THE HON. BILLIE A. MILLER, M.P.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND FOREIGN TRADE
TO THE GENERAL DEBATE
OF THE FIFTY-SIXTH SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK NOVEMBER 15, 2001
I join with other delegations in congratulating you on your election to chair the proceedings of the 56th Session of the General Assembly. I also take this opportunity to express my deep satisfaction at the award of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations and to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It is a well deserved vote of confidence in your leadership, Mr. Secretary-General, as well as recognition of the pivotal role being played by the United Nations in an era of immense challenge for the international community during these early years of the twenty-first century. We are greatly reassured that your firm guidance will continue for a further term to shape the direction of the Organization.
At this time of renewed sadness for the people of New York and of the Dominican Republic, may I also offer my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in Monday's tragic crash of American Airlines flight 587.
For all of us, this year's journey to New York to address the 56th Session of the General Assembly stands in stark contrast to the comfortable annual routine we have grown to appreciate. We come instead to a city behind barricades, a people traumatized and bewildered, a mood of foreboding and uncertainty on the streets and in these corridors. The horror of terrorism, Mr. President, one that has scarred innocent lives for decades in the Middle East, in Northern Ireland and other parts of Europe, in Asia, Africa, and in Latin America, has now landed on these shores with a fury and intensity that few of us would have thought possible.
The Government of Barbados has been explicit and unequivocal in its condemnation of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and has pledged to cooperate fully with the international community in the sustained effort to respond to this global threat. No cause or grievance can ever justify the use of violence as a means of settling disputes or legitimize the taking of innocent lives. The use of terrorism is incompatible with the ideals of the United Nations and cannot be allowed to prevail.
Barbados shares America's grief, for we too have lost five proud and hard working citizens to this senseless carnage. We share America's bewilderment, and disbelief, for our citizens too have experienced that sense of violation and loss of innocence that comes with an unprecedented terrorist strike. 25 years ago, on October 6th, 1976, the unthinkable happened to Barbados, with the terrorist downing of a Cubana Airlines Flight just outside of our territorial waters. Although the masterminds of that attack were identified and apprehended they were never punished for their crime, but instead encouraged to remain actively engaged in their campaign of terror. We share America's sense of outrage and determination to bring the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks to justice. We muss: also insist that there be zero tolerance for terrorism, whatever it's source or ideology.
Mr. President, terrorism is a global problem which requires a global solution. For many years the United Nations has recognized the threat which terrorism poses to the promotion and maintenance of world peace. Since 1963, when this Organization adopted its first anti-terrorism Convention, some one dozen related Conventions have been approved by the International Community. Barbados is a party to seven of these instruments. Earlier this week I had the honor of signing the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing. Our Government is actively reviewing the remaining Conventions and their administrative and legislative implications with a view to providing for early adherence.
Mr. President, Barbados is committed to taking all necessary measures to minimize the risk of terrorist acts being perpetrated or financed in or from its national territory. A thorough review of security has been undertaken at our airport and seaport, and our authorities have taken immediate action to ensure compliance with the enhanced ICAO and FAA guidelines issued post September 11th. We have also taken legislative action to further strengthen our already well regulated financial services regime through amendments to the Money Laundering (Prevention and Control) Act, and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. Within the Caribbean Community we have agreed to increase cooperation in intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination among our security and enforcement personnel. We expect shortly to be in a position to report in detail to the Security Council on measures it has taken in compliance with the terms of Resolution 1373.
Just as we agree that terrorism is a global phenomenon from which no country can consider itself immune, so too must we understand that it is a complex problem necessitating a multidimensional response. As our Secretary General has so aptly put it: "We face two possible futures: a mutually destructive clash between so-called "civilizations" based on the exaggeration of religious and cultural differences; or a global community, respecting cultural diversity and rooted in universal values. The latter must be our choice - but we can only achieve it if we bring real hope to the billions now trapped in poverty, conflict and disease."
We must all accept that the quest against terrorism can never hope to succeed if it is viewed simply as a military campaign to strike at the power base of the latest practitioners of terror. It must also seek to find effective and lasting solutions to the problems of underdevelopment, poverty and deprivation, inequality, intolerance and injustice that marginalise so large a percentage of the world's population. For it is from these conditions of hopelessness and despair that spring new converts to the cause of terrorism.
The events of September 11 th, and the extent to which they have impacted on the economic fortunes of all of our countries, have shown us the other face of globalization: the reality of our growing economic interdependence. Now more than ever there is need to recognize the value of multilateralism and the pre-eminent role of the United Nations in the search for lasting solutions to the challenges that will confront us in the early years of this new century. The importance of giving priority to a revitalized Development Agenda cannot be understated.
In this regard, Barbados looks to the International Conference on Financing for Development as a constructive forum for refocusing the dialogue on effective mechanisms for the implementation of the stalled development agenda. We support the need for reform of the international economic and financial architecture to meet the current development challenges. We are pleased that international tax cooperation will be one of the issues discussed at the Conference.
Many developing countries, including Barbados were encouraged to diversify into the financial services sector as a viable development alternative, and now derive a significant proportion of their national revenue from this source. We therefore continue to insist on the need for universal participation in decisions that affect the operation of this sector.
Mr. President, Barbados is far advanced in the implementation of its national commitments under Agenda 21. We believe that the World Summit on Sustainable Development presents an important opportunity to build a new and expanded relationship with our development partners for the full implementation of commitments already undertaken at Rio. Johannesburg should not merely review the status of progress of Rio, but should also outline strategies for dealing decisively with the sustainable development challenges that have emerged since 1992. For all Small Island Developing States, follow up of the Barbados Program of Action will form an integral part of this process.
Naturally, the Caribbean Basin countries will continue with their efforts to create a special regime for the Caribbean Sea with the ultimate goal of achieving its recognition as a special area in the context of sustainable development.
It is no secret that the efforts towards the creation of a new international trading system have led to bitter disappointment for the majority of developing countries, who have been severely disadvantaged by the imbalance of rights, obligations, benefits and concessions agreed at Uruguay, and by the failure of Seattle to address that imbalance. We hope that the Doha decision to launch a New Round will lead to a meaningful resolution of these critical developing country concerns. We are convinced that sustained economic and social progress for the developing world will only be achievable within the framework of a fair, equitable and inclusive trading arrangement, which gives due recognition to the differences in size and level of development of member states. We welcome the agreement on drug patents, which represents a major victory for the efforts of developing countries to respond to their priority public health needs and is of great significance in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The impact of the September 11 th events on the Caribbean has been immediate
and severe. The economic repercussions have served to emphasize the extreme
fragility and vulnerability of our small states in the international economy.
The countries of the Caribbean Community, whose economies are heavily dependent
on tourism and financial services, have joined forces to coordinate a regional
emergency response and recovery strategy to mitigate the effects of the
It is clear, however, that responses at the national and regional levels alone will be inadequate to deal with the magnitude of this unprecedented situation. In the words of the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon Owen Arthur: "the international financial community has traditionally required developing countries to rely heavily on policy responses to deal with economic crisis. But the situation that we face has not been caused by policy failure, recklessness nor financial excesses by developing countries. Policy responses without the commitment of real financial resources will therefore not suffice. Barbados therefore stands ready to support a well conceived response from the international financial community to the crisis at hand".
Mr. President, it is the mission of the United Nations to promote the peaceful co-existence and the political, social and economic welfare of the world's peoples. It is in this context that we must recognize the significance of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances, and renew our confidence in the capacity of multilateral organizations to resolve differences and promote a sense of shared values. This Conference presented a unique opportunity for countries to take a proactive approach in diffusing both historic and contemporary conflicts, and in coming to terms with the injustices of the past and creating new understandings for the future. We regret that in many respects the Conference did not get the serious high level attention it deserved, and that the treatment of its fundamental issues was less wide ranging and definitive than we would have wished. For in the words of Professor Hilary Beckles, of the Barbados delegation:" the crisis of modernity that finds expression in spiraling racial hatred, xenophobia and related intolerance is not the sole burden of any one part of the global community, even though the victims of the crimes of which I speak continue to feel in -the course of everyday life the kind of pain and anguish not easily imagined by others."
The citizens of the Caribbean are a transplanted people who have forged from the crucible of slavery, colonialism and economic exploitation a vibrant, pluralistic, multiracial society built on tolerance and respect for ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. In these difficult times, we believe that there is much to learn from our experiences and much that can be done to promote the culture of peace and understanding especially among the youth. In this regard, Barbados attaches importance to the early convening of the United Nations Special Session on Children, and a rededication of efforts towards the achievement of the International Development Targets already set.
Mr. President, we would do well to remember that, in the words of the Secretary-General: "none of the issues that faced us on September 10th has become less urgent".
It would be an unfortunate irony if the global response to terrorism were conducted in such a manner, through the massive redeployment of resources from other priorities, such as the fight against narco-trafficking, extreme poverty, disease and environmental degradation, as to further exacerbate the economic, political and cultural instabilities which are the primary breeding ground for terrorism. Small countries like my own are not part of the problem but we are nevertheless required to be part of the solution, in circumstances which place a disproportionate burden on our financial, human and administrative resources, which had already been struggling to respond to the global economic recession.
Barbados remains fully committed to the United Nations system, and to the values, which it seeks to promote. We are keenly aware of the important work, which the United Nations continues to carry out in the Eastern Caribbean. We are pleased to provide tangible support for that work through the provision of purpose built headquarters to house the seven Agencies whose sub-regional offices are located in Bridgetown. We will continue to work closely with the agencies in developing a model partnership for Eastern Caribbean development. In this context we welcome the support of the UNDP, in partnership with the IMF and the Government of Canada for the Caribbean Technical Assistance Center which was inaugurated last week in Barbados. We look forward to similar levels of UN cooperation for other important programs, in particular that of UNDCP, whose work is providing critical support to the region in an extremely volatile international economic and security environment.
Two years ago the Prime Minister of Barbados emphasized that we were leaving the Twentieth Century and entering the Twenty First: "conscious of the dangers, but excited by the prospects". Recent events must not be allowed to dampen our optimism. We must remain firm in the hope that humanity possesses the fortitude and determination to triumph in the face of extreme adversity, and that respect for diversity, human dignity, and the sanctity of human life will prevail.
We are not expected to complete the task, Mr. President, but neither
are we at liberty to abstain from it.
I thank you.