NA defers ratification of multilateral agreement on international think tank
The multilateral agreement for the establishment of an International Think Tank (ITT) for Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC), which was presented to the National Assembly on Wednesday, was deferred to the third reading due to lack of clarity on the matter.
Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji presented the agreement saying that Bhutan had much to gain by ratifying it.
However, the house decided to postpone it since the two documents, Almaty Program of Action and Vienna Program of Action, which explains the think tank’s origin and endorsement were not shared with the Members of Parliament (MP).
While some of the MPs expressed that the convention is important for the country, they felt the need to first go through the two documents.
Opposition Leader Dr Pema Gyamtsho said that to join as member country, the expenditure also needed to be taken into account, which as of now, is unclear.
“But it is urgent that we become a member,” he said.
The petition for multilateral agreement for establishment of ITT for LLDC was presented from November 1, 2010-October 31, 2011. This agreement is essential to formally establish ITT.
Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said that presently, nine countries have signed and seven others have ratified and approved the agreement.
“The think tank will benefit Bhutan and other LLDCs by undertaking concrete analytical studies on LLDCs related issues,” he added.
Another advantage, according to Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, is that Bhutan can look at exchange of scholars and researchers between the think tank and national organizations, such as the center for Bhutan studies and GNH research, the Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies, and other institutes and initiatives that may be launched in the country in future.
As a member, Bhutan will also have the option of serving on ITT’s board of Governors and Advisory Council. This will enable government to guide ITT on steering research and policy priorities.
The overall goal of ITT is to use top-quality research and advocacy to improve the ability of LLDC to build capacity with a view to benefiting from international trade including the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations; the ultimate aim being human development and reducing poverty.
Ministries and agencies will participate and contribute to the works of the think tank as specified in the multilateral agreement pertaining to their respective areas of responsibilities.
The UN secretary General and then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia officially launched the ITT in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in July 2009. The UN General Assembly in its resolution welcomed the establishment of ITT. It was further endorsed by the Vienna Program of Action for landlocked developing countries in 2014.
The idea of establishing a think tank for landlocked developing countries originated at an LLDC Ministerial conference held in Almaty, Kazakhastan in 2003. The idea became Mongolia’s initiative after the President of Mongolia proposed for establishing an ITT in an LLDC capital at a meeting of LLDC heads of states in Havana in 2006.