PERMANENT MISSION OFJAMAICA TO THE UNITED NATION
HIS EXCELLENCY DR. THE HONOURABLE
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF JAMAICA
FIFTY-FIFTH SESSION OF THE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK SEPTEMBER 14, 2000
I offer you Jamaica's warmest congratulations as you assume the high honour of the presidency of the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations.
At the same time I wish to express our appreciation to outgoing President, His Excellency Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, Foreign Minister of Namibia, who, by his astute and judicious leadership, brought to successful conclusion the work of the 54th session.
I also take this opportunity to welcome Tuvalu, a fellow small island state, to the United Nations family.
We meet in the wake of the historic gathering of world leaders last week when the international community sought to redefine and articulate a common vision for the future of all its citizens. We now have the opportunity, indeed, the responsibility: to evaluate just how far we have come in the mission we set for ourselves through this organisation to address honestly our shortcomings in commitment and action; and to examine practical, realistic strategies that will result in measurable progress in areas identified for urgent action.
The Report of the Secretary-General to this Millennium Assembly on the role of the United Nations in the twenty-first century offers some useful ideas for our consideration. I thank the Secretary-General for his stewardship during this past year, and for his leadership of the organisation during this period of introspection and self-examination.
The Secretary-General has urged us to consider a world in the future free from poverty. Promoting development that ensures the well-being of all peoples is one of the fundamental goals of this organisation. A review of our efforts to achieve this ideal shows uneven progress through an increasingly diffused institutional structure.
Over the past decade, we have sought to refocus and articulate the development agenda, by addressing key issues in a series of special Global Conferences. Through the respective political commitments and plans of action which we agreed to implement, we have sought to devise a network of policies and programmes to promote people-centred, sustainable development.
Yet, economic strategies embracing these goals have brought little tangible benefit for the majority of citizens of the international community. Nearly half of the world's people languish in extreme poverty and still more remain on the fringers of the global economy.
Development efforts have been frustrated by the challenges posed by globalisation and trade liberalisation. Sustainable development ultimately involves an enhanced capacity for income and employment generation, and the provision of equitable health, education and other social benefits. This cannot be achieved without economic growth and expansion. It is this opportunity that globalisation has so far failed to deliver to the majority of developing countries.
For small, island states like Jamaica, there is another dimension to the development challenge. This is because of the well-known economic limitations of size, market and resource base, a fragile eco-system and susceptibility to natural disasters. Decades of infrastructural and industrial investment can be wiped out during a single hurricane, destroying the economy and diverting resources to reconstruction and rehabilitation for a number of years.
Small economies attempting to compete effectively in the international trading system are just as vulnerable. There is need for urgent review of the inequities in the global trading system whereby selective application of the regulations permits developed countries to maintain protectionist policies and subsidies that work against developing country exports, while stripping the more vulnerable of preferential market access. We are deeply concerned that a mechanism established to promote free trade for growth -and development could be so manipulated that it exposes the smallest and weakest to a hostile trading environment while removing their means of survival. Special and differential treatment provisions have not been implemented and the request for duty- free, quota-free treatment for the least developed countries has not been agreed to.
We are particularly disappointed that, in ongoing negotiations to reach agreement on a WTO- compatible marketing regime for bananas, we have found little flexibility, no empathy, and an unwillingness to compromise on the part of those challenging the regime. Meanwhile, implementation of the WTO Panel ruling has resulted in dramatic loss of export markets in some CARICOM states, spiralling unemployment, increasing poverty and many other social ills. For there can be no development without growth, and no growth without trade.
Deteriorating terms of trade adversely affects the balance of payments, exacerbating external debt. Many developing countries continue to experience severe debt burdens, and in some cases, the debt problem has worsened over the past decade, trapping these countries in a vicious cycle of poverty and under-development. We must address the debilitating effect of debt servicing, which undermines growth prospects and compromises government's capacity to finance basic social programmes. The international community should implement debt relief schemes already agreed to, and design new mechanisms appropriate to different countries' circumstances.
The globalisation of trade, finance and swiftly advancing information technology will present unprecedented opportunities well into the twenty-first century. For developing countries, however, the challenges of the trading system, limited access to international financial flows, a crippling debt burden and a low capacity to assimilate information technology will prevent meaningful participation in the international marketplace.
Hence the widening gap between rich and poor nations in the face of unlimited opportunity is the disturbing irony that we now contemplate.
If we are to lay the foundation now for a world free from poverty, then a new ethos in global governance must prevail; one that gives more than lip service to the development aspirations of developing countries; one that addresses responsibly the need for economic adjustment, reform and closer monitoring of the international financial infrastructure; and one that promotes greater coordination and cooperation between the major institutions and intergovernmental organisations responsible for international trade, finance and development.
That such cooperation is already being explored is encouraging. But we will need serious commitment. Up until now, there have been no parallel discussions on reforming the international financial architecture and the international trading system. The work of the Preparatory Committee for the High-Level International and Intergovernmental Event on Financing for Development, including consultations with the Bretton Woods institutions, has progressed uneasily, leaving uncertainty regarding the outcome and likely success of this landmark meeting. We will wait to see whether meaningful WTO participation will take place, as we consider it important to successful deliberations.
We applaud the evolving relationship between the Bretton Woods institutions and the Economic and Social Council. Each brings to the partnership its unique characteristics and strengths, which should make for successful collaboration. Perhaps similar relationships might also be established with the World Trade Organisation. This cooperation, long overdue, reinforces the integral role that we believe the UN should play in key international decision-making on all issues which affect sustainable human development. We look forward to the extension of this cooperation beyond the cofinancing of development projects, toward the harmonisation of mechanisms and policies.
The importance of South-South cooperation as an effective instrument for the promotion of development among developing countries cannot be overemphasised. The historic meeting of the leaders of the South in Havana this year strengthened our commitment to forge a common strategy for our future, sharing resources, expertise and best practices in partnership with each other.
Adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action of the Summit represented a revitalisation of the spirit of the South, fortifying us for the challenges that lie ahead. We strongly urge the continued strengthening of mechanisms that advance South-South relations and promote self- reliance. Increasingly we must look to each other for our survival in the existing global environment.
We should also seek to strengthen cooperation among ourselves at the regional and subregional levels. Much can be achieved by advancing regional integration, harmonising social and economic policies and consolidating common positions for external negotiation and advocacy. For our own part, we the member states of the Caribbean Community are proud of our progress thus far toward the creation of a single market and economy.
Jamaica is convinced that a more cohesive South can only strengthen our cause as we pursue a new dialogue with our partners of the North.
We continue to look to the organs and agencies of the United Nations system to play a central role in supporting and advancing the development efforts of the member states. We are deeply concerned at the decline in contributions to core resources for operational activities, and the effect this has had in the narrowing and re-ordering of priorities in programme delivery. It is impossible to reconcile this contraction in core contributions with the expressed commitment to multilateral development assistance of the donor community. The capacity of the UN's funds and programmes to maintain current levels of programme delivery is a matter deserving the urgent attention of member states.
We take this opportunity to place on record our appreciation for the valuable work of the UN's operational agencies in Jamaica, particularly the UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and the UNV. We pledge our continued support for their effort.
Next year's Special Session of the General Assembly on Children will give the international community an opportunity to renew its commitment and to consider future action to improve the quality of life for the world's children in the next decade.
SECURITY COUNCIL AND PEACEKEEPING
The United Nations' role as defender of international peace and security has undergone major transformation in the past decade. As inter-state tensions dissolved with the end of the Cold War, civil conflicts developed in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe to take their place.
The Security Council is now searching to adjust and redefine an effective strategy to deal with the new imperatives of peace-keeping and peace-building. This has meant seeking a delicate balance between respect for sovereignty and the urgent need for humanitarian intervention.
In too many cases the resolution of conflict has remained elusive, due to political ambition, racial or ethnic intolerance. Furthermore the brutality and violence of conflict have often taken their toll on innocent civilians and children, creating still new challenges with an increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons. Humanitarian intervention in such cases is imperative.
The effectiveness of peacekeeping missions is under scrutiny in the face of sharply escalating peacekeeping budgets. We need to place more emphasis on conflict prevention, rather than waiting until conflicts spiral out of control. Jamaica therefore strongly supports the formulation of a comprehensive U.N. strategy to address the root causes of conflict.
It is time that we acknowledge that economic deprivation and social injustice leads to political and economic instability. Therefore, effective conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace building must incorporate a component for development, and provide for the strengthening of civil institutions, particularly in post-conflict reconstruction. Africa deserves particular attention in this regard.
And we must not forget the importance of adequately equipping the UN machinery to ensure robust intervention at every stage of the peacekeeping process, particularly for rapid deployment when necessary. This should also include resources adequate to ensure the safety of our troops deployed in missions across the world. It is the very least that we owe them. Jamaica pays tribute today to those who have paid the ultimate price in the service of peace.
The deadly flow of illegal small arms around the world continues unabated, sustained by greed and lawlessness. This illicit arms trade contributes significantly to the escalation and perpetuation of violence in conflict and post-conflict areas, undermining peacekeeping operations and frustrating efforts at disarmament, demobilization and the restoration of civil order.
But, Mr. President, this phenomenon is not unique to countries in a state of war. The illegal traffic in weapons is also linked to the illicit trade in narcotics, and this undermines stable democracies like Jamaica, destroying the social fabric of our communities.
This situation simply cannot stand. Urgent, action is needed. Global interdependence warrants collective action to stem the flow of these guns from producer to receiving states. The responsibility to curb this illicit traffic cannot rest with the receiving states alone.
Jamaica looks with anticipation to the convening of the First International Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons next year. It is our hope that this meeting will address comprehensively and decisively national, regional and international measures to regulate and control the legal manufacture, acquisition and transfer of small arms; measures related to the marking, registration and tracing of these weapons, and mechanisms for the systematic exchange of information.
TRANSPORT OF HAZARDOUS WASTE
The transhipment of nuclear and other hazardous waste through the Caribbean Sea poses yet another kind of danger to the security of small island states of the sub-region. The Caribbean Community has repeatedly expressed concern at the threat to the fragile marine and coastal environment of the Caribbean posed by this continued practice. A single nuclear accident in this semi-enclosed sea would have consequences we dare not even contemplate.
This concern was again brought to the attention of the international community during the 2000 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, held earlier this year. We look forward to cooperating with like-minded states and we propose to work toward ensuring that a regime is established for liability and compensation to our countries in the event of an accident.
INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ISSUES
On Friday, September 8, Jamaica signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. We now look forward to the contribution that the Court will ultimately make to the strengthening of international jurisprudence, by addressing the serious crimes of global concern committed by individuals who hitherto escaped the reach of the law.
We are also very pleased to report that the International Seabed Authority has completed its drafting of the Mining Code. It marks an important first step in the process toward the full establishment of operations of the Authority that will ultimately enable all nations to share in exploitation of the resources of the seabed.
Jamaica encourages wider participation in the work of the International Seabed Authority and urges member states to act to ensure its continued financial viability.
While the United Nations is by no means perfect, still we meet here because we hold an enduring faith in the principles and ideals that it represents. We are convinced that it remains the best forum for dialogue and the resolution of disputes. Let us now face the future together responsibly with full respect for the needs, aspirations and rights of our' fellow man.
This may well be difficult to achieve, but shared objectives, shared commitment and shared responsibilities will ensure a better world for all mankind. As we contemplate the challenges for the future, let us resolve to begin a new dialogue within the United Nations system to forge a global partnership for peace, democracy and economic progress.