The World Bank, WashingtonD.C., 3 October 2004

Mr. Chairman,
His Excellency the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Honourable Denzil Douglas,
Distinguished participants,

Allow me to begin by expressing my heart-felt sympathies to the governments and peoples of the small island states in the Caribbean, for the horrendous havoc brought by the recent hurricanes. These deadly natural calamities are harsh reminders of the uncontrollable forces of nature, and of the environmental vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

In the Caribbean, United Nations agencies did move quickly and are carrying out a range of humanitarian work joining hands with other national, regional and international efforts of the post-hurricanes relief and reconstruction. The continued and enhanced support of the international community for these affected island nations to get back their normalcy is critical — and I continue to make urgent appeals to all those who are in a position to help to come forward with magnanimity.

Mr. Chairman, Now let me turn my attention to today’s Small States Forum of the World Bank. I would like to begin by thanking you and the World Bank for inviting me to take part in your meeting. As the United Nations High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and SmallIslandDevelopingStates, the deliberations at this Forum and the activities that result from your decisions are of great significance to my Office. When I addressed the Forum in 2002, I had welcomed and expressed appreciation for the special focus given to small states at this Forum following the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

In the course of its deliberations, this Forum has recognized that small states share very similar characteristics that pose challenges to their development. These challenges stem from economic and environmental vulnerabilities and natural disasters that plague many such states with little or no ability on their part to take adequate protective measures. This recognition, I believe, clearly highlights the need for the international community and the World Bank to continue to undertake, and add, to the special and differential measures to support the development efforts of small states. At the same time, the vital need to strengthen the capacities in small states to build resilience and to enable them to manage and benefit from globalization needs continued emphasis.

The discussions in the Forum today focused on economic growth and investment in small states. This issue has become a matter of crucial importance to the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the SmallIslandDevelopingStates, the three most vulnerable groups of countries served by my Office. The attainment of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals and the Brussels, Almaty and Barbados Programmes of Action are greatly dependent on a complex set of actions, most meaningful of which is the active support of the international community to these countries with special needs. It is in this context that I continue to urge the donor community to make all possible effort to fulfill the commitments of the Monterrey Consensus.

Mr. Chairman,

Now allow me, in my capacity as the Secretary-General of the upcoming International Meeting for the ten-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action, to thank you for also giving me this opportunity to brief the Forum on the preparations for that Meeting.

As you would be aware, the Government of Mauritius has graciously offered to host the conference, that is now scheduled for January, next year. The UN General Assembly approved the new dates of the International Meeting from 10 to 14 January 2005. The last two days, that is, 13 and 14 January, will be the high level segment during which a good number of Heads of State and Government are expected to participate. Two days of informal consultations are also proposed on 8 and 9 January. A Civil Society Forum will be organized in Mauritius immediately prior to these dates. A number of side events are also expected to mark the occasion.

A considerable amount of work has already gone into the preparations for the International Meeting — both organizational and substantive.

Negotiations on the Mauritius outcome document had been going on in New York with the third round of informal consultations coming up in a few days’ time – on 7, 8 and 11 October 2004.

While it would be most opportune if member states can reach agreement on the outcome document before they arrive in Mauritius, I believe we need to be realistic as well. A few issues would most likely have to be carried over to Mauritius where it may be necessary for leaders to give a final political guidance. Another accompanying outcome of the International Meeting would be a Political Declaration — an initial draft of which, according to practice, is provided by the host country. This initiative is being taken by Mauritius.

I am of the belief that the global goodwill that SIDS enjoy in general should find a manifestation in the Mauritius outcome — that is, through the whole-hearted and enthusiastic support of development partners. Let me reiterate the point that I have been emphasizing all along: An outcome document of any major conference may be comprehensive in terms of the issues covered, but if it does not have the real and committed support of development partners — when it comes to implementation, it may lack the necessary international support to move forward.

Mr. Chairman, as the experience of the last decade has shown us, it is difficult to implement all the fourteen priorities outlined in Barbados all at the same time. Then there are the additional new and emerging issues. It is, therefore, important to prioritize immediate and pressing issues and put them on top of the agenda for the next few years. To emphasize my point, I refer to this as prioritization of priorities. Bearing in mind the new realities, issues like HIV/AIDS, climate change and renewable energy, security concerns, information technology, trade opportunities and market access, should receive specific attention, and the international community should reach action-oriented decisions on them.

I will hasten and add that this approach will not compromise the fourteen priorities of the Barbados Programme of Action. My suggestion amounts to a strategy to achieve the maximum possible international support to undertake what is urgently needed to bring about an early positive impact in the lives of the people in the small islands. This seems to be a good way to also hasten the overall implementation process of Barbados after Mauritius.

Mr. Chairman, in view of its practical importance to the implementation process, the Mauritius outcome needs to include an effective workable monitoring and review process that was both proactive and dynamic. To explain my point, monitoring should not only be simply passive stocktaking of what is happening or not happening in implementing a Programme of Action. The process has to be able to continuously identify the problems of implementation and come up with suitable adjustments to rectify the situation.

At the same time, I also propose that intergovernmental regional organizations need to play a greater role in the post-Mauritius period. Why is this? As all of us know, such organizations like CARICOM, Pacific Islands Forum and the Indian Ocean Commission, best know their own regional capacities, organizations and personalities that can make a difference in implementing programmes and projects. They can better assess the international assistance and inputs that would be needed and how best to access them. Of course, it would be essential for the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods institutions to support them whole-heartedly.

Mr. Chairman, now I would like to briefly touch upon the issue of the level and extent of participation at the International Meeting. As the Secretary-General of the International Meeting and in keeping with the resolution of the General Assembly, I have been emphasizing the need for member-states to be represented at the highest levels of government in Mauritius. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also written to all Heads of State or Government requesting their participation at the highest level. I request those country delegations present here today to carry back a message requesting their governments to participate at the highest level in the Mauritius International Meeting.

When it comes to the World Bank, I would again urge its representation at a high level in Mauritius. The World Bank’s participation is very important as Small Island Developing States look to the Bank and other Bretton Woods institutions as major partners to help them move forward with the Barbados Programme of Action. I thank the World Bank for their supportive collaboration with SIDS and with the UN system as a whole.

In conclusion, let me congratulate you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your successful leadership at today’s Forum, and thank the World Bank for organizing it here in WashingtonD.C.


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