MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS MAKES STATEMENT TO UN HIGH-LEVEL THEMATIC DEBATE ON BEHALF OF CARICOM
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New York City, USA
H. E. Mr. Museveni, President of Uganda,
Heads of Regional and Sub-regional Organizations,
The Bahamas, in its capacity as current Chair of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and on behalf of the Community’s 14 Member States, thank you, Mr. President, for the invitation to participate in this high-level thematic debate. Ours is a Community that hold the United Nations system in high esteem, and value our mutually beneficial cooperative relationship. The Prime Minister of The Bahamas regrets that he is unable to be here with you this morning.
Our formal engagement with the United Nations commenced with the signing of an Agreement in 1997. The Agreement is grounded in the Charter’s provision concerning regional action and other activities appropriate to regional organizations, and consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN. The Agreement also acknowledges that the “Caribbean Community deals at sub-regional level with activities which are consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”
For small States such as ours, the United Nations is an invaluable global forum, whose worth is immeasurable. We recognize its role in promoting human rights, peace and security, and development globally, including in our region. In these three pillars, we especially recognize the contribution that MINUSTAH has made in Haiti. On behalf of CARICOM, I express sincere appreciation for the invaluable support of the United Nations in Haiti, and the particular contribution of the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of MINUSTAH, Ms. Sandra Honoré.
CARICOM has taken decisive action to provide strategic focus for its ongoing partnership with this organization. In July 2014, our Leaders approved a Strategic Plan for the Community for the period 2015-2019. This Plan identifies priority areas to spur socio-economic growth and development, build capacity, counter regional challenges, and ensure robust regional and international collaboration, all in pursuit of the region’s sustainable development goals and objectives.
Adequate financing is critical to our region’s sustainable development. Hence, we look forward to the July 2015 third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa to deliver actionable commitments and a robust framework on development financing and means of implementation. While we are prepared to do our part, the United Nations system itself must lend its weight to securing reliable, accessible and adequate financing for development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as those of CARICOM.
New approaches are required for development financing. As it now stands, CARICOM States are particularly affected by graduation into Middle Income Status, primarily on the basis of GDP-per-capita. This designation denies access to grant and concessionary financing, at a time when the effects of global financial and economic crisis still resonates in the region, and members are strapped with particularly high debt burdens.
There is no doubt that GDP alone is an inadequate measure of development, particularly given our region’s vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, including sea level rise. We have said this repeatedly and cannot sufficiently underscore this fact. For CARICOM Member states, countering climate change and sea level rise is a matter of priority. It is critical to our survival. We look forward to a successful outcome to COP21 in Paris in December 2015 with the conclusion of a legally binding agreement which would lead to the stabilization of global average temperature to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Anything less will subject SIDS to irreparable loss and damage.
CARICOM recognizes and encourages the initiatives of the United Nations and others to take fully into account, and to give weight to the vulnerability of SIDS in determining grant and concessionary financing. The importance of this approach is evident in the statement of the President of the Caribbean Development Bank, which confirms that “seven Caribbean countries are among the top 10 countries, which, relative to their GDP, suffered the highest average economic losses from climate-related disasters during the period 1993-2012”.
In advancing our proposals in the negotiations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, CARICOM joins with SIDS in advocating that the agenda incorporates broader measures of progress to complement GDP as an indicator of development. We will continue to cooperate closely with the United Nations and its agencies in this, and other areas.
One such area is strengthening data collection and statistical analysis in CARICOM member states. The provision of technical cooperation and support to enhance capacity in this area, as well as in other regional priority areas identified in General Assembly resolution 69/265 entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community”, adopted on 16 January 2015, will be critical to our implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. We call for the organization’s continued support.
The global community is at a critical juncture, focussing as it is on a wide range of issues demanding new paradigms for addressing global priorities. Building and fostering effective partnerships is pivotal to the success of our strategies and priorities moving forward.
This partnership should mean a coordinated effort across all agencies in the UN and Hemispheric system so that each is accountable to the other, to avoid duplications of effort and resources and to ensure that efforts on all fronts are coordinated. We are particularly concerned about the work done for youth development, human resources generally but particularly in solving the problem of joblessness and a sense of despair amongst our young people.
CARICOM recognizes the strong partnership developed between the region and the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies, Funds and Programmes. On behalf of CARICOM, I express appreciation to the entire UN system for its collaboration and support, in areas including social and human development; gender equality; health; transnational organized crime; peace and security; climate change and disaster risk reduction; and food security.
This partnership offers great prospects going forward. CARICOM stands ready to continue to work with the United Nations, and in this regard, looks forward to the exchange of views with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the forthcoming CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in July 2015 in Barbados.