Permanent Mission of St. Kitts and Nevis to the United Nations
His Excellency Honorable Dr. Timothy Harris
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Education of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis
at the 58th Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly
September 29, 2003
UN Headquarters, New York
1. Distinguished Secretary General, Mr. President, Honorable Heads of State and Government, Fellow Foreign Ministers, Excellencies, Special Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
2. My government is pleased that the presidency of the 58t Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly lies in the capable hands of my distinguished colleague, the Foreign Minister of St. Lucia, Senator Julian Hunte. It bears witness to the importance this organization holds not just for the government of St. Lucia, but also the governments and people of the Caribbean Community. I have confidence in your leadership and I trust that as you tackle the critical UN agenda over the coming year you will incorporate lessons of our successes as a Caribbean Community. As with your predecessor, whose steady leadership was tested during a year of unprecedented challenges, you too, can count on my governments continued support.
3. Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to Sergio Viera de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, other staff of the United Nations, and the citizens of Iraq, who lost their lives or sustained injuries in the tragedy of Bagdad last August. We share the sorrow of the Secretary-General and his staff and extend our profound condolences to the bereaved families.
4. For the next fifteen minutes, I intend to focus our attention on the critical importance of strategic partnership. Lest it be misconstrued, I hasten to assure you from the outset that my government is neither oblivious nor indifferent to the multitude of concerns and problems that attend and threaten our quest for international peace and security. And I will be pleased to share my governments perspective on them later. But firstly, allow me to share with you our national philosophy and policy as it relates to improving the human condition.
5. How does one do that you ask? Improving the human condition is achieved by working towards human security. Notwithstanding, the recriminations and blame, at the core of the failed-WTO Round in Mexico earlier this month, was the issue of human security. Clearly, countries want guarantees as governments struggle to meet the needs of their citizens. For my government, human security means that each citizen has the right to liberty, to education, to employment, to an improved standard of living and economic development. We believe that human security is a comprehensive, holistic concept which encompasses all aspects of the human condition.
6. Obviously, there is a lot that we in the Caribbean can and must still learn from the rest of the world; but equally, there are many valuable lessons that the rest of the world can take from our experiences and successes in the Caribbean. In many areas, the Caribbean is a testament to the practicality of functional cooperation, and of how, despite the many issues that divide us, we continue to work together on the matters common to us. Be it at the sub-regional level of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) or within the broader Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the progress we have made in forging consensus, and in building common institutions to address our shared problems allow us to be able to share best practices with the United Nations.
7. For nearly four decades, the University of the West Indies has cultivated many distinguished academics and other notables. Today, it stands as a beacon of hope for our young people in their quest for quality higher education. To its credit, the University continues to work with several internationally recognized institutions and agencies in the areas of peace and security, medicine, health care, and scientific research, to name a few. Its junior partner, the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and CAPE, successor to the British General Certificate of Education (GCE) has responded adequately and with requisite standards of excellence to the growing education needs of the English-Speaking Caribbean. When our students complete their education, they stand shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts around the world. It is not my intention to boast, but for us it is a matter of national and regional pride. Further, as you are aware, Mr. President, many of our countries have adopted policies that allow nationals of other member states to travel to and work in other member states without the hassle of visa requirements and work permits. Although we are divided by the sea, the bridges of commitment and recognition of our common challenges and the benefits of shared approaches are bringing us ever closer together.
8. The Caribbean Development Bank and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank are models of how financial responsibility and cooperation with and among member governments in executing fiscal and monetary policies can facilitate stability, underpin accountability and engender progress. For decades, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, the currency of countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States remains the bedrock of monetary stability. This affords us the freedom to travel and trade among ourselves without the inconveniences of currency exchanges and unexpected fluctuations. Also, in the sub-region, we are especially proud of the success of the OECS Appellate Court, which has worked effectively and dutifully in dispensing justice throughout the territories over which it exercises jurisdiction. Further, the prudent and positive steps toward a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), provide evidence of the determination of Caribbean governments to cooperate in almost all endeavors to advance the human security of our citizens. These are but a few examples of functional cooperation.
9. Therefore, I am heartened that despite stuttering economies frustrated by an inequitable trade environment, globalization, lingering effects of September 11, and our decreasing national resources, member governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) by banding together have made notable progress in recent years. We continue to incorporate into our national policies many of the agreed principles for sustainable development. Additionally, our regional campaign to fight the spread and to treat victims of HIV/AIDS has witnessed encouraging results under the Pan Caribbean Partnership. Through this partnership we were successful in negotiating reduced prices for drugs and to draw international attention to the epidemic and its tremendous impact on and increasing threat to our national and regional security. My government wishes to commend the World Bank for its pledges of support for our work in this endeavor and we hope that our cooperation efforts will be a model for future partnerships in our region and beyond.
10. Mr. President, I promised earlier that I would share with you my government's perspective on some of the decisive issues that confront us internationally. I preface my remarks with the reminder that just over a decade earlier we stood on the threshold of a new era of opportunity. We celebrated the collapse of major ideological conflicts, which previously held us captive, even, I dare say on the brink of nuclear Armageddon. As one leader remarked, nations and peoples quietly harbored dreams that the last decade of the 20th century and the advent of the 21St century would herald new opportunities to address and redress asymmetrical issues that had frustrated our collective aspirations and individual potential. None of us, I am sure, would likely admit that we may have squandered such prospects. However, a little more than a decade later, ideological rifts seem to have been replaced by political chasms and new dangers.
11. In the past, our countries and people were separated by political ideologies. Instead, today a more universal force embodied in the philosophy of globalization and free trade demands that we come closer whether we want to or not. Unwittingly, it transcends borders forcing us to come to terms with previously latent, though real, dangers and threats to human, national, regional and international security. Subsequently, Mr. President, we must reevaluate our concept of security. The Organization of American States in its meeting of Foreign Ministers last year in Barbados took the bold and timely step of redefining security within its hemisphere. Security, the Foreign Ministers declared, is diverse in scope and multidimensional in nature requiring multifaceted approaches to address political, economic, social and environmental issues.
12. This concept clearly recognizes that we cannot separate national, regional and international security issues from political, economic and social stability and their security implications. We, in the Caribbean recognize that whereas globalization is a viable instrument of growth and prosperity for some, it has also become the vehicle of ruin and despair for many of the already poor people around the world. While countries that prosper praise globalization and free trade; countries, which suffer see themselves as no more than the guinea-pigs, the passive objects of globalization, with very little hope to advance human security for their poor citizens.
13. Mr. President, how do we encourage our citizens to have faith in a system that punishes their legitimate efforts? How can we tell the poor farmers in the developing world struggling to eek out an existence to hold out hope when farmers in rich countries are subsidized and rewarded for over-production? How do we ask our citizens in small vulnerable economies to sacrifice and adopt wholesale, free trade, while larger more developed economies devise new ways to deny them crucial market access. Mr. President, unless we address such inequities, there will always be resentment and mistrust. We must work together to level these bumps on the road to development. Also, we must rob the uncivil forces of the arguments they use to feed and exploit the anger and despair of the poor and dispossessed.
14. Mr. President, the entrenchment of economic philosophies like globalization and their far-reaching ignificance have widened the gaps between the haves and have-nots to an extent that compels countries and their economically dispossessed citizens to openly challenge them. Developing countries are not seen as genuine partners but as agitating irritants to be tolerated and even handled according to their perceived nuisance value. Globalization, therefore, instead of being the harbinger of development and human security as has been touted, seems to have become a weapon of choice that ridh countries employ in their international discourse with poor countries. In the wake of the collapse of the WTO talks, commentators and government officials openly criticized developing countries. One individual remarked that "what they [developing countries] rejected was as good as it was going to get, all they have done is deny themselves of the benefits, perhaps for years." Such perceptions and attitudes do not promote partnership as we in the Caribbean have come to. know. Actually, they undermine efforts to promote human security and they reestablish the economic and political manipulation typical of the Cold War.
15. The United Nations remains central to international peace and human security. The myriad challenges facing us today require collective action and partnership. I hasten to add that although the United Nations still lacks important elements of transparency and democracy in the operations of the Security Council, the UN however represents the most practical framework our nations have to address regional and international concerns in a holistic manner.
16. The unprecedented attacks on the UN Headquarters and personnel in Iraq were previously unthinkable. Today the immunity which the organization has enjoyed is being eroded, perhaps unwittingly, by its members. This should serve to admonish us, even in the face of what seems like compelling reasons to act or react, that we must show restraint. I trust when the dust of discontent settles we will appreciate that no country can act alone in pursuit of international peace, development and human security. My government calls on the UN membership to embrace a bold vision and commitment to fight the pull of isolation and the lure of economic and financial-engineering. Our reality today encompasses the struggles to find positive and sustainable methods for advancing our citizens' development against uncivil forces or rogue ideologies working relentlessly to undermine them.
17. In addition, Mr. President, we need the United Nations and its specialized agencies to fight terrorism. I insist that we cannot fight terrorism on one front. Terrorism and the means of execution are constantly changing. We must tackle it on all fronts through collective international resolve and responses. The United Nations has the international legitimacy to reach where armies and guns may not prevail. We must ready the United Nations for these challenges even while pressing for reform. We must encourage it to reinvent itself, where necessary, to meet old, current and emerging challenges.
18. My government calls on the United Nations and member governments to further subscribe to and promote partnership by fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. Mr. President, the Millennium Goals are essential steps to improving the human condition. They are also a reliable basis for addressing many of the inequities of globalization. We urge member states to work to meet these goals. We can relent only when the other half of the world's population ceases to live in abject poverty, when larger sectors of the world's population can find work, when all parents are able to send their children to school.
19. In St. Kitts-Nevis and the wider Caribbean, partnership has allowed us to develop a viable system of education and we can boast a literacy rate above 90 percent. This notwithstanding, we still have the major task of providing all our citizens full access to tertiary institutions of learning, and equal access to the free flow of appropriate technology and information.
20. Mr. President, my government continues to hold out hope that the issue of the Republic of China on Taiwan will get the attention it appropriately deserves on the UN Agenda. We urge the United Nations to avail itself of every possibility to facilitate a sustainable resolution of the impasse which hampers Taiwan's efforts to engage in international dialogue and contribute to the common interest of mankind. We remain convinced that the commitment of the 23 million people on Taiwan to development, intemational peace, and human security are indicative of that country's solidarity with and importance to the international community.
21. Despite its exclusion from this international fraternity of nations, the Republic of China on Taiwan remains a valuable partner for peace and development with fullest respect for international law. We trust that their contributions and their citizens' right to adequate representation can be guaranteed in the best interest of brotherhood so that all people can live in peace and enjoy the fruits of prosperity through partnership.
I thank you.