1996 Report of Ambassador J.Enkhsaikhan,
Permanent Representative of Mongolia as the
Chairman of the Group of Land-Locked Developing Countries
/New York, 17 January 1997/
My task today is made somewhat easier since, as you all know, I have made progress report on the activities of the Group and its Chairman on 13 November of 1996. Therefore, I could briefly dwell on main points highlighting the Group's work in 1996.
One. Representation of the interests of the Group at international fora
a. Statements made
1. A statement was made at the 36th session of the Committee on Programme and Coordination /15 June 1996/ on the proposed medium-term plan for the period of 1998-2001 and the Group's concern was expressed that the issue of land-locked developing countries /LLDCs/ was put under sub-programme 9.4 dealing solely with service infrastructure and trade efficiency, which by implication would not allow for the problems of land-locked developing countries be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Therefore, the Chair insisted that the issue of land-locked developing countries be properly dealt with under sub-programme 9.5 on the least developed countries in accordance with the recommendations of UNCTAD IX. The question has been resolved accordingly.
2. The Permanent Representative of Mongolia in Geneva has also made a similar statement at the session of the Working Party of the TDB with respect to the proposed meduim-term plan for the period of 1998-2001. As a result, the President of the TDB has sent a letter to Chairman of the Fifth committee to include LLDCs under sub-programme 9.5.
3. Likewise a statement was subsequently made on behalf of the Group in Fifth Committee.
b. Reflection in documents
As pointed out in the Group's Functional guidelines, primary attention has been given by the Chair to task of achieving the best possible terms for the Group in various United Nations documents and documents of other international fora. To this end specific provisions concerning the needs and special conditions of the LLDCs have been reflected in the following documents of the United Nations and other international conferences by the Group, the contents of which is well known to the members:
Two. Some observations:
One. Some transit developing countries have been trying to put the interests of transit developing countries on par with the particular needs of LLDCs despite the latter's specific conditions. We do not deny the existence of close linkage between transit and land-locked developing countries in improving transit transportation situations. However, such an approach of transit developing countries bears in itself the risk of blurring the specific needs and problems of the land-locked countries per se. This runs counter to the widely recognized principle of non-reciprocity. It is widely known that the special problems and needs of the LLDCs are mainly caused by the lack of physical access to and from the sea, aggravated further by remoteness and isolation from world market and , as a consequence, prohibitive transit costs and risks pose serious constraints on the overall socio-economic development efforts.
Two. Some of our developed partners maintain a somewhat simplified approach to the inherent problems and needs of LLDcs. That is why the level and the amount of Official Development Assistance have been declining in recent years. The number of countries which require special attention, hence financial and technical support, the donors tend to include in them LLDCs. That is why the Group and its individual members should redouble their efforts to elucidate the specific difficulties and handicaps of LLDCs to donor countries.
Three. Summing up of the work
Looking back at the Group's work, it could be said that the special needs of LLDCs have, in general, been adequately reflected in international documents. Therefore, this activity of the Group should only be welcomed and maintained.
However, the Group and its individual members should be encouraged to work beyond it and look more closely at the practical feedbacks of these provisions and follow-ups of the adopted documents, because, in the final analysis, the practical results should determine our work and our efforts. Thus, for example, it could be worth setting out the implementation of the omnibus resolution 50/97 or of the Global framework for transit transport cooperation between land-locked and transit developing countries and the Donor community. In this regard, I would suggest that the Group pay a special attention to feedbacks and follow-ups.
Although 1996 has been a year that has registered some concrete accomplishment for LLDCs, it should however be noted with regret that the Group as a whole finds itself in a rather weak position. Its activities have not been as active as those of other groups such as the Alliance of Small island states or the Group of least developed countries. We should bear in mind that the success of the activities of the Group and its influence in negotiations in different fora primarily depend on the active participation of and close coordination among all the member states of our Group.
Four. Agenda for 1997
Looking at our 1997 agenda, we could see that this year shall be marked by a number of important meetings and conferences, where the needs and interests of the Group, in our view, should be reflected. They include, inter alia, III meeting of governmental experts from land-locked and transit developing countries and representatives of donor countries and financial and development institutions, General Assembly session /the omnibus resolution on the specific actions related to the particular needs and problems of land-locked developing countries/, G-77 and NAM ministerial meetings, a series of meetings of UNCTAD working party on medium term plan and programme budget, sessions of UNCTAD Trade and Development Board, Commission on trade in goods and services and commodities, High level committee on the review of the technical cooperation among developing countries, etc. We, as a Group, should carefully prepare for these meetings and actively participate in their work.
Five . Some suggestions for future activities
1. One of the ways to promote and safeguard the common interests of the Group, as specifically mentioned in the Functional Guidelines, is to explore the possibility of strengthening our negotiating positions vis-a-vis the transit states when drawing up and concluding bilateral, subregional or regional transit agreements, defining the legal content of the right of access of LLDCs to and from the sea, as well as generally recognized terms and modalities for exercising freedom of transit that ought to be reflected in bilateral, subregional and regional agreements, the question of non-reciprocity and exclusion of application of the most-favoured -nation treatment, legal bases of customs duties, taxes and other charges for traffic in transit of land-locked countries, "legitimate interests" of transit states in the light of the rights of land-locked countries, legal status of land-locked states at free zones, treatment of land-locked states in maritime ports, legal remedies of avoiding or shortening the unnecessary delays or other difficulties for traffic in transit, etc.
In our view, such a report containing proposed standard or uniform draft clauses or articles, and their substantiation, could be prepared by the United Nations Commission of International trade Law /UNCITRAL/, one of principal aims of which is to promote the progressive harmonization and unification of various aspects of law in international trade. As we all know, since its establishment in 1966 UNCITRAL has done enormous work including research and preparation of uniform rules in international sale of goods, international payments, including a legal guide on electronic fund transfers, international commercial arbitration, international legislation on shipping, countertrade and procurement. At its last session UNCITRAL has completed and adopted a Model law on electronic commerce and finalized the Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings.
UNCITRAL's current projects include a draft convention on independent guarantees and stand-by letters of credit, draft practice notes on planning arbitral proceedings, as well as studies on cross-border insolvency, on legal aspects of receivable financing, on build-operate-transfer /BOT/ projects and some others.
The Chair believes that if the Group agrees, after consultations with appropriate UN officials, a letter could be sent to the current president of the Commission on behalf of the Group requesting him to consider the possibility of including the question of undertaking such a study in the Commission's next session agenda. As practice shows, such project could be successful if states making the request actively cooperate with the Commission and provide it with all the necessary materials and information.
2. Another possible way of promoting and safeguarding the interests of LLDCs is, perhaps, to ask United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, its Division for Ocean Affairs, to make an analytical study on the rights of the land-locked countries in light of the entry into force of the Law of the Sea Convention in 1994. The list of accession to this Convention shows that the overwhelming majority of LLDCs have not ratified the Convention, and thus have not become parties to the Convention.
On the other hand, whatever the faults of the Convention, which represents a historic compromise of all groups of states, parts X, XI and other parts of the Convention confer some rights to the land-locked states, which are not confined solely to transit rights. The Convention, at least in legal terms, offers some possibility for the land-locked countries to share, explore and exploit the rich living and non-living resources of the sea and oceans. They are not mere handouts, but the result of efforts of land-locked countries achieved at the Law of the Sea Conference.
As to the right of access of land-locked countries to and from the sea, though they are reflected in the Convention, practical implementation and interpretation of its somewhat general provisions would be of immense importance for their progressive consolidations, reducing the chances of making arbitrary interpretations, placing legal /or rather illegal/ and administrative obstacles.
Such a study would be most helpful for us not only to make up our governments' minds to accede or not to the Convention, but also to better understand the provisions concerning land-locked states and their rights. Our preliminary contact with the Division for Ocean Affairs has shown that the Division would be forthcoming and most willing to undertake such a study. As in the case of UNCITRAL, the project would be practically valuable if the land-locked states actively cooperate with the Division.
It is. of course, up to the Group to decide whether to request for such a study or not and I would welcome comments from member states in this regard.
3. Development of transit transport infrastructure could realistically be implemented through regionalization of cooperative efforts. The priority areas in transit transportation should be identified at the subregional level, as agreed in the global framework. The international support and assistance could be channelled towards their implementation. Therefore, greater involvement of the regional economic commissions and financial institutions should be further encouraged in implementing the agreed programmes and various national, subregional and regional projects on LLDCs.
4. The role of UNCTAD as a focal point for transport, communications and infrastructure issues of LLDC should be enhanced. This is especially important for the creation of a data and information bank on issues concerning LLDCs and exchange of experience amongst countries and regions. In this connection, we could explore the possibility of engaging UNCTAD in the research work on the impact of globalization and liberalization processes on LLDCs.
5. III intergovernmental expert meeting of land-locked, transit developing countries and the donor community shall be held this summer in New York. The Chair believes that the Group should undertake advance preparations to make the meeting action oriented and highly productive. We should take stock of the work done and closely look at the implementation of the Global Framework.
If need arises, the Group could discuss this issue separately at another meeting depending on the outcome of III meeting of governmental experts. Further meetings could be held at the level of the Group of 77 or at other level. All this shows that there are vast untapped possibilities and opportunities to channel our activities towards meeting our vital needs and national interests.
6. Last but not least, we believe that it would be in the Group's interest if we either as Group and /or individually as member states endeavour to make the difficulties and challenges facing the LLDC known to wider public through available newspapers and various publications, including those of the United Nations system, such as, for example "Development Forum", "North -South Development Monitor" /SUNS/, "Third World Economics", "South Letter" etc.