21st March 2002


Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

Eighteen months or so ago, political leaders the world over agreed upon a bundle of clearly defined targets, aptly-named "Millennium Development Goals", which focused on a substantial reduction of poverty, disease and illiteracy by the year 2015. Sadly, the heretofore financing, policy and institutional emphases, if allowed to persist, would ensure that these goals will be missed by a very wide mark.

So, here we are again gathered, this time in the magnificent land of Mexico, not to rehash the work of the Millennium Summit but to advance its underlying purposes in a remarkable new period, post - September 11th, hopefully with bold new ideas revolving around the theme "Financing for Development".

So in Monterrey it is not " deja vu ". It cannot be a celebration of cynicism nor a dragon's dance upon a decorous platform of the finest diplomatic language which few are determined to embrace for action. Rather, Monterrey ought to be seep as that occasion when human civilization commenced its renewed quest to save humanity, to turn the setbacks of the past (including the last eighteen months) into advances, to ensure that extant weaknesses metamorphose into strengths, and limitations into possibilities.

In this historic venture to preserve and advance human civilization and to arrest a descent into an immediate and lurking barbarism of poverty, terrorism and underdevelopment, we need all hands on deck. Obligations accordingly reside in nations, in the international community, in corporate entities, in the array of non-governmental organizations and, yes, in individuals across this increasingly shrinking planet earth. Therefore we must all leave here with a renewed commitment to work together in human solidarity to accomplish the solemn and uplifting declarations in tha draft Monterrey Consensus which we are here gathered to adopt and proclaim as our own.

This draft Monterrey Consensus does not in every material particular satisfy the country which I have the honour to represent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
 But I shall not make perfection the enemy of the good. And so my county embraces "the new global deal" on the table which was eloquently summarized by the distinguished Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, in an article in the New York Times of March 19th 2002, in the following terms:

"When developing countries fight corruption, strengthen their institutions, adopt market-oriented policies, respect human rights and the rule of law, and spend more on the needs of the pour, rich countries can support them with trade, aid, investment and debt relief".

Of course, each of the elements in this new global deal is enveloped in controversy, As always the devil is in the details. It is precisely for this reason that sensible, rational, ongoing, structured conversations among all the relevant stakeholders are necessary and desirable to hammer out acceptable conclusions on the devilish details which are well known to all assembled here,

We in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are deeply grateful for the bilateral assistance which we have been receiving from countries in North America, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. It is to be regretted that one of our country's principal donors from Asia, the Republic of China, has been excluded from a place at the table of the community of nations.

Still, it is true to say that the level of assistance delivered to poor countries by rich ones is wholly inadequate for genuine development. I do not however traduce them for failing to meet even their own targets. Rather, I urge them to accept that their own self-interest dictates a greater and more appropriately targeted generosity.    Surely, the call by the United Nations and the World Bank for rich countries to double their current levels of assistance is not unreasonable. Moreover, such aid ought not to be merely discretionary; it ought, in this new globalized world to be a juridically -grounded international obligation, monitored by an appropriate authority. At the same time too, the international financial structures fashioned at Bretton Woods nearly sixty years ago ought to be reformed to meet the circumstances of this new, changed and challenging age.

Mr, President,
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a small, poor country set adrift between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Admittedly, we are not among the poorest countries of the world but we are among the world's most vulnerable. Our very special circumstances cannot even be accommodated by the useful, though shopworn, ideas under the rubric "Special and Differential Treatment". Much, much more is required from the international community if small Caribbean countries like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are to grapple satisfactorily with the fallout from globalization and the trade liberalization. Our agenda in this regard is fair, reasonable and practical.

The overall cause of financing development upon which we are here embarked is a great one. And great causes are not won by doubtful men and women. Great causes, too, admit not of time wasting. An urgency is upon us.

Now more than ever each of us is his brother's keeper, Nations ought to reflect the magnanimity which resides in the human spirit and not allow ancient wrongs to rankle needlessly. Poor nations are not worthless entities to be politically shunted aside. Rich nations ought not to permit their successes to engender a sense of rampaging triumphalism. History is not yet at an end. Here, let us all be thoughtful and caring of, and for, the human condition, and be reminded, too, that of all time only the future is ours to desecrate. This conference is about the avoidance of the desecration of the future.

Let me conclude by thanking the Mexican Government and people for hosting this wonderful event, I am honoured to have been part of it.

Thank you.

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