New York, 30 September 2003
Mr. Deputy Prime Minister,
Distinguished delegates and colleagues,
Allow me at the outset to convey to you the warm greetings of the Secretary-General and his best wishes for the success of your Annual Meeting. He has asked me specifically to do so on his behalf. I have the pleasure to add my own greetings to all of you. This Ministerial Meeting is highly significant as it comes within four weeks of the historic International Ministerial Conference held in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
I would like to pay high tribute to you, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, for your excellent leadership in the run up to and during the Almaty Conference. I also applaud Ambassador Alounkeo Kittikhoun for leading the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries very wisely and capably throughout the preparatory process as well as in the intense negotiations in Almaty. We also owe debt of gratitude to the chairmen of the first and second sessions of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee, Ambassador Pier Francese of Italy and Ambassador Yoshiyuki Motomura of Japan for their brilliant leadership.
I would also like to once again thank the Government of Kazakhstan for so generously hosting the Ministerial Conference, for the wonderful arrangements made for our work, and for the warm hospitality extended to all of us. My deep appreciation goes particularly to H.E. Mr. Kassymzhomart Tokaev, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, for the very effective chairmanship of this pioneering conference. I would add here that many are saying that Almaty should be a “model” for future UN conferences – very focussed and very well-managed with an implementable outcome.
At this point, Mr. Chairman, I would like to join you in welcoming Moldova as a member of your Group and assure the delegation of the full cooperation of the Office of the High Representative.
Today we are taking the first steps in the implementation of - what I would call --- the landmark Almaty Declaration and the Programme of Action. The International Ministerial Conference achieved its goal of galvanizing international recognition and support in favour of landlocked developing countries. As a result, landlocked developing countries have obtained for the first time a United Nations Programme of Action devoted to addressing their special needs. This is a remarkable achievement made possible thanks to almost half a century’s concerted efforts by landlocked developing countries since the 11th session of the General Assembly.
A special feature of the Almaty Programme of Action is its focus on action-oriented specific measures to be undertaken by both landlocked and transit developing countries with the support of their development partners. These specific actions will be implemented in five priority areas, namely Fundamental Transit Policy Issues, Infrastructure Development and Maintenance, International Trade and Trade Facilitation, International Support Measures, and Implementation and Review. Thus, the Almaty Programme of Action provided a win-win opportunity for landlocked and transit developing countries in establishing efficient transit systems. I believe that Priority Five on the implementation and follow-up has the real potential of spurring concrete actions to realize the objectives of the Programme.
Now, allow me to share my views on how we can move forward in our joint efforts to implement the Almaty Programme of Action.
· The first step that needs to be undertaken is to get the Almaty Declaration and the Almaty Programme of Action endorsed by the General Assembly. All the items being considered by the General Assembly related to landlocked developing countries should now be brought together under the review process of the Almaty Programme of Action.
· One of the main reasons for the success in the preparatory process leading to Almaty was its broad based participatory approach among different UN agencies and international organizations, particularly the World Bank, UNDP, UNCTAD, Regional Commissions and the European Commission. The same approach should be adopted in the follow-up. Bearing this in mind, my Office is working on an Implementation Plan/Roadmap for the Almaty Programme of Action. We will undertake broad consultations in this context with the landlocked and transit developing countries and relevant international organizations. I am planning to visit next month to the World Bank to kick off the consultations on how to move ahead. The Implementation Plan will be presented to the inter-agency consultative meeting that I am planning to convene soon, in cooperation with the Secretariat of the UN system Chief Executives Board for Coordination.
· My Office will also launch an advocacy campaign to mobilize international awareness of and support to the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action.
· The Almaty Programme of Action attached particular attention to the sub-regional level implementation. In paragraph 48 of the Almaty Programme of Action, it was decided that specific sub-regional meetings should be organized and my Office was requested to provide support to the landlocked and transit developing countries in this regard together with other relevant international organizations in accordance with our respective mandate. These consultations should build-up a broad consensus on how to implement the Almaty Programme of Action, including definition of performance criteria and benchmarks to monitor the implementation at the sub-regional level. Efforts at the sub-regional level must rely on active and well-coordinated involvement of the relevant international, regional and sub-regional organizations. Here I would like to emphasize the particular role of the UN Regional Commissions and the sub-regional integration organizations. My Office will make efforts to mobilize and coordinate resources and involvement of these organizations in the process.
· Another priority area for immediate action is international trade. Recently, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries showed real strength in promoting their interest, acting effectively in concert, notably on the issues of market access for agricultural and non-agricultural goods. The landlocked developing countries should redouble their efforts within the context of the Doha trade negotiations to be pursued in Geneva following the setback in Cancun. Landlocked developing countries should work pro-actively to benefit from technical cooperation and capacity building programmes offered by the relevant UN organizations and the WTO.
· The implementation process of Priority One and Priority Two should start also immediately. Here, I would like to single out the importance of the reconstruction of “missing links” in the regional and sub-regional transport corridor networks and the efforts aimed at further improving the efficiency of the use of existing transport facilities through simplification, harmonization and standardization of border crossing procedures and documentation and greater use of information technology. In the context of the latter, my Office will undertake major efforts, in cooperation with the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations and the Economic Commission for Europe, for increasing adherence to international conventions in the area of transit trade and transport. We will also initiate action, as necessary, in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO). These are two important areas of action that should be pursued actively because they would yield considerable improvements with relatively less resources.
· In the process of implementing the Almaty Programme, we must do everything we can to mobilize the support of all the concerned multilateral and regional organizations. The Almaty Programme of Action, in particular paragraphs 48, 49 and 50 provided the Office of the High Representative with the broad mandate to coordinate UN system-wide efforts, mobilize international support measures and undertake advocacy to ensure its well-coordinated and effective follow-up. I will do my best to live up to this trust and confidence reposed in my Office. In this endeavour, I look forward to the support, advice and guidance of the landlocked and transit developing countries.
· The role of the World Bank and that of the respective regional development banks will be crucial in implementing the Almaty Programme. We will work with them closely to generate their support and resource-commitment towards implementation of the Programme.
· In conclusion, I wish to underscore the need for landlocked developing countries themselves to work more concertedly and coherently. In particular, landlocked developing countries should seize the important opportunities offered by major upcoming global events, including High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, Marrakesh Meeting on South–South Cooperation, the World Summit on the Information Society, the Doha Round of Negotiations, UNCTAD XI and, of course, the current session of the General Assembly, to push forward their agenda.
I am confident that this Annual Ministerial Meeting will provide clear guidelines for the effective follow-up of the outcomes of the International Ministerial Conference.
I thank you very much for your attention and I wish you every success in your deliberations.
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