OPINION BY KAGENYI LUKKA
IT is going to be Uganda’s monumental undertaking next year. It will also be a golden opportunity as Uganda hosts the 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and G77 plus China summit in January 2024.
Over 120 global leaders are expected to converge in Kampala for these high-level diplomatic gatherings.
All global eyes will also be on Uganda. And we need to rally every citizen to embrace these summits so that we can as a county leverage our diplomatic position to influence decisions in our favour, especially the idea of commercial diplomacy that is needed to attract investors into our country.
The government’s commitment to the success of these summits is underscored by the approved investment of sh86.4b into the construction of a conference hall at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, the designated venue for the dual summits.
Despite concerns about potential delays, our leader, President Yoweri Museveni, has also toured all the venues designated to host the NAM summit and inspected road works on routes that lead to these venues as preparations take centre-stage.
To quote the words of our leader when he toured roads, the conference venue in Munyonyo, and the International airport in Entebbe, he said: “The summit will provide a platform for global cooperation and solidarity and for advancing our common goals. Uganda is prepared to showcase its hospitality and contribute to a successful summit.”
It is now about two months to the conference, and everyone is working around the clock to ensure that the country will be ready to welcome global leaders.
The stakes are high for Uganda. We need every citizen to work towards achieving this goal. The other important element is the fact that we are poised to assume chairmanship of both the NAM and the South Summit for the next three years after the conclusion of the dual summits in Kampala.
This will also be a historical feat for the Pearl of Africa. So, Ugandans should be enthusiastic about hosting this summit.
But what is NAM? What about the composition of the Member States of the Group of 77 plus China?
The Non-Aligned Movement is a forum of 120 countries that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations (UN), it is the largest grouping of states worldwide.
On the other hand, the Group of 77 at the United Nations is a coalition of 135 developing countries, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations.
With the theme “Leaving No One Behind” the Third South Summit will look to instill a new dynamic to the cooperation among the 134 Member States of the Group of 77 in a more competitive world.
The Summit aims at boosting South-South cooperation including in the areas of trade, investment, sustainable development, climate change, poverty eradication, and digital economy, with a focus on addressing global economic disparities.
Uganda, therefore, needs to use the two summitts to advocate for the interests of developing countries and enhancing mutual economic cooperation.
The Movement remains a vital pillar of support for developing countries’ shared quest for peace, security, development, and justice in international relations.
On the other hand, the NAM summit will be held under the theme, ‘Deepening Cooperation for Shared Global Affluence,’ which fit in well with the four core principles of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government—of Democracy, Patriotism, Social-Economic Transformation and Pan-Africanism.
Fostering the much-needed solidarity among NAM member states and promoting a multipolar world is the other target that we hope to achieve from these two summits.
In short, strengthening the South-South cooperation and enhancing diplomatic influence, will be our core expectations from these summits.
I must also note that Uganda’s foreign policy is characterised by a commitment to regional cooperation, economic diversification, and diplomatic pragmatism. These principles are guided by principles of taking no sides.
However, it also faces ongoing challenges, particularly in the areas of sustainable development, managing the adverse effects of climate change, regional peace and security issues, all of which require continued attention and strategic maneuvering on the global stage.
Through sustained involvement in regional peace initiatives, trade and commercial diplomacy, multilateral engagements and our upcoming summit hosting responsibilities, Uganda is now rightly placed at the centre of the global eye with the forthcoming summits.
This does not only signify Uganda’s rising diplomatic relations role, but it also illustrates our evolving role in the multifaceted international arena.
The writer Kagenyi Lukka is the Deputy RDC Manafwa District