Intervention by Mr. Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, Senior Programme Officer at the Eighth Session of the Special Body on Least Developed and Landlocked Developing Countries of the UNESCAP, 15-16 May 2007, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Let me at the outset express my sincere thanks for the opportunity to speak about the midterm review of the implementation of the Programme of Action which carries the name of this hospitable city as its birth place. Also, let me also commend the ESCAP colleagues for the excellent preparations for the 8th session of this Special body.
The 2003 Almaty Conference was indeed a landmark event aimed at forging a global partnership to tackle the marginalization of landlocked developing countries from the international trading system in a focused, but holistic fashion. The Almaty Programme of Action was widely acclaimed as a well-focused and balanced document with a clear set of priorities for action in transit policy issues, infrastructure development and maintenance, international trade and trade facilitation, and international support measures. The Almaty consensus emphasized the importance of efficient and reliable transit services as a prerequisite for the effective participation of LLDCs in the international trade and the world economy. Recent reports of the Secretary-General registered progress in its implementation. Official development assistance to LLDCs is steadily increasing; its share for infrastructure development is on the rise also. A large number of far-reaching trade facilitation measures are being implemented at the regional and bilateral levels to simplify and streamline costly procedures. ESCAP is one of the leaders in these efforts. Particularly, it has been active in the areas of planning and standard setting in regional transport and communication infrastructure development. The latest examples are intergovernmental agreements on the Asian Highway and Asian railway.
Against this background, at its 62nd session the General Assembly decided to hold a midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action in 2008. The midterm review would provide the international community with an opportunity to make the assessment of the progress made in establishing efficient transit transport systems in the landlocked regions around the world and agree on what needs to be done to further galvanize global partnerships to assist landlocked and transit developing countries to effectively implement the Almaty Programme of Action.
The General Assembly in its resolution 61/212 decided that the review should be preceded by national, sub-regional and substantive preparations; it should be organized in most effective, well-structured and broad participatory manner; intergovernmental mechanisms at the global and regional levels, including those of the UN Regional commissions, should be broadly utilized. Existing substantive documents, as well as the relevant recent regional and sub-regional initiatives, should be also effectively used.
The UN-OHRLLS was requested to coordinate the preparatory process. The role of the Regional Commissions for the implementation of the Programme and its midterm review are stressed by the General Assembly.
Based on these principles the UN-OHRLLS has developed conceptual framework and organizational chart for the midterm review to launch the substantive and intergovernmental preparatory process in consultation with the major stakeholders. The objective is to organize the midterm review in such a way that it attains practical outcomes that can be effectively followed up at the global, regional, sub-regional and national levels. Active involvement of the stakeholders is a key to arriving at a meaningful outcome. The midterm review should be seen as a joint undertaking and common rallying point for Governments of landlocked and transit developing countries and their development partners with a single purpose of accelerating the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. Consequently, efforts need to be made to ensure that governments, UN agencies, the Regional Commissions and other relevant organizations have a sense of ownership of the preparatory process. As requested by the UN General Assembly, the UN-OHRLLS will provide the overall coordination, advocacy, mobilization of political and financial support for the midterm review.
In terms of the structural aspect, the organizational chart of the review process is made available in the room. As you can see, two thematic meetings will be held later this year to provide substantive inputs to the midterm review: Thematic meeting on transit transport infrastructure development will be held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from 18 to 20 June 2007. The second thematic meeting on trade and trade facilitation will be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from 28 to 31 August 2007. The UN-OHRLLS has been actively preparing for them. Resources are being mobilized to assist the participation of LLDCs and least developed transit countries. Host country agreements are being signed. Substantive preparations are being also made. The Regional Commissions, including ESCAP, are expected to make substantive contributions.
Three regional reviews will be held in 2008 prior to the main event. The UNECA, UNESCAP, UNECLAC should play a lead role in conducting regional reviews as per the General Assembly resolution 62/212. The regional reviews should be built in the agenda of the annual session of the regional commissions. The regional reviews could be preceded by national or sub-regional reviews, where necessary. It is also the view of the UN-OHRLLS that the regional reviews’ outcomes should focus on the assessment of transit transport systems in their respective regions and should include, preferably, a list of deliverables necessary for establishing efficient transit transport systems in landlocked developing countries.
The midterm review itself will be held during the 63rd session of the General Assembly, possibly, at the ministerial level. Procedural matters will be decided by the General Assembly at its forthcoming 62nd session. Relevant recommendations would be made in the report of the Secretary-General to this session. The midterm review should not be seen as the re-negotiation of the Almaty Programme of Action. Instead, the outcome could be a document of political nature focused on how to further accelerate the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action and to further galvanize the international partnership at the bilateral, regional and global levels.
A number of parallel events will be organized: round table meetings, announcements of important initiatives, commercial deals, conclusion of international instruments and demonstration of use of information technology and best practices in trade facilitation. UN agencies and relevant international organizations will take a responsibility for a parallel event which falls within their respective mandate.
The relevant agencies of the United Nations, including the UN-OHRLLS and the Department of Public Information will take the necessary measures to intensify public information efforts and other relevant initiatives to enhance public awareness of the Almaty Programme of Action. Websites of the United Nations and its relevant agencies and regional commissions will be extensively used for these purposes. Also relevant information and briefing materials will be provided to media.
I thank you for your attention and wish you every success in your timely and vital deliberations.