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UN2K: Bahamas Governor General Orville Turnquest

The Bahamas


ADDRESS BY

HIS EXCELLENCY SIR ORVILLE TURNQUEST9

GCMG,QC, JP, LL.B.,

GOVERNOR‑GENERAL

OF

THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS

AT

THE MILLENNIUM SUMMIT OF

THE UNITED NATIONS

AT

THE UNITED NATIONS

NEW YORK

FRIDAY, 8th SEPTEMBER, 2000

MR. PRESIDENT:

I AM DEEPLY HONOURED TO ADDRESS THIS AUGUST MILLENNIUM SUMMIT, THE ONLY ONE FOR A THOUSAND YEARS, AS WE THE HEADS OF STATE AND HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF OUR MEMBER NATIONS COME TOGETHER TO DISCUSS AND TO SHARE OUR VISION OF THE ROLEOF THE UNITED NATIONS IN THE 21'TCENTURY.

I WISH ON BEHALF OF THE DELEGATION FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS TO EXTEND WARM CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU AND YOUR CO‑PRESIDENT ON YOUR ELECTION. OVER THE PAST THREE DAYS YOU HAVE DISPLAYED GREAT ABILITY IN STEERING THESE IMPORTANT DELIBERATIONS WITH PRUDENCE ANDSENSITIVITY.

MR. PRESIDENT, MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY HAS PASSED SINCE THE UNITED NATIONS WAS ESTABLISHED FOLLOWING A DEVASTATING GLOBAL CONFLICT. IN THAT PERIOD OF 55 YEARS, WE HAVE SEEN THE UN CONFRONTED WITH MANY A REGIONAL WAR AND SKIRMISH, AND HAVING TO DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH SUCH SOCIAL CHALLENGES AS HEALTH, WELFARE, THE LAW, EDUCATION, LABOUR, AND PRACTICALLY EVERY OTHER HUMAN CONDITION AFFECTING THE WELFARE OF THE UN'S CONSTITUENT STATES AND TERRITORIES.

WITH EACH CHALLENGE, IT HAS BEEN IMPORTANT THAT FOR THE MOST PART THE UN'S PROPOSITIONS AND SOLUTIONS WERE RELEVANT TOTHE TIMES.

CURRENT TIMES AND CONDITIONS, MR. PRESIDENT, DEMAND THAT WE AT THIS MILLENNIUM SUMMIT ATTEMPT TO ANSWER THE BURNING QUESTION: "WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR THE UNITED NATIONS IN THE 21st CENTURY?"

BECAUSE THE WORLD HAS, PARTICULARLY IN THE FINAL QUARTER OF THE 20TH CENTURY, ADVANCED TREMENDOUSLY IN THE AREAS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, AND WE HAVE ALLOWED THE HUMAN SPIRIT FREEDOM TO FLOURISH, IT IS UNDENIABLE THAT THE PROSPECTS ARE GREATER TODAY TO BE BETTER EDUCATED, TO LIVE HEALTHIER AND LONGER LIVES, AND TO ACHIEVE A GREATER DEGREE OF ECONOMIC WELL-BEING.

THOSE ARE THE PROSPECTS, MR. PRESIDENT, BUT TO WHAT DEGREE HAS THE WORLD TRULY BEEN ABLE TO ACHIEVE IMPROVED STANDARDS OF LIVING? WE ARE STILL FOR THE MOST PART TRAPPED IN A PERNICIOUS SYNDROME OF THE HAVES VERSUS THE HAVE-NOTS, BECAUSE THOSE VERY FACTORS WHICH HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO IMPROVED STANDARDS FOR SOME HAVE LIKEWISE CONTRIBUTED TO THE EXTREME IMPOVERISHMENT AND DISPOSSESSION AND MARGINALIZATION OF MILLIONS OF OTHERS AROUND THE WORLD.

THOSE SAME FACTORS WHICH HAVE ENHANCED THE EXISTENCE OF SOME, HAVE CAUSED SERIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION IN THE BACKYARDS OF OTHERS, AND IN SOME CASES HAVE ACTUALLY THREATENED THE PEACE AND SECURITY OF HUMANITY TO AN UNEXPECTED DEGREE, WHICH IS QUITE AN IRONIC TWIST OF FATE WHEN ONE CONSIDERS THE NOBLE AND LOFTY PRECEPTS WHICH WENT INTO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS 55 YEARS AGO.

THERE IS, HOWEVER, HOPE; BECAUSE THOSE LOFTY IDEALS AND GOALS OF THE UNITED NATIONS ARE YET INTACT, AND ARE SUPPOSEDLY HELD SACRED BY ALL OF US. WE BELIEVE THAT WITHIN THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER LAY THE PROSPECTS FOR THE CREATION OF A WORLD IN WHICH TRULY AND CONFIDENTLY WE MAY "REAFFIRM FAITH... IN THE DIGNITY AND WORTH OF THE HUMAN PERSON IN EQUAL RIGHTS OF MEN AND WOMEN AND OF NATIONS LARGE AND SMALL...

WE CAN YET, WITH THE UNITED NATIONS LEADING THE WAY, ADDRESS THE MYRIAD CHALLENGES TO INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY IN THE 21 ST CENTURY, IN WHICH WE MUST SOMEHOW RESCUE FROM EXTREME POVERTY THE NEARLY 50% OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION WHO ARE OBLIGED TO SURVIVE ON $2.00 PER DAY, AND THE 1.2 BILLION PEOPLE COMPELLED TO SURVIVE ON LESS THAN $1.00 PER DAY.

THE UNITED NATIONS OF THE 21ST CENTURY MUST LEAD THEWAY IN RESCUING THE WORLD'S 140 MILLION WORKERS‑ MOST OF THEM IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ‑‑ WHO ARE UNEMPLOYED OR UNDER‑EMPLOYED.

THE UNITED NATIONS OF THE 21ST CENTURY MUST, IN A MEANINGFUL WAY, ADDRESS THOSE INEQUITIES IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY IN WHICH THE 1 BILLION PEOPLE IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD EARN 60% OF THE WORLD*S INCOME, AND IN WHICH THE 3.5 BILLION PEOPLE IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD EARN LESS THAN 20%.

THE UNITED NATIONS OF THE 21ST CENTURY MUST FIND AMEANS OF DIVERTING MUCH OF THE $56BILLION SPENT ANNUALLY ONHEALTH RESEARCH TO THE 90% OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION WHO SO DESPERATELY NEED IT, WHO ARE PLAGUED WITH SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS SUCH AS DIARRHEA, TUBERCULOSIS, MALARIA, PNEUMONIA, AND THE DEADLY HIV/AIDS, BUT WHO SADLY AREAVAILED OF A MERE 10% OF THAT $56BILLION.

THE UNITED NATIONS OF THE 21ST CENTURY MUST ADDRESS THE CONTINUING LITANY OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES, VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN, DRUG TRAFFICKING, THE RAMPANT SPREAD OF CRIME ‑‑ PARTICULARLY ORGANISED CRIME ­AND ILLICIT TRAFFIC IN FIREARMS, WHICH THREATEN TO DESTABILIZE OUR SOCIETIES AND OUR WORLD. YES, THE UN OF THE 21 ST CENTURY MUST ADDRESS THESE SECURITY THREATS WITH THE SAME VIGOUR THAT THIS AUGUST BODY HAS TRADITIONALLY DEMONSTRATED WITH REGARD TO THREATS TO TRADITIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.

THE UNITED NATIONS OF THE 21 ST CENTURY MUST, WITHOUT HESITATION OR SELECTIVITY, SOMEHOW FIND A MEANS OF ADDRESSING THE MYRIAD INTERNAL CONFLICTS, WHICH MAY NOT FIT THE FORMER NORM OF INTER‑STATE WARFARE, BUT WHICH HAVE NEVERTHELESS CLAIMED THE LIVES OF MILLIONS, DEVASTATED THE ECONOMIES OF COUNTRIES AND REGIONS, AND HAVE SUBJECTED THE INNOCENT AND THE VULNERABLE TO UNTOLD VIOLENCE AND EXPLOITATION.

MR. PRESIDENT, AT THE END OF THE 20TH CENTURY GLOBALISATION BECAME A UBIQUITOUS CATCH‑WORD ‑‑ SIGNIFYING A CONCEPT AND A CONDUIT FOR BRINGING PROSPERITY TO THE WORLD AT LARGE. IDEALLY, GLOBALISATION HERALDED SIGNIFICANT OPPORTUNITIES AND BENEFITS, BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT THE IDEAL HAS NEVER REALLY BEEN MANIFESTED. OPPORTUNITIES AND BENEFITS HAVE NOT BEEN EVENLY DISTRIBUTED. INDEED GLOBALISATION HAS COME AT A GREAT COST TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, AND NOW THERE IS NEED FOR SERIOUS DEBATE ON THE ISSUE.

IN POINT OF FACT, THE CONCEPT OF GLOBALISATION WAS BROUGHT SHARPLY INTO FOCUS WHEN SMALL STATES SUCH AS THE BAHAMAS ATTEMPTED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BENEFITS OF GLOBALISATION BY DEVELOPING FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTORS, ONLY TO ENCOUNTER, RECENTLY, SERIOUS CHALLENGES FROM DEVELOPED COUNTRIES.

THE BAHAMAS CONTINUES TO EMPHASISE THE NECESSITY FOR GREATER AND MORE INCLUSIVE DISCUSSION OF ALL THOSE ISSUES WHOSE OUTCOME HAVE SIGNIFICANT IMPLICATIONS FOR THE WELL‑BEING OF CONCERNED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, WITH THE UNITED NATIONS GIVEN A ROLE IN RESOLVING THESE ISSUES.

MR. PRESIDENT, SIGNIFICANT AMONG THE MANY INSTRUMENTS WHICH ARE PART OF THE UN CHARTER ARE NOW THE PROPOSALS PUT FORWARD BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL IN HIS COGENT INSIGHTFUL AND TIMELY REPORT ON "THE ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY'~ WHICH IS AN IMPORTANT FRAMEWORK FOR THIS MILLENNIUM SUMMIT.

FROM THIS SUMMIT THERE WILL PRESUMABLY ENSUE, AS IS TRADITIONAL, THE ADOPTION OF A DECLARATORY DOCUMENT. THE QUESTION BEFORE US NOW IS WILL OUR EFFORTS HERE HELP TO BRING THESE DISPARATE ISSUES AND INITIATIVES INTO A COGENT WHOLE? WILL WE HAVE MOVED FURTHER INTO ENSURING THAT THE WORLD DOES NOT DESCEND INTO OPPOSING CAMPS OF DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AS GLOBALISATION TAKES FIRMER FOOTING?

WILL THE DECLARATORY DOCUMENT ENCOURAGE RESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP OF THE UNITED NATIONS BY ALL, BUT PARTICULARLY BY THE INFLUENTIAL AND THE POWERFUL?

WILL THE EFFORTS OF THIS MILLENNIUM SUMMIT ENHANCE CO­OPERATION IN AGREEING ON DECISIONS AND RESOLUTIONS TO WHICH WE WILL BE FULLY COMMITTED, NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR NATURE?

WILL THE DECLARATORY DOCUMENT BE A DYNAMIC INSTRUMENT FOR OPENING NEW VISTAS FOR OUR COLLECTIVE EFFORTS FOR THE BETTERMENT OF ALL THE WORLD'S PEOPLE OR WILL IT BE ALLOWED TO GATHER DUST ON THE SHELF OF HISTORY?

THIS MILLENNIUM SUMMIT PROVIDES US WITH A UNIQUE AND HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY TO BRING A QUALITATIVE AND NEW APPROACH TO PROPOSALS AND INITIATIVES, TO BRING TOGETHER THE WORLD'S DISPARATE PEOPLES ‑‑ THE HAVES AND HAVE‑NOTS TO WHOM I REFERRED EARLIER ‑‑ THE DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING STATES ‑‑ THE WORLD OF THE 20TH CENTURY AND THAT OF THE 21ST.

THE OPPORTUNITY IS THERE AND IT IS IMPERATIVE FOR THE UNITED NATIONS, WITH A DEMOCRATIC AND TRANSPARENT AND ACCOUNTABLE SECURITY COUNCIL, TO PLAY THE ROLE DELINEATED IN THE CHARTER, BETTER TO EMBRACE THIS IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY.

THE UNITED NATIONS OF THE 21 ST CENTURY, MR. PRESIDENT, MUST COMMIT TO ENSURING THE PROMOTION OF A NEW WORLD ORDER IN WHICH THE WHOLE IS TRULY MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS, WHERE EVERY PART ‑‑ EVERY HUMAN BEING ‑‑HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP HIS FULL POTENTIAL.

MR PRESIDENT I THANK YOU.


UN

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