Summit Meeting of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

Johannesburg, 1 September 2002

Statement by

Anwarul K. Chowdhury, United Nations Under-Secretary-General
and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries,
Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

            At the outset I wish to convey your Excellency and all the distinguished participants of the Summit of the Alliance of Small Island States the warm greetings of  the Secretary-General of the United Nations. On my own behalf, let me also extend my best wishes for the success of this important meeting. 

            The United Nations has long recognized the developmental challenges of small island developing States, arising from their small size, remoteness and isolation from the mainstream of the world economy and international trading system, vulnerability to natural disasters, fragile ecosystems, vulnerability to exogenous economic and financial shocks, and limited or lack of natural resources and fresh water. 

The adoption of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States in 1994 was a turning point in recognizing the special needs of these countries at the global level and in galvanizing international support for their sustainable development. The Barbados Programme of Action provides the United Nations system organizations with a clear mandate to assist the small island developing States within their respective areas of competence and comparative advantage, be it in the area of international trade, environment, technology, research and advocacy. Then, the twenty-second special session of the General Assembly, held in 1999, undertook a comprehensive assessment and appraisal of the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and called for concerted efforts to support its implementation. The importance of the Special session is that it identified priority areas of action, namely, climate change and sea level rise, natural disaster, fresh water resources, coastal and marine resources, energy and tourism. The lack of adequate resources was identified as one of the major constraints to the full implementation of the Programme of Action. The annual review by the General Assembly of the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action served as an important mechanism for monitoring its implementation and the contributions made by the relevant stakeholders. 


Mr. Chairman,

The Secretary-General of the United Nations is fully aware of the magnitude of the problems faced by small island developing States and he is genuinely committed to further mobilization of the UN system-wide efforts aimed at mitigating consequences caused by the developmental and ecological vulnerabilities of the Small Island Developing States.  In his recent report to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General pointed out that because of their geographic location, economic situation and environmental problems, many small island developing States encounter special difficulties in coping with the effects of globalisation and trade liberalization. It is absolutely crucial to the success of the Barbados Programme of Action to be able to count on the contributions of all development partners and the UN system organizations and international financial and development institutions. It is necessary for the United Nations and the multilateral financial and development agencies to move with urgency to strengthen the sustainable development prospects of this group of countries and  to strengthen human and institutional capacity, appropriate technology transfer and support for their efforts to achieve diversification.

To effectively assist these countries in addressing their multifaceted problems of economic, social, environmental nature, the existing arrangements have to be improved with a view to establish efficient and highly visible monitoring and follow-up mechanism. Alliance of Small Island States consistently emphasized this need at the General Assembly.  In this context, upon the recommendation of the Secretary-General, the General Assembly established the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), whose main responsibility is to coordinate, advocate, report and mobilize international support measures and resources in favour of the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS at the global level. By appointing me as the High Representative last March, the Secretary-General has entrusted me with the challenging responsibility to carry out the above tasks. One of the key mandates of my Office is to provide support to the coordinated follow-up of the implementation of the Programme of Action. My Office has already emerged as a strong advocate for the issues related to the small island developing States, as mandated by the General Assembly. I have already designated the focal point for this purpose in the OHRLLS. During the welcome luncheon on the occasion of my appointment as the High Representative, hosted by Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni Slade of Samoa in his capacity as Chairman of AOSIS in New York, I had very useful exchange of views on the activities of my Office.

Mr. Chairman,

Economic and social development and environmental protection are inextricably linked.  For development to be sustainable, communities must set priorities, as environmental protection must aim to serve people who are already at risk in real and practical ways, especially the poor and the most vulnerable. The international community must now turn seriously to live up to their commitments and to respond to the challenges faced by these countries.  In this context, needless to emphasize, the Ten-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action is highly important. The Barbados+10 should not merely take stock of, but must engage in its practical and progressive implementation. It is necessary to find a renewed vision for the future of the men and women in the small island States. Mr. Chairman, please rest assured that my Office will work tirelessly to ensure success of this process in close cooperation with the Department of Social and Economic Affairs, UNCTAD and other relevant UN system organizations and other relevant stakeholders. 

             In addition, it is necessary for the small island developing States themselves to work more concertedly, especially in the areas of capacity-building and the strengthening of their institutions in the long term. I believe, today’s meeting will serve as a powerful impetus to this end.   In this connection, I would particularly welcome the communiqué issued at the Thirty-Third Pacific Island Forum held in Suva earlier this month.

Mr. Chairman,

            In conclusion, I wish to emphasize that the attainment of sustainable development for small island developing States requires the full commitment of the international community to effect special measures to assist them to address the challenges of globalisation, trade liberalization and economic and environmental vulnerabilities.  My Office is determined to spare no efforts to forge the global partnership and commitments to a resurgence of political will matched by adequate technical and financial resources for the full and effective implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action. Please be assured, Mr. Chairman, my Office is prepared to extend its services to the AOSIS in any way that is necessary to support the Alliance in its efforts to make the attainment of the above goals closer.


I thank you very much.