SENATOR THE HONOURABLE JULIAN R. HUNTE, O.B.E.
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
SEPTEMBER 18th 2002
Let me add the voice of my delegation to those who have already congratulated you on your election to this office, and those who have thanked the outgoing President for his contribution to the work of the Assembly. St. Lucia pledges its full cooperation as you go forward with the mantle of this august body.
We are pleased that at the commencement of this 57th session of the General Assembly, we are welcoming Switzerland and East Timor to our organization. We have no doubt that they will both enrich our deliberations as we seek to advance its cause. St. Lucia, as a member of the Special Committee on Decolonization, is particularly pleased that, East Timor is at last able to enter these hallowed halls as an independent state in its own right.
The bells have been rung in unison from the four corners of the globe, warning of humanity at risk. The message in the oracle is clear - the bells toll for all humanity. The new age scourges of poverty, famine, starvation, diseases and wars continue to afflict humanity. Globally an enormous human tragedy is unfolding and humanity is descending into a shadowy existence.
In this age of cutting edge technology, scientific miracles and the conquest of space, it is barely conceivable that human misery and suffering still are not decreasing. From Africa to Asia and from Asia to the Caribbean, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is accelerating and spreading, while known killers, such as tuberculosis and malaria, continue to stalk human existence. As large parts of our humanity fall, we stand watch, often seeming to lack the impetus needed to make a substantial dent in such scourges.
A large percentage of the population of the developing world lives in degrading poverty and many of them are on the brink of starvation and famine. Some twenty-four thousand persons, most from the developing world, die each day of hunger. Approximately twelve (12) million people in southern Africa now face starvation. Yet there is a worldwide glut in agricultural production. In some places there is too much. In others there is too little.
Today’s crises of humanity are the result of a crisis in the development agenda itself. The developed world and the developing world are yet to realize that they are inseparable partners in global development. From Doha to Monterrey and from Monterrey to Johannesburg, a curtain of despair has descended on the developing world, and on Small Island developing states in particular.
The crisis of the development agenda is reflective of the crisis of legitimacy that is being experienced by the global economic governance structure.
Saint Lucia again calls for the reformation of the global economic governance system to ensure that the planet’s resources constitute the common heritage of all humankind. A corollary to global economic reformation is the equitable sharing of resources to ensure a decent quality of life for all and the redistribution of wealth and power at the systemic level to redress existing injustices – no more a world with too much in one place, too little in another!
A major impediment to development is the lack of transparency, accountability and democratic norms within the operations of the global governance network. Saint Lucia has always upheld the democratic imperative within the domestic realm as the flagship for the advancement of social progress and development. Saint Lucia reiterates that it is only through democratic participation and the belief that all people are created equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities, that the rights of the peoples of the developing world to true self-determination and development can be realized. It is only by upholding the principles of transparency, accountability and democracy that the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO and our own UN system, can become relevant to the problem of solving global poverty.
The Doha declaration alone will not prevent the exclusion of states from economic decision-making and global governance. The non-involvement of governments in the development process runs counter to the original mission of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
Saint Lucia challenges the United Nations system to raise its universal voice in concert with the discordant coalition opposing any unilateral determination of the fate of the planet’s natural resources and the billions of poor people depending on them for survival.
Saint Lucia calls for the democratization and reform of the WTO into an organization supportive of the sustainable development of all states. This is the only way that developing countries can protect their interests within the multilateral trading system.
Saint Lucia laments the fact that the developing world may have compromised its development agenda by signing the WTO Agreements without the principle of special and differential treatment being an integral part of those agreements. This omission has to be corrected in the Doha Round. Why is it so difficult to understand that, given the critical nexus between trade and development, developing countries cannot be subjected to the same expectations, rules and regulations that govern trade among developed countries? The ideology of a level playing field is a myth ill conceived. Equitable participation in world trade demands that special consideration and assistance be given to the developing world, particularly to vulnerable, Small Island States like Saint Lucia.
We must resist all attempts to make the WTO a mechanism for unleashing a silent economic war on the poor and powerless by protecting corporate interests while marginalizing governments and people.
We need a Marshall Plan to address the terror of poverty and the stark disparities between the developed and developing world, in trade, technology, life expectancy and illiteracy.
Monterrey produced neither a global development coalition nor a binding mandate with targets and resources for implementing the United Nations Millennium goals of halving poverty, effectively addressing HIV/AIDS, closing the digital divide and strengthening governments. The message from Monterrey is that there is neither political will, nor resources available for development. Of the estimated fifty-five (55) billion dollars required annually to implement the millennium goals, Monterrey pledged only five (5) billion over a period of three years. Further, official development assistance to developing countries continues to decline from the UN target of 0.7% to 0.24%.
Despite the fact that debt-servicing accounts for a net transfer of resources from developing to developed countries, draining a significant amount of development funds, Monterrey gave no commitment to the cancellation of the crippling debt of developing countries. No attempts were made to stem the serious marginalization of Small Island developing states or to grant access to concessionary funding from international financial institutions for their development.
Sadly, Johannesburg was more of the same. The conference was convened to strike a global deal on sustainable development but failed to initiate the people-driven process necessary to transform the global economic crisis into development for all. No mechanisms were established to insulate decisions taken from being undermined in the current global economic governance system. The failure of Johannesburg to establish an international citizen’s agenda, with clear targets, resources and commitments to implement development goals, that protects the poor and the planet will reverberate throughout the developing world.
The United Nations appears to have become complicit in its own demise, permitting principles of universality, the quest for justice and equality to become obsolete. This institution was once the proud champion of the redistribution of global economic power and the establishment of a new international economic order. Today however, in the major United Nations institutions such as ECOSOC, the UN Development Programme and the General Assembly there is a deafening silence. Further, the gains made by the developing world within the UN are quickly being eroded. The post of Director General for International Economic Cooperation and Development has been abolished. This was one of the few concrete outcomes of the developing world’s thrust to secure a stronger presence in support of international economic cooperation. And the UN centre for Transnational Corporations (TNCs), which effectively tracked the activities of transactional corporations in the south and their contribution to sustainable development, has been dismantled. Today the market is left to determine everything, with corporate rule of the global economy resulting in untold havoc in the environment and among the poor. No mechanism is in place to ensure corporate responsibility and accountability.
Saint Lucia urges the United Nations to re-institute the UN Centre for transnational corporations. Further, Saint Lucia calls on the United Nations to resist any attempts to weaken and marginalize the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
While development within the UN system is being undermined through the cutting and freezing of the UN regular and core budget, there have been substantial increases in the peacekeeping budget. Military spending keeps escalating, particularly that of developed countries. And the UN Development Programme and the Bretton Woods Institutions are being reoriented away from development. Development is in need of a global coalition without which we will pursue wars against terrorism in vain.
St. Lucia condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations. For Small Island Developing States, however, security against terrorism and other threats, is not merely a matter of military spending, but is rather a multi-dimensional concern, encompassing matters such as drug trafficking and small arms, transnational crime, unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment. Therefore, whilst maintaining its peacekeeping mandate, the UN should not abandon the other mandates of its charter; economic and social development of all peoples, if it is to remain relevant and credible. This institution needs to regain its balance and listen to the fainting voice of humanity in a universal chorus proclaiming global peace, justice, prosperity and equality for all.
It would be remiss of me if I did not at this point re-iterate Saint Lucia’s call for an end to the economic embargo on Cuba and for the country to be allowed to pursue the right to the development of its people and assume its rightful role within our hemisphere.
As a vulnerable Small Island Developing State, Saint Lucia is among those countries which require the support and protection of the United Nations system and the safety of a strong, democratic and fair multilateral system most of all. We appreciate the support received from this institution and from friendly countries as we seek to advance our country’s development. We also re-affirm our commitment to work with all member states to ensure peace, security and development for all peoples.
I thank you.
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