Statement by
Honorable Osborne Riviera
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Marketing
57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
14 September 2002, New York

President of the General Assembly, Mr. Jan Kavan,
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Koffi Annan
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr. President,

The Commonwealth of Dominica joins other delegations in congratulating you on your election to chair the proceedings of the 57h Session of the United Nations General Assembly. We are confident that you will preside over this assembly with the efficiency and dedication required to take us through the Agenda of the 57th Session. We extend to your predecessor, Mr. Han SeungSoo, our sincere appreciation for the excellent manner in which he steered the work of the 56`h Session of this General Assembly.

One year ago we convened in a city reeling from terrible tragedy, which spurred the international community to unite in the fight against international terrorism. The world's response to the events of September 11 was one of total condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and a firm undertaking to uphold the principles of freedom and democracy enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. The United Nations Security Council was swift and decisive in its adoption of a resolution focused on suppressing the financing of terrorism and denying terrorists safe haven in which to operate.

Sadly, terrorism remains today, one of the greatest threats to human security.The Commonwealth of Dominica therefore once again reaffirms its commitment to the fight against international terrorism and to ensuring that the channels for funding of terrorist related activities and international crime are permanently disabled. My Government is making every effort towards the successful implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1373 in spite of limited human and financial resources. Legislative measures, which have been put in place, include an Exchange of Information Act, which addresses some of the concerns of the international community as expressed in UNSCR 1373. This Act was passed in the Dominica Parliament in January of this year while a Bill for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism will be tabled before Parliament shortly.

My delegation wishes to take this opportunity to express its appreciation for the initiatives taken by the Counter Terrorism Committee, the Commonwealth, the European Union and other countries and organizations to assist developing countries in their implementation of the resolution.

Mr. President,

The historic entry into force of the Rome Statute of the international Criminal Court takes us one step further in the fight against impunity of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Commonwealth of Dominica's accession to the Statute of the ICC in January 2001 is indicative of our support for the establishment of a permanent international court that will bring the perpetrators of the most serious international crimes to justice. In this regard, the ICC must seek to prevent or penalize terrorist related crimes, which may be localized in action but may have severe global consequences.

Mr. President,

The international situation, notably developments in the world economy, has not been favorable to the growth prospects of small states such as the Commonwealth of Dominica, which remains a small, open and largely agriculture-based economy, extremely vulnerable to external economic shocks. While the events of September 11 are behind us, the irreparable damage to the economies of small Caribbean countries is still evident. Hardest hit was the tourism sector, one of the areas with the greatest potential to contribute to Dominica's social and economic development.

The growth of our Offshore Financial Sector, another potential contributor to our economic diversification has been adversely affected by our country's inclusion in the list of No Cooperative Countries and Territories put out by the OECD's Financial Action Task Force. All attempts to have our country removed from that list have proved futile in spite of the implementation of necessary measures to ensure best industry practices in the Financial Services sector.

The Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica commits itself to the global combat against money laundering and stands ready to cooperate with the international community in its anti-money laundering initiative. A number of new laws have been enacted by Parliament to legislate its anti-money laundering policies. The Commonwealth of Dominica has also established a Financial Intelligence Unit and a Money Laundering Supervisory Authority to ensure that our Financial Services Sector remains free from money laundering.

As I address you, my country is facing one of the most challenging periods in its history. The slow down in the global economy, the impact of the events of September 11th on an already deteriorating situation, the continued difficulties of integrating into the multilateral trading system in a globalize world and the rapid decline in overseas development assistance have undoubtedly affected our economic performance in a negative way.

We have been left with no other option but to pursue a stabilization and adjustment program, which has been approved by the International Monetary Fund.

The success of this program should lay the basis for sustained higher growth output and employment as well as poverty reduction. We however recognize the attendant costs of program implementation. The Dominican people have been asked to make temporary sacrifices in order to place our country on the road to recovery. We wish to recognize in this forum, the support given to the Commonwealth of Dominica at the regional level in these difficult times and look forward to the support of the international community.

Mr. President,

Last year, as the world turned its attention to the events of September 11, the distinguished UN Secretary General reminded us that none of the issues that faced us on September 10 had become less urgent.

Indeed, the UN calendar for the last year has been crowded with special conferences and summits, all convened to address problems and issues of global concern, which affect the everyday lives of the peoples of the United Nations. And while the issues are admittedly current and of interest to them, it is unfortunate that many of the smaller members of this body do not have the capacity or wherewithal to ensure that they receive effective representation not only at the conferences but more significantly in the preparatory committees that precede the conferences. It is no accident that most often the states which least benefit are the smallest, and least influential.

The World Assembly on Ageing and the Special Summit on Children attempted to deal with the issues, which affect the most vulnerable members of our societies. The World Assembly on Ageing concluded in April with a Plan of Action for implementation by the international community. In small countries like the Commonwealth of Dominica this implementation, must of necessity, include the recognition of older persons as the pillars of our societies, who make a significant contribution to our economic development.

My Government has developed a national policy on ageing which seeks to ensure that older persons be provided with protection care and an opportunity to continue to participate in the development of our nation. We were privileged to host the 10'x' annual regional meeting of Help Age International a few weeks ago, a happy coincidence given that in our population of 75,000 we have 22 centenarians. I want to specifically recognize the world's oldest living person, a Dominican woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Israel, known as Ma Pampo. Civil societyorganizations, like Help Age must be recognized for their vigorous pursuits in attempting to deal with the issues affecting older persons.

As a family of nations, we established set goals, strategies and actions in pursuit of a better life for children, at the United Nations General Assembly's Special Session on Children. As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Commonwealth of Dominica remains committed to ensuring that children's rights are protected and respected. Children are one of our most valuable resources.

In March of this year, the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development was convened and was hailed as a "turning point in the approach to development cooperation" by the international community. It was widely acknowledged at Monterrey that for development assistance to be effective, both the donors and the recipients had to share the same goals of the alleviation and eventual eradication of poverty and sustainable development.

We applaud the commitment expressed by the major donor governments to the Monterrey Consensus. What we desire is an equitable distribution of the increases in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) pledged by the Heads of State and Government of the European Union in March 2002. The same can be said for the "new compact for global development" proposed by President George W. Bush on March 14, 2002, in which the United States pledged to increase its core assistance to developing countries by fifty percent over the next three years.

We are still confident that global conferences can work because it has been proven that they serve as foray where new proposals can be debated and consensus sought on topical issues. At the recently concluded Johannesburg Summit, world governments agreed to cut, by fifty percent, the number of people lacking clean drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

My government was particularly pleased that at the conclusion of the Johannesburg Summit, the richer countries stated their willingness to reach an agreement by January l, 2005 within the World Trade Organization for "substantial improvements in market access" for food exports from developing countries.

Mr. President,

The Johannesburg Summit underlined the necessary linkage between environmental protection and natural resources management and issues of poverty, underdevelopment and social justice. The Summit demonstrated the interdependence of social, environmental and economic factors that must be in unison for long-term sustainable development to be achieved. Empirical evidence exists to show that poor and weak national economies impact negatively on the environment while environmental degradation and over-utilization of natural resources result in declining economies and impoverished communities.

The Government of Dominica remains fully committed to Agenda 21 and the Barbados Program of Action for Small Island Developing States. We reiterate our unwavering support for the Johannesburg Plan of Action and urge all Member States to make good on their commitments for the successful implementation of all sustainable development conventions.

The increase in levels of Overseas Development Assistance alluded to earlier, is essential when viewed in the context of the implementation of development strategies by Small Island Developing States. It is recognized that the small, highly open economies of these small states require effective means, including financial resources, to counteract the negative effects of globalization and trade liberalization, and to foster sustainable development.

The Commonwealth of Dominica is acutely aware of the magnitude of the challenges facing our pursuit of sustainable development. Ours is a country with a history of consistently pursuing a national development path guided by sustainable development. An integrated development plan, undertaken with the participation of a diversity of stakeholders and sectors, provides us with a framework within which we can address physical, economic and social vulnerabilities in an integrated manner.

Mr. President,

At this time, my Government wishes to place on record its appreciation for the continued commitment of the Republic of China on Taiwan to the social, economic and infrastructure development of small, vulnerable economies very much like itself. The Republic of China on Taiwan has demonstrated, as the fourteenth largest economy in the world, the benefits of having a global perspective of development.

We welcomed the decision of the World Trade Organization, in November 2001, to allow the Republic of China on Taiwan to become a full member of that organization. We look forward to a similar occasion when the Republic of China on Taiwan will take its place in these halls as a full member of the United Nations family.

Mr. President,

The Commonwealth of Dominica joins other delegations in congratulating the African nations for two important developments. First, the transformation of the Organization of African Unity into the African Union, which we are confident will be a strong institution committed to the promotion of peace and stability, democracy and human rights, cooperation, development, prosperity and human dignity. Second, is the program for socio-economic revitalization of the African Continent, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)? The United Nations has a central role to play in ensuring the success of this bold initiative of the African states to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment. These two developments provide great examples, which our Caribbean Region can emulate.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate the resolve of the Millennium Declaration that `we believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people'.

We must ensure, through the global and regional programs, that globalization truly contributes to sustainable development and prosperity for all.

We wish the 57th General Assembly every success in advancing the goals of peace, democracy, prosperity and sustainable development.

I thank you.