Some of the world's poorest nations called on the richest today to provide them with the keys to development through fairer trade at the afternoon session of the third day of the United Nations General Assembly's annual high-level debate.
President Alfred Moisiu of Albania said his country "believes in a still greater role of the United Nations for the strengthening of peace, security and the economic and social development across the world." He supported Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts to reform the institution "aimed at making of the United Nations an ever stronger organization capable of coping with the challenges of the present times, thus providing timely solutions to issues that are of concern to all of its members."
Turning to his own region, Mr. Moisiu noted recent progress in easing tensions in the conflict-torn Balkans. He credited the UN mission in Kosovo and Mr. Annan's former Special Representative there, Michael Steiner, for "the democratic and integrating developments" after the fighting there between Albanians and Serbs. He said that positive developments in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where Albanians and Macedonians had clashed, "also give hope for the achievement of a lasting stability." Video
President Bharrat Jagdeo
In his address, President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana stressed the economic problems of developing countries. "In the face of a persistent debt burden, drastically reduced development assistance and ever-present protectionist barriers and in the prevailing climate of international tension and uncertainty, many developing countries, Guyana included, are made more vulnerable and the prospect for growth severely impaired," he declared. He added that the collapse of recent world trade talks in Cancún, Mexico, over rich countries' subsidies for their agriculture "does not make us sanguine about the future."Calling for help for heavily indebted countries, Mr. Jagdeo said: "The success of international cooperation and indeed of the United Nations system will be determined by how well they respond to the interests and concerns not only of the powerful, but of the powerless - not only of the rich, but, most urgently, of the poor. If truth be told, their record thus far leaves much to be desired." He called for UN reform, including enlarging the Security Council so that the role of developing countries there is appropriately strengthened and said his country would support Brazil, India and an African country for permanent seats and a suitable number of non-permanent seats for other developing countries. Video
President Marc Ravalomanana
Speaking next, President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar said the economic and social state of the world was more than worrying. "The benefits of economic growth have passed our island by, just as they have bypassed other countries of Africa," he declared. Noting that over the past decade UN conferences had already identified what strategies to use, he added: "But the necessary resources remain to be mobilized in order put into action the declarations adopted together that aroused so much hope in the hearts of our peoples who are plunged into extreme poverty."Mr. Ravalomanana also referred to the Cancún trade talks. "Madagascar is opening up, and I dare hope that other countries will also follow suit," he said. "But the world is not opening up, as was shown in Cancún." Noting that Africa was "the forgotten continent," the victim of marginalization, he declared: "We need aid in capacity reinforcement to reach our objectives. We are ready to work resolutely, ready for change, ready for opening up. However, we want more support, more opening up and above all another spirit and a new vision for our continent in the concert of nations." Video
President Azali Assoumani
For his part, the President of Comoros, Azali Assoumani, said while the countries of the North ask questions about terrorism and proliferation, those of the South labour under enduring debt, civil war, poverty and endemic illness. It should be recognized that terrorism thrived in poverty as it sought to express itself through the weakest links of the global chain, he said, stressing that it is futile to talk of security in a world of poverty, peace without economic development or democracy while inequality leaves entire sectors of the world teetering on the brink of oblivion.It is therefore necessary, he continued, to restructure the UN so that it is able to rise to the challenges of the times. He called on Member States to assure the well being of its most vulnerable regions, such as the small island states. In addition, he stressed that only wide-ranging economic development and solidarity between rich and poor would result in lasting peace. In this context, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) should receive support, while debt should be recognized as a burden stifling the economies in development, he said. Mr. Assoumani also called on rich countries to stop subsidizing their agricultural sectors. Video
President Blaise Compaore
Recent events challenging the international community - including conflict, terrorism and poverty and unfair trade policies - must be confronted head on, Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore stated. He said political tension in his country and in the West African region as a whole remained a critical concern. While there had been some improvements, violations of human rights, recent flare-ups and deepening poverty among some of Burkina Faso's neighbours was troubling. Since all the countries of the region were so interdependent, Mr. Compaore expressed his hope that Côte d'Ivoire would, through the recent peace accord, finally find peace.Africa's soundness resided in sustainable development, he said. To that end, Burkina Faso believed that expanding job opportunities toward the eradication of poverty was essential, not just for Africa but for all humankind. Mr. Compaore hailed the rejection of unfair trade schemes by delegations attending last week's WTO round in Cancun. Such practices benefit farmers and large-scale manufacturers in the North but mean certain death for peasants in the South, he said. Video
Prime Minister Pierre Charles
The world has changed considerably, the Prime Minister of Dominica, Pierre Charles, said, noting that in contrast institutions for global governance - the UN, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) - continued to operate on outdated political and economic foundations. He said Dominica and its sister islands were adversely affected by the WTO banana regime, which would bring to an end preferences and quotas for bananas exported to the EU. The impending end of the banana quota at the end of 2005 had contributed to the economic crisis in many Caribbean countries, he added.In Dominica, the situation had necessitated implementation of an austerity programme in tandem with a stand-by agreement with the IMF, he continued. As Dominica struggled to eradicate the mono-crop nature of the economy - a remaining vestige of the colonial period - it urgently required a complement of new foreign direct investment, official development transfers (ODA), and technology transfer among other things. In addition, he said the outcome of the WTO meeting in Cancún had not been encouraging and in this connection, Dominica joined other developing nations in the call for a drastic reduction of agricultural subsidies in the developed countries. Video
Prime Minister Bernard Makusa
The Prime Minister of Rwanda, Bernard Makusa, noted the tenth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda was to be commemorated during the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly, and suggested that 7 April 2004 should be declared the day of commemoration. He said his country's experience could provide a hopeful example as this year Rwandans had gone to the polls in a pluralist Presidential election; the first time since independence in 1962. With the free and transparent elections, the country had turned its back on the genocide forever and its fundamental values now included unity, peace, justice, democracy and democracy, he added. Within the scope of the wider region, Mr. Makusa noted that the political and security situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa had tangibly improved over the past year. The moment has arrived to call upon the international community to accompany regional peace efforts with the convening of an international conference for peace, security and development, with the aim of producing a "Marshall Plan" for the region, he stated. With regards to revamping the UN, Mr. Makusa said we must ask and seek answers to why the Security Council had been unable to respond effectively to the genocide in Rwanda, as well as the recent crisis in Iraq. Video
The Vice-President of Sierra Leone, Solomon Berewa, also addressed the Assembly during its afternoon session, as did the Foreign Ministers of Mali, Lassana Traoré, Kazakhstan, Kassymzhomart Tokaev, Iran, Kamal Kharrazi and Armenia, Vartan Oskanian.