The high notes of the last 25 years in Mongolia
- By Misheel Lkhasuren -
- May 05,2021
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of The UB Post, we present the highlight events of the last 25 years that elevated Mongolia to the world.
MONGOLIA DECLARES NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE STATUS
In September 1992, Mongolia declared its territory a nuclear-weapon-free zone and proposed to have that status internationally guaranteed at the UN General Assembly.
The declaration was the first concrete step in a new foreign policy that supported Mongolia’s new, independent and fundamental interests. For Mongolia, securing its status as a nuclear-weapon-free zone under international law was an important step in preventing the country from the nuclear threat and in maintaining peace in the region and the world.
Twenty-two years after the declaration, the initiative became a reality. On October 31, 2014, the five member states of the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.
This was a historic decision not only for Mongolia but also for the member states of the UN community. In 2017, Mongolia celebrated the 25th anniversary of its nuclear-weapon-free status.
Currently Mongolia serves as the coordinator of the Fourth Conference of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia, originally planned for April 24, 2020. The conference was postponed by the UN General Assembly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PEACEKEEPERS RAISE NATIONAL REPUTATION
Mongolia became the 45th nation to contribute troops to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. Since Mongolia sent its first two military observers to the UN Mission in Congo in August 2002, Mongolia has become a significant contributor to UN peacekeeping missions.
Mongolian armed forces have been performing peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Chad, Georgia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo, Western Sahara, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, under the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia.
As of February 1, 2021, the country has sent over a total of 19,300 military personnel to serve in hot spots around the world. Since 2006, more than 700 Mongolian female officers and commanders have served as staff officers, military observers, and military personnel in UN peacekeeping operations. This ranks Mongolia 17th out of 126 countries in the world in the number
of female peacekeepers. As of February 15, 2021, a total of 1,116 military personnel are serving in seven operations.
During their service, Mongolian peacekeepers have successfully performed their duties to protect the lives, health and property of people around the world. Particularly, soldiers of the 10th Motorized Rifle Battalion of the Mongolian Armed Forces, which is serving in the UN-mandated UNMISS operation in South Sudan, rescued civilians held hostage by local armed robbers last month.
OYU TOLGOI AGREEMENT SIGNED
The Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement not only attracted western investors to the local economy, but also laid the foundation for Mongolia to become a major mining country. The Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project is a crucial part of the country’s economy.
Oyu Tolgoi is 66 percent owned by Toronto-listed Turquoise Hill Resources, in which global mining giant Rio Tinto has a 50.8 percent controlling stake, and 34 percent by the government. Mongolia is funding its share of the development costs through loans from Rio Tinto, which operates the mine.
Currently, the government and Rio Tinto are in talks to review the Oyu Tolgoi agreements to ensure that the project benefits the Mongolian people. The government noted its concerns about cost overruns and operations delays at the project to Rio Tinto in December 2020. The government said, “The estimates that Mongolia will never receive dividends from its 34 percent
ownership of the mine and will incur debt of 22 billion USD are creating difficulties for our future co-operation.”
The government taskforce to protect the interests of Mongolia in the Oyu Tolgoi project has been holding online meetings with Rio Tinto representatives since April 2020. During the meeting on April 12, Rio Tinto made its position that it is ready to make the project as mutually beneficial as possible.
Negotiations are likely to take a long time, but the people of Mongolia hope that a mutually beneficial agreement will be reached.
ULAANBAATAR HOSTS ASEM11
Ulaanbaatar hosted the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM11) from July 15 to 16, 2016. The granting of this hosting right to Mongolia is regarded as a confirmation of the fact that the country’s international reputation has been growing steadily over the past 25 years, and the foreign policy concepts and activities have been highly valued in international spheres.
This summit was not only a great opportunity to promote the country, but also important for the economy. At that time, due to the fact that the ASEM meeting was hosted in Ulaanbaatar, the number of searches for Mongolia on the Internet tripled, with 1 billion people “searching” for Mongolia.
This was also an important step for Mongolian businesses to find new partners, attract foreign investment and restore investor confidence. Moreover, initiatives related to Mongolia took place within the framework of the summit, and results began to emerge.
In connection with ASEM11, a lot of investment and technical innovation work were done to create world-class hotel services, build and renovate roads and bridges, organize trainings and seminars to icrease the capacity of cultural and arts services, introduce new equipment and technology, and establish international standards at the border, customs and security. Some observers saw ASEM11 as a major boost to foreign policy. The main achievement of the foreign policy is that Mongolia has shown that it can be a reliable partner and mediator in international relations.
CLIMATE ACTION PRIORITIZED
Researchers estimate that Mongolia’s greenhouse gas emissions will increase to 50 million tons by 2030. For Mongolians, being
“close to the sun” due to high altitude is one of the first conditions to be endangered.
Therefore, Mongolia ratified the Kyoto Protocol on December 15, 1999 to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Forests are the main factor in reducing greenhouse gases. In this regard, reforestation is being carried out gradually, with a policy to increase the area covered by forests in the country to 9 percent by 2030.
In addition, the Green Growth Policy was adopted to increase renewable energy sources to 30 percent by 2030. Renewable energy production currently accounts for more than 20 percent of energy sources, according to National Coordinator of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Z.Batjargal.
Since 2015, the Climate Change Project Implementation Unit has been operating with the mission of developing policy and research documents, reporting the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and coordinating projects and programs.
DEATH PENALTY ABOLISHED
In 2012, Mongolia acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and made an international commitment not to use the death penalty. Mongolia’s abolition of the death penalty laid the foundation for respect for the right to life.
From 1988 to 2005, the country sentenced more than 800 people to death. Mongolia has a bitter history of executing nearly 30,000 innocent people between 1937 and 1939, during the political persecution era.
However, in recent years, some people have agreed to reinstate the death penalty over shocking child abuse cases. Particularly, in 2018, President Kh.Battulga announced that he would seek public opinion on the death penalty for perpetrators of child abuse and murder, and initiate a bill on the death penalty. At the time, constitutional scholars agreed that the death penalty should not exist, while some politicians argued that the death penalty should be reinstated for heinous crimes.
If the death penalty is reinstated, it will be a step backwards for the country and a failure to fulfill its obligations under international treaties and its progress in protecting human rights. Furthermore, it will negatively affect Mongolia’s international reputation, leading to the notion that Mongolia’s domestic and foreign policies are unstable and inconsistent,
and may affect national security and foreign relations.
There is no international or domestic study to support that the death penalty reduces crime rate.
GOVERNMENT BOND ISSUED
Since 2010, the development of the domestic government bond market has been an important part of Mongolia’s economic transformation. The Asian Development Bank believes that the development of the bond market in Mongolia accelerated over the past five years, with government bonds being the main driver of growth and increased interest in the market.
In 2012, the first sovereign Chinggis bond worth 1.5 billion USD was issued by the government was offered on the international market, with 10-fold over subscription at the price offered. It showed that foreign investors were extremely interested in Mongolia as an attractive investment prospect.
The government has issued a total of eight bonds since 2012 to fund development and infrastructure. Repayment of the bonds began in 2021 and will last until 2025. In particular, the final repayment of the Mazaalai bond was made this year. The Chinggis bond repayment is due in 2022, Samurai and Gerege bond repayments in 2023, Khuraldai bond in 2024, and Nomad bond in 2025.
The government’s issuance of sovereign bonds is believed to have led to major developments, despite criticisms of lack of transparency. Particularly, the Chinggis bond financed more than 1,660 domestic projects, with more than 1,000 local subcontractors hired and around 60,000 jobs created. Roads connecting province centers to Ulaanbaatar were also built
with bond funding. Moreover, 64 programs were funded to support five industrial sectors.
LEADING ECONOMIC GROWTH ACHIEVED
In 2011, Mongolia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The Economist magazine marked Mongolia’s economic growth as the third fastest growth in the world.
In 2010, Mongolia’s economic growth was 6.4 percent, with commodity prices rising sharply and exports increasing. As a result, economic growth reached its highest level in 2011 at 17.3 percent.
Due to the effects of the global financial and economic crisis of 2008, real economic growth was -1.3 percent in 2009, but the average economic growth increased to 7.8 percent from 2008 to 2011. The main contributors to this growth were the mining industry.
But now like all nations around the world, the Mongolian economy is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Bank in January 2021 said it saw Mongolia’s economy shrinking 5.2 percent in 2020 and rebounding with 4.3 percent growth in 2021. 2021 is the year of economic recovery , but that all depends on how the country’s leaders address the domestic transmission of COVID-19.
LEAPING FROM POOR TO DEVELOPING COUNTRY
Since 1991, Mongolia had the status of a low-income, developing country. In 2010, the country began to meet the conditions of a middle-income country.
Now Mongolia is classified as a lower-middle-income country. In 2014, the country was included in the list of upper-middle-income countries, but in 2015, it fell back to the category of lower-middle-income country. This was mainly due to poor macroeconomic environment, financial market development, innovation, and lack of new business ideas.
The progress made in 2010 showed that there is great potential for further growth from a lower-middle-income to an upper-middle-income country for Mongolia, as well as the promise of ascending to a developed country.