|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General Focuses on Challenges of Economic Development, Security,
Climate Change, in Remarks to Caribbean Community Summit
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the opening of the thirty-first Heads of Government Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in Montego Bay, on 4 July:
I thank the Caribbean Community and Edwin Carrington for his gracious invitation. I also thank Prime Minister [Bruce] Golding of Jamaica and the people of Jamaica on this very kind hospitality and wonderful friendship.
It is a profound honour to be the first United Nations Secretary-General to address a CARICOM summit. And it is good to do it here in Montego Bay. In 1947, the Montego Bay Conference generated the notion of a Caribbean regional movement, which led to the West Indies Federation and then to CARICOM itself.
The Caribbean region is vital to the work of the United Nations — and CARICOM has been in the forefront of tackling regional and global challenges — from climate change to strengthening democracy, to rebuilding after natural disasters, to supporting United Nations peacekeeping efforts.
We discussed many of these issues at the CARICOM mini-summit held at the United Nations last September. It is good to be here today to deepen our work in addressing complex and multiple challenges: the threat of climate change; the fallout of the global financial crisis; the security burden posed by organized crime.
And, of course, natural hazards. It is especially moving for me to be with all of you as we approach the six-month anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. Above all, I have come here to say thank you for your support and commitment. CARICOM countries, institutions and citizens demonstrated profound solidarity with your newest member. You made Haiti a priority and played a key role as an advocate for recovery. You have appointed a special representative for Haiti and created an office to oversee CARICOM’s reconstruction efforts. Your engagement is central to ensuring sustained and long-term attention to Haiti’s needs.
Haiti is also a priority for the United Nations, and I thank and commend the leadership of President [René] Préval. Six months after the earthquake, the Government and people of Haiti have accomplished much, in collaboration with the international community. Thousands of survivors have received medical assistance, emergency shelter has been distributed to more than 1.5 million people, widespread hunger and disease have been averted, children are back in school and commercial life is resuming.
Nonetheless, we have an enormous task ahead, especially with the onset of the hurricane season. Humanitarian needs will remain for many months to come. Recovery will take many years and will require consistent effort by all Haiti’s partners. Promises will not feed the people of Haiti — pledges alone will not shelter them. I am working to expedite the help that the people of Haiti need.
The upcoming November elections will also be fundamental for ensuring Haiti’s democratic future. It is essential that they are transparent and credible. We are working with the Government of Haiti and international partners to support that process. I am grateful for CARICOM’s support.
Let me now highlight three broader issues, priority issues for the United Nations: economic and development concerns, security challenges and climate change.
First, the financial and economic crisis continues to take a heavy toll. Many Caribbean countries face declining revenue, weakened growth, reduced tourism and high levels of debt. You have made commendable progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Yet, you are highly vulnerable to external shocks. I know you have discussed the need for a new economic model for development: debt relief for middle-income countries; special treatment in the global trading system; dedicated credit for dealing with natural disasters.
And I agree that the international community must collectively address the impact of the sustained economic crisis. As I said at the G-20 meeting in Toronto last week, the international community cannot abandon its commitment to the most vulnerable. In particular, I advocated for investment in key areas where we can expect substantial and immediate returns; those are jobs, a green recovery and health and health systems.
I welcome the General Assembly decision sponsored by CARICOM to convene a high-level meeting in September 2011 on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. I also look forward to your participation in this September’s high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in New York. You have many valuable lessons to offer. We simply must deliver results for the world’s most vulnerable. Governments must agree in September on a concrete action plan that provides a clear road map to meet our collective targets and promise by 2015.
We must also do more to empower women. I am pleased to inform you that, just two days ago, we established the newest member of the United Nations family. It is called the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women or UN Women — ONU Femme. This will boost our common effort to promote gender equality, expand opportunity and fight discrimination around the world.
My second point: the growing security threat posed by organized transnational crime and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Crime has a devastating impact on a country’s social fabric. Of course, the challenge goes beyond borders. Our solutions must, too. CARICOM and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime have developed a joint action plan, and we are working to implement the Santo Domingo Pact and Managua Partnership. It is important to consider the problem of drug control and the prevention of crime and terrorism in a regional context — and through the prism of development, human rights, the rule of law and security reform.
We must address security issues and social causes simultaneously. In this regard, I welcome the fact that the recently launched Caribbean Basin Security Initiative goes beyond the traditional law enforcement approach, and I applaud CARICOM States on all your efforts to combat illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
My third point concerns climate change. It impacts all our concerns: development, health, security. I commend CARICOM countries, once again, for your leadership in the lead-up to the Copenhagen climate talks and during the Conference. The Caribbean Community has conveyed an important message to the world: the threat of climate change is urgent and growing. You have been pioneers in calling attention to the specific vulnerability of small island States to climate change. Adaptation strategies to this very real threat will require sizeable and sustained investment.
The Copenhagen Conference called on the international community to mobilize $30 billion a year between now and 2012, and $100 billion a year up to 2020 for mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries. I have recently appointed an Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, co-chaired by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Prime Minister [Jens] Stoltenberg of Norway, to push this forward. I thank President Bharrat Jagdeo of the Republic of Guyana for his contribution to the group, and look forward to welcoming him in New York in July for the next principals’ meeting.
Caribbean nations were prominent in Copenhagen. I count once again on your strong voice as we continue our negotiations for Conference of Parties-16 in Mexico.
The Caribbean region is vital to the United Nations. Just as you are helping to advance our agenda, I would like to reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to your goals and aspirations. You can count on me to promote security, development and human rights.
I take strength from the immortal wisdom of a great son of Jamaica. I will “get up”. I will “stand up”. And I won’t “give up the fight”.
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