Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I would like to thank His Excellency, Ambassador Dos Santos of Paraguay for the initiative to organize this meeting and for inviting me to consult with you on activities related to addressing the challenges of Land Locked Developing countries and the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. I sincerely appreciate this opportunity to interact with you from time to time, to update each other on the activities being undertaken by my office, to jointly identify the emerging priority needs of the Land locked developing countries and map out ways of addressing them. I always welcome your thoughtful ideas and constructive suggestions which play an important role in leading our future work. Holding regular meetings allows me to develop more relevant and better aligned programmes to meet your needs.
 
I would like to extend my warm welcome to His Excellency Mr. Manual Caceres, Vice Minister of Economic and Integration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay. I thank you for your dedication and great importance that you give to the issues of theLand Locked Developing countries.
 
I would also like to congratulate and thank Ambassador Dos Santos, the Chair of the LLDCs Group, for the tireless work he has been doing in support of the Group. He represented the LLDC Group in the Inter Agency Consultative Group Meeting that was organized by my Office. He presented statements on behalf of the group to the Second Committee under the consideration of the item related to international trade and under the consideration of the item Groups of countries in special situations. I would like to sincerely thank you for your able leadership and unwavering commitment to bringing to the fore the special needs and interests of the LLDCs. 
 
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
As we meet today, major challenges are affecting the global environment. The global economy is still struggling to fully recover from the financial and economic crisis, global food prices have surged to dangerous levels, and fuel prices are rising. The impact of these global challenges are most severe in Landlocked Developing Countries that face development constraints linked to fundamental geographic obstacles, remoteness from major international markets, inadequate transport infrastructure and high transport costs.
 
High transport costs, compounded by delays, fees, cumbersome border crossing and customs procedures, and other regulatory constraints constitute the greatest impediment to Landlocked Developing Countries’ trade competitiveness and equitable access to global markets. On the consumption side, the high transport costs of Landlocked Developing Countries inflate theprices of consumer goods especially food. Enhanced implementation of the priority areas of the Almaty Programme of Action can help improve the efficiency of the transit transport systems, develop the competitiveness of the economies of the Landlocked Developing Countries, generate increased trade and the domestic resources required to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Thus the challenges emanating at the global level are heightening the need for us to intensify the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. 
 
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Let me now take this opportunity to give you an update on some of the activities that my Office has undertaken since our Ministerial Meeting held in September 2010 and the planned activities to be undertaken later this year.
 
My Office organised an Inter Agency Consultative Group Meeting in November 2010 to enable the United Nations agencies and relevant international organizations to consult and share information on activities that they were undertaking to advance the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action and identify areas where collaboration can be fostered. Participants noted that some progress had been made in implementing the APoA by the Landlocked Developing Countries, transit countries, the agencies and other stakeholders. However the Meeting also noted that despite the notable progress made, LLDCs were still confronted with some challenges that include vulnerability to external shocks such as financial and economic crisis, limited productive capacities, diversification of their economic base and lack of competitiveness, missing links in the transit transport infrastructure, inadequate supportive telecommunication and energy infrastructure, rising food costs and climate change. The organisations present emphasized that it was crucial to harness their resources to assist Landlocked Developing Countries address issues that fall within their mandates.
 
My Office introduced the Report of the Secretary-General on the 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 to the Second Committee of the General Assembly. My Office also supported you in your preparation of the General Assembly Resolution 65/172 which is very comprehensive and identifies forward looking strategies to address the special needs and requirements of the landlocked developing countries.
 
Currently my Office is preparing the report of the Secretary-General for the Sixty-Sixth Session of the General Assembly on the 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. As you all know this is an annual report that provides details on the progress made in the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action and is based on the information that Member States, the organizations of the United Nations system and other relevant international organizations provide on the activities that they have undertaken to implement the Almaty Programme of Action. My Office has already sent to you the request for information and I would like to urge those who have not yet done so to submit your contribution to this important report. The substance and relevance of the information in the report really depends on your input.
 
OHRLLS is working with the Government of Kazakhstan to prepare for a High-level meeting focusing on the effectiveness of aid for trade and trade facilitation, and the effective participation of Landlocked Developing countries in the world economy. The Government of Kazakhstan has offered to host this important meeting later this year. My Office is also working in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa, African Union, African Development Bank, and World Bank to support the strengthening of the Legal Framework on the Trans-African Highway.
 
Let me also inform you that I’m very thankful for the Government of Mongolia and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for organizing a High-level Policy Dialogue on the Almaty Programme of Action on 12-14 April 2011 in Ulanbataar, Mongolia. The event will review the implementation of the APoA from the perspectives of the region and identify key issues and development gaps faced by the Asia-Pacific Landlocked Developing Countries that would require enhanced support measures. The outcome of this event will indeed greatly benefit the Landlocked Developing Countries in the region.
 
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Allow me at this point to talk about the International Think Tank for the Landlocked Developing Countries. This is one of the tangible achievements that the LLDC group has established. As you all know following our 9th Ministerial Meeting that endorsed the final text of the Multi-lateral Agreement for the establishment of an International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries, the Agreement is now open for signature with the Treaty Section of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs. As of today I am informed that no country has signed the agreement and would like to appeal to all of you to consider signing the Agreement as a priority. My office is ready to provide all the support you need on this endeavor. We have already translated the Agreement into French, Russian and Spanish for your use. The United Nations Office of Legal Affairs is also ready to provide support. The agreement on the International Think Tank is one of the treaties that the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs will feature in their next treaty event to be held in September 2011.
 
Efforts to operationalise the International Think Tank directly depend on the agreement being signed and coming into force. Let us therefore facilitate the take off of the Think Tank so that it can undertake its rolestrengthening analytical capacities of landlocked developing countries in key areas of economic growth and poverty reduction, and other development areas to help them overcome their geographical disadvantages.
 
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Allow me at this juncture, to reflect on the inclusion of landlocked developing countries’ issues in the global processes. Due to your advocacy work and strong will to have the LLDC as a group be recognised for its special needs emanating from the geographic challenges the countries face,  the outcome document of the 2010 MDG Summit categorically recognized the special needs of the landlocked developing countries, caused by their lack of territorial access to the sea aggravated by remoteness from world markets, and resolved to take further effective measures and actions, to remove obstacles and constraints, strengthen support and meet the special needs of their special needs.
 
 
The other major process that is currently ongoing is the preparations for the Fourth United Nations conference on Least Developed Countries to be held 9 to 13 May in Istanbul Turkey. Since 18 of the Least Developed countries are Landlocked Developing Countries, let me take a brief moment to apprise you on the status of the preparations for the UN-LDC IV. Preparations for the conference have followed a bottom-up approach starting from the country level. National consultations took place throughout 2009 and involved a broad spectrum of stakeholders. Regional review meetings which came up with forward looking outcomes were held for the African and Asian regions.
 
At the global level, my office, in close collaboration with UN agencies, other international institutions and some member States, have organized a number of events on a variety of key thematic areas that are particularly important for LDCs. The summary and outcome of all these events are being used as inputs for the development of the next Programme of Action.
 
Besides the intergovernmental track, three other tracks including Parliamentarians, Civil Society and the Private Sector, are also engaged in the preparatory process. The Secretary-General also appointed a Group of Eminent Persons to examine obstacles faced by LDCs, provide recommendations and make efforts to raise public awareness and build strong political commitment in support of LDCs.
 
The intergovernmental dialogue, consultations and discussions on the draft Programme of Action began when the first session of the Preparatory Committee that was held in New York in January. The second session of the Preparatory Committee is currently being held and will further develop the draft outcome document.
 
The Conference itself will be comprised of an inaugural ceremony, plenary meetings, the committee of the whole and high-level interactive thematic debates. Other activities will include a Parliamentarian’s Forum; a Global Business Partnership Forum; a High-Level Meeting on Investment and Partnerships; a Trade Fair; a Civil Society Forum and a number of special events on various themes.
 
Having said this I would like to express my wish for high level participation in the Conference from LDCs as well as from other developing and developed countries and would therefore like to call upon your support to mobilize record attendance to the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries.
 
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
In concluding my statement, allow me to remind you that in 2013 the first decade of the Almaty Programme of Action will come to a close. My experience with the preparatory process of the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries has emphasized that preparations should start way ahead of time. Consequently I look forward to working with you in preparing for the final review of the Almaty Programme of Action starting from later this year.
 
Let me also reassure you that my Office will continue to provide substantive support to activities and initiatives of the Chair and any assistance that the LLDC Group might require over this year.
 

I thank you for your kind attention.