JIS News

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr Kenneth Baugh, on Saturday (September 26), asserted the need for the United Nations to “urgently correct and reverse the tendency toward inaction, inertia and indifference, which has so far frustrated efforts to address the development agenda” – a critical issue to enhance Jamaica’s development process.
The Minister was addressing the current 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he delivered Jamaica’s policy statement on a wide range of international issues of interest to Jamaica, including the global financial and economic crisis and its impact on Jamaica; the economic concerns of heavily indebted Middle Income Countries; the debt crisis; the pervasiveness of transnational organised crime; narco-trafficking and the illicit trade in small arms and ammunition.
He said that these issues continue to have a devastating impact on the social and economic fabric of the Jamaican society.
Prior to his address, the Minister, who is Chairman of CARICOM’s Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), completed a busy week of engagements, including meetings with CARICOM, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Heads of CARICOM Delegation and US representatives led by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the Rio Group, COFCOR and a number of bilaterals.
In his well received policy statement to the General Assembly, Dr. Baugh, in one of the key areas of focus, the economic crisis/global recession, stressed that “even as major economies are reporting their emergence from the global recession, the outlook for Jamaica and most developing countries remains bleak.”
He added that “the irony is that developing countries are hapless victims of a crisis for which they are inculpable.” Jamaica and other developing countries had little scope and capacity to mitigate the impact of the crisis, given their fiscal constraints and debt burden.
“The pervasiveness of the crisis makes it imperative that co-ordinated international action is taken,” the Minister declared.
Commenting on the relationship between the Group of 20 and developing countries, the Minister said that while valuing the inclusion of advanced developing countries in the G20 process, it was critical that space was made to accommodate the voices of a wider cross-section of developing countries, particularly the most valuable ones.
“Our interest is in ensuring that the particular needs of small, vulnerable economies and highly indebted middle income developing countries of the CARICOM sub-region are addressed through appropriate representation at the Summits of the G20,” Dr. Baugh said.
“We must have an integrated approach in order to craft the type of common strategy that a crisis of this magnitude dictates. At the same time, the United Nations must play an essential role in helping to manage the various ramifications of the crises. It can ensure dialogue and enable a co-ordinated response based on an inclusive decision-making process,” he suggested.
He noted that the candor of leaders in the major industrialised countries was encouraging. They had expressed their commitment to effectively address the concerns of developing countries to cope with the crisis.
Pertaining to the heavily indebted lower Middle-Income Countries (a grouping to which Jamaica has been designated,) the Minister expressed Jamaica’s concern about these countries being overlooked on the presumption that, by virtue of their levels of GDP per capita, they do not require international assistance despite being devastated by the impact of the global economic and financial crises.
Noting that Jamaica had always supported efforts to assist Highly Indebted Poor countries, Dr. Baugh said that Jamaica and its CARICOM partners “will continue to advocate for a Special Category of Small Vulnerable and Highly Indebted Middle Income countries” both in the United Nations and the International Financial Institutions.
In this context, he underscored that “a review of the criteria for determining middle income status could help to address financial resource accessibility in the long term.”
Stating that the severity and complexity of the global economic crisis was underpinned by the interlinked and interdependent nature of the global financial system, Dr. Baugh expressed disappointment that there was, as yet, no visible action on reform of the international monetary and financial system.
“The reform of the international financial architecture is long overdue. Urgent steps must be taken to reform the governance structure of the international financial institutions, including a review of policy conditions attached to lending by the International Monetary Fund,” Dr.Baugh urged.
Turning his attention to climate change, the Minister pointed out that Jamaica was heavily impacted by natural disasters, and called for urgent and effective global action on climate change to avoid the catastrophic consequences of global warming. The Summit of Small Island Developing States as well as the Summit on Climate Change a few days ago, reinforced the fact that the “time for action is now.”
“We were heartened at the broad agreement that significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to reduce global warming. What is now required is the necessary political will to take concrete, decisive action so that we will be able to frontally address this clear and present danger.”
As a Small Island Developing state that is vulnerable to the impact of climate change, Jamaica had a vested interest in a successful outcome at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, he stated.
Minister Baugh said developed countries, whose emitters had a historical responsibility for global warming, should take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also expressed the view that action at the international level must be complemented by urgent action at the national and regional levels. A successful outcome must also include concrete commitments on adaptation, mitigation, capacity-building, technology transfers and the provision of financial resources to assist developing countries in addressing climate change.
From the perspective of Jamaica as a trade dependent country, Minister Baugh called for the inclusion of the Development Agenda in any outcome of the Doha Development Round, so that Jamaica can reap “clear benefits for its farmers, producers, exporters and consumers.”
Concerning the question of reform of the United Nations, Dr. Baugh said that current myriad global challenges were not constrained by borders and could not be confronted by states acting on their own. They could only be confronted through international cooperation and effective partnerships which could only be achieved through greater multilateralism with equitable participation by all countries.
The UN could not successfully tackle these challenges without being reformed to make it more responsive to all its members, neither could the Security Council remain an exclusive club, the Minister said. He expressed the hope that the inter-Governmental negotiations on the reform of the Council would be successful in reaching a definitive conclusion.
Commenting on the spirit of realising peace, security and harmony among peoples, Dr. Baugh highlighted Jamaica’s initiative for the erection of a permanent memorial at the United Nations to honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This, he said, “will remain an enduring symbol of our collective resolve to eliminate discrimination, social inequity and prejudice.”
Minister Baugh was firm in the conviction that failure to live up to the expectations of citizens around the globe “would seriously impair the very credibility and relevance of the United Nations, particularly during this time of crisis.”

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