ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

STATEMENT BY
THE HONOURABLE MR LOUIS M. STRAKER,
M.P DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER,
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, TRADE, COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS
57TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 20 SEPTEMBER 2002

Mr. President,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, I am pleased to offer our most heartfelt congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the office of President of the 57th Session of the General Assembly. Let me also express our appreciation and thanks to the outgoing President, Dr. Han Seung-Soo for the excellent manner in which he conducted the affairs of the 56th Session as President.

I will also like to take this opportunity to welcome our newest member- the Swiss Federation into the United Nations and look forward to the admission of East Timor to the family of Nations before the end of the month.

Mr. President,

Let me first of all pay respect to this organisation, the United Nations, and to our distinguished Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan. Since the onslaught of the terrorists' attacks in September last year, the world has been focussed once again, on the unique role of the United Nations as never before, as the Nations came together to fight the scourge of terrorism. Just last week, President Bush used his address at this forum to invoke the special and unique assistance of the United Nations to deal with the problems of Iraq. The world breathed a sigh of relief with the welcomed Iraqi decision to readmit the UN Weapons Inspectors, without conditions, into Iraq. We hope that this decision will be efficacious in resolving this problem which could be fraught with unforeseen consequences for the whole world. In general, we support the collective judgement of the United Nations rather than any rash unilateral action by any one or two member States.

We have also witnessed the tangible results of the United Nations' support for East Timor in its struggle for independence and the UN support for Afghanistan in its struggle for liberation, peace and stability.

Mr. President, I say without hesitation or equivocation that the world needs the UN more today than ever before.

Mr. President,

Holding the attention of all of us at this time are ongoing activities associated with the war on terrorism. We were all engaged in a solemn commemoration of the sickening events of 'nine-eleven" just last week on the occasion of the first anniversary of the brutal terrorist attack on the United States. We must, the whole world, commit ourselves to ensuring that such events will never happen again. We applaud the work done by the Counter Terrorism Committee established by the UN to secure compliance with Security Council Resolution #1373. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has already contributed in this effort by implementing a range of measures to combat terrorism and assist the global effort. We recognize the links between terrorism and international criminal activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering and organised crime. We pledge to do whatever lies in our power to combat these threats.

Mr. President,

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, like many of the poorer nations of the world, is crippled by external debt. The burden of this debt means that areas of critical importance to our development such as education, poverty reduction and social development are deprived of resources desperately needed for the advancement of our people. The pursuit of sustainable development remains central to the efforts of our people to create a better life for themselves. To this end, my country had great expectations from the International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico and also from the just concluded World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. While these conferences did enable some attention to be focused on the urgency of the development agenda that must be addressed, and some level of consensus was achieved with respect to action required, we must lament the reluctance of some developed countries to give more meaningful expressions to their stated commitments. Mere recognition and articulation of the problems will not suffice. Actions, not words, are needed to change the situation. This requires the will and the requisite resources to affect the changes required. We therefore call on those members of the international community to give reality to their words by putting in place the necessary arrangements and financing through which we can all manage the critical problems of sustainable development. Let us remind the international community of its commitment to meeting the LIN target of 0.7% of GDP for Overseas Development Assistance.

Mr. President,

My country, like many others in the Caribbean and Africa, is threatened by the scourge of HIV/AIDS. As a matter of fact, my country has the second highest per capita ratio of HIV/AIDS in CARICOM. We are in danger of losing a whole generation of our young people to this dreaded disease. We are lacking the resources to procure the necessary treatment for those affected and for their proper care.. We must all work together, developed and developing Countries, to eradicate this and other diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. We must make sure that the Global Fund to fight these diseases has the necessary resources to do its work effectively.

Mr. President,

Six years after the completion of the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations and the advent of the WTO, my country has had to endure the ravages of the imbalances of economic power in the world. The constraints imposed by our small size and vulnerability must now be evident to all. As we deploy our limited human resources to engage in negotiations on three distinct and separate levels, the WTO, the European Union and the Free Trade Area of the Americas, we urge that due recognition be given to the need for flexibility in trading arrangements for countries like mine. We also wish that a realistic appreciation be given to special and differential treatment in the continued architecture of the global trading and economic arrangements. Our ability to survive is effectively compromised if there is no flexibility in these negotiations.

Mr. President,

We welcome the New Partnership for Africa's Development. We commend the African countries that came together to create this bold and imaginative new initiative. Africa needs the help of the United Nations and in particular the donor countries. But Africa also needs to help itself by committing itself to peace, democracy and good governance which requires eradication of corruption. in public life. We welcome the efforts being made to end strife and War and create a climate of stability and peace in Angola, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr. President,

As we view the international scene we are troubled by the widespread corrosive nature of corruption in public life in many Countries. The effects in the developing Countries are more debilitating. Corruption distorts the economies of these Countries since, in effect, resources are taken from the poor to give to the rich. My country, as part of its war against corruption in public life, has recently ratified the OAS Convention against Corruption which requires, among other things, criminalizing of illicit enrichment by public Officials and integrity legislation requiring a declaration of assets by certain Public Officials. I humbly suggest that the United Nations recognise the pervasiveness of corruption in public life and the consequential damages and take steps to pass and promote a UN Anti Corruption Convention.

Mr. President,

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has a very special and beneficial relationship with the Republic of China on Taiwan, which we value. It represents a test of friendship, loyalty, reciprocity and shared values in our Relationship. The Republic of China on Taiwan, the 17th largest economy in the world, is a country of twenty three million people that has made tremendous strides within a few years to become one of the most economically advanced Countries in the Far East. It is a Country that practices and promotes Human Rights and with a Government that is democratically elected by the free and unfettered expressions of its citizens. We strongly support Taiwan's rights to be a member of this body of Nations. We cannot understand how the exclusion of Taiwan, which is a peace loving, responsible, democratic and progressive Country, can sit comfortably on the collective consciences of the Member States of the United Nations. The United Nations does have a role to play in relations between Taiwan and the PRC. The UN should play a facilitating role by providing a forum for reconciliation and rapprochement between the two sides. But, and I cannot stress this point too strongly, the United Nations cannot play such a role if it continues to exclude Taiwan. We shall continue to support the legitimate aspirations of the 23 million People of Taiwan, who remain voiceless in this Assembly, for membership in this body and its agencies in accordance with the UN's own principle of universality.

Mr. President,

The government and People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines share friendship also with the people and Government of Cuba. We support the world wide call as expressed in the United Nations resolutions for ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba some forty-two years ago. Indeed, such a call has been made by the congress of the United States so as to facilitate the freedom of movement of US citizens to Cuba.

We uphold the rights of peoples to self-determination, a principle very dear to our people and Government. It is highly improper and unacceptable to the vast majority of the Nations of the world for one country to impose such suffering on another without any justifiable reason. We call on the United States to heed the voices of its own citizens, the Congress and the rest of the world and engage Cuba in a meaningful dialogue for the mutual benefit of both countries

Mr. President,

Over the past year, we have watched, with growing concern, the escalation of tension and violence in the Middle East. We are sensitive to the fact that efforts against international terrorism have made the lessening of tensions and the resolution of the problems in the Middle East all the more difficult. We support the plan for the two states, Israel and Palestine, living as neighbours within secure borders that are recognised by each other and the international community. Once again, we call on both sides to abide by the various Resolutions of the Security Council touching on the dispute. We support the efforts of the "quartet" and call upon them to continue their peace-making efforts with urgency. They have our unqualified backing. In the meantime, we urge restraint and the use of common sense in the search for a full solution to the problem. We remind all sides that the greatest use of power is restraint in the use of that power. We urge the world community to make sure that all Resolutions of the UN are enforced fairly, even-handedly and with equity on all states in conflict in the area, and to avoid the appearance of selective, capricious, or arbitrary enforcements, where it suits the interest of some States.

Mr. President,

In South Asia, we trust that there will be a de-escalation of tensions in the Kashmiri conflict. The risks and the perils are two great for the whole world if the two major countries involved in this conflict engage in an all out War resorting to Nuclear Weapons.

Mr. President,

We place our support behind every effort to revitalize the work of the General Assembly, so that its collective energy and wisdom can again be brought to bear with great weight in the resolution of the gravest tensions impacting the International Community. The General Assembly needs to be more dynamic in order to reflect the will of all the member states of the body. We also support the need for reform of the Security Council to give cognisance to the world situation as it exists today and not what was the norm after the Second World War. We fully support the call for an increase in the membership of the Security Council and would work for a more meaningful participation in the Security Council for developing countries to reflect the universal nature of the UN.

Mr. President,

My country is a Small Island Developing State. As such we are extremely vulnerable to physical and economic shocks. We are pleased with the recognition given to the unique problems of SIDS in the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and we look forward to real progress in the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action leading up to the conference in Mauritius in 2004. We continue to face the threat to our region and our oceans by the passage of hazardous nuclear waste through our waters. The world community must understand just how fragile are our eco-systems. We must reduce the risk by the cessation of this practice and thus we call on the guilty parties to respect the Caribbean Sea as a special zone for economic development within the context of our Sustainable Development.

Mr. President,

I have taken this opportunity to focus our efforts on raising sensitivity in the international community to the concerns of our small Island Developing State. We take our perspective informed by our history and our experiences. Many are the challenges that confront us in a world of globalization and trade liberalization. We make a special plea for special consideration without which we can become totally marginalized. The aspirations of our people are the same as those of other lands. We desire peace, stability, democracy, respect for human lives and economic and social upliftment. We intend to work hard to achieve these goals. Our people have come through slavery, indentureship, colonialism and imperialism and have survived. With the support of the donor countries, our hard work, and the help of the Almighty, we shall succeed.

I thank you.