HIS EXCELLENCY MR. EARL S. HUNTLEY
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SAINT LUCIA
TO THE 56 T" SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK NOVEMBER 15, 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr. President, let me first offer the congratulations of the delegation of St. Lucia on your assumption of office and let me assure you of our full support for the successful outcome of these deliberations.
Mr. President, as we meet with the global fraternity of nations for this 56th Session of the General Assembly, Saint Lucia once more joins its voice with those who have deplored and condemned the despicable acts of terror of September 11, 2001, that so brutalized our great host city New York and our host country, as they cruelly and callously extinguished thousands of innocent, vibrant lives. We are however heartened by the universal resolve of all peace-loving nations to rid the earth of the scourge of terrorism. We have noted too how quickly and steadfastly some of these nations have come together in a coalition in pursuit of that endeavor and have embarked on a war against terrorism.
Mr. President, we should however recognize that the defeat of that type of terrorism - as laudable and desirable an act as it is, will not by itself, create a greater humanity or a better world. For there are billions in the world today, who have not been at war, but who have not known peace, as they suffer from other terrors; there are millions, so many of whom are children, who are succumbing daily to the horror of malnutrition and starvation. There are still other millions who are withering away from diseases. There are the thousands whose human rights are violated on a daily basis. We therefore need to remind ourselves that there are many other issues which have been engendering their own brand of fear and conflict in the world today; and that more often than not the underlying cause of such conflict is the lack of economic and human development.
Mr. President, if we are to attain a greater humanity, if we are to create a better world, we must commit ourselves to a greater collective responsibility towards all those other issues. We must adopt the same rapid global militaristic response to solving them as we have done in the new war on terrorism. Some of these issues have been with us for too long and by now should have disappeared from the world agenda. Our fragile humanity cannot endure another century of widening disparities between and within nations. We can no longer withstand the silent battle between the "have" and the "have not". Our humanity cannot tolerate increased disease, deprivation, hunger, illiteracy, poverty, economic strife and war.
For the ideal of a greater humanity not to continue to elude us we must now found it on this new attitude, this new vision in which people everywhere, nations everywhere, are galvanized into higher levels of cooperation in the pursuit of these common concerns - in particular concerns such as the guaranteeing of economic and social security, sustainable development, and the governance of the multilateral trading system. In this new philosophy of cooperation, the United Nations must play the central role.
It is from-this perspective Mr. President, that Saint Lucia reiterates its call for the adoption of a holistic approach towards poverty eradication. Saint Lucia is firm in its view that the United Nations is the only organization- capable of pooling the requisite knowledge and financial resources for global action against poverty. International cooperation on poverty eradication must give, due consideration to, among other things, debt forgiveness, through concerted support for an unproved HIPC initiative. It must ensure special and differential treatment on a contractual basis for developing countries and sustained financial support for the UN's development programs.
Mr. President, the plague of HIV/ AIDS which continues to ravage the world also demands this new collective response. Saint Lucia acknowledges that the United Nations has already begun spearheading the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The UN Conference on HIV/AIDS has done a great deal to raise global awareness about the magnitude of the pandemic: Saint Lucia also welcomes the establishment of a Global AIDS Trust Fund which is intended to increase the ability of the global community to combat this scourge. However if humanity is to win the fight against this 20th Century plague, the international community must make available, new and additional financial resources towards research and the development of affordable drugs. We stress that these drugs must be cheap and widely obtainable. It is time that corporations cease putting the acquisition of more and more profit ahead of the health and lives of the unfortunate who have been afflicted by diseases such as AIDS. Are we not being inhumane, when our overriding objective is to make as huge a profit as possible on the sickness of so many rather than ensuring that the essential drugs that they need to end their suffering, are easily available?
Mr. President, as we survey the multilateral trading system, St. Lucia continues to be concerned that the thrust towards allowing market forces to totally determine the scope, structure and outcomes of economic activity, is not being counterbalanced by mechanisms to fairly distribute welfare gains and to protect the more vulnerable, small states like Saint Lucia, from the consequences of market failure.
The perilous state of the banana industry in Saint Lucia and the other Windward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean, is the painful outcome of that thrust - an ill-advised policy of "globalisation and trade liberalization at all costs". The charge of WTO incompatibility that was made against the preferential trade regime, justly accorded to Saint Lucia and other ACP banana producing countries under the Lome Agreement, has brought about the near collapse of this vital industry. Saint Lucia welcomes the recent initiative by the US for a new licensing agreement for the trading of bananas on the European Market - an initiative that brought an end to the debilitating banana war with Europe. Saint Lucia once more wishes to record its deep appreciation of the perseverance and fortitude of the European Union, which stood by its international obligations throughout these years of dispute. And we applaud the news just in from Doha that after eighteen months, a WTO waiver has finally been granted to the Cotonou Agreement thus paving the way for the implementation of the new banana marketing arrangements. We hope that these recent developments are not too late to save our industry. But the case of the great banana dispute will always remain as a striking testimony to the inequities of the liberalized trading system.
Mr. President St. Lucia is also concerned about the actions of several organizations, such as the World Economic Council and the OECD, which seem to be attempting to usurp the traditional roles and functions of the United Nations and of national Governments. In the face of the near demise of the vital banana industry, Saint Lucia and the other OECS islands sought to diversify their economies by building on their competitive advantage in offshore financial services. But would you believe, Mr. President, that OECD countries denounced our efforts as being "harmful" to them and resorted to branding Caribbean offshore financial services as havens for criminal activity. For us, this is a violation of our territorial integrity, our sovereignty and our economic rights. Saint Lucia accepts that it has an obligation to ensure that its financial services are not used by unscrupulous individuals and interests. However, Saint Lucia cannot in all good conscience surrender its sovereignty to a governance system imposed by a few.
Mr. President, in the face of these selfish actions by developed countries and the myopia of globalization, the role of the United Nations in bringing order into the system has become even more pressing. . Mr. President, Saint Lucia therefore re-issues its call for a rebirth of the United Nations System, not only as an organization concerned with peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions, but also as an institution that is capable of effectively governing the global economic system in a way that ensures an equitable redistribution of the benefits of economic growth. We need a United Nations that will safeguard against global economic crises and promote the adoption of sustainable developmental policies.
In that context and with the emerging specter of a global economic recession, the upcoming United Nations Conference on Financing for Development becomes even more relevant, even more urgent. This Conference is of enormous importance to the small island developing states of the Caribbean, faced as we are, by low aggregate GDP, low domestic savings and investment capacity and undeveloped financial markets. The development agenda of the Caribbean region cannot proceed without requisite financing, nor can it be sustained without an enabling international environment. We must all therefore commit to ensuring the success of this conference.
Mr. President, our renewed call for the rebirth of the United nations is further fuelled by an observation that it is systematically being displaced as a source of guidance and as a font of collective wisdom on global issues. We fear that if the UN continues to be marginalized in determining global development policies and strategies, then the concerns of developing countries will be excluded from the global agenda. A recent example of this, is the decision not to include issues relating to the implementation of the Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS/POA), in the preparatory meetings for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. We see this as undermining the spirit of the UN Resolution, which convened the UN Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Barbados in 1994. Indeed, it was recognized then, that the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) had not paid sufficient attention to the special circumstances of SIDS.
There are two other examples of UN inaction that leave us very concerned. Mr. President, Saint Lucia laments the adoption by the United Nations of a watered-down Convention on Small Arms. In small, island developing states like Saint Lucia, growing economic instability has given rise to increased levels of drug-related crime. In the Caribbean region, small arms are used in most of the violent crimes that are committed against our law-abiding citizens. The global trade in small arms must therefore be stemmed in the interest of peace and stability. A weak small arms convention was therefore now what we required.
Mr. President, we remain deeply concerned that the plan of action of the first international decade for the Eradication of Colonialism did not succeed in the decolonisation of the remaining 17, mostly small island, non - self governing territories. Accordingly, we request, as a matter of priority, that the necessary resources and expertise be provided to implement the longstanding resolutions on decolonisation, and the critical analyses called for in the plan of action of the present international decade.
Mr. President, I close by extending on behalf of the Government and people of Saint Lucia, warmest congratulations to His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary- General and- the hard-working staff of the United Nations on the recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize. We regard this award as an eloquent testimony to the sterling efforts of this organization at building a peaceful world. At the same time, we see the award as a challenge to the United Nations to remain resolute in its commitment to the multilateral framework and not to allow itself to become incapacitated by inaction, especially where the defense of human security is concerned.
We all recognize that the events of September I Ith have brought about a new era in world affairs and new challenges for all of us - and in particular for the United Nations. In the times that he ahead, the United Nations system must do more that it has done before. It must resist the use of force in situations where wisdom is needed. It must work harder at becoming a source of hope to the hopeless and a reservoir of power to the powerless. It must re-double its efforts at restoring the preservation of humanity as the highest of all ideals.
The horror of September I l b has shocked some of us to establish a coalition against terrorism. It is time for the tragedy of underdevelopment to shock all of us into forging new coalitions for development. In this conjuncture, let us use this United Nations, energized by its Nobel Award, to create these coalitions. Let us build a coalition in defense of the wretched of the earth - to end their hunger, to terminate their poverty, to eradicate their diseases, to forever banish their wretchedness.
Mr. President, I thank you