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Address at the Official Launching of the (UNDP) Human Development Report 2000 - June 29, 2000

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At the NIS Building, Waterfront, Castries

June 29, 2000



The Government of Saint Lucia is honoured and pleased to host the official launching of the Human Development Report 2000 on behalf of the Eastern Caribbean States, today, while the global launch of the Report also takes place in Paris, France.

The United Nations Development Programme has every year since 1990, commissioned the Human Development Report by an independent team of experts, to explore and document major issues of global concern. The Human Development Report 2000 has as its central theme, "Human Development and Human Rights", and demands the eradication of poverty not just as a development goal, but as a challenge for human rights. Human rights and human development each, and together, seek to secure the freedom, well-being and dignity of people everywhere, through freedom from:



fear; and

injustice and violations of the rule of law; and

freedom to develop and realise one’s potential;

freedom of thought and speech;

freedom to participate in decision making and to form associations; and

freedom for decent work, without exploitation.

The Report conceptualizes development as a comprehensive process directed towards the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clearly underlines the fact that human rights are not a reward of development, but, rather, that they are critical to achieving development. It reiterates that people can genuinely take advantage of economic freedoms only with political freedom.

Since the early 1990s, human rights have played a prominent role in international development cooperation. United Nations (UN) global conferences from Rio in 1992 to Rome in 1996, have emphasized the crucial links between the three key UN Charter goals of peace, development and human rights. The UN global conferences have re-affirmed that development is an inalienable human right and an integral part of fundamental human freedoms.


The Report looks beyond the traditional economic indicator of per capita income as a measure of human progress by incorporating such factors as average life expectancy and literacy. As a result, several composite indices have been developed to measure different aspects of human development. For example, the Human Development Index (HDI) measures the average achievements of a country in the three basic dimensions of human development - a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. These are captured by the variables: life expectancy at birth, educational attainment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. The Gender Development Index (GDI) measures the level of inequality in achievements between men and women, while the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) measures gender inequality in access to key economic and political opportunities. Human poverty is captured in the composite Human Poverty Index (HPI) which measures deprivations in human development. While the Human Development Index (HDI) measures overall achievements, the Human Poverty Index reflects the distribution of progress. These indices provide summary information pertaining to human development in a country and endeavor to rank the level and scale of human development globally. Such information and statistics `1are powerful tools for creating a culture of accountability and for realising human rights.

The Report and its significance to Saint Lucia

I believe that the Report exposes the contradiction that confronts our development efforts at this time; namely how to convince the donor community that although we have made and are continuing to make progress as reflected in our GDP per capita, such categorisation should not adversely impact our efforts to obtain support on concessionary terms. Composite indicators which take cognizance of other socio-economic factors, better capture the realities faced by small developing nations like ourselves.

The Human Development Report 2000 ranks Saint Lucia 88th out of 174 nations, based on an HDI value of .728. This score places Saint Lucia in the category of medium human development nations. Several countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region rank higher than Saint Lucia, on the basis of their HDI values. Barbados, ranked 30th, and the Bahamas, ranked 33rd, fall in the high human development category. All other Caribbean territories, with the exception of Haiti, are assigned medium human development status in the Human Development Report 2000.

Analysis of the indices and indicators in the Human Development Report has the potential to realize countless benefits in the arena of human rights and human development in any nation. The many indicators in the Report provide valuable information on a nation's shortcomings in specific areas. The Human Development Index allows comparison of the rankings of countries. More critically, the HDI has the appeal of a device that can objectively assess progress as well as stimulate initiatives that ultimately realise social and economic progress. The HDI value for a country may clearly indicate the goals that must be set and achieved if that country is to improve its HDI ranking. The challenge therefore, for every country, is to develop and implement relevant and meaningful development policies and programmes that improve human development while providing rights and freedoms to its citizens.

The HDI rankings of all Caribbean nations have remained constant for the past three years. The HDI, because of the indicators used in its development, does not necessarily reflect the short-term impact of policies. Consequently, other indicators have been developed to capture the short-term impacts of policies and to reflect the priorities and principles of human rights and freedoms. These indicators:

· reveal who are the most deprived and how their lives are affected by policies;

· reflect disparities between groups; and

· respond to implementation of policy measures.

Such indicators aid in assessing government performance over the short term, and measure the success of policies and programmes implemented by a government in achieving a particular goal.

We recognise that, for Saint Lucia, there is limited data available to facilitate the development of many of these indicators. For example, we currently have no data available for the Gender Development Index and there is limited information for the Gender Empowerment Measure as well as for the Human Poverty Index. There is no data available for several key economic and social indicators and limited data for others. The report recommends the strengthening of data collection and reporting at a national and international level. One of the immediate concerns of this government, is to ensure that data vital to the compilation of the various indices and indicators are collected and submitted in a timely manner. The OECS in collaboration with UNDP, is currently embarking on the implementation of a social development indicators programme that will address many of our data deficiencies and enhance our investment policy decisions.


This report suggests that Saint Lucia faces many challenges if it is to improve its ranking. Indeed, there may be lessons to be learnt from our neighbor Barbados, currently ranked 30th. We are confident that an increase in our HDI score, indicative of an improvement in human development, human rights and freedom of all Saint Lucians will be realized, as we strive to attain a higher standard of living for all citizens of this nation, through the implementation of policies that improve economic and social conditions. It is the responsibility and duty of any government to use the available indicators outlined in this report, to guide the development of appropriate programmes and policies, and to assess the success of the policies and programmes implemented.


The Report for 2000 calls for the eradication of poverty globally. Many of you will be aware that poverty reduction has been central to this Government's development agenda. Our approach has included assistance from CDB under the Basic Needs Trust Fund Programme where inter alia 28 water development projects and 15 road rehabilitation projects have so far been completed. We have also promoted rural development programmes such as the Saint Lucia Rural Enterprise Project, the Rural Economic Diversification Incentive Project and the Small Enterprise Development Unit which all seek to offer alternative sources of employment through the provision of technical assistance and micro-finance.

However, ladies and gentlemen, the most significant initiative which has been embarked upon in recent times, was the establishment of the Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF) in 1998 with the assistance of the World Bank and the European Union. The primary objective of the Poverty Reduction Fund remains to improve access of the poor in relatively disadvantaged communities to basic social infrastructure and services through the financing of small scale projects, identified and implemented with a high level of community participation. The Fund has focused primarily on developing an efficient and effective operational structure, which facilitates sub-project implementation through direct and continuous participation of the targeted communities.

Through the Poverty Reduction Fund, the government will develop a holistic approach to poverty reduction with strong emphasis on community empowerment, to enable communities to build the capacity to design, implement and sustain their own development programmes.

We must recognise the contribution of UNDP in implementing a pilot poverty eradication project in Baron's Drive. This project, perhaps more than any other, promoted the participation of the community in all facets of the development process. Although this process was interrupted by the passage of Hurricane Lennie, it continues to serve as a model for poverty alleviation initiatives in small communities. We anticipate that, with the continued support of UNDP, work with the residents of the Baron's Drive community will complement other ongoing initiatives.

Three complementary interventions recently undertaken by this government to reduce poverty and improve human development are:

· the construction of human development centers to provide skills training in art, craft and technical and vocational areas, thereby enhancing human capacity;

· the establishment of the James Belgrave Fund to provide financing for micro-enterprise in depressed communities; and

· the establishment of a National Skills Development Centre to provide skills assessment, career counseling, and job search and placement services.

In the government’s quest to reduce poverty, in the medium to long term, the focus will be three fold:

· First, to assess the impact of past and current initiatives on poverty, to provide the basis for the formulation of a comprehensive Poverty Eradication plan;

· Second, to consolidate the operation and implementation of initiatives such as the Poverty Reduction Fund and the National Skills Development Center; and

· Third, to address the specific concerns of vulnerable groups through the implementation of the Social Recovery Programme with assistance from the European Union.


The Human Development Report highlights the reality that in developing countries such as Saint Lucia, a lack of access to health services and safe water, and the level of malnutrition, all contribute to the levels of poverty. In this regard, the government is committed to improving primary, secondary and tertiary health services and ensuring that the best health care is available to all Saint Lucians. In keeping with the recommendations of the Health Sector Reform Proposals, government aims to decentralise services, strengthen health institutions, build capacity building in the health sector, formulate national policies and programmes targeting vulnerable groups as well as undertake further review of issues relating to health care financing, management and legislation. Additionally, the government has plans to construct an ultra modern new hospital with assistance from the European Union.


Ladies and Gentlemen, the education of a nation is one of the best ways to alleviate poverty and to improve the standard of living in a country. The Education Development Plan has recently been formulated with the overall objective of improving the competitiveness of our human resource in the global environment. The government, cognizant of the role of education in economic and social development, has identified a number of priority measures aimed at expanding learning opportunities through the upgrading of school facilities, increasing access to higher levels of education, providing teacher training, and building institutional capacity. The scope of these interventions will span the six principal tiers of the local educational system. Many of these issues were addressed with the implementation of the Basic Education Reform Project, funded by the World Bank from 1995. The government is committed to continuing to devote substantial resources to education, in the areas of technical and vocational education and information technology, while improving the current adult education programme. Government is convinced that education of the nation is the key to enhancing people’s capabilities and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.


The improvement of Saint Lucia’s HDI ranking, however, which uses per capita income as one of its indicators, is not only dependent on improvement of the social fabric of our society. The economic environment needs to facilitate access to many rights; a sufficiency of economic resources is necessary to meet a host of development needs. A growing economy is thus important for human rights, and this is particularly so in poor countries. Such economic growth must be pro-poor, pro-rights, and sustainable. Economic growth therefore needs to be accompanied by policy reforms that will channel funds into poverty eradication and human development, and into building institutions, shaping norms, and reforming laws to promote human rights. All strata of the society must benefit from economic growth if it is to have a significant impact on the overall welfare of the population. In this regard, ensuring the equitable distribution of income and wealth is an immediate goal of this government.

One of the challenges facing Saint Lucia is to maintain a stable economy, while modernizing and diversifying the economy in the context of the dynamic and unpredictable banana and tourism sectors, and enhancing the growth of the economy.

Another challenge facing Saint Lucia is that of reducing unemployment. An average growth rate of 3 percent annually, while reasonable, is insufficient to reduce poverty and unemployment substantially, over an extended period. What is required is consistent growth at approximately twice that rate if we are to reduce unemployment rates to below double digits. Notwithstanding the decline in unemployment in recent times, the rate is still unacceptably high. To further reduce unemployment, government must persist in its application of a mix of policies to stimulate demand for labour. These include further efforts to stimulate investment in tourism, introduction of new areas of economic activity, diversification of opportunities in agriculture, creation and expansion of opportunities for self-employment and strengthening the capabilities to train and retrain our work force. These objectives will require a broad based economic and social strategy that is underpinned by private sector led growth, the continued pursuit of sound macroeconomic and trade policies, enhanced efficiency in resource mobilization, and a public sector investment programme that is focused and of appropriate size and composition.

Empowerment of all Citizens

Arguably, one of the greatest challenges facing Saint Lucia as indicated in the theme of this year’s Human Development Report, is the transition, as a people, from dependence on the external environment and central government to reliance on self as the ultimate architect of one’s development and destiny. The problem remains most acute for those groups in society that have traditionally been marginalised and disadvantaged. The solution lies not only in efforts to create the enabling environment as we attempt to do currently, for instance through local government reform, but more significantly, in inculcating a new mindset for civil society at large.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I turn finally to the global environment and global justice. As the report recognises, global integration is shrinking time and space, and eroding national borders. As privatisation proceeds, private corporations have more and more impact on economic opportunities. The autonomy of the state declines as new global rules in all areas from human rights to environment and trade, bind national policies, and as new global actors wield ever greater influence. However, little in the current global order binds states and global actors to promote human rights globally. Many developing countries are being marginalised from the expanding opportunities of globalisation. We are painfully aware here in Saint Lucia, that small countries generally participate little in global economic rule making. The report expresses the view, with which we strongly concur, that just as nations require an inclusive democracy to guarantee respect for human rights, so the system of global governance needs to be transparent and fair, giving voice to small poor countries, releasing them from their marginalisation from the benefits of the global economy and technology. The report cites five priority areas for international action in this regard. These are:

Strengthening a rights based approach in development cooperation, without conditionality;

Mobilising the support of international corporations for human rights;

Strengthening regional approaches. These initiatives have the potential for sharing experience, political commitment and financial support;

Embarking on new efforts for peacemaking, peace building and peace keeping; and

Strengthening the international human rights machinery.

The OECS and CARICOM must, as regional groupings, continue to lobby the global actors and take the necessary internal measures to ensure that these five priority areas are accorded the appropriate attention of the international community.


Ladies and Gentlemen, the 21st century growing global interdependence signals a new era. In developing states like Saint Lucia, the challenge involves improving the standard of living of the nation, thereby improving the HDI value. Individuals, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), corporations, policy makers, and multilateral organizations all have a role in transferring the potential of global resources and the promise of technology, know how and networking into social arrangements that truly promote fundamental freedoms everywhere, rather than simply pay lip service to them. Many countries – poor and rich - are already demonstrating a new dynamism, and taking initiatives for human rights and human development.

Developing nations like Saint Lucia must not only take cognizance of the link between Human Rights and Human Development but they must more rigorously focus on sustainable human development. Human Rights and sustainable human development are inextricably linked, complementary and multidimensional. The UN working Group on the Right to Development (in October 1995), stated that the right to development is:

Multidimensional, integrated, dynamic and progressive. Its realization involves the full observance of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. It further embraces the different concepts of development of all sectors, namely sustainable development, human development and the concepts of indivisibility, interdependence and universality of all human rights. Realization of the right to development is the responsibility of all in development, within the international community, within states at both the national and international levels and within the agencies of the United Nations.

Sustainable human development seeks to expand choices for all people – women, men and children, and current and future generations, while protecting the natural systems on which life depends.

Sustainable human development focuses on the elimination of poverty, promotion of human rights and providing equitable opportunities for all through good governance, which will promote the realization of all economic, social, civil and political rights. The promotion of human development, human rights and an improved standard of living of citizens in all countries of the world including small developing states like Saint Lucia is of particular relevance in the context of globalization. The developed nations must play a critical role in helping developing nations achieve these objectives and improve their ranking in future Human Development Reports.

In closing, I congratulate the UNDP on the publication of the Human Development Report 2000. The report is intended primarily to promote practical action that puts a human rights based approach to human development squarely on the global agenda. It achieves this principal objective admirably.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you.


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