Rwanda: UN Conference Due in Rwanda Key to Tackling Landlocked Countries’ Problems – Official

The third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) will be held in Kigali, in 2024.

The global summit which will be held on the African continent for the first time, is key to addressing problems that landlocked countries face, especially for the African continent that accounts for the majority of such nations, a top UN official has said.

Rabab Fatima, the UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), made the observation on Thursday, November 9, after meeting with Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa in the latter’s office in Kigali.

In June 2023, Fatima said that such meetings take place every 10 years and bring together anywhere between 5,000 and more people. Participants include leaders from all 193 UN member states, leaders and other international organisations.

“This conference is particularly important because it is the first time it is taking place in Africa, but also for the fact that half of the 32 landlocked countries in the world – 16 of them – are in Africa,” Fatima said on Thursday.

As a result, she pointed out, the challenges and issues of the landlocked countries are actually much present in Africa.

“And this [conference] is also coming at a time when the world and landlocked countries, in particular, are also grappling with many challenges that come with landlockedness, starting with Covid-19 when borders were closed, ports were closed and all the challenges they face,” she said.

“Now, with the many overlapping global crises, the challenges the landlocked countries are facing, this has been an opportunity to go over all those many issues to find solutions, to find recommendations, and to seek partnership with the transit countries, with the partner countries, with the rest of the world to see that the issues, and problems and challenges of the landlocked countries are addressed.”

Fatima said she had “very fruitful discussions” with the Speaker about the preparations and organisation of a parliamentary forum which will be held on the sidelines of the conference.

Underscoring the important role of parliamentarians in running countries’ affairs, she said, they want them to be part of the conference itself.

The Speaker will invite her counterparts from all UN Member States to attend, and “we hope it is a very good forum – parliamentary forum – with a very good outcome and strong message.”

Mukabalisa said that they expect the meeting to discuss relevant topics and produce tangible resolutions toward the progress of landlocked developing countries by effectively connecting them along the supply chain.

“Parliaments play a role in the development of various countries because we enact laws, carry out oversight of government activities and operations. I think there are many outcomes [expected from that meeting] which will help the implementation of the conference decisions for the benefit of the people we represent,” Mukabalisa said.

Fatima was in Rwanda in line with the United Nations planning mission to discuss with the government the preparations for the third UN Conference on LLDCs. She arrived in Rwanda on November 6, with her mission expected to conclude on November 9.

“We are very grateful to President [Paul] Kagame and the government of Rwanda for offering to host this very important once-in-a-decade conference,” Fatima said.

In line with the conference preparations, on November 7, Fatima met, separately, with President Kagame, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, the Minister of State in charge of Regional Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, James Kabarebe, and the Minister of State for Youth at the Ministry of Youth, Sandrine Umutoni.

On November 8, Fatima held talks with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, and the CEO of the Private Sector Federation, Stephen Ruzibiza, among others.

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