Anwarul K. Chowdhury

United Nations Under-Secretary-General
and High Representative for the
Least Developed Countries,
Landlocked Developing Countries
and Small Island Developing States
and
Secretary-General of the
International Ministerial Conference (IMC)


At the
Latin American Regional Meeting of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries on Transit Transport Cooperation
on the Preparatory Process of the IMC


Asuncion, 12 March 2003


Mr. Chairman,

I thank you very much for the opportunity to brief the delegations on the preparatory process for the International Ministerial Conference. At the outset allow me to congratulate you on your election as Chairman of the Latin American regional preparatory meeting. I am fully confident that under your able leadership,
the deliberations of this meeting will come to a successful conclusion.
I also congratulate the delegations of Bolivia and Uruguay for their election to the Bureau of the Meeting.

Mr. Chairman,

As you are aware, the General Assembly first decided to convene the International Ministerial Conference in 2001 in its resolution 56/180. In 2002,
the General Assembly in its resolution 57/242 decided on organizational aspects of the Conference, including its specific dates, venue and the bureau. In the latter, the General Assembly also designated me as the Secretary-General of the Conference.

My Office started the preparatory work for the Conference as soon as the Secretary-General appointed me as the High Representative. My first task was to develop the conceptual framework of organizational and substantive aspects of the Conference and to forge a broad consensus among Member States as well as the relevant stakeholders, including UN system organizations, multilateral institutions and regional organizations. We have embarked on serious consultations with all stakeholders to achieve this task.

Based on such broad based consultations we have prepared the conceptual framework of the Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and submitted it to the first Inter-agency meeting that I convened in New York in June last year. This first Inter-agency meeting, which brought together about 50 senior officials from more than 20 UN agencies, including the World Bank, UNCTAD and the regional commissions, endorsed the approach developed by the Office of the High Representative. We also invited representatives from both landlocked and transit developing countries to the Inter-agency meeting to reflect their views. The Inter-agency meeting constituted as the launching of the preparatory process for the International Ministerial Conference.

The 2002 Annual Ministerial Meeting of Landlocked Developing Countries in New York adopted the Ministerial Declaration on the International Ministerial Conference, which provided us with clear guidelines on how to proceed with the preparatory process for the Ministerial Conference.

At the 57th session of the General Assembly, the Second Committee considered the progress on the preparation for the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries. On this agenda, my Office submitted the report of the Secretary-General of the Secretary-General. The General Assembly demonstrated the strong interest of Member States for this Conference. It was a clear expression of the great importance that the Member States accord to the specific needs of landlocked developing countries, in general, and international cooperation for establishing efficient transit systems.

The following elements serve as the guiding principles for us to coordinate the system-wide preparations for the International Ministerial Conference:

First, the establishment of efficient transit systems is the area where the United Nations could bring a tangible progress to landlocked developing countries. The Conference is unique with its focused and specific agenda. Such a focused agenda would lead to the action-oriented outcome, implementation of which would be feasible, measurable and quantifiable.

Second, a broad-based participatory approach is the key to the success of the Conference, as different institutions are dealing with the various aspects of the issue such as legal, infrastructure development planning and funding, trade, trade facilitation, regional integration and standard setting etc. The Ministerial Conference is a UN system-wide joint undertaking with the single objective of formulating a new agenda for establishing efficient transit systems around the world. Consequently, efforts have been made to ensure that Governments, UN entities and other relevant organizations have a sense of ownership of the preparatory process as well as of the outcome of the Conference. In particular, the regional commissions have the main responsibility for the regional level preparations. In this context, I would like to commend the excellent work undertaken by Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, Executive-Secretary of ECLAC, and his able secretariat for providing preparations for this regional meeting in a timely and efficient manner.

Third, an effective and meaningful involvement of the private sector would be an important element of the process. We are working with the International Chamber of Commerce to mobilize participation of the private sector at the Conference.

Fourth, the bottom up approach from the sub-regional/ regional level to the global level preparations has been endorsed. The efficient transit systems will only be established at the sub-regional level in the regional perspective. Therefore,
to be meaningful and effective, any global programme needs to be based on sub-regional/regional level assessment of constraints, and identification of priorities for future action. Sub-regional/regional level preparations should, therefore, receive special attention. The existing intergovernmental mechanism and initiatives at the sub-regional and regional levels are being utilized as fully as possible.

Fifth, the preparatory process should be designed in such a way that it would achieve the expected outcome with minimum resources. It is, therefore, planned to have no more than 5 days of additional meetings in the biennium 2002-2003. The sixth meeting of governmental experts, which has already been scheduled, will be turned into the first session of the preparatory committee. The second session of the preparatory committee will be organized back-to-back with the Ministerial Conference. The Conference will be well structured and focused. We will avoid too many parallel events and overlapping activities. Indeed, there will be two parallel events, namely Investment Forum and Trade Facilitation Panel.

Sixth, the Ministerial Conference must be built on well-coordinated and well-planned preparatory work.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me turn now to the other specific aspects of the Conference. First, the mandate of the Conference.

Mandate of the Ministerial Conference

The International Ministerial Conference provides the international community with a unique opportunity to galvanize international solidarity and partnership to assist landlocked developing countries to effectively participate in the international trading system, through establishing efficient transit systems. In accordance with General Assembly resolution 56/180, the mandate of the Ministerial Conference is to:

i) review the current situation of transit transport systems, including the
implementation of the 1995 Global Framework for Transit Cooperation and,

ii) formulate, inter alia, appropriate policy measures and action-oriented
programmes aimed at developing efficient transit transport systems.

The regional platforms to be adopted at the regional preparatory meetings will constitute an important part of the outcome of the Conference.

Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee

As you can see from the roadmap that I made available for your Meeting,
the International Ministerial Conference shall be preceded by two sessions of the International Preparatory Committee. The sixth meeting of Governmental Experts from Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Representatives of Donor Countries and Financial and Development Institutions shall serve as the first session of the Preparatory Committee. This first session will commence negotiations on the draft final outcome of the Conference. The second session of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee will finalise the text of the draft outcome for the adoption by the Ministerial Conference.


Participation at the Conference and its preparatory process

The General Assembly in its resolution 57/242 invited organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, including UNCTAD and the regional commissions,
the international financial and developments institution, in particular, the World Bank, and other relevant regional and international organizations and the international community to provide the necessary substantive, financial and technical support to the preparatory process and organization of the Conference as well as to participate actively.
The Secretary-General of the Conference was invited to make the necessary arrangements to facilitate the meaningful participation of civil society, including the private sector, at the Conference and its preparatory meetings.

Resource mobilization

The General Assembly requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to seek voluntary contributions to facilitate the preparations for the Ministerial Conference, including the participation of representatives of landlocked and transit developing countries at the Conference. I have launched a campaign on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to mobilize voluntary contributions. UNDP Resident Representatives are also being mobilized. For this purpose, I sent a letter jointly signed with the Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of the UNDP Mr. Zephirin Diabré to the UNDP Resident Representative with a request to fund at least two participants from landlocked and transit developing countries to the first session of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee in New York and to the Conference itself.

Preparatory meetings

The preparatory process of the International Ministerial Conference will be conducted at regional and global levels. The Secretary-General of the Conference has been asked to convene three regional meetings by April 2003 in Africa, Asia and the Latin America. In view of time and resources constraints, the sub-regional meetings could also be organized in the sidelines of the regional meetings. These Regional Meetings are expected to formulate regional platforms on measures aimed at improving transit transport systems. They are also expected to adopt a list of proposals for deliverables.

Bureau of the Conference

The General Assembly decided in its resolution 57/242 that the intergovernmental preparatory committee shall have a bureau consisting of 10 representatives of Member States elected on the basis of equitable geographical representation. I have already started the consultations with the delegates in New York.
It is my view that the Bureau should also have the equitable representation from three groups, namely landlocked, transit and donor countries along with the geographical representation.

Substantive preparations

The substantive preparations are well underway. The World Bank has been actively involved and my Office has been in regular contact with the Transport Division of the Bank. I made the keynote speech at the 2003 annual Transport Forum of the World Bank on the Ministerial Conference. Keeping in mind Ministerial Conference, the World Bank devoted a chapter on transport services in its annual report entitled "World Economic Perspective". It is a major substantive contribution by the World Bank to the Conference. In addition, the World Bank is preparing a comprehensive paper on private investment in infrastructure development in landlocked and transit developing countries. UNCTAD has commissioned studies on transit problems of LLDCs from three main angles, namely transit facilitation, trade expansion and investment promotion. My Office is preparing a publication on the overall socio-economic development trend in landlocked developing countries and transit transport systems around the world. We will also prepare the report of the Secretary-General to the first session of the preparatory committee on the outcome of the regional level preparations. Also, the Millennium Development Project headed by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of United Nations on the Millennium Development Goals, is also preparing a paper on development needs of landlocked developing countries.

These relevant documents will be made available at the first session of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee and the Conference itself. They will serve as a substantive basis for the deliberations and for the outcome of the Conference.

Let me conclude by informing that my Office has launched a website on the Ministerial Conference containing useful information on the preparatory meetings at the regional and international levels, their mandate, background documents, host country information, including venue, date, expected participants, hotel information, parallel events etc. You may visit our website for more detailed information, which will be regularly updated. The address of the website is www.un.org/ohrlls

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.