OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, 20 September 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My delegation congratulates you, Mr. President, on your election as the President of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly; and thanks your predecessor, His Excellency, Dr. Han Seung-soo for his effective conduct of the 56 `h General Assembly. We salute the distinguished Secretary-General for his enlightened and progressive leadership.
Additionally, we warmly welcome Switzerland into the family of nations and look forward, with pleasure, to the admission of East Timor.
When the 56h Session of the General Assembly was convened a year ago, shock waves were reverberating across the USA and around the world due to the traumatic and cataclysmic events of September 11th. My country's thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of the United States, especially those that have suffered irreparable loss.
As the curtain rises on the 57 `h Session of the General Assembly, there is evidence that some dark clouds have been lifted, thanks to the solidarity of the international community, which has galvanized itself against the dastardly, and heinous terrorist attacks.
Nevertheless, there is a need for vigilance as demonstrated by the Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC), created to oversee the implementation of the Security Council's landmark resolution 1373
Grenada has given its full support and commitment to resolution 1373 by using scarce financial and human resources to implement security measures and new counter-terrorism strategies, including national legislation to conform with resolution 1373.
In this connection, we appeal for assistance from willing partners in the fight against terrorism and the concomitant trade in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which traverse our region via the Caribbean Sea. This waterway must be maintained as a zone of peace in the context of sustainable development, free also from pollutants and nuclear waste.
The General debate is taking place in the continuing shadow of September 11th, which has affected adversely the global economy and the social situation in developed countries. However, the spillovers have affected, much more profoundly, small developing countries such as my own.
Particularly, hard hit has been the tourist industry, which is a major source of foreign exchange. Tourist arrivals by air and sea, have decreased significantly due in large measure to increased security arrangements introduced in international transportation and, of course, the natural fear to travel.
Loss of revenue in tourism affects the hotel industry, employment, transportation, banking, agriculture and other tourism activities, which help to sustain the economy of the country.
The next hardest hit sector is trade. Conventional economic wisdom suggests that poor developing countries must "grow their way out of poverty." Trade offers the best hope because it is the engine of growth and development.
However, many products from developing countries face untold obstacles in entering the markets of the rich developed countries. In this connection, decline in trade, especially in primary commodities, has a direct relation on developing countries' ability to import goods essential for development.
According to the Managing Director of the IMF, Mr. Horst Kohler, 'The true test of the credibility of wealthy nations' efforts to combat poverty, lies in their willingness to open up their markets, and phase-out tradedistorting subsidies in areas where developing countries have a comparative advantage, as in agriculture, processed foods, textiles, clothing and light manufactures."
Grenada fully understands the critical role that international trade plays in the alleviation of poverty. However, improved market access is a necessity for the development of smaller nations.
We, therefore, reiterate our call to the more developed nations to make a concerted effort to reduce trade barriers and tariffs, which impede poorer developing countries from full participation in the global economy.
September 11th has further exacerbated the inequality between the developing
and the developed countries as trading partners in the "free play of market
forces." According to Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero of UNCTAD, "The
challenge now is to make the multilateral trading system more development friendly."
Now, more than ever, the concerns of developing countries enunciated in the third session of the WTO in Seattle, and emphasized in the 4th WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, should be the global agenda to fight poverty in developing countries. The Doha Ministerial Declaration, adopted in November 2001, reaffirmed the need for special and differential treatment as stated in that declaration: "We recognize the particular vulnerability of the least developed countries in international trade and to improving their effective participation in the multilateral trading system."
In Grenada, our imports declined by 10.9 percent in 2001, following a 20 percent increase just the year before. Our exports performed even worse by registering a 24 percent decline in 2001, as compared to a 13 percent increase the previous year. The effect on our growth rate was not surprising. The economy grew by 3.4 percent in 2001, compared to 6.6 percent in 2000.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic casts a dark shadow over the UNGA's global agenda. HIV/AIDS has become not only a health pandemic but also a threat to the development of international peace and security. This disease constitutes a global emergency as it affects every country of the world; not a single one is immuned. The Pan America Health Organization (PAHO) has reported that an estimated 2.8 million people in the Americas are currently living with AIDS. Out of that number, 420,000 in the Caribbean are infected. The Caribbean is second only to Sub-Sahara Africa in the incidence and mortality rates.
HIV/AIDS poses a drain on scarce resources of small economies, like Grenada, whose revenues have been negatively impacted, further, by last year's horrific events. The Caribbean is facing a serious problem with the disease, and there is no way that our small countries can stem the ravages of HIV/AIDS without a massive infusion of resources.
The Caribbean urgently needs the financial and human resources for education, counseling in preventative measures and treatment, including the opportunistic diseases such as tuberculosis and others. Moreover, the availability of medicine and the ability to purchase it constitute the greatest challenge.
We applaud the establishment in 2002 of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. We are also thankful to PAHO and WHO representative offices for assistance in the facilitation, implementation and technical evaluation of many projects in the Caribbean region. However, there is much more to be done and the costs are overwhelming.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), recently ended in Johannesburg, its precursor Financing for Development (Ffd), in Monterrey, together with the Millennium Summit, are all blue prints for ' sustainable development.
The common thread in all the outcome documents is poverty eradication. Poverty, hunger and disease constitute a chain of misery, which have devastating physical, mental and psychological consequences.
The Secretary-General summarized the nature of the challenges to human development best, during the Millennium Summit. "As the new century dawns, there can be no task more urgent for the UN than that fixed by the Millennium Summit of rescuing one billion men, women and children from abject and dehumanizing poverty."
Grenada's stated position at the WSSD conference is as follows:
lf sustainable development is to become a reality, our focus must be on the health and social well being of the world's peoples. Clean water, unpolluted air and food security are rights, not privileges.
What is required now is not the elaboration of further outcome documents, replete with grand phraseology and pious pronouncements, but the implementation of those that are most appropriate to the human condition.
This brings to mind the need to implement the Barbados Program of Action (BPA) for the sustainable development of Small Developing States (SIDS) embodied in Agenda 21. We are hopeful that there will be a
comprehensive review of BPA in 2004 in Mauritius so that the difficulties small islands face in the pursuit of sustainable development will be considerably reduced.
As a matter of urgency, the UN, its agencies and willing stakeholders and partners should seek to implement the first Millennium Goal, which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.
Grenada awaits the time when the United Nations will include the Republic of China on Taiwan in its membership. The Government of Grenada has close, collaborative ties with the Republic of China and has witnessed its economic achievements, seen demonstrations of its democratic principles, and is cognizant of the dedication of its people to international norms and ideals.
It is in this spirit that Grenada calls for the full membership of the Republic of China on "Taiwan at the United Nations. We are convinced that the Republic of Taiwan meets the standards for UN membership since it has a democratic government and possesses the prerequisites of a nation state. Indeed, the Republic of China on Taiwan has tremendous potential to make inputs for the further development of the international community, as recognized by the World Trade Organization.
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) conceptualized by African leaders and welcomed at the G8 summit of industrialized countries represents an "idea whose time has come".
The international community also welcomed NEPAD a few days ago when it was presented by a high level panel of African Heads of State and Government during the 57th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Implementation of NEPAD in partnership with the developed countries will be the dawn of a new era for Africa's economic development of its abundant natural resources. Thus Africa, one of the largest and most centrally located continents, can become the breadbasket of the world. As part of the African Diaspora, Grenada hails NEPAD with great expectation and excitement.
In conclusion, the United Nations has the ability with the involvement of its members to make a difference. It is the international forum, which struggles with, and attempts to find solution for difficult global problems.
Grenada has been watching closely the developments in international peace and security, economic development, social advancement and cooperation, the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and other threatening diseases, environmental sustainability, and a plethora of other regional, national and international issues.
For small countries, such as Grenada, attending international conferences presents a paradox. We aspire to be integrally involved in these important conferences, yet financial constraints sometimes outweigh the benefits of being in attendance. Our absence, as many other small nations would agree, should not be construed as a lack of interest by any means.
Enormous expectations and optimism are to be balanced with a degree of realism. My delegation assures the General Assembly that it supports fully, the efforts of the United Nations to face the many challenges that arise from time to time.
We, however, must ensure that the many decisions taken at the UN Summit conferences are implemented. The goals, however, must be achievable and beneficial to all Member States.
I thank you Mr. President.