His Excellency Honorable Timothy Harris

 Minister of Foreign Affairs and Education
of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis

at the 56th Regular Session
of the United Nations General Assembly
 November 14, 2001

UN Headquarters, New York

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1. Mr. President, it gives me great pleasure to convey to you heartfelt congratulations on behalf of my delegation and Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, on your accession to the honorable post of President of the Fifty-sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

2. I would also like to congratulate your predecessor on a job well done, especially during such an exhaustive period of the United Nations.  The success of the United Nations is built on the hard work of its members and both of you have shown dedication to the positive functioning of this esteemed institution.

3. In the last decade, world leaders have been working tirelessly in different fora to redefine and address the myriad challenges that characterize this so-called New Order. This has placed great premium on the United Nations, which has been providing an able platform for exchanges of ideas, practical dialogue and conflict resolutions. My delegation is satisfied that marked progress has been made in identifying many of the critical issues. The United Nations deserves high praise, and, we commend member states for their willingness to use the diplomatic and political resources of the Organization in the conduct of their international relations.

4. The involvement of the United Nations in recent times is a fitting backdrop for the decision that the coming year be designated “the year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.” This, Mr. President, is most timely and it serves as a revalidation of our belief that dialogue is a critical ingredient in promoting partnership and improved understanding among governments and peoples. Dialogue is the foundation of solid democracies, strong people-centered institutions, civil societies and sustainable human development. Dialogue is still that very important catalyst which often staves off war and conflict, enabling consensus and confidence building in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. Thus, it is quite obvious why the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis supports this idea.

5. Mr. President, in a certain sense, a New World Order dawned on 11 September 2001, when terrorism, in a most outrageous form, reared its ugly head in the cities of Washington and New York, in the United States of America, with the loss of thousands of innocent lives.  Dialogue among the international community rapidly spawned an anti-terrorism coalition of countries, thereby defining the protagonists in this unfolding New Order.  My country stands solidly with this coalition, especially in pursuing the generally agreed strategies to contain terrorism.  Despite the horrendous act of 11 September 2001, and the subsequent bio-terrorism, life goes on adjusted to a New Reality.

6. Another case where dialogue may prove useful in advancing human security will come when Governments meet at the World Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico next year. St. Kitts and Nevis regards this as an important occasion to promote the interests of all nations. But, we are especially hopeful that this conference will embrace the aspirations, and promote better appreciation for the needs, vulnerabilities and special circumstances of small economies in Small Island Developing States.

7. My Prime Minister has repeatedly urged the International Community to take a more unbiased look at the peculiar situation of small, vulnerable economies. This is not an appeal for international charity, but a signal to promote the kind of realism through which a Marshall Plan of commitment can be devised to energize small, vulnerable economies so that they can effectively participate in a Globalized Economy.

8. Dialogue is important in building real participatory democracies. But democracy among nations is as crucial as democracy within nations. When the people we serve feel that our actions as leaders do not reflect their dreams, goals, and aspirations, they may use their democratic right to effect change.

9. We have a duty to give loud voices to their silent legitimate hopes. We must place added value to the hopes and expectations of our people, in order to legitimize the concepts of representative democracy. It is within this context that I urge this body to redouble its efforts in finding a solution to the unfortunate stalemate that beleaguers relations between the Chinese people across the Taiwan Straits.

10.  My Government remains convinced that both sides of the Taiwan straits should become fully engaged in this peaceful and non-coercive process without the distraction of preconditions.  It would lead to the successful resolution of what appears to be a very contentious issue. At the same time, we encourage the United Nations to be vigilant and ready to assist where possible or when required. Prior to the peaceful settlement of their dispute, it is imperative that we establish a mechanism by which the International Community can benefit more appropriately from the proven expertise, technical know-how and skills of the 23 million people of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

11. Mr. President, we call on the United Nations to assist in the resolution of the question of full inclusion of Cuba into the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.  Also, we urge the people of Cuba, as we look towards the year of dialogue, to embrace the challenge of ensuring that they can participate fully in the Community of Nations.
12. Participatory democracy among nations must be erected on the twin pillars of mutual respect and trust.  But trust wanes in the face of unilateral actions such as threats made by the OECD countries to blacklist and impose sanctions on sovereign Caribbean Governments, consequent upon the OECD countries’ misunderstanding of fiscal initiatives taken by sovereign Caribbean Governments as a way to underpin sustainable economic development.

13. Mr. President, as we look forward to the coming year of “Dialogue among Nations” we urge member states to resist the lure of national paternalism and unilateral action as a means of problem solving. In a matter so crucial to the economic future of Caribbean countries, it is inconceivable that conclusions could have been reached and decisions arrived at without the courtesies of dialogue with the very countries against whom such scathing indictments had been made.  However, most recently, wiser counsel has prevailed and, in a spirit of dialogue and partnership, significant progress has been made via a compromise agreement.  The Caribbean Community hails this agreement on offshore fiscal initiatives as a step in the right direction.  Such is the power of dialogue among civilizations.

14. Further Mr. President, we imagine that the mechanisms of globalization, if timely and equitably applied, can be productive, inclusive, and can improve lives. It must be emphasized that although small states may justifiably harbor some apprehension about Globalization, we do not oppose it.

15. On the contrary, we welcome the opportunities to empower our citizens so that they may compete successfully in a global market place; mindful that empowerment and the ability to compete successfully, however, require appropriate skill-sets, academic resources and material tools. In order for small states to benefit fully from the New Economic Order, the global agenda must become a humane agenda sufficiently responsive to facilitate equitable and affordable access to modern technology, that is to say, technology that is appropriate and responsive to the basic needs of poor communities and small states.

16. Without realism and a holistic approach in examining the social and economic conditions within small states, there is potential for serious dislocations when these states attempt to operate within the global marketplace. As responsible member states, we have a genuine obligation to work to improve the lives of the disenfranchised. Mr. President, this, I am sure, is the main reason we are here today. Therefore, we must continue to right this important chapter in the development of human security. We must also remain cognizant that as members of the global village, we have to discard old suspicions and embrace partnership, dialogue and diversity as necessary components of our interdependence.

17. Partnership and understanding will prove essential in our efforts to tackle common problems such as drug trafficking and the pandemic of HIV/AIDS. The Special Session on HIV/AIDS came at an important juncture and we urge member states to support the decisions that were made. In small states, like St. Kitts and Nevis, the pandemic of HIV/AIDS presents one of the most devastating challenges to the development of human security because such a disease threatens to unravel the delicately woven balance of social growth and economic potential.

18. Our people are at great risk and the prospect of losing decades of development and talented people to this illness is amazingly real. Aside from losing our young and most productive people, Governments, in turn, are expected to reallocate significant amounts of already meager resources from critical development programs to provide costly care and treatment. We salute the United States Government, the World Bank, and others for their recent and important initiative to help fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the Caribbean and we urge others to adopt similar initiatives.

19. Mr. President, we see what an important role dialogue is playing in the hemispheric approach at the Organizations of American States through the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism. This allows member governments to collaborate in the fight against drug trafficking, in supply and demand reduction and in difficulties in implementing national or shared strategies. We believe this approach is useful because it raises the currency on common approaches, weakens unilateral actions and allows member states to share experiences on interdiction, epidemiology of drug abuse and other trends. The fight against drug trafficking is a transnational one. We cannot point fingers or apportion blame. We need to take action.

20. St. Kitts and Nevis welcomes the approach of the OAS, which permits us in the Caribbean not only to come to terms with the reality that our islands have become conduits for this profitable but destructive trade, but also to work in a multilateral framework to find common solutions. Equally, such a mechanism focuses attention on the root problems and encourages hemispheric partnership. We hope that these kinds of approaches will become integral components of problem solving at the United Nations.

21. Mr. President, the past year (the 55th Regular Session) was particularly eventful for the United Nations. We began with the Millennium Summit and concluded with the HIV/AIDS Special Session. In between we interacted on many contentious issues. It is my hope that during the new year we can move forward with renewed vigor, building on the hard work that our predecessors left in our charge, and paving the way for a brighter future for those to whom we will pass the baton. Once again, we salute you, on behalf of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Thank you.