New York

1 October 2012

Secretary-General's remarks on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Forum of Small States

I thank the Permanent Mission of Singapore for inviting me to this meeting of the Forum of Small States. 

Over the past 20 years, the Forum has made many meaningful contributions to the international dialogue. 

A number of characteristics shape the group’s unique voice.

Your membership is not defined by geographical location.  

Nor is it a product of alliances based on shared political positions or historical ties. 

Rather, the premise for FOSS stems from the understanding that there are commonalities and perspectives shared by the world’s smaller nations, which make up more than half of the UN’s membership; and that there are benefits in working collectively at the United Nations. 

Despite their size, small states can meaningfully contribute to global peace and development.

They are well placed to serve as ‘bridge-builders’ and mediators.

They also often help to magnify important issues that affect nations both big and small. 

Being small does not mean an absence of big ideas.

While your numbers include States from both the North and the South, and both recipients and donors, a large portion of your group are developing countries – many of which are among the more vulnerable members of the human family.

Small developing states face special challenges.

Landlocked developing countries find themselves marginalized from the world economy, cut-off from global flows of knowledge, technology, capital and innovations, and unable to benefit substantially from external trade.

The small island developing states continue to be on the frontlines in dealing with the adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise.

From telecommunications and electricity to education and health, many of the problems faced by the Small Island Developing States, located deep in the middle of oceans, are similar to the transportation challenges faced by the landlocked countries of the Himalayas.

Small states will continue to need special attention. That is why the United Nations and I personally have given high priority to small and vulnerable countries in recent years.

The UN system is supporting small states in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by assisting them in coping with their vulnerabilities, strengthening capacity, building infrastructure, empowering human resources, and meeting the challenges and opportunities of globalization..

The MDG Acceleration Framework has been rolled out in 23 of FOSS members.

The Programme of Action adopted at last year’s Istanbul conference on the least developed countries highlights the need for action on trade, transport infrastructure and the building of productive capacity.

Many members of your Forum played significant roles in the lead-up to Rio+20 and at the conference itself.  I thank you for your perspectives and for contributing to a successful outcome. Your leadership will continue to be important as we prepare for the 2014 Third Conference on Small Island States.

And of course, I look forward to your engagement in our highly important efforts to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals and to outline a post-2015 development agenda.

There are many good examples where FOSS played a leadership role particularly as a linkage between FOSS and the G-20 summit meetings, where your initiative for the three Gs – global good governance – was highly appreciated in working together to address global economic challenges.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the Forum of Small States for your support throughout my first term, and I look forward to working together over the next five years in our shared drive towards a better future for your citizens and all the world’s people.

Thank you very much.