Déclaration conjointe des Etats membres de l’Union européenne à Vientiane à l’occasion de la Table Ronde des partenaires de développement (25 novembre 2016)
A l’occasion de la Table Ronde (Round Table Meeting) qui se tient à Vientiane du 24 au 25 novembre 2016, les États membres de l’Union européenne et partenaires du développement en RDP Lao publient une déclaration conjointe.
Vientiane, 25 November 2016
1. Laos’ European Development Partners – the European Union and the Member States of the European Union together with Switzerland – would like to congratulate the government on successful first year of the implementation of the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) 2016-2020.
2. Lao PDR remains one of the fastest growing economies in the region with poverty having steadily decreased over the past 15 years and is projected to fall further. However, the challenges to ensure equitable and inclusive growth remain1. Moreover, the rate of income growth is unequal with income of the poorest 40% of the population growing much slower than that of the population as a whole2. The 8th NSEDP is directed towards mitigating these inequalities by promoting balanced, broad-based, inclusive and sustainable growth and development.
3. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda (SDGs) reflect updated global challenges, which are much more interrelated and require a systemic change of both poverty eradication and the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, in a balanced and integrated manner. Requiring therefore more transformative partnerships and concerted joint efforts.
4. We commend the Government’s progress in the localisation and mainstreaming of the 2030 agenda into the NSEDP and encourage continuous integration of the SDGs into Lao PDRs own planning and budgeting frameworks. Full alignment is crucial in order to avoid parallel structures, budgets, monitoring frameworks to promote integration with respect to implementation tools, resources and arrangements.
5. In this context, we would like to highlight importance of food and nutrition security in the achievement of the Human Assets Index – which is perhaps the most challenging of the three criteria for the graduation from Least Development Countries – and how this would be reflected in the budget and resource allocations. The outcome statement agreed at the 2nd Lao Nutrition forum last week enshrines the high level of commitment of the Government to tackle this silent emergency.
6. The concept of ‘resource mobilisation’ for SDGs should be viewed as an integrated use of various sources of financing with the country’s own resources playing a primary role. This is even more relevant in the light of the current high fiscal deficit and macro-economic vulnerability to external shock. Efforts to maintain macro-economic stability and an enabling environment to attract investment are crucial, and we look forward to the active dialogue with private sector in the upcoming Lao Business Forum. European partners note the commitments by the Lao government to increase budget transparency and by the development partners to support the strengthening of
public financial management systems, as established in the Vientiane Declaration II. Effective budget transparency is a precondition for stronger reliance on country systems. The efforts made to increase revenues and improve tax legislation and enforcement are commendable and we look forward to our continued cooperation in this area.
7. Effective engagement in support of the SDGs requires looking beyond the traditional bilateral and multilateral development partnerships towards more comprehensive, inclusive and complementary partnerships. This in turn requires bringing together the Government, its development partners, civil society and private sector.
8. Civil society organisations are recognised in the Vientiane Declaration II Action Plan (VDCAP) – which is being presented today – as key actors in the development debate and for ensuring sustainable and inclusive social and economic development. To that end, European partners welcome the formulation of the VDCAP with related indicators. We note our joint – Government’s and its development partners’ - commitment to improving an enabling environment for civil society to contribute to and monitor and to mutually reviewing our progress. This is relevant both in the context of reporting on VDCAP and globally for Busan Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.
9. We take note of the willingness of the Government to revise the Prime Minister’s Decree no 75 on ODA management and would like to participate in the consultations for its revision. We would like to raise as well the concerns of the international community regarding recent changes to Government policy on INGO / NPA partnerships. We believe this type of partnership to be for the
benefits of development projects and local communities and encourage the Government to facilitate the process, in the spirit of the VDCAP and SDG 17. We note with satisfaction that VDCAP II recognizes civil society organizations as key actors in the development debate and broader policy dialogue. We would also encourage more active participation of Lao civil society organisations in regional fora, for them to seize opportunities for dialogue that ASEAN can provide.
10. We commend the Lao PDR’s Chairmanship of the ASEAN in 2016 which contributed to promoting dialogue and cooperation in the region and beyond. Laos has successfully hosted a range of important high-level meetings and presided over ASEAN’s new Community Vision 2025 coming into life and to further contribute to regional integration.
11. In that context the European partners and Lao are like-minded in recognising the strategic imperative of regional integration, especially as a key driver of prosperity for a landlocked country like Lao PDR. Support for regional integration/Connectivity - using substantial European experience in facilitating free movement of people, goods, services and capital - continues to feature prominently in our cooperation with Lao PDR.
12. In line with the commitments expressed in the Vientiane Declaration, European partners have already taken action to improve effectiveness of European development cooperation in Laos by formulating the Joint European Strategy for cooperation with Lao PDR for the period 2016– 2020 which combines European development cooperation in support to the government’s 8th NSEDP.
13. This joint strategy is one of global best practices in European joint programming and will improve ownership and alignment of our development cooperation, thus contributing to more efficient programming of the LAK 4.5 trillion (EUR 0.5 billion) that European partners expect to provide over the period of the strategy.
14. We congratulate the new Government in its reform-oriented approach which aims to lift the country from LDC status and address the major impediments to development. In particular, we salute the importance given to the fight against corruption nationwide and encourage the Government to deepen efforts in this perspective.
15. Corruption and illicit financial flows represent significant challenges. Lao PDR ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2009 and participated successfully in the first UNCAC cycle review process3. Nevertheless, the low ranking of Laos in Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 20154 confirms the importance of redoubling efforts to fight against corruption. We believe that corruption undermines our joint efforts to strengthen sustainable development. European partners are therefore keen to get an insight into the progress in capacity development and work of the State Inspection and Anti-Corruption Authority (SIAA).
16. We welcome the steps taken by the Government to reduce illegal logging and associated trade, including the issuing of the Prime Minister Order n.15. We commend the progress in preparing the negotiations with the EU on a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) and the consultative process in developing a timber Legality Definition in line with the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.
17. We also acknowledge/welcome the engagement of the Government in combatting Wildlife illegal activities. Further to the CITES Conference of Parties held in Johannesburg this year, we commend the acceptance of all recommendations made by the CITES Secretariat after their in-country visit to Laos. We strongly encourage and support Lao authorities in translating/implementing these commitments into actions.
18. The EU, its member states and Switzerland attach great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law for all people. Such rights are not privileges for only a few people ; they are Universal principles and States have the responsibility to uphold these rights. Human rights and development policies and strategies are mutually reinforcing and complementary. A human rights based approach to development bases on the empowerment of citizens, the demand for delivery of the rights and service which they are entitled to, while at the same time developing the capacity of states to fulfill the obligations to protect, respect and promote the rights of their citizens.
19. In Lao PDR, we note that the government is seeking to become a ‘Rule of Law State’ by 2020. We acknowledge Lao PDR’s acceptance of 116 recommendations from its 2015 Universal Periodic Review. We encourage the government of the Lao PDR to publish plans to implement all of the recommendations it has accepted ; we would be happy to assist in this regard. We also acknowledge that Lao PDR has signed up to seven of the nine main human rights treaties. These are important steps, and they can help underpin stability and development in Lao PDR.
20. Whilst recognising some progress, we also have concerns regarding the implementation of Lao PDR’s international human rights commitments. We encourage Lao PDR to improve its international reputation by addressing these issues candidly.
21. More particularly, we continue to have concerns about the environment within which INGOs/NPAs are operating, increasingly restricting the freedom of individuals to act collectively, and having potentially harmful impacts on social and economic development in the most marginalised communities. We would also highlight concerns about the Media Decree published last year that could infringe on the right to freedom of information and expression, and has been employed to restrict communications by Embassies.
22. We acknowledge the fact that a high Government official expressed last year that the RTIM is not the right forum to address individual cases of concern, and we look forward to constructive discussions during the forthcoming EU-Laos Human Rights Dialogue in December 2016 that will honour promises made previously and produce concrete results.
23. We look forward to continued and constructive discussions on the several key issues highlighted at today’s RTIM, to enable our joint efforts towards further progress in the development