Knight Calls for Renewed Focus on The Vulnerability of Small States


Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, K.D. Knight, has called on the international community to recognize the unique vulnerabilities of small island states such as Jamaica, to natural disasters, and has appealed to the United Nations (UN) to adopt measures that would aid in the process of recovery and reconstruction in affected countries.
“In our part of the world, these challenges have taken on grave new proportions in the wake of the recent spate of hurricanes, which have devastated the Caribbean. The loss of life and the scale of destruction and damage to infrastructure and the means of livelihood have been catastrophic,” he noted.
Mr. Knight’s remarks came during his address at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday (Sept. 27). His presentation covered issues ranging from the ongoing regional conflicts to the need for reform in the international economic system. He was accompanied by Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Stafford Neil and Deputy Permanent Representative, Norma Taylor-Roberts.
While the Minister used the forum to formally register Jamaica’s appreciation to the international community for assistance rendered to the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, he also took the opportunity to call for immediate action in implementing mechanisms, which would assist countries in coping with the daunting task of reconstruction and preserving their productive capacity.
“Apart from the provision of emergency relief supplies, there is a need for concessionary financing to the affected countries so as to facilitate medium to long-term reconstruction,” he said. Mr. Knight further submitted that a special international reconstruction fund, dedicated to assisting small and developing states, was an urgent necessity.
Turning to the issue of the proliferation and trafficking of small arms, the Jamaican Foreign Minister urged the international community to place greater emphasis on combating the problem and insisted that this challenge be treated with the priority that it deserved. “Small countries face particular dangers in maintaining stability and security with the increased production, distribution and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and sophisticated ammunition,” he stressed.
“These represent our greatest security threat. Small states do not produce these weapons but have become their principal victims. The influx of these weapons, through various illicit channels, is sowing civil conflict and criminal violence, the extent and intensity of which beleaguer and often overwhelm national security forces,” Mr. Knight emphasized.
He also contended that there was an insufficient appreciation of these dangers by the countries, which were the producers and source of weapons and further said that producer states had a duty to prevent illicit transfers beyond their borders.
Minister Knight wrapped up his submission to the General Assembly by calling for more effective cooperation to regulate and restrict the movement of small arms and urged the membership to move to conclude negotiations on an international convention, which would lay out a framework of legally binding obligations in this regard.
In addition to addressing the UN on Monday, the Foreign Minister also conferred with several colleague Commonwealth foreign ministers, participated in the annual consultative session between CARICOM foreign ministers and the United States, and held discussions with the CARICOM foreign ministers caucus in New York.
Throughout this week, Mr. Knight will also participate in meetings of the Commonwealth Ministerial Committee on Belize, lobby for Jamaica’s candidature in several international fora, and will meet with the Jamaican community in New York to provide them with an update on reconstruction and relief activities in the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.

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