Apia, Samoa, 7 August 2004
Distinguished Heads of Government of the Pacific Forum
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Islands
As clearly underscored in the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, that I just presented on his behalf, the United Nations values the continuing partnership and collaboration with your organization.
At the outset, allow me to thank you for your gracious invitation to the United Nations to take part in this year's Pacific Islands Forum Summit in this charming nation of Samoa. We thank the government and people of this beautiful island nation for their warm reception and hospitality.
I would like to begin by paying high tribute to the laudable cooperation that has been established among the sixteen member states of the Pacific Islands Forum. The uniqueness of this collaboration is easily discernible. It has been enhancing cooperative development, thereby creating an atmosphere that is conducive to better understanding and fostering, as a result, peace and stability in the region. For small island developing states, regional cooperation becomes particularly meaningful because of development programming difficulties associated with their smallness and remoteness.
I do especially welcome the opportunity to speak to you regarding the upcoming United Nations International Meeting for the ten-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). I do this also in my capacity as the Secretary-General of the International Meeting to be held in Mauritius next January. I believe that all the members of the Forum are keenly interested in this major event for developing island nations.
As you would already be aware, following the postponement by the host government, the General Assembly has now approved the new dates of the International Meeting from 10 to 14 January 2005 in Mauritius. The last two days, that is, 13 and 14 January, will be the high level segment. Two days of informal consultations are also proposed on 8 and 9 January, in case the need arises. A civil society forum will be organized in Mauritius immediately prior to these dates. A good 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 outcome document are still going on in New York under the guidance of Ambassador Don MacKay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, who has been designated as the Facilitator. A third round of informal consultations will be held in New York on 7, 8 and 11 October 2004. It is our hope that the draft of the Strategy Paper will make significant headway prior to reaching Mauritius.
I have been urging member-states to conclude their negotiations on the outcome document for the Mauritius meeting during the upcoming round in October. At the same time, we need to be realistic enough to expect that a few issues could be carried over to Mauritius where a final political guidance from leaders would be necessary. Another outcome of the International Meeting in the shape of a Political Declaration will be initiated, according to general practice, by the host country during the conference.
With regard to the outcomes of the International Meeting, many SIDS have expressed that such outcomes be practical and respond to the real challenges to the sustainable development of the SIDS that seem to be growing each year. Nothing could be more desirable. The outcomes should be implementable, and for that we need to prioritize the concrete actions to be undertaken in the coming years in favor of the Small Island Developing States, and to set in place an effective implementation mechanism.
I firmly believe that the goodwill of the international community, which SIDS enjoy in general, should be duly manifested in the Mauritius outcome --- through the whole-hearted and enthusiastic support of all 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 issues covered, but if it does not have the full and real commitment of development partners --- when it comes to implementation, it may simply remain a consensus on paper.
As the experience of the last decade has shown us, since it is difficult to implement all the fourteen priorities outlined in Barbados at the same time, it is 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. Issues like HIV/AIDS, security concerns, communications, trade opportunities and market access, climate change and renewable energy should receive special attention.
Let me also emphasize that this approach will not compromise the priorities of the Barbados Programme of Action. It is but 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 of Barbados 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). As the Secretary-General of the International Meeting I have emphasized the need for member-states and the United Nations and other organizations, to be represented at the highest levels of government in Mauritius. Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan has also recently written to all Heads of State or Government requesting their participation at the highest level. We appreciate very much your decision last year in Auckland encouraging the Forum members to participate at "the highest level" in Mauritius. In view of the change of the dates of the Barbados + 10 meeting, a reiteration of that decision in Apia would ensure highest level participation.
I take this opportunity to inform you that we will be able to meet the objective of financing two delegates from each of the SIDS. In respect of your region, I appreciate the contributions made by Australia and New Zealand for this purpose.
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.
When it comes to monitoring, I have been advocating a more dynamic approach. This implies that monitoring goes beyond simple stocktaking and a cursory analysis of programme implementation at a particular point in time. Monitoring should lead to needed adjustments to the designated mechanism for follow up, addressing of resource requirements and new initiatives that would give a further impetus to implementation.
For a more dynamic, and if I may say, purposeful monitoring, it is my view that the intergovernmental regional organizations, like the Pacific Islands Forum, the Caribbean Community, and the Indian Ocean Commission should play a wider role in the implementation of Barbados and Mauritius. I feel that such regional organizations are also much better placed to initiate activities in the region. They definitely have a better knowledge of their regions, its resources and capacities, and the regional players involved. With the backing and support of the United Nations system, regional organizations like yours can play a greater role in both monitoring and implementation of the priorities articulated in Mauritius. My preliminary discussions with intergovernmental regional organizations have encouraged me to believe that they 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 kind invitation. It is indeed an honor for me to represent the United Nations Secretary-General. I wish you all the very best in your deliberations and look forward to your participation and leadership at the Mauritius International Meeting.
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