New York, 22 September 2023 (TDI): The President for the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Dennis Francis addressed the Annual Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) on September 21, in New York.

The meeting took place at the sideline of the 78th session of UNGA.

During his address, the President recognized that due to the lack of territorial access to the sea, the landlocked countries face restrictions in the progress of trade, transportation, and infrastructure.

He added that as a result, LLDCs pay more than twice what transit countries pay in transport costs, not to mention the longer time to send and receive merchandise and essential commodities.

Moreover, he emphasized that the foregoing challenges create implications for healthcare, education, jobs, livelihoods, and economic growth.

In speaking about the continued challenges faced by LLDCs, he stressed that the landlocked developing countries have been disproportionately affected by the 3Cs:

COVID-19, Conflict, and Climate Change, with the fourth C, the Cost of food and fuel stemming from each.

In this regard, he shared that although COVID-19 did the larger damage, even before the pandemic many LLDCs were already off track on the SDGs.

The UNGA President added that the foregoing challenges impacted gravely on the LLDCs including, stopping GDP growth, rising inflation, risking debt sustainability, worsening food insecurity, and intensifying the climate-induced hazards and disasters that also have become more frequent.

Road to recovery

Speaking about the recovery plan for the challenges faced by Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), the UNGA President stressed on working towards development cooperation, including South-South Cooperation and triangular cooperation.

He also emphasized that before the Third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries Conference (LLDC3) that is to be held in 2024, in Kigali,

“ We must work harder to accelerate implementation of the objectives in the Vienna Programme of Action and to strengthen collaborative coordination amongst all stakeholders.”

Furthermore, he highlighted further enhancing international support and Official Development Assistance to countries and communities which need it most.

He delineated that the assistance includes unlocking and leveraging investment and reforming the international financial architecture to allow for better access to resources.

In further elaborating on support for LLDCs, he announced, “I welcome the election of the co-chairs of the Preparatory Committee for LLDC3 -Mongolia and Austria- as well as the Bureau.”

Also read: UNGA Meeting: Pandemic Preparedness, Prevention and Response

Moreover, he stated to look forward to the discussion on assisting LLDCs at the half-day joint General Assembly- Economic and Social Council (GA-ECOSOC) thematic event this year, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 77/246.

The thematic event will be aimed to provide substantive input to the Third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries, to be held in Kigali.

He commended the discussions held at the Annual Ministerial Meeting on LLDCs, aimed to help identify appropriate policy measures and concrete action-oriented recommendations for the LLDCs.

At the end, the UNGA President asserted, “I will continue to advocate on behalf of countries in special situations throughout the 78th session.”

He also shed light that he intends to launch a High-Level Advisory Group on Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

He added, “Let me end by reassuring you that I have committed to prioritizing countries in special situations during my Presidency.”

Moreover, he stressed that his Office stands committed to supporting LLDCs in their effort to secure peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all of their citizens.

He concluded by saying, “I will ensure that the issues and priorities of LLDCs are duly integrated into the development-related agenda of the Assembly.”