2 OCTOBER 2003


Mr President,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

My delegation is proud and honoured to see you, a fellow islander also from one of the smallest nations of the world, preside over the deliberations of this august body. We know your skills, experience and competence and are confident that you will lead us to a successful outcome. Let me also pay tribute to your predecessor, Mr Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, for the excellent work done during the 57th session of the General Assembly.

Our appreciation also goes to the Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, for his dedicated and steadfast leadership of the United Nations during these trying times. We commend him for his tireless efforts to make the UN more effective and responsive to the demands of its members.

Mr President,

In recent months, some voices have questioned the relevance and utility of the United Nations. For Seychelles the UN remains the unique, indispensable and universal multilateral institution where global issues affecting the entire international community can be debated and addressed. Despite its shortcomings, we believe that there is no other institution that is better equipped and suited to meet the diverse demands for justice, peace, security, development and international cooperation, and where the voice of its members is heard irrespective of size or economic power. We hereby reaffirm our faith in the principles and purpose of the United Nations in addressing the wide range of challenges confronting the international community in the globalized and interdependent world we are living in at the dawn of the 21st century.

However we acknowledge the fact that the UN system needs to be reformed and modernized. We support the on-going initiative to revitalize the General Assembly to make it more effective and efficient. Our Assembly ought to be restored to its rightful place at the center stage for meaningful deliberations on problems and issues common to all its members. We ought to strive to ensure that the debate in our Assembly is translated into action. In this respect, my delegation calls for the establishment of a follow-up mechanism to monitor and implement decisions and resolutions taken by the General Assembly as well as those of the major UN conferences of the last decade.

The reform process would be inadequate if the transformation of the Security Council into a democratic and representative organ, reflecting its universal character and present day realities, were not achieved. My delegation supports an increase in both permanent and non-permanent members, to also include developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. After ten years of debate, it is of imperious necessity to bridge positions and make progress. What is required is political will by all parties concerned to arrive at an acceptable solution.

We support the decision of the Secretary General to establish a High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the reform question. We hope they will provide inspiration and fresh ideas on the way forward.

Mr President,

My delegation holds the view that Development ought to be central to the renewed UN agenda. The reform process should focus on reinforcing the role of the UN system in the commitment to international cooperation for development. There should be closer collaboration and coordination between the UN system and the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) in elaborating novel frameworks to address development funding. The on-going dialogue between ECOSOC and the Bretton Woods Institution should be vigorously pursued.

We welcome the dialogue between the G8 leaders and their counterparts from developing countries. These consultations should present the platform to engage the industrialized countries of the North in fulfilling their commitments to the outcomes of the major conferences, in particular the Millennium Summit, the Doha Development Round, the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Plan of Action. Our development partners should realize that implementation of their commitments is vital for us, developing countries, in attaining sustainable development. That words are indeed matched with deeds. That the allocation of the agreed target of 0.7% of their GDP for international development should be an achievable objective.

This dialogue should also be an opportunity to candidly discuss issues that are of common interest and concern. Problems requiring urgent attention such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, root causes of terrorism, the debt burden, refugees, trade terms, trafficking of humans, climate change and environmental degradation, to name but a few, should be addressed as part and parcel of shared international responsibilities.

Mr President,

The situation of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will feature high on the international agenda next August when Mauritius hosts the International Meeting for the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action. It will be a timely occasion to reaffirm the special characteristics, vulnerabilities and concerns that condition SIDS and their prospects for sustainable development. An occasion to remind the international community to pay greater attention to the social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities faced by SIDS.

The Mauritius review will present the opportunity to assess implementation progress to date and establish the appropriate framework for further partnership and cooperation in achieving sustainable development aspirations of SIDS. We will need the required resources to advance implementation. We therefore appeal to our development partners for their fullest support in the review process and the implementation of the outcome of the Mauritius International Meeting.

Mr President,

My delegation notes with concern the breakdown of negotiations at the recent WTO ministerial conference in Cancun. Small developing countries have no capacity whatsoever to distort world trade. It is imperative therefore that their vulnerabilities and special needs be taken fully in account. Seychelles urges the international community to heed to the call that Special and Differential Treatment be accorded to developing countries that have structural disadvantages, in particular small island states. This is crucial to the integration of our countries in the multilateral trading system to allow us to achieve our development objectives. Concessions to small vulnerable developing economies should include the critical areas of market access and trade preferences.

The second pillar of my country’s economy, tuna fisheries, faces a real threat, with all the social and economic consequences for us, if the preferential treatment on which the industry was built, were to be abandoned. After all, the trade regime is meant to provide benefits for all, not to condemn the most fragile and vulnerable groups of the international family to the real threat of marginalization and economic strangulation.

Mr President,

A subject of preoccupation to my delegation is the adverse impacts of climate change. Studies and experience have revealed extreme changes in climate patterns of the Western Indian Ocean region. Over recent years my country has experienced unusual periods of drought and torrential rainfall, the latter causing floods, landslides, destruction of agricultural crops and infrastructure and even loss of life. It is estimated the 75% of corals in our archipelago have been bleached due to an increase in sea surface temperatures.

Global warming is not an issue of our making. Small island nations like mine are not responsible for it, yet we have to bear the ensuing consequences. This growing threat calls for renewed concerted international action, as it is affecting the whole planet. All nations must take steps to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions. The industrialized countries have the prime responsibility and must be first to take action. We urge them to be accountable under the Kyoto commitments and to ratify the treaty, as this is the only appropriate multilateral framework that can address and respond to this phenomenal challenge facing all nations on earth.

Mr President,

Last year the General Assembly endorsed the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), as the framework for development for the continent. International support for the implementation of this home-grown initiative is essential. We appreciate the pledges of support by the G8 via their Africa Action Plan. We hope that this will soon evolve into the realization of concrete projects and programmes.

My delegation is of the view that there should be provision in the NEPAD development agenda to take into account the peculiar problems and specificities of the 8 island nations that constitute the African family.

Mr President,

The August 19 attack on the UN compound in Baghdad serves as the latest reminder to all of us of the central importance of being vigilant and prepared to combat terrorism. Seychelles reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its manifestations. We are in the process of finalizing our accession to the 12 UN Conventions and Protocols on Terrorism. We are actively cooperating with the Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) in the implementation of the obligations of Security Council resolution 1373. Complying with the obligations of the resolution is a daunting task for a very small country like mine, with extremely limited capacity to deal with the relevant requirements. We will do our share as part of our responsibility, but to succeed we will need technical and financial assistance. There is also the need to ensure that the capacities of small states are enhanced through sharing of intelligence information, training of personnel, and the provision of appropriate technology and equipment, for example, to deal and handle the new challenges we have to confront. We hope the international community will be attentive and responsive to our predicament.

Mr President,

The conflict in the Middle East has brought about too much suffering and destruction. My delegation supports the Road Map for Peace and calls on all parties to the conflict to embark on genuine and substantive dialogue and negotiations in the interest of durable peace in the region. We reaffirm our belief in the rights of the Palestinian people to their own independent state, with clearly defined borders. We welcome all efforts in facilitating the search for an enduring solution to the conflict.

As regards the situation in Iraq, my delegation hopes that full sovereignty will be restored to the Iraqis as soon as possible, and that a credible and widely accepted political Road Map will be drawn and implemented. We believe that the United Nations should have a central role to play in the process.

Mr President,

When you assumed office, you appealed for an action-orientated and proactive General Assembly. I give you the assurance, that albeit in a modest manner, you will receive the full-hearted support of the Seychelles delegation for a productive and fruitful session.

I thank you.