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Key role for NZ ahead of Small Isld. States summit

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

21 April 2004

Key role for NZ ahead of Small Island States summit

New Zealand is being asked to play a central role in the lead up to a major United Nations meeting later this year on the sustainable development of small island states, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

Mr Goff said Associate Foreign Minister Marian Hobbs would be among the inner circle of international leaders overseeing the meeting in Mauritius from August 30 to September 3. New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Don MacKay, had been asked to chair lead-up negotiations.

“The Mauritius meeting will give small island developing nations, including those in the Pacific, an opportunity to present their case to the international community, and to seek assistance to meet the key challenges they are facing in achieving sustainable development,” Mr Goff said.

“A similar process was held in Barbados 10 years ago, but many new challenges have emerged since then, and the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action has not always been adequate.

“Diseases like HIV/Aids are one new threat, as is the international security situation, which small islands have to respond to just like everyone else despite their limited capacity to do so.

“The reality is that small islands are especially vulnerable in the modern world, both to new threats and to those such as climate change that were identified in Barbados. Despite the commitments made 10 years ago, overall development assistance to small island states had actually declined.

“Action urgently needs to be taken to remedy this, and New Zealand’s own development assistance is very much focussed on the small islands in our region.

“As chair of the negotiations, New Zealand will be well placed to focus on ensuring practical outcomes that will help small island states in the years ahead.”

Mr Goff said that good work was already being done in the Pacific region, with the Auckland Leaders’ Declaration of April 6 providing a refreshed mandate and vision for the Pacific Islands Forum, as well as an improved capacity for the Forum to provide leadership on regional cooperation and integration.

ENDS

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