Washington, D.C. 30 September 2002


Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset I wish to congratulate all those involved on your successful organization of this important Forum. I also wish to commend the World Bank for the excellent work to provide substantive preparations for today's deliberations. I found the report prepared by the Commonwealth Secretariat/World Bank joint task force on small States as well as other background documents related to investment, special and differential arrangements and the international trade as useful materials with many thought provoking ideas. Since these documents already provide a comprehensive review of special problems related to small States and progress made to address them,
I do not want to go into details in terms of the substantive aspects of issues related to small States.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister for your opening remarks which outlined the key issues before this Forum.

The international community attaches greater attention to specific problems faced by small States with vulnerable and small economies. The Millennium Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations recognized specific problems related to least developed, landlocked and small island developing States. Addressing specific problems faced these three vulnerable groups of countries is recognized as one of the key targets for achieving Millennium Development Goals.

The United Nations has been undertaking specific actions to address the developmental challenges faced by the least developed, landlocked and small island developing countries, most of which fall into the list of small States attending today's Forum.

Since most of the small States are small island developing countries, let me say a few words on the small island developing States. The United Nations has recognized the special needs 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. 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 Barbados Programme of Action.

In his recent report to the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Kofi Annan 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 with their multifaceted problems of economic, social and environmental nature, the existing arrangements have to be improved with a view to establishing an efficient and highly visible monitoring and follow-up mechanism. 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.

The international community must now turn seriously to live up to its commitments and to respond to the challenges faced by these vulnerable countries. It is necessary to find a renewed vision for the future of the men and women in the small island States.

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. In this context, I wish to thank the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa for his country's effective leadership of AOSIS. I was honoured to represent the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the Fourth Summit of the AOSIS held during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg on
1 September, which played a crucial role in mobilizing the attention of the international community to the cause of small island developing States.

I believe, today's Forum will also serve as an important step to place the cause of small States, especially those who are least developed, landlocked and small islands at the forefront of the international agenda.

I thank you very much. I wish every success to your deliberations.