On the 13th of November, His Excellency Mr Phoukhong Sisoulath, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) presented a letter of credence to his Royal Highness Henri the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
Laos and Luxembourg established diplomatic relations at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in 1997. In the same year, Laos was chosen as a partner country for Luxembourg’s development cooperation program.
These abovementioned acts were consequently followed by tangible achievements, with an inaugural project in the health sector. In January of 2016, consistent with the policy of focusing the country’s aid efforts in Least Developed Countries (LDC), Luxembourg officially opened an embassy in Vientiane. Luxembourg also takes part in the EU joint programming initiative with the Luxembourg Embassy taking the lead EU role in the health and aid effectiveness sectors.
The general framework of the cooperation relationship was established in Vientiane in February 2000 with the signing of a general cooperation agreement. This was complemented in November 2003 by the first Indicative Cooperation Programme (ICP I 2003-2006) of a total of 18 million euros, as well as the agreement establishing the partnership committee.
2006 saw the signing of the second ICP (ICP II 2007-2010), which increased the budget to 35 million euros, thereby significantly enhancing the scope of Luxembourg’s cooperation. The third ICP (ICP III 2011-2015), with a financial allocation of 50 million euros, made Luxembourg one of the leading donors in Laos.
The fourth ICP (ICP IV 2016-2020) with a budget of 60 million euros, significantly increased to 75 million euros at the end of 2017 (Addendum to ICP IV), is consistent with Luxembourg’s cooperation development program in Laos. The ICP is focused on poverty reduction, and is aligned with Laos’ 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP 2016-2020). It is also focused on Laos’ needs, supporting it in its endeavor to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to shed its status as one of the least developed countries in the world. The ICP is based mainly on the health, education, and development of human resources sectors as well as on integrated rural development. Particular emphasis is placed on good governance, which will also be a cross-cutting theme, alongside gender equality, the environment, and climate change.
At the multilateral level, Luxembourg is fully involved in the round table process. This takes the form of active participation, enhanced by strategic financial support. Additionally, Luxembourg is also involved in mine clearance efforts and the combating of certain types of criminality by aiming to offer alternative means of subsistence with the support of various UN agencies. Luxembourg supports a joint program involving three UN agencies targeting reproductive, maternal and infantile health, and also supports the implementation of the new national strategy in these sectors.
At the regional level, Luxembourg helps finance the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and supports good land management via a regional land governance project in this same region.
Seven Luxembourg NGOs, whose projects are co-financed up to 80% by the development cooperation program, are currently active in Laos namely in the health, rural development, education, food security, and legal training sectors. Certain NGOs have provided humanitarian support which is 100% financed by the development cooperation program.
Ambassador Sisoulath performs his duties from the Lao Embassy based in Brussels, Belgium, and also represents Laos to Belgium, the Netherlands and the European Union.