By Phon Thikeo
March 16, 2011
Laos has seen many positive changes and moved forward in every sector over the past five years. The country has firmly maintained domestic security, political stability and a steady rate of economic growth.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the past five years was 219,795 billion kip, which represents an annual average of 43,959 billion kip. Average annual GDP growth was 7.9 percent. The overall livelihood of people has progressively improved, and per capita income has reached US$986. New laws to regulate many sectors have been passed. Laos has increasingly taken an active role in accomplishing the shared mission of all nations. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process for Laos was adopted at the 15th Plenary Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Over the past five years, the country has maintained domestic security and political stability. All Lao multi-ethnic groups and people of all social strata enjoy solidarity and well-being under the leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party. The role and reputation of Laos in the international arena has been enhanced. The Party and government are committed to foreign relations based on the principles of mutual respect and benefit, as well as non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. Laos has established diplomatic relations with 131countries and has 33 offices representing Laos in other countries including 25 embassies. Laos also has good relations with more than 100 political parties around the world and has established friendship associations with 16 nations as part of efforts to strengthen relations and cooperation.
The Lao government has facilitated visits by people of Lao ethnicity in other countries wanting to visit their motherland. The government agreed to waive visa fees in a variety forms for those wanting to visit Laos for the 450th anniversary of Vientiane as the nation’s capital and other important events. The government waived visa fees for short and long term visits by people of Lao ethnicity, as well as for people aged over 65 years, children under 15, priests, the mentally ill and disabled people who apply for a visa at Lao embassies and consulates overseas.
The National Assembly has approved many new laws over the past five years, and Laos now has over 90 laws. The government adopted the United Nations Human Rights Universal Periodic Review at the 15th Plenary Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held in Geneva, Switzerland.
So far, Laos has ratified about 100 UN treaties in various fields, including on human rights, the environment, human trafficking, terrorism and anti-corruption. The government has also ratified 50 multilateral international and regional treaties, and approved or ratified 120 Asean agreements, and more than 300 bilateral treaties and agreements with 52 states. Of the UN’s nine core treaties on human rights, the government has ratified six and signed two others.
The six core treaties ratified by Laos include the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
The two core treaties signed are the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment. Ratification of these two core conventions is expected to be given the green light by the next legislature of the National Assembly – the body that will assume office for the next five years. The UN Convention against Corruption, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which seeks to end all forms of damage caused by these devices, are two of the most important documents ratified by Laos.
The Lao government has been the recipient of official development assistance (ODA) worth US$2.442 billion over the past five years, exceeding the five year target set at US$1.75 billion. ODA was provided by 52 different donors in the form of grants (58 percent) and loans (42 percent). This means Laos has received more than US$488 million per year on average over the past five years.