SENATOR THE HON. PETRUS COMPTON
MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND CIVIL AVIATION
OF SAINT LUCIA
TO THE HIGH-LEVEL PLENARY MEETING
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
SEPTEMBER 15, 2005
Co-Chairs of this Summit,
Five years ago the Heads of State and Government of our United Nations convened
in this very chamber to reaffirm their faith in this organisation and its
Charter as indispensable foundations of a more peaceful, prosperous and just
Concerned as they were about the de-humanizing conditions which constituted the
reality of over one billion of the world’s citizens, they resolved to create at
the national and global levels, an environment conducive to development and the
elimination of poverty. In support of this overall objective, they took great
care to identify a set of priority goals and targets, the Millennium Development
Goals, which they pledged to meet by the year 2015.
Five years ago we ushered in a new millennium and translated the optimism,
goodwill, and promise which it bore into a declaration of faith in this
organisation and in each other; ours was a statement of hope for the future of
So how have we fared since then, Co-Chairs? How much of the promise have we, and
in particular, the over one billion of the world’s dispossessed been able to
Much has happened since then however, to inflict the deepest wounds on our
psyche, to change the world, and to distract us from the task which we set
ourselves. From the deadly terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and others
since then, to the total devastation of Grenada by Hurricane Ivan, to the
terrible destruction and loss of life brought on by the Indian Ocean tsunami of
December 26, 2004, to the most recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in
the southern United States, countries large and small, weak and strong, have had
to address various and new kinds of vulnerability, so that valuable energy and
physical resources have had to be diverted away from activities geared toward
the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
This is not to deny that there has been progress in the achievement of some of
the Millennium Development Goals in some countries. Indeed there has been some
success, but too much is yet to be achieved. Saint Lucia remains concerned that
the development partnership to which developed and developing countries
committed themselves is far from being realized. We are heartened however by the
initiatives being spearheaded by the G8 in respect of Africa, and look forward
to an early translation of the commitments made by both the G8 and African
Governments, into tangible benefits for the long suffering people of that
Co-Chairs, five years ago at the Millennium Summit, Saint Lucia pointed to
certain concerns which were contributing to a growing despair and cynicism about
the future of Small Island Developing States, and the role of bodies like the
United Nations and the World Trade Organisation in the shaping of that future.
We say today with great sadness that the reasons for our concerns still persist.
We remain concerned that the global community of nations can at different times,
depending on the rubric under which it convenes, promote philosophies or actions
that are sharply contradictory.
We remain concerned that within this chamber, the nations of the world can
promote with so much enthusiasm, their determination to work toward achieving a
world free of hunger, poverty and disease, at the same time that the strong and
powerful are working steadfastly in other chambers which have the effect of
increasing the marginalisation, and destroying the limited opportunities for
survival, of the small, the disadvantaged, and the weak.
We remain concerned that even today, fellow member countries of our United
Nations find it necessary to engage in activities at the World Trade
Organisation that are designed to deny the very weakest among us the opportunity
for production and trade of our most important export commodities, undermining
all efforts at achievement of the very Millennium Development Goals which we
seek to promote.
Co-Chairs, in the face of such insensitivity, how can small and vulnerable
banana producing countries like Saint Lucia and Dominica, or small sugar
producing states like Saint Kitts and Nevis (which has been forced as of this
year to discontinue the production of sugar), be expected to hold faith,
confidence or hope in the declarations that are customarily issued at the end of
Our economies may be small and vulnerable, but our citizens are real people who
have the same aspirations as others everywhere, for prosperity, security and
peace. They too have a right to freedom from want, freedom from fear, and
freedom to live in dignity. These aspirations hold validity not only in this
chamber, but in every other, wherever our nations may gather.
Co-Chairs, Saint Lucia is concerned that the development promise of the Doha
round of multilateral trade negotiations is yet to be delivered. Time is running
out, and a concerted effort must be made to secure a speedy realisation of that
promise. Saint Lucia believes that overseas development assistance must continue
to play an important role in the development of our economies, and in this
regard we urge our developed country partners to deliver on their promise of
increased levels of such assistance that was made at the Monterrey Summit in
March 2002. We remain convinced however, that there is greater dignity in the
facilitation, promotion, and realisation of our capacity for trade. Our
insistence on the right to engage in cross-border trade on terms that are fair,
is but one manifestation of our commitment to take primary responsibility for
our own development.
Co-Chairs, we have it in our power to create a world free from hunger, poverty
and disease. We have it in our power to create a world where all its citizens
can live in larger freedom. The technology and the material wealth exist to
allow us to do so today, more than at any other time in the history of mankind.
But be assured Co-chairs that the hungry, the poor, the sick, the wretched
billions of this earth are not comforted by our declarations and resolutions.
The truth is, Co-Chairs, we do not need new declarations. What we really need is
the political will to do what we have already resolved to do, and more! Let us
rise to the real challenge and mobilise that will. This is the task before us.
Co-Chairs, I thank you.