of position. The representative of the United States, noting that his delegation understands the devastating impact the coronavirus has had on Angola’s economy and that of other least developed countries, pledged to assist Angola going forward.
The representative of the European Union delegation spotlighted the particular challenges being faced by Angola, including a six-years-long recession that preceded the pandemic, and welcomed language in the resolution committing the United Nations to helping the country plan a smooth transition strategy. He added that the objective of successful graduation from the least developed countries category is one shared by the entire international community.
In other business, the Assembly took note of a communication by the Secretary-General (document A/75/661/Add.2) in which he informed Member States that South Sudan had made the payment necessary to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The General Assembly will reconvene in plenary at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 23 February.