GUYANA

STATEMENT BY
THE HONOURABLE S. R. INSANALLY

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA
TO THE FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
14 SEPTEMBER 2002


Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished delegates,

Over this Assembly hangs a cloud of uncertainty, indeed of unease about the future of multilateralism and international relations generally. The tragedy of September 11, 2001, which we commemorated just three days ago, has so numbed our minds that we are yet to fully understand its consequences.

It is meet, therefore, that as a family of nations, we should not only remember the disaster but also seek to learn from it how we can best restore to mankind some measure of faith and hope in our common humanity.

Mr. President, my delegation is pleased to see you presiding over this Assembly since, as the representative of a country which has known the horror of war, you will undoubtedly inspire us to find our way forward.

In wishing your Presidency well, I would also like to place on record our gratitude to His Excellency Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea for guiding us through a most difficult and challenging time.

Our appreciation and thanks must extend to the Secretary General who, throughout these past months, has helped to sustain our commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

We are pleased to welcome Switzerland as a full member of the family of nations and look forward to doing the same for East Timor when it takes its place among us.

Mr. President, the international system is now plagued by dangerous instability which threatens to undermine - if not destroy - many of our states. Not only do we face terrorism with its horrific violence but we must also live with other manifestations of terror in the form of poverty, hunger and disease - which though more silent perhaps are no less deadly.

Conflict, both inter and intra-state have clearly demonstrated how poorly an economy functions without political and social cohesion. Such cohesion continues to be under threat in many countries. Divisions that rend the fabric of our societies - divisions that derive ultimately from ethnicity and race are not only severely counterproductive to our attempts to better the commonweal, but preclude the emergence of a durable peace and tranquility without which we can never prosper.

Recent global conferences have focused our attention on the importance of a rights-based approach to social inclusion. However, commitment to inclusionary policies rests not only with States but with civil society as a whole. Poverty and underdevelopment are easily exploited by some elements in our societies to undermine the authority of democratically elected governments and to exacerbate ethnic and other tensions.

This instability is further compounded by the rampant trade in illegal drugs, arms and ammunition with its attendant corruption and violence which daily test the legal, financial, security and governance capabilities of most small states. The social contract between the State and its citizens has been seriously jeopardised by these new political developments. Greater national endeavours and international solidarity are now necessary to confront these challenges and to ensure the economic and social progress of our peoples.

Old conflicts persist, denying entire populations the opportunity to live in peace and security. The situation in the Middle East must be of special concern to us all since it threatens to become a wider conflict. The right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination - a right guaranteed by international law - must be upheld if there is to be a just and lasting solution to the region's problems.

The tensions which exist in Indo-Pakistan relations over Kashmir cannot be allowed to persist given the risk of a calamitous nuclear conflict. As a country which is committed to the pacific settlement of disputes and as a friend of these two important countries of Asia from which many of our ancestors originated, Guyana would wish to encourage them to continue their search for a definitive solution.

Mr. President, global instability also results from our failure to implement our agreed Agenda for Development. After more than a decade of development-related conferences, we are yet to grasp fully the implications of an increasingly interdependent world and globalized economy for international cooperation. The recently-concluded meetings in Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg have now brought the international community full circle in assessing the effectiveness of global collective action aimed at the realization of the millennium development goals and the eradication of poverty. We should now be fully persuaded that global action remains indispensable to the development process.

What is less clear, however, and continues to be a daunting challenge is the relationship that should underlie such action. To what extent can equality be achieved in a system of skewed economic and military power? Will sovereignty subject itself to the imperatives of the global good? How can trustworthy procedures be found for international intervention in situations characterized by the collapse of national social and economic structures? What more can be done so that the current international trading system is beneficial for all States and not only a select few? How can the policies of the Bretton Woods institutions be made more responsive to the concerns and needs of the developing countries in particular?

There are no easy answers to these questions. And indeed, each international conference and general debate of this Assembly has made us more aware of how difficult it is to find a consensual approach to these issues. Dialogue and engagement are continuously balanced against hasty attempts to achieve short term goals. Yet, the imperative of global stability - both political and economical - requires a greater symbiotic relationship among States. The increased permeability of borders which has made all countries vulnerable to contagion from outside, is a reality which we cannot ignore.

Meanwhile, the debate on the benefits of globalisation is becoming increasingly polarized. Many developing countries, despite their own best efforts at reform and restructuring, have not seen any significant improvement in their economic and social condition. The growth rate of most developing countries was two per cent lower in the 1990s when compared to that of the oil crisis years of the 1970s. Similarly, over the past fifteen years, although the number of people living on less than one dollar a day - that is in extreme poverty - has reportedly decreased, those living on less than two dollars a day has increased. Poverty figures have in effect remained high despite an improvement in world income in the last decade by an average of 2.5 per cent annually.

The situation has been especially difficult for small states. Over the past ten years, CARICOM Member States have been pursuing aggressive socio-economic reform measures to enhance the region's economic competitiveness to derive the benefits of globalization. The results have generally been disappointing in large part due to the small size, geographic location, limited natural resource base and the high dependence on international trade which make CARICOM economies vulnerable to the global economy. This situation is further aggravated by the high incidence of HIV/AIDS pandemic which is the second highest in the world.

Mr. President, small states such as ours in the Caribbean require sustainable development cooperation based on mutual trust and fulfillment of commitments. One major step in this direction should be a focus on new ways of balancing equity, economics and ecology to create the opportunities for small economies without inflicting disillusionment and despair. Every effort should also be made to ensure the full implementation of the HIPC initiative to liquidate the debt burden in developing countries. To address this task an integrated approach to capacity development should be designed that addresses all the different elements required for maximizing the possibilities of sustainable development. Our task is to build a global system where people matter.

Mr. President, it has now become fashionable to speak of partnership for sustainable development and indeed partnership, if properly conceived and implemented, can serve to eradicate poverty and promote economic growth. However, as the President of Guyana stated at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 'partnership' between states must be based, if it is to succeed, on mutual trust and respect and on the interest of all parties. Public/private sector partnerships must be founded on equity and transparency, with full regard to the laws of countries. And finally, partnerships with multilateral financial institutions must be informed more by an understanding of the situation in the partner countries and less of a doctrinaire approach to policy making. To quote President Jagdeo directly "Progress will only come, if there is an enlightened understanding of partnership."

Concerned by the inadequacy of past development models and the trend towards leaving development matters largely to market forces, Guyana has sought to promote the concept of a New Global Human Order based on a genuine partnership for cooperation between developed and developing countries. By addressing the problems of peace and development in a holistic manner, this compact would provide developing countries with structural, strategic and long-term support by the international community. Guyana hopes to build upon resolution 55/48 in the coming months with the aim of bringing greater predictability and stability to international development cooperation.

Mr. President, it is clear that the period ahead of us is fraught with difficulty and that some of the challenges are historically unprecedented in scale. The instability and uncertainty by which so many societies around the world are afflicted must be attended to if we are to avoid their collapse. We must therefore ready the United Nations, the most important and most widely supported international governmental organisation in existence, to address these problems. There is simply no where else to take them.

I thank you.