CMC – St. Lucia says it and other small states are being “literally terrorized” by constant attacks of rich and powerful countries against any economic advance.
As a result, Foreign Affairs Minister Alva Baptiste told the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Debate on Friday that the future of poor and powerless countries, like St. Lucia, is in “persistent peril.
“How can we be expected to be stable and secure if our vulnerabilities as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are constantly ignored and overlooked?” he asked.
“How is our war on poverty supposed to succeed and be sustained, if at every turn it is systematically undermined by regressive impositions of policies by the international community – whether in the form of illogical economic graduation, insensitive erosion of trade preferences, and inexplicable black listing of our financial jurisdictions?” he added.
Baptiste said this “geographic and economic insecurity” has become the central source of domestic instability.
He said to increase the specific gravity of economic problems, from an environmental standpoint, small states like St. Lucia face growing insecurity “as climate change unleashes increasingly deadly and destructive disasters upon us”.
Baptiste said the recent devastation of Dominica by Tropical Storm Erika that caused damage amounting to almost 100 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) and Hurricane Joaquin’s decimating march across the economic and environmental fabric of the Bahamas” are “vivid testimony to the ferocity of the threats that confront us”.
Additionally, Baptiste said small island states, like his, find themselves trapped where the erosion of trade preferences, decline in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Assistance (FDA) “have caused us to engage in increased borrowing to meet our current social and economic obligations, resulting in high debt to GDP ratios.
“This has narrowed the room for fiscal policy flexibility and fiscal maneuvering,” he said, adding that the situation is further compounded by the increased security costs of responding to the negative impacts of the illicit trade in small arms and illegal narcotics, as well as reconstruction costs following natural disasters.
Baptiste, however, said the new Global Partnership for sustainable economic and social development provides a platform from which to tack le human security in all its facets.
In that vein, he said 2015 provides a “once in a generation opportunity to set a transformational global agenda for sustainable development.”
He said the quartet of global agreements forged toward that end, on disaster risk reduction, financing for development, the post 2015 development agenda and the new climate change agreement yet to be finalized, are “intended to usher in a new era of sustainable development for all.”
Baptiste said the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals suggests that “we have progressed our understanding of the profound challenges that face developing countries,” like St. Lucia.
But he said the economic, social and environmental security of SIDS “rests in the effective implementation of these agreements.
“Small countries like St. Lucia can hardly withstand externally induced insecurity. We require for our development a context of regional and international harmony, which is dependent on linkages far from our immediate environments.”
He, therefore, said there is a “substantial concern” that small states, with limited material or diplomatic outreach, do not have access to arrangements that allow them to speedily draw support from outside, to inhibit or minimize environmental insecurity.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership of the UN Security Council is “imperative to better reflect the contemporary world realities, and achieve a more accountable, representative, transparent and more importantly a relevant, Security Council.”
He said St. Lucia applauds achievements made in the past year by moving the process now to text-based negotiations, and looks forward to the realization of this process.
Baptiste said there is a general sense of relief and welcoming in St. Lucia and other members of the Western Hemisphere at the diplomatic reconciliation that has been taking place between the United States and Cuba.
He said the Kenny Anthony Administration believes that this initiative opens the way to a full-scale reconciliation of hemispheric relations, adding that it removes “unnecessary impediments to our efforts at regional and hemispheric cooperation”.