GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION HEARS 32 SPEAKERS AS REVIEW OF 1994 BARBADOS ACTION PROGRAMME CONTINUES
The security of small island developing States (SIDS) is increasingly threatened, the Minister of External Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, Ralph Maraj, told the twenty-second special session of The General Assembly this morning, as the Assembly continued its review of progress achieved in implementing the Programme of Action adopted at the Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island States, held in Barbados in 1994.
Their very democracies were under attack, Mr. Maraj added. Resources which should be allocated to health care, education, food and employment had to be diverted to fighting drug traffickers, money launderers and terrorists.
John Briceno, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, said that his country was committed to capacity-building, but — like all SIDS — it could not accomplish its objectives alone. The assistance of developed country partners was essential, and so the significant decline in official development assistance in recent years was of great concern. International cooperation was fundamental to reducing the vulnerability of small island States.
The Minister of State at the Department of Environment and Local Government of Ireland, Danny Wallace, said the word vulnerable often arose in discussions of small island States, but there was a worrying lack of precision as to what was meant by vulnerability. It would be useful to share information to generate agreement on vulnerability indices, and on the uses to which they could be put. Development cooperation with small, remote and vulnerable communities must not be put at risk because of a plethora of uncoordinated strategies and programmes.
Other speakers this morning stressed the achievements that had been made, particularly by small island States themselves, in the five years since the promulgation of the Barbados Programme of Action. However, they also emphasized the need for greater financial commitment by donor countries. Most of the 32 speakers endorsed the need to reaffirm the international commitment to principles and actions established in the Barbados Programme of Action and in Agenda 21, the
General Assembly Plenary – 1a – Press Release GA/9613 Twenty-second Special Session ENV/DEV/523 3rd Meeting (AM) 28 September 1999
action programme of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)(Rio de Janeiro, 1992)
Also speaking this morning were: the Deputy Prime Minister of Yemen; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, New Zealand, Haiti, Comoros, Pakistan, Bhutan, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Senegal, Portugal and Lesotho; the Government Spokeswoman for International Development of the United Kingdom; the Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs; the State Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Denmark; the United States Under- Secretary for Global Affairs; the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy; the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Vanuatu; and representatives of El Salvador, Venezuela, Sweden, Turkey, Fiji, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Costa Rica, South Africa and Morocco.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its discussions.
ssembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to continue its twenty-second special session to review implementation of the Programme of Action adopted at the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Barbados in 1994.
JOHN BRICENO, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize: The new world economic order ushered in at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was designed to increase the standard of living of all peoples. The Marakesh Declaration of 1994 recognized the need for provisions conferring differential and more favourable treatment of developing countries, including special attention to the particular situation of least-developed countries. While the challenges presented to us by mother nature are irreversible, we must continue to question and confront those detrimental situations created by some around us who measure success at the expense of the weaker.
The momentum fuelling globalization and trade liberalization has ignited a false sense of prosperity for some and is increasing the gap between developed and developing countries. We small island developing States (SIDS) must ensure that those institutions charged with regulating world trade secure opportunities for our growth and development, and that they be made to realize that continued sustainability of the greater developed world is tied to smaller developing nations.
Belize agrees that people are its most valuable resource, and for this reason has placed great priority on human development — decent housing, adequate health services, access to clean water, proper education and proper nutrition. We are also committed to capacity-building. But we cannot accomplish all our objectives alone. We need the assistance of our more developed partners. In this respect, we must express concern over the significant decline in official development assistance (ODA) in recent years and call on our developed partners who have not done so to honour their commitment to designate 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product towards development. The challenge is to reduce the vulnerability of small island States. To achieve this, international cooperation is fundamental. Most importantly we must renew our support for the Barbados Programme of Action.
DANNY WALLACE, Minister of State for the Environment of Ireland: Ireland is familiar with many of the questions that face small island States: How can small economies, far from major markets, deal with globalization? How does a small island State reconcile valuable tourism promotion with environmental protection? What are the best strategies for developing marine resources and protecting coastal regions?
The Barbados Programme of Action and preparations for this special session have identified the challenges and produced a strategy. What is needed now is specific concerted action and measurable results. Ireland is placing new emphasis on small island States, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, in our overall multilateral policies. Ireland hopes to work closely with multinational agencies in the integration of developing economies, especially least developed countries, into the global economy and the building of partnerships between small island States and the European Union.
The word vulnerable often arises in discussions of small island States, yet there is a worrying lack of precision as to what is meant by vulnerability. We must also clarify and define the relationship between development assistance and
vulnerability. Further analysis is necessary before indices and the uses to which they can be put can be agreed upon, but we believe it would be useful for all participants in this area, including United Nations bodies, the World Bank and the affected States to share information on the subject.
We must not undermine our development cooperation with small, remote and vulnerable communities through a plethora of uncoordinated strategies and programmes.