Uganda in Geneva
1. Uganda is the Vice Chair of the World Intellectual Property Organization Coordination Committee for the Biennium 2020-2021.
2. Uganda is the Deputy Member of the ILO Governing Body for the period 2017-2021.
3. Two Ugandan Special Procedure mandate holders were appointed at the concluded 46th session of the Human Rights Council (22 February - 23 March, 2021). Margaret Lokawua became the new African member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while Catherine S. Namakula was chosen as the new member from African States of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent;
4. Uganda was Coordinator of the Group of Least Least developed Countries (LDCs) at the WTO for the year 2014. In 2015, Uganda led the LDCs Group to the first ever High-Level Meeting on the Operationalization of the LDCs Services Waiver. 21 Countries both developed and developing, indicated provision of preferential treatment to LDCs Services and Service suppliers so as to give them a competitive edge in the export of services over non-LDCs.
5. In 2015, Uganda led the LDCs Group in successfully negotiating a 17 year TRIPS Pharmaceutical extension until 2033 to allow LDC Governments to buy cheap generic medicine for HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria among others. The decision also enabled continued investment in the manufacture of generic pharmaceutical medicines not only in Uganda, but in all the other Least Developed Countries.
6. In 2017, Uganda was elected President of the 63rd session of the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD during which we steered the operationalization of the two IGMs agreed upon at the UNCTAD XIV Conference in Nairobi namely: Inter-Governmental Groups on E-Commerce; and Financing for Development. To date, these two IGMs have continued to provide valuable input to UNCTAD's work in the fields of financing and development, and E-Commerce.
7. Uganda was Chair of the UNCTAD Advisory Body for the biennium 2017/2018.
9. In 2018, Uganda coordinated the Africa Group on Humanitarian Affairs and led the Group during the formal consultations that developed the Global Compact on Refugees (GCF). This was a historical milestone on burden and responsibility sharing which is of critical importance to large refugee hoisting countries such as Uganda.
10. In 2019, Uganda coordinated the Africa Group at WIPO. Uganda engaged to promote stronger, more accountable and transparent steps that support the utilization of Intellectual Property as an enabler for growth and sustainable development in Africa and other developing parts of the World. Uganda also ensured that the African Group partnered with other regional groups and individual member states to advance a common objective.
11. In 2019, Uganda was selected as vice-chair of the Twelfth Conference of Ministers (MC12). Uganda will serve as one of the two Vice-Chairs of the Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) scheduled to take place from 30th November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Conference will be co-chaired by Kazakhstan and Switzerland. Barbados will also serve as vice-chair. The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision making body of the WTO and meets every two years. Previous Ministerial Conferences have agreed to outcomes particularly in market access that facilitate Uganda’s deeper integration into the multilateral trading system. In the area of services, at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference, Ministers adopted a decision on “Implementation of Preferential Treatment in favor of Services and Service Suppliers of Least-Developed Countries and Increasing LDC Participation in Services Trade”. The Ministerial decision on “Implementation of Preferential Treatment in Favour of Services and Service Suppliers of Least-Developed Countries and Increasing LDC Participation in Services Trade” extends the duration of the waiver until the end of 2030. Among other things, Uganda’s participation in discussions and negotiations like many other African countries and LDCs is geared towards equitable distribution of the benefits of the Multilateral Trading System (MTS) as envisaged in the agreement establishing the WTO and effective integration of into the Multilateral trading system while preserving the necessary policy space for industrialization in pursuance of Africa’s agenda 2063.
12. In 2014 todate, Uganda was selected as focal point of the group of Least Developed Countries (LDC Group) at the World Trade Organization on services and electronic commerce issues. Uganda is in this regard is involved in negotiations in the Council for Trade in Services, the Working Party on Domestic Regulation, the Council for Trade in Services in Special Session, the Committee on Specific Commitments, the Committee on GATS rules and the Committee on Financial Services.
13. Uganda is currently leading the WTO LDC Group in the process to initiate the review process for the operationalisation of the LDCs services waiver. The Ministerial decision on “Implementation of Preferential Treatment in Favour of Services and Service Suppliers of Least-Developed Countries and Increasing LDC Participation in Services Trade” agreed to by Ministers in 2015 in Nairobi mandates the Council for Trade in Services to initiate a process to review the implementation of preferential treatment. On 30 October 2019, Uganda led the LDC Group at the Council for Trade in Services to initiate the process for the review of the operation of notified preferences under the waiver decision in a dedicated session of the Council held for that purpose. The dedicated session provided an overview of LDC services exports. It discussed the factors that may explain the current performance and provided information on efforts to enhance LDC services export performance. Representatives from LDCs, international organizations, as well as Members' development cooperation agencies reported on their strategies, highlighted certain programmes, shared lessons learnt, and best practices they had developed in this context. LDC services exporters shared their experiences, describing the factors that allowed them to develop into successful exporters, highlight difficulties and set out the most important issues that needed to be addressed to improve LDC participation in services trade and the WTO Secretariat provided background to, and an overview of current preferences notified under the LDC Services Waiver. Representatives from WTO Members shared their experiences on how preferences have been used and how their use can be optimized.
14. In 2020 todate, Uganda is leading the LDC group in a webinar on COVID-19, Trade Measures and LDC services trade, state of play, challenges, solutions and opportunities. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the LDC Group held a webinar to establish a more accurate picture of the impact of trade related measures in services on LDC services suppliers and services exports and imports. H.E. Eunice Kigenyi Irungu Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Uganda to the WTO, WTO LDCs' Consultative Group's Focal Point Ambassador for Services made opening remarks at the webinar. Ambassador Kigenyi in her remarks highlighted that since the outbreak of COVID-19, a number of WTO Members have adopted trade related measures to support their coping and mitigation of the adverse effects of the pandemic placing their citizens in peril. She noted that while appearing to reduce risks to the national population, restrictions imposed globally were harmful for LDC services suppliers that are employed in the restricting country. The reverse side of the coin pertained to travel advisory notices that may not necessarily be based on scientific evidence, causing a detrimental effect on LDC services suppliers with low risk levels, operating from their domestic base.The webinar noted that global services trade had fallen by 30% in the second quarter of 2020, LDC services exports were estimated to have dropped by up to 60 to 65%. Tourism alone had fallen by 81% and transport services by 31%. The only notable upside had been for computer services exports, which, thanks to accelerated digitalisation, were up 4%.
It was also noted that the road to recovery would require digital solutions. Yet, even in that respect, LDCs still faced numerous challenges, which they had previously illustrated to Members. These included, to mention but a few, limited access to credit cards as a critical tool for online payments, the high incidence of unbanked consumers, limited experience with online payments and generally inadequate online payments facilities. It was indeed for that reason that the LDCs continued to see significant value in the discussions under 1998 e-commerce Work Programme.
15. Uganda is set to lead the LDC group in the webinar on LDCs services in the Council for Trade in Services in June 2021. The webinar is intended to facilitate an exchange of information and sharing of experiences between LDC service suppliers and Members, particularly those that have notified preferences under the LDC Services Waiver and LDCs. It seeks to provide Members with first-hand information, from exporters and importers of LDC services, and assist them in further promoting the implementation of notified preferences. Participation in the workshop is open to relevant stakeholders, such as LDC services exporters (including associations); Members' development cooperation agencies; export promotion agencies; relevant International Organizations; regional Development Banks, and international programmes, such as the Enhanced Integrated Framework.
16. As negotiations in the WTO intensify towards the twelfth Ministerial Conference, Uganda has joined other Members of the Africa Group to call for reforms in agriculture as envisaged in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.Particularly on trade distorting domestic support including subsidies which disadvantages Ugandan farmers, the call for Members to address the gradual reduction of Aggregate Measurement of Support product specific support, with the final aim of its full elimination and reaching the de minimis levels for all members. In addition, the gradual elimination of blue box and capping green box support along with enhanced transparency for their usage.
17. In 2021, Uganda is participating in the French-Irish Mission Internship Programme 2021. This year’s French-Irish Mission Internship Program commenced on 05 March 2021.The 10 months internship program funded by the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation aims to assist LDCs, low‑income countries and Small and Vulnerable Economies in the areas of trade policy related to economic and social development.By providing the interns with access to ongoing activities in the WTO Secretariat, the programme seeks to help participants enhance their understanding and knowledge and expertise in the functioning of the WTO and the multilateral trading system.
18. In 2020, Uganda participated in the Secondment program for lawyers at the Advisory Centre for WTO law. The ACWL’s Secondment Programme for Government Lawyers commenced on 15th September 2020. The program provides government lawyers from ACWL developing country Members and LDCs entitled to the services to the ACWL, an opportunity to work and train as a junior counsel at the ACWL from September each year to June of the following year. Uganda’s participant was a lawyer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
19. In 2020, Uganda joined the OACP Ambassadors and Experts Brainstorming Retreat. Ahead of the Twelfth Ministerial Meeting, Uganda joined other Members of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group in a two day brainstorming retreat on WTO issues.