ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
H.E. Dr. Patrick Albert Lewis
Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda
United Nations at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 20 September 2002
Let me first express my country's delight in having you chair
this 57`h Session of the General Assembly. Antigua and Barbuda owes much to
the Czech Republic, as it was adherents to the religious expressions of Jan
Hus who came to Antigua in the middle of the eighteenth century and administered
to the slaves in a manner that they were not used to. Their humanity and audacity
of providing education to chattel servants, was certainly one of the foundations
which let to the development of a sturdy, progressive, and optimistic people,
who this year celebrate the twenty-first anniversary of successful independence.
Let me also pay tribute to your predecessor, His Excellency Han
Seung-soo, who guided the 56th Session through a perilous period, yet, found
time to formulate positions to streamline our work, and enhance the functions
of the President. I wish additionally to welcome Switzerland into this body;
mindful of the contributions it has made to our endeavors, over the many years
when we wished that it would become formally incorporated.
On June 18, 2001 Antigua and Barbuda ratified the Rome Statute
for the International Criminal Court, and was most pleased when on April 11,
2002 ten states simultaneously deposited instruments of ratification which brought
the number of states that had ratified the statue to 66, six more than was required
to bring it into force. The reality is that this had been achieved at a remarkable
swift pace, demonstrating that the governments and peoples of the globe had
recognized the need for the existence of such a body; and my own country had
followed the process of development closely, and participated in many conferences,
seminars and preparatory commissions on the subject.
The adoption of the Statute manifested a revolution in legal and
moral attitudes toward some of the worst crimes on earth. Whereas many developing
states have suffered under the hard yoke of globalisation, the International
Criminal Court represents a plus for the globalisation process, for its principles
of justice and the rule of law in international affairs. Nonetheless, much work
remains to be done in obtaining worldwide ratification of the Rome Statute,
ensuring that the Court will have the appropriate mechanisms in place to begin
functioning as early as possible, and disseminating information to stakeholders
at the national and international levels about the ICC, the Rome Statute and
its supporting documents.
The fear of some states about the operation of the Court when
it is effectuated next year must be overcome. The Statute has sufficient checks
and balances to allay all fears, and we remain convinced that the ICC will be
a legitimate judicial institution to adequately judge individuals for war crimes,
genocide, and crimes against humanity. We reiterate our conviction that this
can be done while guaranteeing states their rights, as they are protected from
any interference by the Court if they pursue the given crimes at the national
level; and that the prosecutor's autonomous power is accompanied by guarantees
against using the Court for specious or politically motivated endeavors.
Though thrilled at the pace of development in regard to the Court, if we look closer it reveals the peripheral existence of Caribbean States. It was Trinidad and Tobago that revived the idea of the ICC after a lapse of forty-one years from the time it was first discussed. But the specific reasons for the ICC as advanced by Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean states have been put on the back burner. We had pleaded for a court that would try and sentence those involved in the transshipment of narcotics, of carrying out acts of terrorism, and of marine violations including those of out territorial waters. I am sure it is not lost, as you listen to me, the fact that in 1989 we had been emphasizing the need for the proposed Court to try terrorists. What is before us is the acknowledgement of the Court, which emphasizes genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. We support all the crimes identified, yet remain akin to Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man."
During the last session there were three major meetings, which
can broadly be classified as "Financing for Development." At Doha,
142 countries agreed to launch the next round of WTO negotiations. Once again
developing countries, particularly those with monocultures, found themselves
stymied in regard to getting favorable terms for their agricultural products;
but were successful in convincing developed countries that overriding patents
to stem public health crisis such as HIV/AIDS was acceptable. Developed nations
feared that this would diminish the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) and discourage pharmaceutical research,
but proponents of the change argued forcibly from the humanitarian perspective.
Delegates from the developing countries left the conference hoping
to get better results at Monterrey where the conference was specifically named
"Financing for Development." Unfortunately most decisions were made
before the statements of the well-prepared delegates from both developed and
developing countries could be structurally evaluated.
In Monterrey, there was a constant repetition by both developed
and developing countries on the fact that half of the world's population lived
on less than $2.00 a day. But to any objective observer, it was never clear
whether the pronouncements of the dominant countries could best help by increasing
significantly foreign aid or by more concretely targeting their assistance to
make it more effective. Many of the developing countries kept signaling that
both measures were necessary and should be undertaken.
A most critical point at the Conference has to be recalled, and,
that is, what the Secretary General Kofi Annan had sated: "if the international
community is to meet the goal agreed at the Millennium Summit - - reducing global
poverty to half by 2015 - - official development assistance will have to double."
In reality it will have to go from $50 billion to $100 billion annually. The
United States is proposing to provide $5 billion of the additional $50 billion.
The European Union stated that it would increase its aid budget by about $9
billion. This leaves a shortfall of $36 billion.
Women, it would appear, were most disappointed with the Conference.
The Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Noeleen
Heyzer, declared "you cannot talk about halving poverty without looking
at the feminization of poverty." Heyzer was critical of the conference
working with "static poverty statistics." One of her assistants, Maria
Floro, pointed out that new ways of financing development had to consider protecting
domestic industries while preparing women to take advantage of new opportunities.
Heyzer stated that the meeting should have considered institutional and legal
barriers to women's advancement like banking systems that did not lend to women,
and customary laws, which prevented female ownership of land.
In reality , not only aid, but a complete overhauling of the
present one-dimensional focus of globalisation should have come out of Monterrey.
The goals, halving the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
by 2015, to accelerate the process of individuals having access to clean water,
gender equity (particular1v in regard to education), among others, could not
be considered adequately dealt with by simply sg that aid from the developed
world would increase from $50 billion to $100 billion. In addition it must be
recalled that only one third of the $50 billion is spent in poor countries and
the level and conditionality attached to aid makes it difficult to spend the
rest effectively. The stringent conditions set by donors additionally impact
on the sovereignty of developing nations, so, jumping from $50 to $100 billion
without revamping existing measures of dispersal and implementation will not
have the desired impact.
In all of this one must state that the Secretary General worked
very hard in trying to make the conference a success. His often-repeated remark
that "aid does work," was certainly accepted by both developed and
developing countries. At Monterrey he stressed the need for resources in order
for individuals to escape from the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger, disease,
oppression, conflict, pollution, and the depletion of natural resources. It
was touching to hear him state after recognizing the leaders from the developed
countries, that "it is equally good to see so many leaders here from the
developing world itself. They are not asking for handouts. They know that they
themselves have much to do to mobilize domestic resources in their own countries,
as well as attract and benefit from international private capital. What they
are asking for is the chance to make their voices heard, and ensure that their
countries interests are taken into account, when the management of the global
economy is being discussed."
Fortunately, the developing countries in their perseverance were
able to receive greater consideration in Johannesburg. The recently completed
World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) represents the strongest effort
by the international community to promote sustainable development through the
adoption in the Summit's Plan of Implementation, of significant and concrete
commitments to improve the lives of people living in poverty and to reverse
the continuing degradation of the global environment.
As a small island developing state, my country sought to contribute
to the overriding theme of Summit: the promotion of action. In this respect,
we commend the Summit for the major progress in addressing some of the most
pressing concerns of small island developing States, namely, poverty and the
environment, and welcome the commitments to increase access to clean water and
proper sanitation, to increase access to energy services, to improve health
conditions and agriculture, particularly in dry lands, and to better protect
the world's biodiversity and ecosystems. However the Summit's failure to agree
on a target date for increasing the use of renewable energy was a major disappointment
to all small island-developing states.
This notwithstanding, the major outcome document, the Plan of Implementation, contains targets and timetables aimed at spurring action on a wide range of issues, namely: halving the proportion of people who lack access to clean water or proper sanitation by 2015; restoring depleted fisheries to the preserving biodiversity by 2015; and phasing out of toxic chemicals by 2005. The Summit was also notable for the fact that it generated concrete partnership initiatives by and between governments, citizen groups and businesses, that will bring with them additional resources and expertise to attain significant results where they matter-in communities across the globe.
The true test of the Summit's success is in the follow-up actions
at all levels. While in and of it self it has generated a sense of urgency,
commitments for action, and partnerships to achieve measurable result, concerted
collectivity has to be applied. Antigua and Barbuda therefore calls on all actors
to honor their commitments and undertake the necessary actions to fight poverty
and protect the environment, through the implementation of the internationally
agreed development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration and
Agenda 21, which require significant increases in financial resources as elaborated
in the Monterrey Consensus.
Antigua and Barbuda has every intention of adhering to the time
allotment, but must of necessity touch on a few other issues. Unfortunately
we must recall the threat of terrorism, and to state that we have been working
diligently to fulfill United Nations requirements. We have, however, to move
ahead and plan for the future positively. We welcome the new partnership for
Africa's development; and are eagerly awaiting the entry of East Timor into
this August body.
While welcoming East Timor we must again express our deep dissatisfaction
that a referendum has not been held in the Western Sahara. The Questing of the
Western Sahara involves the right of self-determination, a fundamental principle
of the United Nations; and as long as the conflict remains, the regional security
in a significant part of the Magreb will remain at risk. Clearly, the success
or failure of the United Nations will enhance or compromise the credibility
of the current international system.
A small island developing state such as Antigua and Barbuda cannot
deliver a statement at the United Nations General Assembly without reminding
of the imperfections of globalisation and to call again for meaningful` remedies.
When we consider the present thrust toward 'globalisation, we once again see
our lack of significance in the global scheme of operations. Clearly, globalisation
leads to the reduction of the sovereignty of states, with the weakest and the
smallest being the biggest losers. Sadly lacking in the arguments for globalisation
is the need to give consideration to the pace, direction and content of liberalization,
due to different levels of development and the need to build up national capabilities.
Above all is the insistence on free trade for the developing world and the exemption
of the same for the industrialized countries. Protective devices are in-build
for farmers in the dominant economies which include subsidies, guaranteed markets,
payments not to produce beyond a certain level in order to maintain means of
processing and to have this done under the most stringent of guidelines. On
the other hand when former colonial countries provide preferences to their previous
colonies of exploitation, challenges are mounted through the World Trade Organization
by multinational enterprises. All this is done with the knowledge that in modern
times there has never been free trade.
Recently, the envoy of a large country, seeking the support of
Antigua and Barbuda for his candidature to a major international committee,
praised our twin-island state for its prominence, rationality, and objectivity
in international affairs. He went onto state that small states are generally
more objective in recognizing which countries ought to have positions on major
international bodies. This, he said, is because small states can equate issues
without taking into consideration the pressures from large armies, and the necessity
to maintain prominence internationally. Consequently, small states view issues
from the perspective of how policies affect the entire globe, of how there can
be improvements for all people, and of being able to foresee consequences of
It was an exchange that sobered and uplifted me for an entire
week. Yes, small states can contribute much and have a significant role to play
in the United Nations. But we need to be looked at and listened to. We have
much to contribute. We will continue to speak out/up, to advocate, to plead
and entreat. We urge that we be fully recognized, for we are positive, compassionate
I end by offering to you the motto of my country - - "Each
Endeavoring: All Achieving."
I thank you.