COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA
Honourable Pierre Charles
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Commonwealth of Dominica
56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Tuesday, November 13, 2001 United Nations Headquarters New York
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I am pleased and honored to address this august assembly on behalf of the
Government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica. I wish to extend my
congratulations to you and your country, the Republic of Korea, on your election
to the high office of President of the 56th session of the United Nations
General Assembly, confident that your proven diplomatic skills will serve
you well in guiding the affairs of the General Assembly with efficiency and
purpose. Your immediate predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Harri Holkeri, is
most deserving of our thanks and appreciation for the very able manner in
which he presided over the Millennium Summit and the 55th session of the
Permit me, further, to congratulate the Secretary General His Excellency
Mr. Kofi Annan on his election to a second term and for the award of the
Nobel Peace Prize to him and the United Nations.
This general debate is being conducted in unusual circumstances. The horrendous
terrorist acts of 11 September 2001 have altered the lives of many in ways
traumatic and fundamentally tragic. I must again extend deepest condolences
and pledge the full support and solidarity of the Government and people of
the Commonwealth of Dominica to the Government and people of the United States
of America and to all bereaved families.
The ripple effects of those acts have resonated in locations far removed
from New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, aggravating economic
and social conditions and seriously disrupting efforts aimed at meeting the
many challenges confronting the United Nations and the international community.
In short, in one way or another and to a lesser or greater degree we are
all victims of those acts of terrorism that were visited upon the United
States of America two months ago.
The Commonwealth of Dominica condemns, without reservation, what is undoubtedly
the worst terrorist act of our times. We are in strong accord with the sentiments
and mandates contained in Security Council Resolutions 1368 (2001) and 1373
(2001), and General Assembly Resolution 56/1, all of which call upon the
international community to take unified and cooperative action "to prevent
and eradicate acts of terrorism". We understand the necessity for the exercise
of the right of self-defense in pursuit of those objectives and we support
the actions being taken "to bring justice to the perpetrators, organizers
and sponsors" of the terrorist acts of 11 September 2001.
Cognizant of the importance of international cooperation in the fight against
terrorism, Dominica has proceeded to establish a task force to put in place
the necessary legislative and executive measures for the implementation of
Security Council resolution 1373. But to be effective beyond the immediate
crisis, counter-terrorism measures, mechanisms, and strategies must be sustained
through a comprehensive approach that seeks to create and strengthen, through
the United Nations, a legal framework against international terrorism, complemented
by strenuous efforts aimed at improving the social and economic conditions
which adversely affect the poor and dispossessed.
Beyond the immediate peace and security issues affected by the events of
11 September there was considerable impact on the global economy which has
been thrown into accelerated decline, with consequences that are particularly
disturbing for small developing countries like the Commonwealth of Dominica.
In the Caribbean, there has been strong evidence of damage to vital sectors
of our economy such as tourism, financial services and agriculture. Actual
and projected loss of jobs in the region are in the thousands and for those
countries that were already experiencing fiscal pressures the prospect of
higher unemployment and decreased revenues are daunting.
Complicating the problem is the great concern that in the fight against terrorism
and in the drive to enforce counter-terrorism measures certain areas in which
developing countries in the Caribbean region have a competitive advantage
such as the financial services sector may be subjected to inordinate pressure
and unfairly targeted and linked to illegal activities such as money laundering.
We are convinced that well regulated competitive tax jurisdictions should
be treated separately and distinctly from illegal activities such as money
laundering. The Commonwealth of Dominica remains firmly committed to the
struggle against international terrorism to the same extent that we strive
to ensure that our financial services sector, a major pillar of our economic
diversification thrust, does not provide support to the perpetrators of criminal
activity in the financing of terrorism.
The current effort against international terrorism is important and our focus
on that activity is warranted. There are, however, other dimensions of the
global agenda which should command the attention of the international community
and the United Nations. They cannot be relegated to the back burner of our
concerns. They comprise a wide range of economic, social, political, and
humanitarian problems faced on a daily basis and for the most part by the
poor and disadvantaged of the world. Indeed, some of them are likely to be
exacerbated by the fight against terrorism and their successful resolution
will continue to be the greatest challenge of the United Nations and the
At the Millennium Summit last year there was general agreement on the issues
that needed urgent attention and the goals to be achieved. One year later
those goals appear to be as far from being realized as ever. Commitment appears
to be lacking on all fronts. The objective of a 50% reduction in the number
of persons living in poverty worldwide by the year 2015 suffers from the
perennial tepid effort at dealing with the root causes of poverty. Contributions
from the industrial countries are woefully inadequate and the required adjustment
of the strategies of the international financial institutions are slow in
coming. The outcome is a less than desirable creation and maintenance of
the enabling environment for more effective management of projects geared
to poverty reduction.
That lack of commitment is evident in other areas. A year after the Millennium
Summit and six months after the United Nations General Assembly special session
on HIV/AIDS, the international community seems to have lost interest in a
crisis that the Secretary General labeled the greatest public health challenge
of our times'. As front page news, HIV/AIDS had a short attention span after
the special session but the disease claimed millions of lives last year and
created millions of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa which continues to have
the highest rates of infection; the Caribbean region ranks a close second.
The Global AIDS and Health trust fund proposed by the Secretary General is
clearly not realizing its spending target of $7 to $10 billion. And achieving
the stated goal of bringing to a halt, and beginning to reverse the spread
of HIV/AIDS by 2015 as declared by world leaders at the Millennium Summit,
is now very much in doubt.
The majority of people infected with HIV/AIDS live in the developing world
and the high incidence of HIV/AIDS infection is considered a function of
poverty. The circularity of the problem has tremendous implications for economic
development, poverty reduction and the efforts at raising the living standards
in developing countries.
The accepted premise that international development cooperation plays a vital
role in the development of the mechanisms necessary for the enhancement of
trade competitiveness of developing countries, the strengthening of financial
systems and the development of human resources are clearly undermined by
the declining trend in official development assistance (ODA).
Once again we see the lack of commitment to the fulfillment of a stated goal.
It is generally accepted that were industrialized countries to meet their
promised official development assistance of 0.7% of GNP the developing world
would be much further along in solving many of the problems with which they
are plagued. As a substitute for the failed promise, developing countries
have been told to place greater reliance on foreign direct investment (FDI),
most of which bypasses the most needy and the smallest economies. The Commonwealth
of Dominica falls into that category of states for which official development
assistance is vitally critical to the development of their economies.
That is why the Commonwealth of Dominica and other states in the Caribbean
region attach such importance to the convening of the International Conference
on Financing for Development which will be held in Mexico from 18 to 22 March
2002. Given the changing global realities that are impacting adversely on
the economies of developing states, the conference will provide an opportunity
for us to assess the impact of declining ODA and for creating new mechanisms
for financing development.
Over the past several years and in many different foray particularly in the
WTO, we have been calling for the formal recognition of the special problems
facing small vulnerable economies. We fear that without such recognition
it will be impossible for most small states to be fully integrated into the
multilateral trading system of the globalize world. Our fears have been confirmed
both by the generally poor performance of small states under WTO arrangements
and in a very authoritative report by the World Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat
on the issue of smallness and vulnerability.
The unique characteristics of small vulnerable economies, which have been
articulated in numerous studies, give a clear indication of the challenges
that these economies face in improving their development prospects and in
adjusting to liberalization and globalization. Many of these economies are
at the crossroads. The reality is that trade preferences are eroding; official
flows are declining, while historical ties with former partners in development
are fading. It is therefore imperative that in order to prevent further marginalisation
of small economies, steps must be taken in the multilateral trading system
and elsewhere to address the concerns of those economies and to ensure their
growth and development.
The exclusion of the Republic of China on Taiwan from membership of the United
Nations makes little sense in today's world of globalization and interdependence
particularly in light of the fact that this sovereign state with a democratically
elected government is the world's 17 th largest economy, the 15th largest
in international trade, the 8th largest foreign investor, the 4 largest in
terms of foreign exchange reserves and the 3rd largest exporter of IT products.
The Commonwealth of Dominica intends no interference in the internal affairs
of any member state, nor can such interpretation be validly applied to our
action. Our plea is a simple call for justice of twenty-three million people
of the Republic of China on Taiwan and an appeal for the recognition of their
right to be treated, in international affairs, no differently from citizens
of any other country.
11 September 2001 will undoubtedly be remembered for the horrifying nature
of the terrorist acts, the magnitude of the senseless destruction of lives
and property and the forced recognition of our common vulnerability. But
the heroism, the extraordinary fortitude and selflessness of ordinary men
and women, and the demonstrated triumph of the human spirit over the worst
manifestations of evil inspire us to hope that, with dedicated commitment,
we can create for all of mankind a world that is measurably better that that
which we have today. The time to begin is now.
Thank you, Mr. President