SENATOR THE HON. PETRUS COMPTON
MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, INTERNATIONAL
TRADE AND CIVIL AVIATION OF SAINT LUCIA
TO THE 61ST SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
SEPTEMBER 26, 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, permit me to congratulate you on your election as President of
the 61st Session of the General Assembly, and to express our appreciation to
your predecessor Mr. Jan Eliasson of Sweden for the excellent manner in which he
spearheaded the work of the 60th Session.
We wish also to express our profound respect and gratitude to Secretary-General
Kofi Annan for his great vision, committed leadership and tireless efforts in
promoting the noble ideals and values of the United Nations under the most
difficult circumstances. We wish him and his family well in their future
When, in September 2000, member government, of the United Nations took the
unprecedented step of pledging to meet eight “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGS)
by the year 2015, it represented a belated admission that the development of
every nation is a collective responsibility. At the Millennium Summit, we
recognized that it was an affront to our basic humanity that so many people on
our planet continued to live in conditions of abject poverty and deprivation;
that so many continued to suffer the ravages of disease and war; and that basic
necessities of life taken for granted by ourselves – clean potable water, health
care and good nutrition, a clean and safe physical environment, and peace and
security – remained unattainable by so many. We also recognized that, unless we
developed appropriate partnerships to deal with these problems, they would
continue to persist, to our collective shame.
At this our 61st Session we seek to re-affirm our commitment to this notion of
partnership as a significant modality for the attainment of our common goals.
Saint Lucia is satisfied that the idea of partnership clearly accommodates the
spirit of multilateralism which is the defining principle of our relationship
within the United Nations.
This multilateralist spirit must constantly be safeguarded and fortified and
this can only be accomplished by a strong and confident UN. Saint Lucia takes
this opportunity to once again express its determined support for the programme
of reform of the UN, designed as these are to create the capacity and conditions
for the exercise of a strong central role by the UN within the international
We salute the achievements to date, viz, the replacement of the moribund Human
Rights Commission with the new Human Rights Council and the establishment of the
Peace-building Commission. We recognize that these bodies are far from perfect
and will require continued attention by Member States, however, they reflect our
determination to translate talk into action.
Saint Lucia looks forward to continuing the discussions on the remaining items
on our reform agenda, in particular Security Council reform, strengthening and
refocusing of the General Assembly, the empowerment of ECOSOC and management
Saint Lucia continues to believe in the wisdom of the words of our distinguished
Secretary General, who in his March 2005 report, In Larger Freedom, opined “We
will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without
development and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.
Unless all these causes are advanced, none will succeed.” As we seek to develop
partnerships for development, utilising the MDGs as the benchmark for that
development, Saint Lucia has been moving steadily towards the attainment of some
of these goals.
Universal primary education has been largely attained and we have gone further
to introduce a programme of universal access to free secondary education for our
In the area of health, Saint Lucia is in the process of establishing a universal
Programme of free health care, and has made significant progress in the area of
maternal and child health. We are also working steadfastly in the battle against
HIV/AIDS through education, early detection and treatment programmes, and the
provision of free or subsidized anti-retroviral drugs.
All of these efforts have been bolstered, in a practical demonstration of
South-South cooperation, through generous support and assistance from a number
of developing countries in the areas of human resource development in the health
sector and the construction of new health facilities which will greatly enhance
our ability to provide comprehensive health care services to all of our people.
South-South partnerships are workable; we need to continue to develop and widen
these for the betterment of developing countries.
Saint Lucia applauds the return of Haiti to democratic governance. This
long-awaited development has led to the re-admission of that country to the
Councils of the Caribbean Community. We recognize that the road to normalcy in
Haiti will be a long and tortuous one requiring a sustained political focus by
the international community.
Saint Lucia calls for the speedy release of development resources promised to
that country in order that its government and people may tackle in a meaningful
way, the numerous obstacles standing in the way of its development.
Saint Lucia welcomes the final document emanating from the 14th Summit
Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Non Aligned Movement in
Havana earlier this month.
This historic Meeting addressed a wide range of regional and international
issues including the sanctity of international law, the promotion and
preservation of multilateralism, peaceful settlement of disputes, the right to
self-determination, and decolonisation.
The summit offered concrete and innovative proposals on the reform of the United
Nations, including the modernisation of the Security Council, and the Economic
and Social Council.
The final document of the NAM Summit provides the international community with a
workable roadmap for the development agenda far into this new century, with
achievable solutions to many of the issues facing humankind today.
Saint Lucia also welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the Follow-up
to and implementation of the outcome of the International Conference on
Financing for Development 2005, and in so doing we call upon the developed
countries represented at that forum to honour the commitments made at this and
previous UN Summits and Conferences on trade, debt and finance, especially their
promise to fulfill the goal of 0.7% of Gross Domestic Product to Official
Development Assistance. We believe it is imperative that the international
community increase its efforts at addressing the indebtedness of poor developing
countries; promote foreign direct investment flows to a greater number of
developing countries and address the systemic deficiencies in the global
economic and financial system. These deficiencies Madame President all
constitute serious threats to the survival of developing counties, especially
those within the Caribbean area.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as those in the Caribbean, the
Pacific and Indian oceans, and in the Mediterranean, are extremely vulnerable to
the impacts of climate change. Whilst those of us residing in the tropics, in
small islands and low-lying coastal areas are endangered daily through the
impact of sea level rise, others are faced with unprecedented and accelerated
thawing of ice caps, and the consequent loss of land mass.
We have already reached a dangerous level of greenhouse gas concentrations in
the atmosphere, and urgent action is required to reverse this situation.
In this connection, the international community, and in particular our developed
partners need to take more aggressive action to promote the development and
distribution of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in developed
and developing countries alike. To assist developing countries in playing its
part in this connection, there is need for the establishment of a global
renewable energy and energy efficiency fund.
St. Lucia joins with our colleague members of the Alliance of Small Island
States, and other affected states, in calling for the international community to
address the issues of sea level rise and climate change as a matter of urgency.
The international community must honour its responsibility and commitment to the
full implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of
the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island
Developing States. We insist on the urgent and proper mainstreaming of the
Strategy into the respective work programmes of the United Nations agencies and
other bodies. Those who are the largest producers of greenhouse gases must bear
the responsibility for the damage they are causing to the global environment,
and in particular to the vulnerable countries whose sustainability – and very
existence -- is increasingly endangered by these un-sustainable practices.
From our own regional perspective, St. Lucia welcomes the adoption of measures
for the promotion of an integrated management approach to the Caribbean Sea area
in the context of sustainable development. We welcome initiatives taken to this
end by the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Caribbean Community
(CARICOM), and institutions and bodies of the United Nations.
Half a decade into the 21st Century, there still some 16 Non -Self-Governing
Territories under the review of the General Assembly. Most of these are small
island territories in the Caribbean and Pacific regions. Their decolonisation
through a genuine process of self-determination is the unfinished agenda of the
United Nations. In this connection, Article 73 (b) of the United Nations Charter
on the necessity of promoting genuine self-government should be respected. We
call on the administering Powers to increase the level of cooperation with the
Special Committee on Decolonisation, and call on the relevant bodies of the
United Nations system to assist the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the
development of their capacity for self government, and in furtherance of their
process of self-determination.
The year 2007 will mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the
Transatlantic Slave Trade which began the process of the abolition of slavery in
the British Empire. A number of international events are being planned
throughout the globe to honour the memory of the millions who died during the
Middle Passage, and those who subsequently perished under the horrors of chattel
slavery in the Caribbean and the Americas. This scourge was recognised by the
international community as a crime against humanity in the outcome document of
the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
St. Lucia joins with the countries of the African Diaspora in the Caribbean, and
with other like-minded countries, in supporting a United Nations commemoration
in 2007 of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
St. Lucia and other neighboring countries have been seriously impacted by
rulings of the Word Trade Organisation (WTO) adversely affecting the access of
our banana exports to preferential markets. Few in the developed world can
appreciate the mass social dislocation which this decision has caused, with
thousands of independent farmers, employers in their own right, left without a
livelihood, through no fault of their own. Consider that for every banana farmer
in Saint Lucia who has lost his/her livelihood, at least four to five persons
have also been excised from direct participation in the economic system. The WTO
has become synonymous with pain and suffering for farmers and other related
economic agents in countries like St. Lucia. In many instances, the
implementation of WTO obligations has created more hardship and poverty than
Accordingly, whilst economic and trade policy reform, in principle, hold much
promise for small developing countries, the international community must come to
grips with the fact that the “one size fits all” approach is inappropriate and
impractical. In this connection, a set of trading rules flexible enough to take
into account the concerns of small states must be enacted. The principle of
“special and differential treatment” must infuse all aspects of the new trade
rules which we are seeking to create.
There is much unfinished business ahead of us. It is our expectation that the
members of this august body will focus even more intently on the development of
appropriate strategies for their resolution. We are confident that under your
esteemed guidance and leadership the development agenda of this organization
will be advanced further.
For our part, Saint Lucia remains committed to the ideals of multilateralism and
reaffirms its view that this multilateral body, the United Nations, offers the
best opportunity for the achievement of peace, security and sustainable
development for all.
I thank you.