H.E. Ambassador Philip Sealy
Head of the Delegation of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
15 SEPTEMBER 2002, NEW YORK
I would wish, on behalf of the Government and People of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to extend to you our most sincere congratulations on your election to the Presidency of this the 57th Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly. We are convinced that, under your enlightened guidance, we will address with determination and courage, the issues that confront the international community.
We would also wish to express at this time our deep appreciation to your predecessor, Dr. Han Seung-Soo, President of the 56th Assembly, for the courageous leadership which he displayed in bringing that Session to a successful conclusion under difficult and trying circumstances.
To the Secretary-General, H.E Mr. Kofi Annan, we wish to place on record our appreciation for his relentless commitment to the cause of peace, security and development, and for his tireless efforts in achieving the goals of this world body.
The delegation of Trinidad and Tobago extends a warm welcome to Switzerland on its becoming the 190th Member State of the United Nations and looks forward in the not too distant future to the admission of Timor-Leste into our UN family.
The maintenance of international peace and security, Mr. President, together with the promotion of economic progress and the achievement of social justice for peoples all over the globe, have been the pillars on which this Organization was founded more than half a century ago. These goals remain as valid today and even more so than when our founding fathers created: this Organization. As Governments therefore, and as UN Member States it is incumbent upon us, the international community, as a whole, to reaffirm constantly our faith in and commitment by word and deed to the fundamental purposes and principles of the UN particularly in the area of international peace and security. In this field, the Security Council, charged as it is with primary responsibility under the Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security, must be allowed to fully play its fundamental role as it did in confronting the challenge posed to the international community by the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, committed in this very City. Mr. President Trinidad and Tobago remains committed to working with the CounterTerrorism Committee established by Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) in order to do our part to eradicate the scourge of terrorism from our world.
Mr. President, on August 31st, 1962, some forty years ago, Trinidad and Tobago became an independent State and immediately thereafter joined this universal body. We in Trinidad and Tobago recognise and appreciate the role that the UN has played in promoting fundamental human rights and freedoms, the international rule of law, the peaceful settlement of disputes, the right to self-determination and the sovereign equality of States. Without proper observance by all States, large and small, of these basic principles, the world would most certainly have been a more challenging place for us all. It is in this context Mr. President, that Trinidad and Tobago views with increasing concern the continued absence of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. It is clear that peace will continue to elude that region unless all parties concerned demonstrate unequivocally the will to collaborate with a view to achieving the vision set out in Security Council resolution 1397(2002).
The maintenance of international peace and security, Mr. President, is a sine qua non for the achievement of our economic and social development goals. It is against this background that Trinidad and Tobago, as a small State and developing country, supports all efforts made through the International Conferences and Special Sessions held within the.framework of the United Nations, to address the international social agenda in pursuit of integral human development worldwide. Some of these include the Special Session on HIV/AIDS, the International Conference on Financing for Development, the Second World Assembly on Ageing , the Special Session on Children and the just concluded World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), all of which have not only recognised the concerns of the more vulnerable groups within our societies, but have also identified various policy alternatives through which these, concerns can be addressed.
There can be no meaningful development Mr. President, if significant segments of our populations are allowed to remain in a state of increasing vulnerability. As a result, Trinidad and Tobago participated fully in the work of the Second World Assembly on Ageing, the Special Session on Children and the Special Session on HIV/AIDS.
It is our hope that the adoption of the Political Declaration
and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, as well as the Declaration
and Plan of Action emerging from this year's Special Session on Children, will
serve as the bases for the development of policies at the national level to
deal with the problems faced by these two vulnerable groups in our societies.
For its part, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has recently completed a
Draft National Policy on Ageing, that will address the principal concerns of
our ageing population.
Mr. President, the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to hamper the economic and social development of our Caribbean region, affecting as it does the most economically active and productive segments of our societies. My Government has sought to incorporate this issue as a matter of priority into its national strategic planning process. It is virtually impossible, however, for any one country unilaterally to deal effectively with this public health issue. For this reason, Trinidad and Tobago is committed to participating fully in all relevant regional and international initiatives.
In this regard, Member States of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) were among the first to translate the global commitments undertaken at the Special Session on HIV/AIDS into regional targets when our Governments adopted in 2001 the Nassau Declaration on Health which identified priorities for action and partnership in addressing this global health issue.
Assistance is however urgently needed to boost these national and regional initiatives. The launching of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria we consider to be timely. We hope that through this Fund, governments will be further empowered in their efforts to implement measures aimed at the eventual eradication of these diseases.
Mr. President, as a country which falls within the category of Small Island Developing States (SIDS);,. Trinidad and Tobago feels obliged to draw reference to the tendency in the international community to underestimate the phenomenon of vulnerability, both as a condition of size and stage of development. Small island developing economies are by definition vulnerable, and, in a global village where negative occurrences in one sphere can have a ripple effect in others, the implications for us all are as real as they are apparent. The lack of inherent capacity, technology and technical know-how limits the adaptive capacity of SIDS to cope with the challenges that they face including global environmental problems such as climate change, bio-diversity and land degradation.
As we engage in efforts at the international level to achieve environmentally-sound economic development, Trinidad and Tobago remains cautious in light of the dismal record regarding the implementation of commitments made at the Rio Summit 10 years ago. That Summit, Mr. President, concluded with the signing of two Conventions - one on Climate Change and the other on Bio-diversity, together with the adoption of Agenda 21.
It continues to concern us Mr. President, that emissions of greenhouse gases have increased worldwide and climate change is occurring at a faster rate than previously estimated, especially sine SIDS are disproportionately vulnerable to the impact of climate change, while being responsible for a minuscule proportion of such emissions. Trinidad and Tobago therefore urges that decisive action be taken to ensure that the Kyoto Protocol comes into force as early as possible since this is the only existing international instrument which addresses these problems. We therefore welcome the political commitment given by the leaders of some key industrialised countries to ratify this Protocol in the near future.
It would seem however, Mr. President, that progress under Agenda 21 has been limited primarily by lack of funding and capacity, which has resulted in the widening of the gap between the attainment of sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty.
Trinidad and Tobago is therefore pleased that the recently-concluded World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, agreed to specific targets in areas such as water and sanitation, health, bio-diversity loss, restoration of depleted fish stocks, and chemicals.
The fact that the Johannesburg Summit achieved a greater synthesis and integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely, the social, economic and environmental, is also a welcome development. The enormous challenges that these issues collectively pose provide a profound insight into the magnitude of the task faced by developing countries in their quest for sustainable development. The real test of whether Johannesburg was a success will, however, come in the months and years ahead as we seek to implement the commitments made by Member States.
Mr. President, we must build on the momentum of the WSSD and ensure that our future course of action guarantees the outcomes envisaged in the Plan of Implementation and Political Declaration emanating from that Summit. It is in this respect that Trinidad and Tobago would therefore expect that a priority of this Assembly would be a decision to convene an International Conference in 2004 to review the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, moreso in view of the growing recognition by the international community of the special and vulnerable situation of these countries.
Additionally, you may wish to note, Mr. President, some of these smaller economies continue to be faced by circumstances such as onerous debt-servicing schedules, lack of access to new finance and obstacles in penetrating non-traditional markets which negate all their efforts aimed at economic advancement. It is for this reason, that Trinidad and Tobago looks forward to the early implementation of the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), and other U.N. initiatives aimed at alleviating the economic burdens faced by many low and middle income countries. These countries are being asked to service debts and at the same time fulfill their commitments to the Millennium Development Agenda. In this regard, we welcome the recent appointment by the Secretary-General of a High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. Trinidad and Tobago looks forward to working with the High Representative to ensure the effective discharge of his mandate, particularly as it relates to SIDS.
Another noble attempt conceptualized within the UN framework is the International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey earlier this year. Trinidad and Tobago is heartened by the outcome of that Conference in defining the necessary actions for addressing some of the more pressing problems faced by developing countries in the areas of mobilization of domestic and international resources for development, international trade, financial and technical cooperation for development and external debt. My delegation therefore urges this Assembly to endorse the Monterrey Consensus as adopted by that Conference.
At the regional level, Trinidad and Tobago is engaged in joint efforts with its CARICOM partners to assume responsibility for the management of our developing economies. At a Special CARICOM Summit held last month, CARICOM leaders mandated that a Regional Stabilisation Fund (RSF) be created within the framework of a long-term Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). The purpose of the Fund will be to provide regional economies with the necessary financial resources to respond to current and longterm economic difficulties. This regional financial cooperation programme is intended to augment budgetary resources available to Member States of the Community both from domestic sources and multilateral institutions.
Mr. President, Trinidad and Tobago remains committed to the international rule of law and to justice for all. Our role in the re-introduction onto the international agenda of the idea of the creation of a permanent international criminal court in 1989 is well known and, since that time, Trinidad and Tobago has not ceased to promote support for this Court, both regionally and internationally. It continues to be the hope of my Government that, at the Review Conference of 2009, the crimes of drug-trafficking and terrorism will also be included within the jurisdiction of the Court.
It is noteworthy that many States regard the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as the single most important international instrument since the adoption of the UN Charter. The successful conclusion of the First Assembly of States Parties to the Statute last week was a positive step towards the operational phase of the Court, which now stands as a permanent warning to would-be perpetrators of the crimes within its jurisdiction that impunity will no longer be tolerated by the international community, and that justice will be assured, to their victims. In the election of judges to that Court, Trinidad and Tobago would, as a small State, consider it an honour to have one of its nationals so elected, in order to continue its contribution to the cause of international criminal justice.
But justice for all victims of the most heinous crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity will only be assured when this most recently created international criminal tribunal gains the widest possible acceptance. We therefore encourage those States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Statute.
Mr. President, in order to ensure that the Court will truly achieve the goals forwhich it was established, the States Parties must stand together in their efforts to preserve the integrity of the Statute to which they have committed themselves and must, with one accord, resist any attempts to undermine the effectiveness and independence of the Court.
In conclusion, Mr. President, the issues which I have raised in this forum today, point to the need for the globalisation of genuine commitment in the resolution of the problems that currently confront our international community. What is therefore required is a greater sense of shared commitment to the fundamental purposes and principles of the UN in the face of new and ominous threats to global peace and security; to the vision of a world free from poverty, hunger and disease; and to an international organization fully charged by its Member States with the political will to tackle frontally all the challenges that pose threats to the very survival of mankind. Trinidad and Tobago, forty years on, renews before this august Assembly, its firm commitment to abide fully by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and to make its contribution to the economic and social progress of peoples the world over.
I thank you Mr. President.