UNCTAD to champion regional peace, prosperity for Great Lakes region

UNCTAD to champion regional peace, prosperity for Great Lakes region

Development promotion, peace and security in the Great Lakes region of Africa was in focus during a meeting organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Office of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region on July 11, 2017.

Attended by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mukhisa Kituyi, the meeting was aimed at exploring the connection between humanitarian and development issues in order to promote security in the region, which includes Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Today, the Great Lakes region counts over 7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 3.5 million refugees. Displacement in the region has increased as a result of insecurity and political conflict in Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, further compounded by drought in many areas. Uganda has become the largest host country in Africa with over 1 million refugees. The number of IDPs in the Democratic Republic of Congo is currently estimated at 3.7 million making it the country in Africa most affected by internal displacement.

Read also: African travelers touted as powerhouse for continent’s tourism sector in new UNCTAD report

“Involving UNCTAD in these regional discussions is a recognition of the wide range of expertise tackled by the Geneva trade hub, and is an expression of its high potential for a deeper leading role in dealing with interrelated complex issues,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.

For his part, Special Envoy Said Djinnit highlighted the need to ensure that political engagement goes hand-in-hand with multi-sectoral approaches. “More than ever, the Great Lakes Region requires predictable, coordinated and coherent support to avoid reversing the progress achieved to date,” he said.

Discussions at the meeting focused on the Great Lakes Regional Strategic Framework (GLRSF) – a multi-agency, regional and cross border coordination mechanism which fosters collaboration between stakeholders working towards solving and preventing conflicts and crisis in the region. The GLRSF also outlines the coordinated UN response in support of the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region.

Endorsed in March 2016 by the UN Security Council, the Great Lakes Regional Strategic Framework is supported by a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) which ensures the framework is fully operational and reinforced by effective inter-agency collaboration. During the meeting, donors will be encouraged to financially contribute to the Fund.

UNCTAD is the latest Agency to begin participation in the regional trust fund, and it is expected that the Agency will use its leading role in the UN Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity to help the framework team to broaden the scope of its work on economic development and trade.

A specific area of expertise UNCTAD could offer in the Great Lakes Region is leveraging informal cross-border trade for the empowerment of women. UNCTAD is currently addressing trade barriers affecting informal female traders in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, and could possibility replicate these activities in the Great Lakes Region.

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