Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lauded the contribution of small States to global peace and development, and highlighted the unique challenges they face in the international system.
Addressing the meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of the Forum of Small States (FOSS), Mr. Ban stressed their position to serve as bridge-builders and mediators among countries, as well as their significant contributions on issues such as sustainable development and climate change.
“The premise for FOSS stems from the understanding that there are commonalities and perspectives shared by the world’s smaller nations, which make up more than half of the UN’s membership, and that there are benefits in working collectively at the United Nations,” he said.
The Forum of Small States was established in New York in 1992, and was set up as a platform to allow small States to discuss and foster common positions on issues of mutual concern to give them a larger voice at the UN.
In his remarks, Mr. Ban praised the work of the Forum in the lead-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June, and at the event itself. “I thank you for your perspectives and for contributing to a successful outcome. Your leadership will continue to be important as we prepare for the 2014 Third Conference on Small Island States.”
He looked forward to the Forum’s engagement in efforts to establish a set of sustainable development goals and outline a post-2015 development agenda.
The Secretary-General also recognized that small States face challenges that make them particularly vulnerable as is the case of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which are already experiencing the consequences of climate change and sea-level rise. At the same time, landlocked developing countries are struggling to benefit from external trade as they find themselves marginalized from global flows of knowledge, technology and capital.
“From telecommunications and electricity to education and health, many of the problems faced by the Small Island Developing States, located deep in the middle of oceans, are similar to the transportation challenges faced by the landlocked countries of the Himalayas.”
Mr. Ban reiterated his determination as well as that of UN agencies to help small States address their needs and help them achieve the set of anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before their 2015 deadline.
“The UN system is supporting small States in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by assisting them in coping with their vulnerabilities, strengthening capacity, building infrastructure, empowering human resources, and meeting the challenges and opportunities of globalization,” Mr. Ban said.