Laos Raises Profile At UN General Assembly

Addressing the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Thongloun Sisoulith, said Laos attaches great significance to creating a peaceful environment and safeguarding political stability for national development, with a view to graduating from least developed country status.

Mr Thongloun said the Lao government has deployed its utmost efforts to pursue a consistent foreign policy and promote international cooperation at all levels, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We continue to attentively fulfill our international obligations in maintaining peace and promoting the rule of law. Our government has mapped out a policy direction on a state governed by the rule of law for the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights of people of all strata,” he said.

The Lao government is party to many international instruments on human rights, he added. A national law on human rights, including the law on the rights of women and children, has been enacted and amended.

Mr Thongloun Sisoulith addresses the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Saturday.

To continue fulfilling its international obligations, the government has presented candidatures for membership in the Human Rights Council for the term 2016-2018 as well as membership in the Executive Board of the UN Development Programme/UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for 2016-2018.

“We hope that our country will be given an opportunity to work with the international community within the aforesaid frameworks,” he added.

Mr Thongloun said that, at the regional level, Laos has played an active part in the process of building an Asean community consisting of three pillars, namely a political-security community, an economic community, and a socio-cultural community, which will come into being on December 31, 2015.

“We believe the political and economic strength of the Asean community will form a solid ground for regional cooperation, thus contributing to the maintenance and promotion of peace, security and development in the region and the world at large.”

Mr Thongloun said Laos had played an important role as chair of the framework of cooperation between the continents of Asia and Europe (ASEM) from 2010-2012 and was given the great honour of hosting the 9th ASEM Summit in Vientiane from November 5-6, under the theme “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity”.

At the summit, leaders from the two continents had constructive exchanges of views on the ways and means to promote peace and to enhance development cooperation in their respective regions for the benefit of the peoples of Asia and Europe, as well as to ensure their legitimate right to live in peace and improve their well-being.

“The Lao government was proud to be given the opportunity to undertake this important duty. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all friendly countries and the international community for the support and assistance extended to Laos, which led to a successful outcome as envisaged by the Summit,” Mr Thongloun said.

But, he said, despite various achievements in socio-economic development, being both least-developed and landlocked, Laos remains vulnerable and continues to face numerous challenges in poverty eradication and development efforts, as clearly reflected in the recent Third National Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Progress Report launched last month.

To achieve all the MDGs, Laos must continue to overcome daunting challenges such as child malnutrition, gender inequality in education, and the impact of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Nevertheless, the government will continue to lead its people in moving ahead together with the international community in tackling numerous challenges in order to achieve the MDGs, Mr Thongloun added.

Laos is one of the countries most affected by cluster munitions and UXO, which continue to pose major constraints to national socio-economic development and poverty reduction.

In this regard, Laos calls upon all countries to consider acceding to the Convention on Cluster Munitions with a view to ensuring a total ban on cluster munitions as well as helping to address the impacts of cluster munitions in the affected countries.

Mr Thongloun said that, in 2014, the Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) will hold a 10-y ear review conference on the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action on addressing the specific problems and special needs of this group.

Addressing the specific problems of LLDCs has become a regional and international obligation. Regardless of their development level, these countries will not be able to address the impacts of their landlocked status without international cooperation, especially from transit countries and development partners.

In this context, the review conference is of great importance, not only for LLDCs, but also for all development partners. The conference will provide an excellent opportunity for the international community to identify emerging challenges and adopt a new cooperation framework aimed at addressing the impact of being landlocked faced by LLDCs.

“We have high hopes and expectations for the outcome of this conference as it will adopt a new policy direction and more concrete measures reflecting the current development environment that can form a basis for addressing the specific problems faced by LLDCs in the next decade,” Mr Thongloun said.

Laos has only two years left to meet the MDGs, but there remain numerous challenges facing the government. Therefore, the post-2015 development agenda process is important for all countries and stakeholders to fully engage in reviewing how various measures have been undertaken to achieve the MDGs during the past years, and to chart out a new and appropriate future direction.

“I am convinced that in the spirit of effective and sincere cooperation, we will be able to achieve the set targets and goals and overcome the challenges and constraints we are facing,” Mr Thongloun said.

Source: Vientiane Times

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