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Statement by Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury
United Nations Under-Secetary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries,
Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States
---
Secretary-General of the Mauritius International Meeting
 
at the
25th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of
Government of the Caribbean Community
(CARICOM)
 
St. George's, Grenada
5 July 2004

Distinguished Heads of Government,
Secretary-General Carrington,
Excellencies,

I thank you for your gracious invitation to take part at this 25th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Grenada in my capacity as the Secretary-General of the International Meeting convened by the United Nations to be held in Mauritius. I am honoured to respond to the request to brief you on the preparations for the International Meeting that would undertake the ten-year review of the Barbados Programme in favour of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

At the outset, allow me to pay tribute to the admirable cooperation that has evolved among the fifteen member states of CARICOM. That is most exemplary. Other regions and developing countries could surely pick up the positive and relevant aspects of this worthy manifestation of regional cooperation. Regional collaboration enhances cooperative development and, above all, creates an atmosphere that is conducive to better understanding among nations, fostering, as a result, peace and stability among them.

This important role of CARICOM finds expression in the cooperation agreement signed seven years ago between the United Nations and your organization. In fact, this agreement was formalized by the General Assembly of the United Nations with a view to enhancing the dialogue between the UN and CARICOM. Earlier this year in April, the Third General Meeting between our two organizations took place in New York in which I had the pleasure of participating. Secretary General Carrington must have briefed you on that meeting.

At this point in time, the present CARICOM Summit is of special interest to all of us and in particular to me in view of the explicit interest it had expressed in the preparations for the Mauritius International Meeting. Following the postponement by the host government, the General Assembly had approved the new dates of the Meeting from 10 to 14 January 2005. Last two days - 13 and 14 January - have been identified as the Summit segment. Two days of informal consultations are also envisaged on 8 and 9 January in case those are needed. A civil society forum is also planned in Mauritius immediately prior to these dates. A good number of side events are also being planned.

A considerable amount of work has already gone into the preparations for the International Meeting -- both organizational and substantive. The three regional preparatory meetings of the SIDS during the latter part of last year presented their respective inputs to the Inter-regional Meeting in Nassau last January. As you are aware, the outcomes of this inter-regional meeting were the Nassau Declaration and the AOSIS Strategy Paper. After the Group of 77 and China endorsed the Paper in March, it was presented on behalf the Group to the open-ended intergovernmental preparatory committee meeting held during the 12th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development from 14 to 16 April this year in New York. The prepcom that worked under the guidance of Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand as the Facilitator decided to undertake negotiations with the Strategy Paper as the working document. The April negotiations were prolonged and much remained to be done to reach the final outcome. A second round of informal consultations was, therefore, convened by Ambassador MacKay in New York from 17 to 19 May. Progress at this round also fell far short of expectations, possibly influenced by the shifting of the Mauritius meeting dates. Hence, a third round of informal consultations is planned during September/October in New York.

I have been urging member-states to conclude their negotiations on the outcome document for the Mauritius meeting during the upcoming round. Of course, it is also realistic to expect that one or two issues could be carried over to Mauritius for a final political guidance from the leaders. Another outcome of the International Meeting in the shape of a Political Declaration will be guided, according to practice, by the initiative of the host country during the conference.

With regard to the outcomes of the International Meeting, you have expressed, as communicated by Secretary-General Carrington, that such outcomes "are practical and respond to the real challenges to the sustainable development of the SIDS which seem to be increasing each year." Nothing could be more desirable. The outcomes should also be implementable and for that we need to prioritize the concrete actions to be undertaken in the coming years in favour of the Small Island Developing States and to set in place an effective implementation mechanism.

I strongly believe that the goodwill of the international community, which these countries enjoy in general, should be duly reflected in the Mauritius outcome having the whole-hearted and enthusiastic support of all development partners. Let me reiterate the point that I have been emphasizing all along. Outcome document of any major conference may be comprehensive in terms of issues covered, but if it does not have the full and real commitment of the development partners --- when it comes to implementation, it may simply lie on shelves.

Since it is not possible to implement all fourteen priorities outlined in Barbados all at once, it is important to get to prioritize immediate and pressing issues on top of the agenda for the next few years. Issues like HIV/AIDS, as the UN Secretary-General identified in his message to you, security concerns, communications, trade opportunities and market access, climate change and renewable energy should receive special attention.
This approach in no way compromises the priorities of the Barbados Programme of Action. But it is a strategy to achieve the maximum possible international support to undertake what is urgently needed, on the basis of genuine international consensus. The slowness in the implementation process must be addressed at Mauritius.

With regard to the level and extent of participation at the International Meeting, let me say that the General Assembly has urged that representation be at the highest possible level (58/213). In my communication to member-states and UN and other organizations as the Secretary-General of the Meeting, I emphasized the need for such high-level representation in Mauritius. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will be writing to all heads of state or government requesting their participation. I understand that the host government is planning to send out similar letters.

I also launched a vigorous campaign for contributions to fund the participation of SIDS delegates to all different preparatory meetings, as well as to Mauritius. Contributions have been forthcoming, and I hope that by the time of the Meeting, we will be able to fully meet the objective of financing two delegates from each of the SIDS.

From the communication of Secretary General Carrington, I understand that the CARICOM Heads of Government are particularly keen on ensuring that "the United Nations is gearing itself to assist and facilitate the SIDS to implement the recommendations and mandates of the International Meeting." On behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, let me reiterate that the United Nations will continue to support the special needs SIDS in the further implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action in the best possible manner.

As far as my Office - the Office of the UN High Representative - is concerned, it will be closely engaged in advocacy and mobilization of international support for the implementation of the outcomes of Mauritius. It is obvious that these functions are intimately linked to monitoring and follow up of the recommendations of the International Meeting and would necessitate coordinated and integrated follow up by the UN system as a whole.

When it comes to monitoring, I have been advocating a more dynamic approach. This implies that monitoring goes beyond simple stock-taking and a cursory analysis of programme implementation at a particular point in time. Monitoring should also lead to needed adjustments to the designated mechanism for follow up, addressing of the resource requirements and new initiatives that would give a further fillip to implementation.

For a more dynamic and, if I may say, purposeful monitoring, it is my view that the intergovernmental regional organizations, like the CARICOM, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Indian Ocean Commission should play a wider role in the implementation of Barbados and Mauritius. Such regional organizations are also much better placed to initiate activities in the region. They have a better knowledge of their regions, its resources and capacities, and the regional players involved. With the full backing and support of the United Nations, regional organizations can play a greater role in both monitoring and the implementation of the prioritization articulated in Mauritius. My preliminary discussions in this regard have encouraged me to believe that the regional organizations would also welcome such a greater involvement of their organizations in the implementation process in the coming years.

Let me conclude by thanking you again for your invitation. It is indeed an honour. I wish you all success in your deliberation and I look forward to your participation and leadership at the Mauritius International Meeting.

*************


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