UNDP Resident Representative's opening remarks to Governance Sector Working Group Annual MeetingNov 9, 2015
As a preparation to the High level Round Table Meeting in a few weeks, government ministries, development partners and civil society organizations came together to take stock of key achievements and challenges in the governance sector in Laos. This was organized under the umbrella of the Governance Sector Working Group chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and UNDP. The Sector Working Group Annual Meeting also focused on the joint messages that will be presented at the High Level Round Table Meeting. Please read Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UNDP Resident Representative's opening speech below.
Your Excellency Dr. Khammoune Viphongsay, Vice Minister of Home Affairs,
Your Excellency Prof Ket Kettisak, Vice Minister of Justice,
Lao Government Officials,
Representatives from Civil Society,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my honor to co-chair this important Governance Sector Working Group Annual Meeting today. I am encouraged by the presence of all of you today which reflects our common interest, shared commitment to promote good governance and prepare for the upcoming High Level Round Table meeting on 27th November. Today’s meeting provides an important opportunity to take stock of progress made in Governance areas and engage collectively on the way forward.
Given the important juncture at which we are at, please allow me to share some key elements from UNDP’s perspective:
- 2015 has been an important year for Laos. I am pleased to note that the Governance Sector Working Group has been extremely active in providing policy inputs to emerging development issues in the country. The work plan for the sector working group was developed in an inclusive manner and implemented effectively in the course of the year. Several innovative practices were introduced such as a multi-stakeholder panel discussion that helped to catalyze different perspectives including that of civil society. A number of important debates were organized influencing policy such as on constitution amendment, Governance inputs to 8th NESDP, law making process amongst others.
- The legal sector has witnessed several developments in 2015. Lao PDR went through the second cycle of Universal Periodic Review and accepted 116 out of 196 recommendations. UNDP stands ready to support the process including in the development of action plan and a monitoring mechanism for implementation of these accepted recommendations. 2015 also witnessed important changes such as amendment of the constitution to reflect changes in several areas including in the establishment of local councils, drafting of the penal code amongst others. With respect to human resources development in the legal sector, establishment of the National Institute of Justice presents an important milestone in furthering the capacity of legal professional in provision of justice services. We also understand that serval important policies on Village Mediation Units and legal aid are being planned to be rolled out during coming months. We see the direct link of these interventions in enhancing access to justice and are happy to be part of the preparation process. We look forward to witness the benefits, these initiatives will bring to the Lao population.
- Enhancing space for people’s participation including civil society continues to be an important area. I am pleased to hear about the recent subsector working group discussion on people participation, which was the first time that such a dialogue has been conducted. We also note that NPAs and INGOs representatives have been identified through a self-selection process to participate at the High level round table meeting this year. We look forward to furthering this agenda in achieving development goals.
- With respect to public sector reform and improved access to services, this year witnessed the transition of the Samsang from pilot to scale up phase. I look forward to hearing about the implementation achievements and challenges and how we can support this important endeavor. The next thrust of our implementation must penetrate the rural and less accessible areas with improvements in public services in order to support unfinished MDG delivery and localize SDGs.
- Last but not the least, as all of you are aware, the agenda of Sustainable Development Goals was adopted by UN member states, including Lao PDR, at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in late September this year and all of the 17 Goals will come into effect from 1 January 2016. In this regard, I would like to encourage Governance Sector Working Group to lead this transformational agenda particularly in relation to Goal 16 that advocates for building peaceful societies, ensuring access to Justice for all and developing effective, transparent and accountable institutions. We stand ready to support Laos in the localization of this agenda.
Under the guidance of the Chair and Co-Chairs of the GSWG, we hope such positive developments will continue and expand the partnership base with wide range of stakeholders including private sector. Once again, I would like to congratulate the Ministry of home Affairs and Ministry of Justice for demonstrating good leadership in this important sector.
I am very much looking forward to the presentations and discussions today.
Finally I wish the meeting and all of you great success.