BY DR. THE HONOURABLE
INTRODUCTION: PRIDE AND DETERMINATION
It is neither pride nor the prospect of privilege that moves us to assume the Presidency of the United Nations General Assembly, but a certain determination, which is the unspoken strength of islands. Nor is it merely that we are honoured, though indeed we are, but that we also feel worthy; as worthy as any other member of this community, and as determined to make our contribution to the progress of humanity and the welfare of the world. Saint Lucia recognizes and appreciates that this Presidency only became a reality with the support of the Latin American and Caribbean family.
is not with size, sovereignty, or power, but with people, and by this
measure we are not small, nor are we just an island, for we do not stand
alone. We stand as one member of this organization, proud of the legacy
and the vision that we can offer the world. We assume this role because
we wish to offer that vision to the world; because it is larger than
our 238 square miles and larger than our population of 159,000 people.
It is a vision we wish to place at the service of humanity.
AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW
is our hope that St. Lucia's Presidency will offer a fresh perspective,
an alternative view, and a different but not discordant voice to the
heart of this assembly. As such, the people and government of Saint
Lucia express both their appreciation and their determination to you
the members of this international community. Appreciation for the faith
and trust bestowed upon us with the presidency of this institution,
and determination that we shall not fail you, but be judged equal to
the task before us. If it is a task of Herculean proportion, then we
will face it with equal confidence, certain that the rebuilding of our
broken humanity is a matter, which we encounter in the company of equally
resolute and undaunted partners.
LEGITIMACY, CREDIBILITY AND RELEVANCE
Since the end of the Cold War, the legitimacy, credibility and relevance of this time honoured institution have never been so questioned as they are today. The United Nations Millennium Declaration was designed to resuscitate the dying pulse of our humanity, but has itself become comatose. Indeed, Secretary General Kofi Annan was moved to state that "it is uncertain whether the consensus and the vision that the Millennium Declaration expressed are still intact." Saint Lucia therefore calls on the international community to heed the appeal of our esteemed Secretary General to seek balance between the imperatives of military security and human security. In the interest of redistributive justice, global peace and security, the developed countries must not renege on their commitments to the developing world in the areas of trade, debt relief and aid.
The Millennium Declaration goals of halving global poverty is receding into "nothingness", but can be rescued if only developed countries make good on their pledges. Moreover, we might challenge ourselves beyond merely halving global poverty, by aspiring to its virtual elimination. By now, it should be clear to us all that poverty issues are inseparable from human rights issues, as are environmental issues from economic and political development issues. National security and international stability can only be realized where there is justice.
SYMPTOMS OF RUPTURE
It was the prophet Isaiah who reminded us that if mankind is brought low, everyone will be humbled. Yet if we, the international community, retreat from the ideals of the creation of a greater humanity, we would also be retreating from the core values and principles enshrined within the United Nations Charter. More importantly, we would be tacitly endorsing the return and consolidation of a global uncivil society - the symptoms of which are already manifest within our global society. Religious intolerance, tribal aggression, and civil war continue to ravage many parts of our planet. Among the victims are the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable; often women and children, who play no part in the making of war but find themselves stripped of their human dignity and basic human rights. Terrorist attacks in Bali, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Baghdad add to our symptoms of impending rupture.
Mr. President, the
arteries of conscience are becoming hardened by the frequency of wanton
violence yet on occasion, there are incidents that shock our sensibilities.
The murder of Sergio Viera de Mello and other UN Colleagues reminds
us of the mindless horror at the heart of that darkness. St. Lucia joins
the international community in expressing sympathy to their families,
and we reiterate our profound respect to those international workers
who are so willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to extend humanitarian
assistance, security and comfort to those in peril and in need.
AN INTEGRAL UN SYSTEM
In this environment, it is essential that we maintain a United Nations which steadfastly adheres to its original core values. Saint Lucia will resist any attempt to delegitimize the United Nations system. Any strategy, which claims to embrace peace, security, and justice and yet excludes the United Nations, belies a flawed and unreal conception of world affairs. This organisation has been instrumental in the preservation of the nation-state within a framework of binding relationships among governments. More importantly, the United Nations has been a devoted guardian of individual rights and freedoms. Saint Lucia maintains that the United Nations, precisely because of its diversity, is the only organization with the political and moral legitimacy to deal adequately with global issues.
Mr President, this universal body, this United Nations, has no other choice but to heed the lessons of the past and the wisdom of the ages in its attempt to better serve humanity. When our predecessor organization, the League of Nations, was discarded as irrelevant, we witnessed the advance of disorder and human catastrophe on a scale never before envisioned. If we stand idly by now, while this time-honoured institution is rendered irrelevant and toothless, we will have commissioned an epitaph for our humanity.
REFORM OF THE UN
Saint Lucia therefore calls for the completion of the efforts at reforming the United Nations Security Council to better reflect the realities of this new century and to make it more representative, more democratic, legitimate and transparent. The existing veto system is too easily influenced by national interests to address serious issues afflicting humankind. If " A Coalition of the Willing" could be assembled for war, then surely, we can also gather "A Coalition of the Willing" to address the problems of poverty, disease, illiteracy, hunger and trade imbalances. There can be no sanitizing of one corner of the globe while contagion, despair and desperation fester elsewhere. There is no security for the one while insecurity plagues the other.
But ultimately the
strength of the United Nations must come from the political will of
the member states - a political will that must accept that everyone
should adhere to, abide by, and implement all the decisions of, and
resolutions adopted by the organization. We cannot, in the name of national
interest, observe only some resolutions, and expect to have a strong
IN DEFENCE OF PLURALISM
Mr. President "muscular unilateralism" and the emerging doctrine of "diplomatic unilateralism" cannot be the preferred approach to serious global issues. "Exceptionalism" within the international system is certain to fragment international cooperation, making it less likely that countries will forego aspects of national sovereignty in the interest of the common good.
It has become abundantly clear that the international community will not succeed in its war against terrorism, if it fails to address root causes. The current war on terrorism is designed to capture, confine or eliminate existing terrorist webs without addressing the causes of terrorism. Terrorism does not simply stem from the arrogance and madness of a few dictators and misguided fanatics - it is also the result of deep-seated inequity, and sometimes, bigotry. If the status quo denies opportunity, freedom and fulfilment to those who hunger and dwell in despair, the appeal of chaos and extremism as an avenue to change becomes that much more attractive. If on the other hand, we perceive that the world order works in all our interests then there will be universal commitment to sustain that order. Consequently, it is imperative that the international community jointly address economic injustice and political exclusion as common enemies of us all.
REVITALIZATION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Mr. President, your assumption of the Presidency of this institution at this time, as a representative of a small island developing state and one of the smallest members of the United Nations is both a tribute to the democratic principles of the United Nations and also a signal of the need to conclude the process of revitalizing the work of the General Assembly. We must conquer delay, procrastination, repetition and inaction.
Many years have
passed since deliberations on reform of the Security Council began;
and yet there is no end in sight. Consultations on the revitalization
of the General Assembly first began thirteen years ago and in this instance
too, there is no end in sight.
We must be extremely
proactive on the question of revitalization of the General Assembly.
St. Lucia therefore wishes to propose that during this session, we review
all the resolutions before us, and determine those that need to be consigned
to the record books and those that merit the continued attention of
the Assembly. We need to restructure the time frame as well as the working
methods of the Assembly and its main committees, so as to make more
productive use of an entire year rather than engaging in a three-month
frenzy of activities. Further, we should consider making the agendas
of the Main Committees and the Plenary more relevant to the general
debate. It is our view that these should flow from the themes enunciated
at the general debate.
ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
The UN must not compromise its role in global economic governance and development. St. Lucia calls for members to resist attempts to dilute the development agenda through the cuts and freezes of regular and core budget allocations.
Lucia reiterates the need for reform of the system of global economic
governance so as to allow for fair trade and special and differential
treatment for developing countries. The current global governance system
has failed many small states by eliminating commodity protocols, and
the quota and price preferences that sustain small economies. Unfortunately,
these have been replaced by the conspicuous indifference of neo-liberal
economic practice. This has contributed to the decimation of many Caribbean
economies. It is Saint Lucia's earnest plea that the distortions in
farm trade which are so prevalent yet conspicuously avoided would be
treated in a manner reflective of the redistributive priorities of this
organisation. We are therefore determined that a more inclusive and
transparent global governance system should hold as sacred, the goals
and aspirations of those of us in the developing world who strive against
Mr. President, some of the most vulnerable countries in the world today are some of the territories that are on the UN `s list of non-self governing territories. These countries, the majority of which are small island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific are yet to exercise the right to self - determination. In the words of the Secretary General, it is time for the United Nations to bring to a close this colonial chapter of history.
We therefore welcome the cooperation that the Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization has recently been receiving from the Administering Powers of these territories and the advances that have consequently been made in the work of the Committee. We further welcome the negotiations that have just begun, for the first time, between the Special Committee and the United Kingdom on the process of decolonisation in the Caribbean. We look forward to continued cooperation with the Administering Powers so that the goal of self-determination for all these territories can be achieved in less than a decade.
CONCLUSION: A SYMBOLIC AND STRATEGIC PRESIDENCY
We believe that this Presidency is both symbolic and strategic. Not just for ourselves but for this organisation and the renovation of its development agenda. That a small developing country should aspire to and attain such high office is a testament to the magnanimity of this noble institution. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that global equity and universal democracy remain meaningful constructs of the world community.
Our voice can be ignored or it can be heeded. But it will not be silenced. The choice of an appropriate response rests with this community. Our presence here however, is a manifestation of our belief that our humanity demands conscious renewal - renewal that would guarantee that the international community resists war, remembers the poor and is prepared to give tangible meaning to the charter to which we all subscribe as responsible members of the world community.
But, there can be no renewal, if faith in the United Nations system is not also restored and retained. The United Nations must remain as the moral epicentre of world politics. Any re-conceptualisation of the architecture of global governance to the exclusion of the United Nations will leave the world weaker, more divided, vulnerable and less secure. This cannot and should not be our legacy to future generations who will judge us not by our words or espoused principles, but by the actions we employ to render this world fit for human habitation.
I thank you.