PM Calls for new Democratic Paradigm that Protects Vulnerable Societies


Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has called on the international community to fully recognize the inextricable link between democracy and development, and to adopt a new democratic paradigm that seeks to empower the more vulnerable sections of society, “and address the basic rights of all citizens – the enjoyment of their political, social, cultural and economic rights – in a holistic manner”.
Mr. Patterson was addressing a forum on May 21 in Washington, where he was the keynote speaker at Howard University’s Ralph Bunche Centre for International Affairs. The event was co-organized by the National Council on Caribbean Affairs (NCOCA), the American lobby group TransAfrica, and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area.
The Prime Minister said that even while democratic traditions and institutions were taking root and resulting in greater accountability, transparency and effective governance, there were still considerable challenges facing the world with respect to development.
“In just over 100 years, the world’s population has grown from 1.5 billion to over 6 billion people who will have to fully depend on energy sources that are still to be researched and developed.
Poverty continues to expand, while HIV/AIDS has established itself as a major threat to socio-economic development. International terrorism, transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons have threatened to undermine the authority and legitimacy of the State and national governments,” he said.
Mr. Patterson pointed out that despite dramatic advances in technology, the international system continued to face even more formidable risks, which had to be collectively addressed by the international community.
“Never before in our history has the world been subject to such constant and far-reaching threats. The revolution in technology and the access to instant communication worldwide have made the world more interconnected. It has drastically altered the political equation, thereby obliging us to re-examine our economic and political systems, our national institutions, and the way we respond. The global challenges facing countries, rich or poor, large or small, developed and developing, have direct impact on democracy and development everywhere on this planet,” he said.
Turning to the issue of globalization, the Prime Minister emphasised that urgent steps had to be taken in order to ensure that this process of global economic integration became more inclusive and more beneficial to the interests of the developing world.
“Globalization and the increasing interdependence that it engenders, requires effective systems of governance that focus primarily on four key elements – the democratization of international economic decision-making; the integrated consideration of trade, finance and developmental issues by international institutions; the reform of the international financial architecture; and the establishment of a strong mechanism for surveillance and regulation,” he noted.
Mr. Patterson argued that while globalization had resulted in the expansion of economic, political and social linkages across the world, it had also served to trigger far-reaching and significant changes in the global community, which has “manifested itself in growing inequality and social disparity in the world”.
“In summary, globalization has not met the aspirations of people for decent jobs and a better future for their children,” the Prime Minister said.He reiterated that the Jamaican government was committed to the notion that deepening democracy and promoting development were goals that had to be pursued with equal dedication. He said that the pursuit of both objectives, while also strengthening the capacity of developing countries to benefit from the rapid pace of globalization, should be seen as key obstacles which must be overcome by the international community.
“The most immediate challenge for developing countries is to elaborate their own platform or agenda for a collective set of goals and objectives in order to attain a place in the world economy on fair terms that are conducive to their future development. Our success in addressing these challenges and improving the quality and process of global governance will have a positive impact on realizing the prospects for real development and strengthening democracy in our countries and societies across the globe,” Mr. Patterson said.
The Prime Minister also pledged to use the Second South Summit of the Group of 77 and China, which will be held in Doha, Qatar next month, to advance a development agenda, on behalf of the Caribbean and the developing world, which takes into account the interests and concerns of developing countries.
“As Chairman of the G77 and China, I will endeavour to work with my colleague Heads of State and Government to advance South-South co-operation, and at the same time to bridge the North-South divide. Some of the countries of the South, including Jamaica, have already put forward a number of ideas in the areas of Energy and Biotechnology, which we hope to discuss further at the Summit,” he said.
The Prime Minister expressed confidence that, with increased advocacy and an international development consensus, efforts to stem growing inequality and social disparity in the world, both between North and South, and between the rich and the poor within countries, could gain needed momentum.
“Even as we eloquently articulate the need for democracy and sustainable development, success in achieving these objectives will continue to elude us unless and until we accept the oneness of the human family and the interconnectedness of the nations of ‘the earth, our home,'” he stressed.
“We must understand and respect the rights of every human being; we must respect cultural diversity; we must understand and respect the need for gender equality; for racial, ethnic, national and religious harmony. We must be willing to sacrifice for the common good,” the Prime Minister added.
His presentation was a segment of a series of lectures sponsored by the Centre, which seeks to raise the profile of influential voices from the developing world and deepen the discussion of key contemporary political, social and economic issues currently on the global agenda.
Prior to his address at Howard University, the Prime Minister also was the featured speaker at an event organized by the Washington Chapter of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Guild of Graduates, which was also attended by UWI Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne.

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