Press Releases

                                                                                                                            13 April 2004

    Trade, HIV/AIDS, Development, Security Key Issues for Strengthened Cooperation between UN, Caribbean Community, Says Deputy Secretary-General

    NEW YORK, 12 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette’s remarks to the third general meeting between representatives of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Nations system in New York, 12 April:

    It is a pleasure to welcome you to United Nations Headquarters.

    The United Nations system very much looks forward to the discussions we will have over the next two days on a wide range of issues of mutual concern.

    We also look forward to exploring how we might strengthen cooperation between our Secretariats.

    One main focus of our collaboration is trade, in particular our common efforts to press for greater liberalization and an international trading system that brings development gains for your countries.  I know you share my hope that the Doha negotiations will be put back on track.  The United Nations system will also continue to work with you to build up capacity, diversify your exports and avoid a resort to protectionism.  UNCTAD XI, which will take place in Sao Paolo in June, will give priority to these important domestic considerations for the first time.

    We are also working together to cope with the AIDS epidemic. No other region of the world, except for sub-Saharan Africa, is as badly affected by AIDS as the Caribbean. The disease is well entrenched, with especially alarming rates of HIV prevalence among pregnant women and girls aged 15 to 19.  Indeed, among HIV-positive people in that age group in the Caribbean there is a ratio of five girls to every one boy.  And people with AIDS still face widespread discrimination.

    Fortunately, the region’s political leaders are focusing more and more attention on this crisis.  We are also seeing promising new partnerships emerge, such as the one between the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which are working together to make drugs available at the lowest possible prices. CARICOM itself has proved a useful forum for regional cooperation on this issue.  We need to continue and step up such efforts.

    This year marks the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States.  CARICOM has played a very active part in the preparation of national and regional assessments, and in mobilizing Member States to pay greater attention to the unique constraints faced by such States.  I share your hope that this review will produce not only renewed political commitment, but also practical initiatives that will generate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

    Of course, regional security must be a main concern if those goals are to be met.  Security threats -- from political violence through money laundering to drug trafficking and smuggling -- have serious consequences for the functioning of the region’s economies, for governance and stability, and for social well-being.  Prime Minister Douglas [St. Kitts and Nevis] was right when he said recently that these security issues cannot be taken for granted, and that the region must pursue strategies and programmes that will significantly reduce the risk they pose.

    Nowhere has that become more obvious over the last few months than in Haiti, CARICOM’s youngest member State.  The United Nations is currently assessing what needs to be done as we prepare to field a peacekeeping operation by 1 June, as requested by the Security Council. If anything, the situation looks even more daunting today than 10 years ago.  Weapons have proliferated.  Drug trafficking has gained a foothold.  Haitians are frustrated and disappointed with the international community as much as with their own leadership. The events of February have exacerbated the polarization.

    As we respond to Haiti’s plight, I think we are all conscious that no organization or agency can go it alone in Haiti.  As we have done with other peacekeeping operations, the United Nations is seeking to draw in all relevant actors, and pursue a common strategic aim.  We will explore with CARICOM, as well as with the Organization of American States, what each of us is best positioned to contribute, in cooperation with our Haitian partners.  And since CARICOM, the OAS, and the United Nations system will remain in Haiti long after the peacekeeping phase ends, we need to ensure that an integrated and common approach is followed.  Getting it right this time means doing things differently and, above all, keeping our attention and resources engaged for the long haul.

    Of course, our enduring hope is to prevent such crises, and to build solid foundations for balanced, sustainable development throughout the region. Let me assure you of the commitment of the United Nations system to work as a team, with your team, to achieve that goal. Thank you again for being here today and for your commitment to this partnership.

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