Statement by H.E. Dr. Patrick A. Lewis
Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda at the
58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York - October 1, 2003

Mr. President

        It gives me profound pleasure to welcome and congratulate you in regard to the lofty position that you now hold. It was not long ago that you were fighting alongside the Ambassadors of the Latin American and Caribbean Group. You represent the smallest country that has ever ascended to the Presidency and for your Caribbean colleagues there will be additional rejoicing when your photograph appears on the Wall of Presidents. It is my hope that our younger diplomats will endeavour to emulate you, and continue to demonstrate the mettle of small island developing states. But let me also pay tribute to your predecessor, Mr. Jan Kavan, for the able and skilful manner in which he conducted our deliberations during the 57th Session. The Secretary General and his staff must also receive acclaim for their diligence and steadfast work. We mourn and grieve for the UN staff members killed and wounded in Baghdad, and indeed for all members of the Staff who have made the ultimate sacrifice in upholding the ideals of the United Nations.

Mr. President

        We have often repeated statistics to demonstrate human existence, but it seems to be just a recitation. Nonetheless, in the hope that this year figures may move those in control to make a meaningful attempt at remedies, let me join the list of other colleagues who have reminded that almost half of the world's population subsists on less than $2 a day, and a fifth lives on less than $1 a day. The point to be stressed is that global inequality has risen. The digital divide is widening, the populations of refugees and displaced persons has grown, and the AIDS crisis is devastating numerous societies.

       What tends to be ignored, is what developing countries have been doing for themselves. In the Caribbean, the CARICOM countries have come to each other's assistance in times of crisis, whether they be natural devastation by way of earthquakes, volcanic eruption, drought, or floods. We have used our military forces positively, to rescue, to stabilise, and to rehabilitate, when suffering the vicissitudes of nature. Strafed as we are in regard to finances, we have assisted one another in regard to the severest of economic constraints. If an unbiased evaluation is made, it will be clear that average gains in human development in low and middle-income countries-have been substantial and higher than gains in incomes. Life expectancy has increased by 59 percent, and illiteracy has been reduced from 39 percent in 1970 to 25 percent at the turn of the century. Nevertheless, current development trends are not sustainable and are placing extreme pressures on the environment and its impoverished, who bear the overwhelming brunt of environmental degradation. Our coastal systems are threatened, dominant countries are fishing indiscriminately within our exclusive economic zones, and our coral reefs have not only been damaged but are disappearing. Yet, AID has declined as a share of GNP, and World Bank research indicates that without a doubling of development assistance, the endorsed millennium goals are unlikely to be achieved.

       The "experts" of development appear to be unifocused. We fully accept the necessity for market reforms, but they are insufficient in themselves. There is need for broad social reforms. Equitable income distribution and secondary school enrollment have been found to be insensitive to growth, while air quality has been negatively correlated to growth. The global institutions continue to listen to their identified experts, and disregard local experience whether from the aged and wise or young and brilliant. Sustained development requires a significant percentage of domestic or local "ownership."

Mr. President

       Our religious literature states that continuance in the life style demands the depositing or planting of seeds, from which in a relatively short period of time comes new life and the continuance of organic existence. With that in mind, it is imperative that development strategies clearly take into consideration those who will succeed us, and Antigua and Barbuda, which devotes much attention and planning to the°advancement of its youth, is advocating continued global focus on this issue, in order to ensure a more harmonious international atmosphere than the one in which we carry out our activities. With that in mind, Caribbean Heads of State and Government have met with representatives of the World Bank and are jointly in the process of: 1) identifying the risk and protective factors and determinants of youth behaviours and development, 2) demonstrating that negative behaviours of youth are not only costly to themselves but to society as a whole, and 3) identifying key intervention points for youth development, underscoring identified risk and protective factors.

       Presently, as a result of this joint thrust, we are targeting sexual and physical abuse, HIV/AIDS as linked to misguided values about sexuality, incidence of rage, youth unemployment, and the social misconceptions of the use of alcohol and marijuana. Moving forward requires modernising the education system and maximising the protective effect of schools, upgrading public health care systems, making families a top public policy issue, and strengthening community and neighbourhood support to adolescents.

       Antigua and Barbuda has been stating that, whereas AID is sorely needed, its effectiveness will be limited, unless a level playing field is provided in regard to trade and investment into developing societies. There cannot be meaningful progress by talking about the relative significance and importance of free trade. We listen and see the dominant countries employ various and divers forms of agricultural protectionism, while taking away from former colonies of exploitation vital preferences needed to keep their products on the market. Why should globalisation be oppressive to the pusillanimous? We have been listening to the modifications of the philosophies of Cobden and Bright, but are feeling the yoke of global practices and knowing that never in modern history has there been free trade.

Mr. President

        The fears of developing countries in regard to the practices and realities of globalisation, as opposed to its often vaunted philosophy were manifested in Cancun in September of this year. Cancun, we have been made to understand means "snakepit" in the local Mayan language, and our hope is that there will be some meaningful effort to overcome the drawbacks. Developing counties will be hindered from developing themselves if only lip service is continued to be paid to poverty. The first step in the elimination of poverty is to adequately recognise the multifunctional role of Agriculture. This multifunctional role incorporates food safety, animal welfare, and the preservation of land. Unfortunately, Cancun proved once again, that the dominant countries would continue to exempt themselves from the rules governing free trade, and continue to domestically provide substantive subsidies to their farmers, while, denying the former colonies of exploitation the right to preferences.

Mr. President,

        2004 will mark the tenth anniversary of the first UN Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which was held in Barbados in 1994. In looking back at the ten years since that Conference, we hold these following truths to be self evident: the Barbados Programme attention on the unique circumstances of SIDS, the corresponding, actions to address these circumstances by international community has been lacking. This is the opportunity presented by the International Meeting to review the implementation of the Programme of Action, that will be held in Mauritius in August 2004. It presents us with a second chance to identify a set of concrete actions, which will be needed to further the implementation of the BPOA and thereby regain momentum lost by SIDS in quest for sustainable development. So far we have not been satisfied that problems relating to the transhipment of nuclear waste through our waters, bilging, and fishing indiscriminately in our EEZs have been given any meaningful consideration.

       My Government welcomes the entry into force of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, having recently deposited our instruments of ratification for both the Protocol and for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. As a Party to the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, we wish to lend our support to call made by the Foreign Minister of Japan for Parties to the Climate Change Convention to maintain the international momentum for climate change negotiations, for the early entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, and for the formulation of common rules which will facilitate participation by all countries.

Mr. President,

        The Millennium Development Goals are an ambitious agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives. The challenge to implement them is enormous. A case in point is the target of halving by 2015, the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. To meet this target, the world will need to connect approximately 200,000 people to clean water and 400,000 people to improved sanitation each day.

       That will require three things: first, innovative financing mechanisms to assure the necessary doubling in financial flows to developing countries for water and sanitation -- from current spending of US$ 10 billion each year, to about $20 billion a year; second, greatly improved governance of scarce water resources, built around holistic, integrated water resources management strategies that encompass priorities from drinking to agriculture and industrial development -- and third, a clear focus on building capacity where it is needed most: working directly with local communities - - especially women - - to help craft and implement their own solutions.

       And this is just for water.

       As the dominant powers repeat their call for universal democracy, former colonies of exploitation must remind that democracy is most difficult to achieve among those witnessing the tears and conditions of hungry children. Democracy struggles to maintain itself among those who are racked with illnesses and weak from the lack of adequate nutrition. Democracy is practically an utopian ideal where there are defined class divisions and insurmountable social barriers. For democracy to thrive and prosper all sectors of the society have to participate fully with regard to economic growth and an adequate distribution of income. It is therefore incumbent that society should work toward integral, equitable, and sustainable social and economic development. In Antigua and Barbuda, in the midst of our trials and tribulations we have maintained democracy and it is a hallmark of our existence.

       The products of science, technology, and innovation have to be harnessed and designed to add value to the real components of development. Wealth must be generated in order to raise the dignity and esteem of mankind, and to garner respect for the internationally recognised fundamental rights and principles of labour. Without such, socio-economic development, and resultingly, the full enjoyment of democracy, will be held in abeyance.

Mr. President

        My country is at a loss to fully comprehend why some of the major countries of this world oppose the International Criminal Court. It is vital to our security and development. The Court represents a revolution in legal and moral attitudes toward some of the worst crimes on earth. Whereas many developing states have suffered under the 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. The Rome 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 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 endeavours.

Mr. President

        The non-governing territories of the Caribbean look to Caribbean members of the Special and Political Committee, more commonly known as the Committee of 24 (C24) to give guidance in regard to their constitutional evolution. This year there was a breakthrough in Anguilla as the United Kingdom agreed to have the regional seminar held in one of the non-self-governing territories (NSGTs), and for the first time the UN Secretariat agreed to write the local representatives directly rather than through the representatives of the administrative powers. But more importantly the United Kingdom sent a senior official from the Commonwealth and Overseas Office, who was to gain the respect of the seminar participants.

       The non-self-governing territories greeted this development and all sent delegations which were vocal, and explained that their options had never been explained to them. They were eager to remain in touch with the UN Secretariat, and sought to take advantage of whatever experiences, educational and otherwise, that the UN could provide. In an atmosphere of cordiality the administrative power and the NSGTs expressed ways and means of development and advancement for the territories. Quite significantly the NSGTs hailed the new policy of the United Kingdom for consultation with the elected officials of its territories on the appointment of governors as forwardlooking.

Mr. President

        My country would not like to give the impression that we are only concerned with development, as this would be far from the truth. We are cognisant of other global issues, particularly with reference to peace and security. The images that are constantly before us with reference to Iraq and the Middle East, leave us questioning the brotherhood of mankind. The United Nations has to be unified with reference to the rehabilitation of Iraq, and the transition of its administrative structure into the hands of its nationals. We subsequently give our support for the peace process in the Middle East based on the respective resolutions of both the General Assemble and the Security Council. Likewise we give wholehearted support to the preservation of the role of the United Nations and other organisations in working toward the stabilization and security of Afghanistan. In the same vein we support and encourage the efforts made to resolve the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the stabilisation of peace in parts of West Africa and the Balkans. We continue to press for the revitalisation of the process of disarmament, nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, and general arms control.

       These are indeed perilous times, and when an event occurs in a distant part of the globe that can drastically affect us domestically, to totally disregard the need for tolerance will not onlyproduce resentment but also the dangerous practice of intolerance. For such times it is far better to remember the words of Thomas Paine, who stated that "the world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."

       In closing, Mr. President, let me once again state how happy my country is in having you in the Chair. You, of course, were the choice of our Group. So let me through our languages state:
        Muchas Gracias
        Thank You
        Merci Beaucoup

And, especially for you Mr. President:
       Eika Alay Bien!