H. E. Mr. Wilfred Elrington, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
29 September 2008
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WILFRED P. ELRINGTON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Attorney General of Belize, said small countries like his own were not the masters of their own destinies, and the resources they needed to secure their future were not attainable without international assistance. The security, development and well-being of all peoples of the world afforded the best guarantee for their own safety, security and development, and ultimately, their very survival. “The treatment we mete out to each other determines our own destinies.”
“Every global problem requires global solutions,” he said, quoting the words of a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in a previous General Assembly speech. Preconditions had been set forth in order to successfully combat present challenges: understanding that all were each other’s keeper; that all were equal in ownership of the earth; and that no country would escape the consequences of a damaged planet. However, there was a “crisis of implementation” of global commitments, with slow and uneven progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, dismal follow-through on the Monterrey commitments and the collapse of the Doha Development Round.
He said that was not due to a want of resources, commitments or common objectives, but “for want of compassion and empathy”, whereby countries acted only when “it’s in our narrow self-interest to do so”. The interests of developing countries were poorly represented and of lesser concern to global institutions. There was a need to strengthen the United Nations, in order to better monitor implementation, and to reinforce its universality through participation by all relevant stakeholders, in addition to prompt action on development promises and the submission of such actions to international oversight.
Alluding to his country’s journey from colonialism to independence, he said Belize’s development was challenged, not by nature, but because of human exploitation and selfishness. In addition, the country and neighbouring Guatemala were in the International Court of Justice to settle a territorial dispute. “We are still soldiers in the battle for freedom, equality and justice.” But, instead of the crude instruments of war, weapons today consisted of “the power of the rule of law, cooperation and friendship between peoples and nations, and an abiding faith in multilateralism”.