Antigua and Barbuda
H. E. Mr. Winston Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister
25 September 2008
© UN Photo
Click for caption and to enlarge
WINSTON BALDWIN SPENCER, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the sixty-third Assembly was taking place against a backdrop of escalating challenges to international peace and security: persistent poverty; diminishing food supplies for many people; mega-disasters induced by climate change; and an impending meltdown in the world’s largest economy. Those circumstances called for a heightened sense of urgency and stronger will among all nations to work with, and through, the United Nations especially to embrace multilateralism in the fullest sense.
The climate crisis was a clear threat to the security of small island States, and a major obstacle to achieving the sustainable development goals.
He said the international community was woefully short of political will to address the climate crisis, especially since its effects on natural disasters was indisputable. The frequency and severity of natural disasters was increasing around the globe and such disasters were especially catastrophic for the small countries of the Caribbean, whose economies were largely dependent on the natural environment.
While encouraged by efforts of the primary contributors to the climate change to shift over to new energy sources, he said the developed countries retained the responsibility to provide the necessary resources to correct the problem. On the issue of Cuba, he called on the United States Administration and its future leadership to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on that nation. He said the United Nations would be a more potent entity, and the world a better place, if the next President of the United States, in his inaugural address, gave an irrevocable commitment to multilateralism.
In his capacity as the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, he said the United Nations record of implementation and delivery of the many commitments, timetables, and proposals adopted over the years was a source of embarrassment for world leaders. There had been some modest gains, for example, in the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria. But the international community faced an endemic crisis of development, including the failure of development policies and approaches that didn’t take into account the specific situations of countries and regions.
This had led to growing inequities within and across countries, an environmental crisis, a crisis of confidence in global government, a worsening energy crisis and an unprecedented food crisis and a looming water crisis. While recognizing that each country had the primary responsibility for its development, he said the international community needed to create a conducive, sustainable, fair and predictable environment and provide the necessary policy space to discharge this responsibility.
The Group believed this effort could begin with today’s high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals. He encouraged the members to use this meeting, and the upcoming Conference on Financing for Development in Doha, to offer specific proposals on how financing could be mobilized to address the commitments, and ensure cooperation, so all developing countries could meet their specific targets.