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  Home   MRC News Speeches Keynote Address by H.E. Mr Somphong Mongkhonvilay

MRC's 10th Anniversary, 5 April 1995 - 5 April 2005

Keynote Address by
H.E. Mr Somphong Mongkhonvilay
Chairman of the MRC Council 2004-2005,
MRC Council Member for the Lao PDR, and
Chairman of the Lao National Mekong Committee

Mekong River Commission Secretariat
Vientiane, Lao PDR
5 April 2005


Your Excellency Mr Asang Laoly, Vice Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Your Excellency Mr Sin Niny, Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Cambodia

Your Excellency Mr Siripong Hungspreug, Alternate Member of the Joint Committee for Thailand

Your Excellency Mr Pham Hong Giang, Alternate Member of the MRC Council for Viet Nam,

Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

As Chairman of the MRC Council for 2004/2005, I would like to express the council’s sincere thanks to all of you for kindly attending this ceremony and sharing with us in our celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Mekong River Commission.

In particular I would like to thank H.E. Asang Laoly, Vice Prime Minister of the Lao PDR for his kinds words.

I think we would all agree that the signing of the 1995 Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin was, in itself, an astonishing feat of cooperation between the four nations of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. That it was signed at all shows the degree of commitment our countries have to working together for the future of the basin and its people.

No other river basin authority in the world brings together so many countries with such different needs and demands on one shared resource. The Mekong River Commission has given true meaning to the concept of a shared vision.

We like to call this the Mekong Spirit. It was this spirit that prompted our countries to unite 10 years ago and this spirit that has guided us through the past decade.

Over the past 10 years the Mekong River Commission has not only maintained its momentum, it has also gained strength. We are now a well-established, well-run organisation with a solid network of regional, national and international partnerships in place.

In the context of developing countries we can be justly proud of our role as a model of how cooperation can and does work for the good of all. As a demonstration of their faith in their own organisation the MRC member countries have been gradually increasing their financial input each year, showing increasing riparian ownership.

Today I would like to share with you some of the MRC’s main achievements.

With the signing of the 1995 Agreement on the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam confirmed the universally accepted principles of international law; namely the “reasonable and equitable” use of international waters and the concept of “sovereign equality”, meaning that each state has equal rights.

In order to implement these two principles, the Water Utilisation Programme was set up in 2000 and put in place an extensive process of technical and legal discussions between the four countries.

The first set of procedures – the Procedures for Data and Information Exchange and Sharing – was adopted by the MRC Council in November 2001. The second set – the Preliminary Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement – was signed by the Council in November 2002. The full procedures were signed in November 2003, together with another important milestone – the Procedures for Water Use Monitoring. Furthermore, powerful simulation models are now available to support basin planning.

In 2001 a new approach was launched which focused activities on core and sector programmes and a support programme. The approach has integrated all MRC activities into Basin-wide strategies of riparian countries. It focuses on regional rather than national activities, in accordance with MRC’s mandate and aims mainly at fostering cooperation and agreement between member countries.

Our Basin Development Plan, soon to enter its second phase, embodies the participatory nature of the MRC’s work. The BDP has been developed by the people of the four nations who share the basin’s water resources, for their own development and benefit. It takes a holistic view of the basin’s future and all the research and data arising from the MRC’s other programmes concerning the environment, agriculture, fisheries, navigation and hydropower are fed into this planning process.

We are confident that with the help of our powerful planning and analysis tools this will enable us to assist our member countries to make the wisest decisions about the sound development of their valuable water resources.

Your Excellency Mr Asang Laoly Vice Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

As everyone here is aware, while the Mekong River brings life, it also can be a source of devastation. Every year floods claim lives and destroy the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people in the basin, most often hurting those who can least afford to endure such suffering.

In 2001 the Council approved an overall Flood Management and Mitigation Strategy, which was to set the stage for flood issues to become a major focus of the MRC’s work. Today I am pleased to tell you that the new six-year Flood Management and Mitigation Programme has become one of our core programmes, making MRC a focal point for flood management and mitigation activities in the region, where they are of transboundary significance.

The MRC’s reputation as an independent facilitator with a scientific and technical base of information makes it ideally situated for this role.

We have also established a strong and productive relationship with out upstream neighbours and dialogue partners China and Myanmar, through which we exchange knowledge and share information, and this will be invaluable in our future work within this programme.

Your Excellency Mr Asang Laoly, Vice Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

The Mekong River Commission is today not just celebrating what we have achieved over the past 10 years, but also what we hope to achieve in the future, a lasting commitment to cooperation and sustainable development.

All four member countries are committed to long term cooperation to ensure the economic, social and cultural prosperity of the 60 million people currently living within the basin, and their future generations. As Chairman of the MRC Council for 2004/2005, I think I speak for all members when I say we would find it hard to achieve our goals without the wonderful support we enjoy from our many partners and donors who understand the needs of the basin.

It is just this need that has prompted the MRC to name this day Mekong Day in order to promote wider recognition of the Mekong Spirit and the people of the Mekong. We hope that each year you will join with us in a celebration of Mekong Day and that through this we will increase awareness of the region’s progress in the wider world.

Once again I would like to express my sincere thanks to H.E. Mr Asang Laoly, Vice Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic and all our distinguished guests and trust you will continue to assist us in keeping the Mekong Spirit alive.

Thank you for your attention.



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