STATEMENT BY THE HON. BILLIE A. MILLER
SENIOR MINISTER AND MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND FOREIGN TRADE
TO THE 58TH SESSION GENERAL ASSEMBLY
I take especial pleasure in congratulating you on your assumption of
the Presidency of the 58th Session of the General Assembly. The unanimous
election of the smallest state ever to hold this post speaks not only
of the confidence which Member States place in your own ability, but
also of their recognition of the critical role which small states play
in the multilateral process. We are delighted at your elevation to this
high office, and wish to assure you that in carrying out your responsibilities
you will be able to count on the unequivocal support not only
1 wish also to thank your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan, who very ably guided the work of the 57th General Assembly during a most trying and tumultuous year.
On August 19th, the world was again plunged
into shock and despair as we witnessed the heinous attack on the UN
We specially pause to pay tribute to Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, an international
civil servant and diplomat of the highest calibre.
His death comes at a time when the world can least afford it. We join
with you in mourning his passing as we mourn all those who perished
at his side in the service of the people of
Amidst the turmoil and carnage that has become a dismal feature of the daily life of so many millions in our global society, this assault on the United Nations was particularly startling in its cruelty and distressing in its intention. As our Secretary General has affirmed: " this was the most deliberate and vicious attack on the United Nations in its history". It is the most cruel of ironies that such an attack could have been conceived and carried out against an organisation in which we all have a stake, and one which epitomizes the principles and ideals to which we all ascribe, and whose primary purpose is peace.
The global environment, over the past year, has teetered on the brink of chaos. We have witnessed increased instances of the pursuit of violence and retribution as first responses to the resolution of conflict and we have experienced the relegation of diplomacy and multilateralism to afterthoughts.
Some of the most intractable problems
facing the international community in the year 2003 and beyond, are the divisions, uncertainties and doubts, which
have emerged since the US-led invasion of
The challenges to small states in such an uncertain environment are numerous and at times; overwhelming. We lack the financial dexterity to respond to economic crises as swiftly and decisively as is necessary. We have no military might and so our only avenue for handling traditional threats to security rests squarely within a multilateral framework, which resorts to military action only when, despite our best efforts, peace cannot be achieved through diplomacy.
Our region, the Caribbean, has had,
since the end of the conflicts of European empire building, a history
of peace and stability, which is sustained through a simple but sure
formula - celebration of our commonalities, tolerance of our differences,
mutual respect for each other's sovereignty, and adherence to principles
of democracy, good governance and the rule of law. We would wish to
commend this formula to those who find the key to peaceful co-existence
The United Nations is not a third party separate from the member governments but is rather the sum of its members, belonging to them - with all the benefits, problems and collective responsibilities of ownership. Barbados shares the view so eloquently expressed by the Secretary-General that: "the UN exists not as a static memorial to the aspirations of an earlier age, but as a work in progress, imperfect as all human endeavours must be, but capable of adaptation and improvement." We are all accountable for its shortcomings and must all strive to ensure its improvement.
To the extent that the UN represents our collective effort at a mechanism for global governance, it is amenable to the benefits of good governance practices. For we believe that good governance is as important at the international level as it is at the national level. It is perhaps the single most important factor in promoting development, reducing inequalities and advancing the cause of peace.
We should therefore seize this moment in time to recommit ourselves to making the United Nations more effective and efficient. Bold and serious reorganization initiatives, including the revitalization of the General Assembly, and the reform of the Security Council are urgently needed. We must also find effective coordination modalities to give new impetus to the follow-up to the major Conferences and Summits of the last decade, which, in most instances, have simply been reduced to standing items on the annual agenda of this body and rhetoric-filled resolutions reaffirming the status quo.
We must resolve during this session and beyond to take concrete actions toward making the Security Council more representative and transparent, and ensuring that the General Assembly moves beyond the symbolic politics of passing resolutions, to the hard work of negotiating change.
For it is a source of the greatest continuing concern to us, Mr President, that too many of the premier multilateral institutions which are charged with the fundamental responsibility of shaping the rules by which the global society is governed, whether in the area of peace and security, or trade, or finance and development, are constrained by structure and tradition to carry out their mandate in a manner that is patently devoid of democracy or transparency. Reform must therefore extend beyond the confines of New York to reach deep into the operations of the International Financial Institutions, the World Trade Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Financial Action Task Force, and all other bodies that seek to prescribe the norms of behaviour for the international community without the full participation of that community in the decision-making process.
If the International Conference on Financing for Development had one failing, it was its inability to conceive a new system for financial governance to redress the deficiencies and imbalances of the past, - yet durable enough to serve for generations to come. In this regard Mr. President, I wish to reiterate the call made at Monterrey by the Prime Minister of Barbados, The Right Honourable Owen Arthur for the creation of a rules based World Financial Authority to better supervise today's complex global financial and capital markets than the Bretton Woods Institutions can, and for an International Tax Organization to oversee global cooperation in cross border tax matters.
Despite a commitment made by all
An important step would be the adoption of an International Convention against Money Laundering under the auspices of the United Nations. Such a Convention would establish a genuine international consensus on the issue of money laundering within the universal ambit of the United Nations, where the interests and concerns of all member states would be fairly and equally served in a common endeavour against international crime. The proposed Convention would complement the work of the United Nations under the 1988 Vienna Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, as well as the more recent Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.
In this connection, we believe that
the greatest lesson to emerge from the experience of
Next year marks the tenth anniversary of the Global Conference on the
Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. Out of that conference emerged the Barbados Programme
of Action which still today remains the essential blueprint for the
sustainable development aspirations of all Small Island Developing States.
As de facto custodians of the name attached to the SIDS process,
We are convinced that the vulnerability
and sustainable development challenges of SIDS as expressed in the Barbados
Programme of Action, Agenda 21, the Millennium
Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation are now better understood by the international community. According to
estimates, since 1994, SIDS themselves have carried out approximately
70% of the required actions and measures contained in the BPOA. The
The World Summit on the Information Society is conceived as a high-level dialogue leading to achieving a new kind of society, characterized by universal access to and use of information for the creation, accumulation and dissemination of knowledge. It implies the use of traditional and new technologies, especially information and communication technologies as an essential tool for the enhancement of services, and the promotion of dialogue among diverse cultures toward the attainment of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world. We support the principle that the new information society must serve the best interests of all nations and peoples. It must seek through the available technology to empower the most vulnerable sectors of society and eradicate existing disparities within and among states.
The issue relating to the passage
In your address upon opening of the General Assembly you called for action over inaction. This moment in global affairs will require courage and determination as we face the enormous challenges awaiting us. We may not expect to complete the task but neither are we at liberty to abstain from it.