THE HON. BILLIE A. MILLER, M.P.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND FOREIGN TRADE
TO THE 57TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, 19 September 2002
It is my pleasure to join with preceding speakers in congratulating you on your election to preside over the 57th Session of the General Assembly. Barbados pledges its fullest cooperation in the year ahead.
I also take this opportunity to convey our deepest appreciation to His Excellency, Dr. Han Seung-soo, for his leadership during a very challenging 56th Session.
The preamble to the Charter of this
Organisation expresses in the simplest yet most eloquent of terms the essential
goals of multilateralism. We know its every phrase, and recognise its solemn
commitment "to promote social progress and better standards of life in
larger freedom", as well as: "to practice tolerance and live together
in peace with one another as good neighbours", and: "to unite our
strength to maintain international peace and security." These goals remain
as relevant today, and yet, in many ways, as painfully elusive as they were
In January 2001, the international community ushered in a new century with the highest of expectations for the successful implementation of the Millennium Development Goals which we had just adopted. We were resolved to work with renewed vigour to eradicate poverty and hunger, fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS and disease, raise the level of human development, and bring an end to debilitating economic and social injustices. Tragically, the events of September 11th eclipsed our Millennium Vision, and brutally reshaped the Global Agenda.
In the intervening year we have been forced to re-examine our traditional notions of security and to come to terms with the reality of our growing political and economic interdependence. For no single nation can hope to have all the answers to the complex issues that confront us, and no lasting solutions are possible except through collective effort. If nothing else, the lessons of September 11th have served to reinforce the value of multilateralism.
For the past several years, Mr. President, Barbados has argued for a redefinition of the concept of security to embrace the new and non-traditional threats that have the greatest potential to cause harm to our citizens, destabilise our societies, and erode the basic institutions of governance. At the hemispheric level, we promoted dialogue on these issues among Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of American States, at our recent General Assembly Session in Barbados, where we adopted the Declaration of Bridgetown on the Multidimensional Approach to Hemispheric Security. We believe that this approach to security is equally valid in the wider international context.
As we are well aware, Mr. President, threats to world peace are no longer exclusively found in military conflict between opposing countries, where the enemy is recognised and a state of war formally declared. Rather, today's greatest sources of instability and threats to national, regional and international security lie in areas where the enemies are often unidentified, non-state actors, with global reach. Terrorism is but one of these insidious new elements. We are equally alarmed by the growing danger posed to democratic societies and governments by the modern transnational phenomena of narco-trafficking, organised crime, money laundering, corruption, and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons. We are also aware of the potential for grave economic and social dislocation posed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, environmental degradation, and ecological and natural disasters. In addition, the inequitable application of the benefits of trade liberalisation has created the very real prospect of increasing poverty and further economic disenfranchisement for the smallest and most vulnerable countries in the developing world. In the circumstances, we have little choice but to persist in the struggle to gain international acceptance for our demands for special and differential treatment to prepare our small economies to meet the challenges of globalisation.
The modern threats to international peace and security constrain the capacity for political and economic development and for social progress. All nations share in the responsibility to respond to these threats, but we can only do so successfully through collective strategies, which simultaneously address all aspects of the problem. Diversion of resources and attention from the development agenda to the fight against terrorism cannot produce lasting results. And as Dr. Bruntland warned in 1992, our global village may yet become a global jungle if states adopt unilateral measures to combat global problems.
Small developing countries are daily
beset by fundamental challenges to their economic sustainability. From our perspective,
security has of necessity revolved around policies in support of social development,
economic viability, good governance and the promotion of democracy. For us,
military engagement is not an affordable option.
For Barbados, as for all small states, the doctrine of non-intervention is of paramount importance for our survival. Pre-emptive unilateral action, no matter what the apparent cause, is a precedent which occasions in us the gravest discomfort. It is therefore vital that at this dangerous and uncertain juncture in world affairs we reaffirm our commitment to multilateralism and to the preeminent role of the United Nations in seeking to impose responsible behaviour through diplomacy and dialogue rather than through the use of force.
In response to the events of September 11th, and to the mandates of Security Council Resolution 1373, Barbados has deployed considerable financial and human resources to the anti-terrorism effort. In May this year, our Parliament adopted comprehensive domestic legislation, which entailed an amendment to our Constitution, to criminalise acts of terrorism and support or financing for such acts. Yesterday I deposited with the UN Secretariat the relevant instruments to make Barbados a party to the International Conventions for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, and for Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
We have been prompt and responsible in fulfilling our obligations to the international community in this regard, despite the heavy financial strain this has placed on our national economy, already deeply affected by the adverse impact of September 11th on its major productive sectors, tourism and financial services. For as I reminded the General Assembly last year, Mr. President, small countries like my own are not part of the problem but we are committed to being part of the solution, in circumstances which place a disproportionate burden on our financial, human and administrative resources, already struggling to respond to the global economic recession.
Regrettably, Mr. President, that burden has been further exacerbated by the words and actions of some lawmakers who now seek, through misguided zeal, to brand the operations of financial services centres, even the most transparent and well regulated, such as the Barbados regime, as havens for corporate tax evasion and for the laundering of terrorist assets. It is important to emphasise that the Barbados jurisdiction is more transparent and better regulated than many in the developed world, and certainly no less so than what obtains in the states of Delaware and Vermont, among others. My country fully intends to defend its reputation against these renewed, unwarranted, duplicitous and discriminatory attacks.
In this post 9/11, post-Doha, post-Enron world, Mr. President, many of the assumptions about peace and progress in a globalised economy have been challenged. We have entered a prolonged international recession whose consequences have impacted on all countries. It is trying times such as these that force policy makers at the national level to simplify, refocus and prioritise.
It is opportune for us to undertake a similar exercise in respect of the United Nations. We must return this organization to it basic mandate, and seek to have its energies and focus redirected to substantive action in the twin areas of peace and development. The unique attributes of the United Nations and its multilateral structure can serve to build consensus and promote cooperation in the search for solutions to the most pressing problems affecting human security.
The phenomenon of International Summits and Global Conferences, which have proliferated over the last decade, have been successful in mobilising governments and, to a greater extent, civil society, as well as sensitising people to the most compelling development issues facing the planet. Although they have created awareness and raised expectations, they have not delivered on implementation, and most of their fiercely negotiated plans of action remain under-funded and under-executed. The promises and pledges of the past fifteen years have not been fulfilled. It is high time we review the utility of these costly processes, and seek to find simpler, more effective structures to carry forward our development agenda. The dwindling resources available for developmental programmes are better used for development itself than for scripted dialogue to discuss the process of development. Fundamental changes are needed in the way that development is financed, and in the structure, operation and coherence of the global financial architecture. Monterrey must not become just another failed process.
Barbados welcomed recognition by the World Summit on Sustainable Development of the vulnerability and sustainable development challenges of Small Island Developing States, and looks forward to a frank, comprehensive review of the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action in Mauritius in 2004. The Summit made a commitment to the sustainable management of ocean space, and it is in this vein that Barbados will continue to work toward achieving international recognition of the Caribbean Sea as a Special Area in the context of sustainable development.
For Barbados, our greatest resource lies in the creativity and resilience of our people. We are persuaded that the betterment of the human condition is the fundamental objective of economic progress. The HIV/AIDS pandemic rates with terrorism and narco-trafficking as one of the major new and emerging threats to human security. According to information provided by the Pan American Health Organisation, there are currently 2.8 million people in the Americas living with HIV/AIDS. Of that number, 420,000 live in the wider Caribbean, accounting for over 2% of its adult population. In response to the International Declaration of Commitment, Barbados has established a target of 50% reduction in the HIV/AIDS mortality rate and in incidence of the disease over the next three years. We are also working toward the enactment of appropriate anti-discriminatory legislation by 2006. Our National Commission continues to support the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS which is coordinated by the CARICOM Secretariat. Barbados is one of four English-speaking Caribbean countries selected to participate in the Caribbean Regional Training Initiative. The World Bank, from which Barbados has been graduated, made special provision for the securing of a US$ 15.1 million loan to procure the highly active anti-retroviral therapy program for HIV Positive Barbadians, free of cost to them at point of delivery.
Barbados' commitment to the principles
and purposes of the United Nations Charter has been unwavering over its three
and a half decades of membership of this Organisation. We have paid our contributions
faithfully and have consistently supported the Organisation's efforts to promote
and protect human rights, to eradicate poverty and to cultivate a global culture
A tangible demonstration of that commitment was made on January 2 this year, when the Prime Minister of Barbados had the honour of officially handing over to the UN Secretary-General, for the exclusive use of the United Nations agencies operating in the Eastern Caribbean, a custom-designed common premises
building now known as United Nations House. Secretary General Annan's personal presence in Barbados for the inauguration ceremony was interpreted by Prime Minister Arthur, as a powerful symbol of his understanding that every part of the United Nations family matters, and that the contribution of the small states of the Caribbean to the objectives of the Organisation is not without its own significance. For in the words of the Secretary General, small states have become the backbone of the Organisation in terms of their support and encouragement for the multilateral process.
The principles, which guarantee
a better quality of life for all peoples lie within our Charter. The global
landscape has undergone tremendous change in the last fifty-seven years, but
the ideals of the Charter are indelible.
Today we revisit this place to recommit to a process which admittedly is not perfect, but it is all that stands between us and anarchy. It is still our greatest hope for peace, development and social justice.
We cannot be expected to complete
the monumental task which lies before us, neither are we at liberty to abstain
I thank you.