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Minister for Foreign Affairs, & International Trade


New York Thursday, 02 October 2003

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary General
Distinguished Delegates

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is with a deep sense of pride and pleasure that my delegation congratulates you, Mr. President, on your unanimous election to the presidency of the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

You have done the entire Caribbean region proud, and especially your own country, St. Lucia, one of the smallest member states of this organization.

We are confident that with the combination of your vast experience, solid leadership skills and charismatic personality, this session will go down in history as one of the most dynamic and constructive for all states, both large and small.

My delegation pays tribute to your illustrious predecessor, Dr. Jan Kavan, of the Czech Republic, for his enlightened and innovative conduct of the last session of this body.

Mr. President,

My delegation also offers to the government and people of St. Lucia profound sympathy on the recent passing of your predecessor, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable George Odium.

Mr. President,

Each succeeding President of the General Assembly inherits an agenda of recurring resolutions and outcome documents adopted at the many international summit level conferences during the past decade. My delegation remains confident that your administration will put implementation concerns high on the development agenda.

When the United Nations was founded fifty-eight years ago, the focus was basically on world peace and security in the aftermath of the devastating effects of the Second World War. Currently, security concerns have once again taken center stage in international affairs, but it should not displace consideration of important issues on the economic and social agenda.

Mr. President,

My Government remains totally committed to the global fight against terrorism and against perpetrators of violence. In this regard, it will certainly take all the necessary actions to ensure that Grenada is an active partner in this common struggle.

The proliferation of transnational criminal activities represents a most vivid example of the negative effects of open borders in a globalized world. Illicit trade in weapons and drugs, money laundering, trafficking in women and children, definitely needs to be tackled in a more organized manner. A truly effective global response, to these and other threats, requires that all states act in concert with each other. In this regard, my Government, even with its limited resources, is fulfilling its commitment.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, Grenada has ratified and/or acceded to all relevant international treaties and conventions on terrorism and related activities. All the appropriate domestic legislations have been enacted.

My delegation is convinced that the elimination of terrorism alone will not guarantee social and economic stability. It will not solve the many problems associated with underdevelopment, poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, and unemployment, all of which give rise to hopelessness and pose a threat to peace and security.

Mr. President,

The recently concluded session here at the United Nations, to assess the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS indicates that the pandemic continues to take its toll, especially in Sub-Sahara and the Caribbean.

As was expressed by the large number of leaders who took part in the debate, much remains to be done in the fight against this dreadful scourge, if the Declaration of Commitment target is to be met by 2005.

Thus, certain critical areas in this fight such as education on prevention and care targeted especially to young people, mobilization of resources by engaging civil society including the business sector, and access to affordable medicine are absolutely essential.

Fighting HIV/AIDS is both a medical and a socio-economic problem, with far-reaching implications for small developing countries such as my own.

Caring for the ever-increasing numbers with the virus, together with educating and sensitizing the general public on prevention issues and responsible behavior, has become burdensome both in terms of human and financial resources. Partnership and support from the developed countries will be welcomed.

Mr. President,

My delegation is convinced that the eradication of poverty and its related ills is central to social and economic stability and would not simply disappear through passionate pleas and eloquent statements, but through genuine collaborative and cooperative efforts. My government is acutely aware of our responsibility to provide for our citizens as a sovereign and independent nation.

The efforts of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to establish a Single Market and Economy with a view to harnessing and efficiently utilizing the limited resources of the region, improving competitiveness, productivity and general cooperation must be applauded.

The more developed countries must speedily come to the rescue of the needy developing countries by providing tangible and meaningful technical, economic and other forms of assistance. Assistance that will impact positively on the lives of millions in the developing world.

It is for this reason we will continue to clamour for reforms within the global trading system and especially within the framework of the World Trade Organization, particularly as it relates to trade in agriculture and in other services.

My delegation calls for substantial reduction of subsidies afforded to farmers in the more developed and industrialized economies, and also the removal of non-tariff and other technical barriers to the export of our commodities.

Mr. President,

In our efforts to diversify our economies and to enhance our revenue-earning options, we need the flexibility to develop our service sector free from pressures and conditionalities, to add value to our primary products, and to be able to export our exotic fruits and vegetables.

Our small and vulnerable economies can become viable if the right conditions are created to facilitate the trade of our products on the world market.

The failure of the recently concluded WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, to reach a compromise on issues of extreme importance is a cause for concern. The outcome has confirmed, in unequivocal terms, that the divide between the rich and poor nations continues to widen.

My country endorses the notion that the United Nations must continue its work to ensure that democracy and the respect for basic human rights prevail in all civil societies. However, this body should, as a matter of principle, also seek to influence fair, just and morally correct actions and decisions on equally important matters.

Mr. President,

The people of the Republic of Cuba continue to live under a unilaterally imposed financial, commercial and economic blockade for over 40 years. This has resulted in great human and material loss, and many personal traumatic experiences. Grenada joins the overwhelming majority in the United Nations and calls for the unconditional lifting of those sanctions.

We believe that universally accepted norms and values, economic growth and prosperity, can only flourish under normal circumstances. The people of Cuba need that chance.

Mr. President,

The situation regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict continues to escalate and every effort must be made to return to the Road Map, as it remains the best hope for the resolution of the problem.

Similarly, my delegation is concerned about the negative effect of civil unrest and tensions around the globe particularly in Iraq, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My government supports all efforts, actions and initiatives to ensure that normalcy returns to the countries and regions concerned. We urge patience, understanding and tolerance in dealing with these difficult situations.

Mr. President,

The United Nations has been seized with the reform of the Security Council and with the revitalization of the General Assembly for a number of years.   When the United Nations was founded fifty-eight years ago, the membership was fifty-one, today there are 191 member states. Much has changed in the geo-political dynamics of the world, which the UN represents and reflects. Therefore, there is need for structural and functional changes in the Security Council and the General Assembly, two of the main organs of greatest importance in the world body.

Mr. President,

At the beginning of this intervention, 1 alluded to the tardiness in implementation of collective decisions particularly on the subject of Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). A total of six (G) Summit Conferences have been held, over a period of eleven years, to address the issues of environment and development in these vulnerable island states.

Donor Countries have not fulfilled their end of the partnership. Official Development Assistance continues to fall, and Multilateral Aid has dropped significantly. Ten years later, another high-level meeting is scheduled to take place in Mauritius in 2004 to review the Barbados Declaration and Programme of Action.

My delegation is hopeful that the occasion would be used to ensure that the priority issues of small states will be addressed in such a way that gives optimism to the millions whose lives depend on commitment to the following:

  • Improving their preparedness for and recovery from natural and environmental disasters.
  • Addressing the problem of climate change and sea level rise that can submerge low-lying nations in the Caribbean and Pacific.
  • Preventing worsening shortages of potable water.
  • Developing solar and renewable energy to lessen dependence on expensive imported oil.
  • Managing growth in tourism to protect the environmental and cultural integrity of our nations.

My delegation's appeal to this session of the General Assembly is that all stakeholders, including the multilateral financial institutions, must demonstrate their total commitment to the entire process in order that the successful implementation of the outstanding important matters can be finalized.

Mr. President,

Despite the uncertainty over adequate funding for implementation, my delegation remains confident that with your ability to lead and build consensus, this 58th" Session can become known as the General Assembly of Implementation

As Secretary-General, Kofi Annan recently expressed:
"We all live on the same planet, buffeted by the same winds, influenced by the same currents of change. But instead of acting on what united us ... we allow a chasm to persist between us ... we need to mend this great divide with a new fabric of solidarity" end of quote.

Mr. President,

My delegation is convinced that we have the opportunity to build and develop this new kind of solidarity and partnership between rich and poor, big and small, powerful and weak, at this General Assembly.

The opportunity is ours to embrace or lose.

I thank you.