I would like to commend His Excellency, Ambassador Dos Santos of Paraguay for the initiative to organize this timely event and thank him very much for inviting me to meet, and consult with you on activities related to addressing the challenges of Land Locked Developing countries and the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action.
This meeting is very timely as it gives us a unique opportunity to put our heads together to strategize on how we can send a strong message about our group of countries to the 2010 ECOSOC Session to be held next week; and the 2010 Millennium Development Summit to be held in September. As we are all aware of, Land Locked Developing Countries face special challenges that are linked to fundamental geographic obstacles, remoteness from major international markets, inadequate transport infrastructure and high transport costs. These challenges do not only affect economic growth, but have major ramifications on social and environmental aspects of development. So we should seize every opportunity to highlight the special needs of land locked countries in order to get the support needed to help our countries overcome these development challenges and ensure beneficial integration into the world economy, in both physical and economic terms and the achievement of sustainable development. This meeting also allows us a chance to plan for the Ninth Annual Ministerial Meeting of the Land Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) to be held in September 2010.
Having said this let me now congratulate Ambassador Dos Santos for the excellent work that he has been doing in support of the Group since our last meeting held in March. He delivered statements on behalf of the group to different fora including to the 18th Session of Commission on Sustainable Development held in May and the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development held in March. He has been negotiating within G77 for the inclusion of specific text on the special needs of LLDCs into the draft outcome of the 2010 Millennium Development Summit.
Ambassador Dos Santos has also initiated early preparations for the 9th Annual Ministerial Meeting of the LLDCs to be held on 24 September 2010. Iam very pleased with the proposed theme which is really in line with the 2010 Millennium Development Summit.
I am very happy that in your last meeting, you established a working group on the LLDC International Think Tank, which was tasked to draft the legal agreement on the Think Tank and to provide advice on the operationalization of the Think Tank. Iam glad that this working group under your able guidance Mr Chairman, has been able to develop a draft agreement. I look forward to your hastened progress in finalizing this agreement. As you well know, this is one initiative which the Secretary-General is really keen to see take off since his participation in its launching in Ulaanbaatar last year. The LLDC Think Tank will provide a centre of excellence for high quality research and policy advice for landlocked developing countries and will contribute to further strengthening of the analytical capacities of landlocked developing countries. I therefore urge all of us to play our optimal roles in ensuring that the operationalisation of the Think Tank. My office is ready to provide all the support you need on this endeavor, in addition to the support that we have already provided in drafting the agreement.
Allow me now to briefly give you an update on some of the activities that my Office is currently undertaking.
I would like to inform you that in May I attended the 18th Meeting of the Economic and Environmental Forum of The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) whose theme was focused on promoting good governance at border crossings, improving the security of land transportation and facilitating international transport by road and rail in the OSCE region. Whilst participating in this meeting, I had the opportunity to meet with His Excellency Mr. Abelgazy Kussainov the Minister of Transport. In our meeting, we reflected on the important role that Kazakhstan played in hosting the first International Ministerial Conference on landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Development Institutions on transit transport in August 2003 that resulted in the adoption of the Almaty Programme of Action. We also discussed the possibility of his country to host a High-Level meeting on trade, trade facilitation and aid for trade, later this year. I am happy to report that Mr. Kussainov expressed interest to host such a meeting and we are now working towards working out the modalities of organizing that high level meeting.
My Office is also organising in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa, an Expert Group Meeting on The Legal framework for transit transport in Africa to be held later this year. The aim of the meeting is to come up with a legal framework that can assist in achieving greater harmonization in the legal framework among countries.
My Office participated in the Expert Group Meeting and Workshop on Aid for Trade (AfT) and Africa’s Trading Capacity: Supply, Demand and Performance organized by the Economic Commission for Africa held at the beginning of June in Addis Ababa. The final communiqué issued at the end of the meeting contained recommendations that are crucial in promoting the effective use of Aid for Trade to address the trade challenges of land locked countries. My Office also participated in the Inter-Agency Meeting on International Transit, held in Geneva two weeks ago. In that meeting, UN and other international and regional agencies shared information on existing transit regimes, constraints and lessons learned as well proposals for revision of transit regimes.
I would also like to inform you that on Thursday, 18th June, I presented the Strategic framework for 2012 to 2013 of my Office Programme 8: Least developed countries, Landlocked developing countries and Small Island developing States for the biennium 2012-2013 to the Fiftieth Session of the Committee for Programme and Coordination. Under Subprogramme 2 which focuses on Landlocked developing countries, my Office is going to continue to ensure effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action: Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation for Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries. The effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action by this subprogramme is expected to result in increased progress towards establishing efficient transport systems and reducing trade transaction costs; and increased international resources in support of the special needs of the land locked countries. The strategic framework was well received by the Committee with minor additions.
My Office will continue to provide substantive support to activities and initiatives of the Chair and any assistance that the Land Locked Developing Countries Group might require during the forthcoming session of ECOSOC and the 65th General Assembly session.
Finally I would like to call upon you - the Land Locked Developing Countries Group to work with us to make a case to mainstream your issues and concerns into:
The major United Nations processes such as climate change, Millennium Development Goals, the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UNLDCIV), Financing for Development follow up;
International fora such as the World Trade Organisation’s Doha negotiations; and
The work programmes of international institutions, the United Nations system and other agencies including Regional Development Banks and agencies.
Let us not miss the opportunity to profile our needs and get the necessary support that can help us overcome the challenges that we face.
I thank you for your attention.