Address by Hon. Senator Julian R. Hunte, OBE to the 59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly New York, September 24, 2004
Home Up [ Address by Hon. Senator Julian R. Hunte, OBE to the 59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly  New York, September 24, 2004 ] Hon. Senator Julian R. Hunte, OBE On The Occasion Of The Awarding Of The Knight Of The Grand Cross Pian Order Remarks by the President of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Julian R. Hunte at the Opening of the General Debate - 23 September 2003 Remarks by Senator Julian Hunte at Opening of Workshop for Parliamentarians on the Multi-Lateral Trading System - August 5, 2003 STATEMENT AT 57th SESSION  OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY - SEPTEMBER 18th 2002 Statement By Honourable Julian R. Hunte, Visit to Martinique - August 13, 2002


Mr. President, St. Lucia supported your unanimous election as President of the Fifty-ninth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, as it shares the view of Member States that you will provide important leadership to this General Assembly. I extend sincere congratulations to you and to the Government and people of your country, Gabon, on behalf of the delegation of St Lucia, and on my own behalf, and pledge to work cooperatively with you in our common endeavour.

There is, Mr. President, a personal note to my pledge of support and cooperation. Just one year ago, this Assembly honoured my country and me by entrusting the leadership of the Fifty-eighth session of this august body to me.

I am fully aware, therefore, of the tremendous responsibility that falls to you as President, and the demands and pressures of leadership of this, the United Nations sole universal organ. In a relay of leadership that began some fifty-nine years ago, I have passed the baton to you, assured that this will be a productive and successful Fifty-ninth session.

Mr. Secretary-General, my year as President of the General Assembly has given me a keener appreciation of the myriad tasks you perform in the service of, and to inspire confidence in, the United Nations. The Government and people of St Lucia support you in your continuing contribution towards our efforts to address the critical issues facing our organization and our world.

Mr. President, the picture of our twenty-first century world is far different from that envisaged in the United Nations Charter. Instead of a world of peace, security and economic and social progress, in which human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law are fully respected, today our world is buffeted by poverty, hunger, the spread of endemic disease, including HIV/AIDS, conflicts, war, terrorism and other grave problems. This is so despite the combined effort of the United Nations system, and the enormous potential of the organization to live up to the ideals, principles and purposes of the Charter.

The United Nations is passing through a period of intense questioning and doubt as to its capacity and relevance. It is my government's view that many of these doubts and questions stem from the continuing challenge posed to the organization to transform the ideals of the Charter into action. These questions and doubts have been intensified by the concern that some of the organization's most influential and powerful member states might turn away from multilateralism the very foundation of the United Nations and follow the path of unilateral action.

We can, and we must, stop our unique and indispensable organization from being battered by the tides of these turbulent times. We must better enable it to address the myriad problems with which peoples and nations are grappling. And we must reaffirm its status as the world's foremost multilateral organization. But we can only do so through our full commitment and resolve to ensure that the organization and its member States live up to the ideals of the Charter.

We know that the Charter charges the United Nations to achieve the solution of economic problems cooperatively. This puts the organization on the front line of what, for many states, particularly those in the developing world, appears to be a very long road to sustainable development. Nowadays, it is a road constructed primarily around globalization and trade liberalization, which have mostly delivered on their promises of economic advancement to developed countries, but have yet to deliver on those promises to many others, mostly developing countries.

It cannot be disputed that current inconsistencies and inequities in the global trading system are widening the gap between rich and poor, haves and have-nots. It is not surprising, therefore, that developing countries, particularly in the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO), are asserting that globalization and trade liberalization should not undercut their sustainable development prospects, and that there ought to be a fair and equitable global trading system.

Agricultural subsidies, market access, non-tariff barriers to trade, low or falling commodity prices, and special and differential treatment - all these issues beg for constructive dialogue and decisive action, particularly in the interest of the developing world. Specific mandates for trade and development issues may reside in other organizations, including the WTO, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But the United Nations has a leading role to play in bringing coherence to debate and policy setting on these issues, in line with its Charter mandate. Its efforts in this area have the full support of my Government.

Mr. President, the spate of deadly hurricanes that continue to traverse the Caribbean region, have brought sharply into focus the issues on which Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including St Lucia, have urged this United Nations and the international community to act. We have reiterated, for example, that SIDS are vulnerable, and that special and differential treatment, fair prices for commodities and development financing are essential to their sustainable development.

In just a few short weeks, hurricanes have brought death and destruction throughout the Caribbean region, and, indeed, also to the Bahamas and the United States. There was tragic loss of life in our sister Caribbean countries and territories - 37 in Grenada, 20 in Jamaica; and even now, Haiti is still counting the cost in lives lost. Property and infrastructural damage was immense particularly in Grenada. Hurricane Ivan destroyed 90% of the country's physical infrastructure. I say to this august Assembly that when a Small Island Developing State loses ninety percent of its physical infrastructure in the space of a few hours, the challenge to that country is formidable.

For Grenada it is like starting over. Grenada must rebuild its infrastructure, economy, communications systems, hospitals and schools, everything from the ground up to restore the quality of life for its people. But how, and with what resources will it rebuild? The Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have made a commitment to Grenada, but can only assist to the extent that their means allow. Given their own resource constraints, how far can this assistance be expected to go? The Government and People of Grenada and of CARICOM are highly appreciative of the condolences expressed in this Hall, and for offers of assistance. But Grenada needs much more. The Government of St Lucia calls upon the international community to make a commitment, as a matter of urgency, to the reconstruction of Grenada. We urge the convening, at an early date, of an international donor conference for the purpose of mobilizing the resources required for the reconstruction effort.

In keeping with the international commitment to promote the sustainable development of SIDS, St Lucia calls upon the development partners and the international donor community to work together with SIDS to address their vulnerability and other critical issues frontally. The International Meeting to review the Barbados Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, to be convened in Mauritius in January 2005, gives all yet another opportunity to do so. St Lucia urges all states, developed and developing, and particularly partners and donors, to be represented at the International Meeting at the highest level In particular, we urge that commitments to provide resources for the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action, are kept.

Indeed, Mr. President, this Fifty-ninth session will be a pivotal one in respect of commitments made internationally, including those made in the critical area of HIV/AIDS. This session is also crucial to positioning us for the 2005 comprehensive review of commitments made in furthering the United Nations development agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Even as we prepare for the High-level Plenary that will examine our successes and failures in implementing the outcomes of more than a decade of United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields, the disjunction between what we have agreed and what we have done in the interest of the peoples of the world becomes self-evident.

We must ask ourselves, Mr. President, why it is that we continue to fail the poor, the hungry, the sick and the disenfranchised among us, despite the numerous specialized, high-level meetings we have convened to address their condition? And why is it that we appear incapable of meaningful action beyond the boundaries of these meetings? If we cannot bring relief to the vast numbers of marginalized and disadvantaged among us, if we cannot advance growth and development, particularly for developing countries, we can rest assured that we will lose, or continue to lose, the confidence of the people of the world. There is, therefore, one message we must take into the 2005 High-level event - agreement on outcomes is meaningless, if it is not followed by practical and effective implementation. We must act to implement, and we must act now.

Mr. President, it is asserted that peace and security is not possible without development, nor development without peace and security. St Lucia agrees with this point: both are central to the purposes and principles of the Charter. We must, however, remain vigilant, so that our development agenda is not eclipsed by a single-minded focus on conflict and war, which continue to cast a giant and deadly shadow over our world.

The function given to the United Nations and particularly to the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security is an exceptional one. How effectively the organization carries out this function is an important determinant of its standing in the eyes of the people who need it most, and of world public opinion. Therefore, we must be consistent in our global strategy for world peace and security. Importantly, this United Nations must not be seen as an organization so mesmerized by crises that it is slow to act decisively to address critical issues of life and death. The action we take, after all, should present our best hope for a more peaceful, more secure world.

Mr. President, we know that conflict and war have costs that are incalculable, particularly in human lives, and can have no happy ending. Today, Iraq remains an unsettled, fractured country. The United Nations has a responsibility to the people of Iraq to work with them to restore peace, security and prosperity to their country. In this, the organization must ultimately take its lead from the people of Iraq it is only they who can devise uniquely Iraqi solutions to Iraqi problems and determine the kind of future to which they are committed. Regarding another crisis, my government is disappointed that the Road Map to Peace in the Middle East appears to have been put aside, and hopes that new initiatives will be undertaken urgently towards settling this long-standing situation which continues to cause so much grief.

Mr. President: every day news stories and commentaries in the media remind us of the level of violence and perils in our world. The complex and uncertain threat of terrorists and terrorism constitutes a critical factor contributing to the rising tide of violence, death and destruction. Recently, terrorism became a reality for hundreds of victims in the Russian Republic. My Government extends its sympathy to the Government of Russia and to all victims of terrorism and their families worldwide. Even with our best efforts, it is not always possible to know where or when terrorists will strike again. Neither can we say with any certainty that current efforts against terrorism have made the world a less dangerous place. We can say, however, that the root causes of terrorism are symptomatic of problems, some seemingly intractable, around the globe; that it is global in its impact; and that its solution must be global. In addressing the problem of terrorism, we must also look to dealing with the hunger, poverty and inequities spoken of by President Lula da Silva of Brazil and many other concerned leaders, which are giving rise to the hopelessness and despair being experienced by millions and millions of people allover the world. Greater efforts must be made to resolve these critical problems.

Mr. President, as we survey the enormity of the challenges the United Nations and the global community face today, we must ask ourselves: Is our fifty-nine year old organization equipped to confront these challenges? There is a current of reform within the organization. A series of progressive steps have been taken during the Fifty-eighth session in particular, to advance revitalization of this Assembly. However, the Assembly still has to demonstrate its ability to reconcile the interests of its Member States, and to take action to implement the hard choices revitalization of this important universal forum requires. We must ensure that the gains made are not reversed.

During the Fifty-eighth session, the debate was also opened on Security Council reform, and some progress has been made to lift this matter out of its moribund state. The Security Council must, indeed, be reformed, so that its actions can carry more weight and acceptance internationally. The Council must be expanded to make it more representative of the generality of the membership, and a way must be found to address the serious concerns surrounding the veto privilege. Recent reform initiatives should impact processes underway and practical recommendations aimed at ensuring that the Security Council is adequate to its mandates, including those that might be taken up at the 2005 High-level Plenary.
Mr. President, since the establishment of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society have worked constructively with this organization to address pressing global problems. We now have a report on how the relationship might be made more beneficial. It is our hope that the Assembly will carefully consider this matter, as the support of NGOs and civil society is too important to be taken for granted.

Mr. President, the Government and People of St Lucia believe that confidence is being restored in the United Nations. We believe that the world's people expect the organization to take a leading role in resolving their most pressing problems. We believe that the United Nations can be many things to many people. The organization has been sorely challenged in recent years, but has shown resolve in rising to the challenge. With an abundance of political will, the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter can triumph. The Government and people of St Lucia are inspired by this prospect.

I thank you, Mr. President.


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