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Small Island States In UN Debate

Small Island States Discuss Trade, Environment And Collective Action During UN Debate

New York, Sep 27 2006 6:00PM

The lack of progress during recent global trade negotiations, the threat posed by climate change and the value of countries finding multilateral solutions to problems were among the key themes as ministers from six small island States addressed the United Nations General Assembly today.

Speaking on the final day of the high-level debate, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador Philip Sealy called for the resumption of the Doha Round of trade talks, which collapsed earlier this year, while ensuring that development is given appropriate attention during any fresh negotiations.

“It is crucial that global trade rules be enhanced in recognition of the need for treatment to be accorded to small economies that would take cognizance of their special circumstances, and allow them to participate in world trade in a manner commensurate with their national capacity to do so,” he said.

Echoing that theme, Timothy Harris, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, Industry and Commerce for Saint Kitts and Nevis, said he was concerned that the needs of small island developing States were being overlooked or downplayed in favour of other issues.

Citing the work of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in helping his country adjust to changes in the international sugar industry, he called for more partnerships for development within regional groups and between nations.

Justin Simon, Attorney-General of Antigua and Barbuda, voiced concern about climate change and the impact of natural disasters, such has hurricanes and tsunamis, on small island countries.

“My country’s Government feels that a review of existing international disaster relief funds and an increase in the amount of financial resources made available are necessary for the elimination of this sad state of economic vulnerability of so many nations,” he said.

Tuvalu’s Ambassador Enele Sosene Sopoaga said that in recent years there has been unusual flooding of his country’s main islands, perhaps because of rising sea levels caused by climate change.

“We are frightened, and worried. And we cannot think of another Tuvalu to move to – all by the actions of others – if nothing is done urgently and we are forced out of our islands. There is still time to act,” he said.

Ruben Zackhras, Vice Speaker of the Marshall Islands, raised the issue of the United States’ nuclear weapons testing programme, which took place in his country before it became independent in 1986.

Calling on the UN and its Member States to examine this issue more closely, Mr. Zackhras said “our people have paid a disproportionate sacrifice for helping the world understand the power of the nuclear bomb. We have paid with our own lives, our health, and the well-being of our land and waters that are so sacred to us.”

Turning to the subject of migration, Tonga’s Chargé d’Affaires Mahe ‘Uli’Uli Tupouniua quoted a World Bank study revealing the benefits that migrants provide to sender countries when they remit some income to their families.

Mr. Tupouniua said the study showed that for countries such as Tonga, remittances help to improve income distribution and alleviate poverty in sender States, as well as induce higher savings, stimulate business activities and promote increased investment in education.

Ends

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