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5 July 2005

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CARIBBEAN ROUNDUP

Latin America news

NEWS ON THE WEB

 

INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION

Caribbean and African Nations Blocked South Atlantic

Whale Sanctuary Plan at IWC Meeting in South Korea

By Tony Best

Ulsan , South Korea , June 24, 2005 (CNS NEWS)

Caribbean nations may sit next to Brazil and Argentina in the OAS (Organization of American States) and share the waters of the Atlantic Ocean , but when it comes to creating a whale sanctuary there, they are miles apart.

That explains what happened when two of the leading South American countries in the OAS and the International Whaling Commission tried to get the IWC at its annual meeting in Ulsan , South Korea to approve the creation of a South Atlantic whale sanctuary.

Antigua , Dominica , Grenada , St. Lucia , St. Vincent , St.Kitts-Nevis, and Suriname led the charge against the proposal, thus playing a key role in torpedoing it. Along the way, the Caricom countries described the proposal as being unnecessary, unscientific, and potentially disruptive.

It was the third time that Argentina and Brazil triggered the opposition of six Eastern Caribbean states and Suriname to the proposal for the sanctuary and, on each occasion, Caricom member-states of the IWC helped to drive a fatal harpoon into the idea.

"There is really no need for a sanctuary in the South Atlantic ," said Ignatius Jean, St. Lucia 's Minister of Agriculture. "It's beyond us in the Caribbean why Brazil and Argentina would persist in this when they know the outcome even before they place it on the agenda."

Lloyd Pascal, Dominica 's IWC Commissioner for the past six years shared that reaction.

"The IWC's Scientific Committee didn't see there was any merit to the sanctuary plan, because the species of whales in the waters around us are not threatened," said Pascal, a former Dominica Minister of Agriculture. "We don't see any merit in it, either. Yet, Brazil is pushing it, and it goes down to defeat every time. Don't be surprised if it surfaces when the IWC meets next year in St. Kitts-Nevis."

Argentina and Brazil and their Caribbean neighbors may agree on democracy and economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere , but on whaling and the sustainable use of marine resources in the waters around them, they are usually at the opposite sides.

While the Caribbean states vote consistently with Japan, Norway, Nicaragua, Iceland, the Russian Federation, Gabon, Benin, Senegal, Cameroon, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Benin, China, Mauritania, Palau, Tuvalu, Cote D'Ivoire, Iceland, and Guinea to allow a limited and strictly managed resumption of commercial whaling, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico routinely join with Spain, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Britain, France, Austria, Belgium, and a host of other European countries to block any proposal for the catching of whales, even for scientific research purposes.

 "When it comes to this issue, they don't believe they have anything in common with us in the developing world," complained a Caribbean scientist.

For his part, Cedric Liburd, Minister of Agriculture in St. Kitts-Nevis, strongly disagreed with the rationale for it.  "They want to save the whales through the creation of sanctuaries, but they didn't base their argument on science," was the way he put it. "Unfortunately, the advocates of it prefer emotion, and that's wrong."

Jean , St. Lucia 's IWC top representative, was worried about the South Atlantic sanctuary for another reason.  "If it were approved--and I doubt it would ever be sanctioned by the IWC--it could have long-term negative implications for our fisheries and even for cruise tourism in the Caribbean ," he warned.

Joanne Massiah, Antigua 's Minister of Food Production, said that her country voted against the proposal because it "lacked a scientific foundation."

When it was put to the vote in Ulsan , 29 countries, most of them in Europe , backed it, while 26 states led by African, Caribbean , Asian, and Pacific countries opposed it. The establishment of a sanctuary requires a 75 per cent approval vote, but the plan fell far short of the required number in South Korea .

INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION

CARIBBEAN READY TO FIGHT AGAIN NEXT YEAR

Loss at IWC meeting hasn't dimmed region's zeal for struggle
over resumption of global commercial whaling

By Tony Best

Ulsan , South Korea , June 22, 2005 (CNS NEWS)

Caribbean nations may have been knocked down in the bout aimed at securing a resumption of limited commercial whaling, but they are far from dispirited, according to Caribbean government officials.

Within 24 hours after the International Whaling Commission failed in South Korea to agree to implement its own "Revised Management Scheme" that would have given the green light for the re-introduction of limited commercial whaling, Eastern Caribbean nations, plus Suriname and Nicaragua, said they are gearing up for a resumption of the battle for votes when the IWC holds its next annual meeting in St. Kitts-Nevis in 2006.

"Although we would have liked to have seen the IWC approve its own Revised Management Scheme for commercial whaling, I can't say that I came to South Korea fully expecting that the IWC would have agreed to introduce it," said Lloyd Pascal, Dominica 's IWC Commissioner. "It will take some time--and more persuasion--to get some of contracting governments to change their minds and support the sustainable utilization of marine resources."

The resolve to continue the struggle with next year in mind was also evident in the reaction of Cedric Liburd, St. Kitts-Nevis' Minister of Agriculture.  "I am hoping that by the time we are able to meet at IWC 58, the annual meeting in my country in 2006, we would have a simple a majority of votes," said the minister, who is also his county's commissioner.

"We have to continue to try to convince other countries that our way, the matter of sustainable use, is the way to go. We believe that in much the way St. Kitts-Nevis was able to win the vote against
France last year in Sorrento , Italy to host the 2006 IWC meeting, we can change some minds on the revised management scheme. But to be successful, we would have to work harder. That is one way of dealing with it."

Another is to try to get other countries, especially those in the developing world that are outside of the IWC, to join the international organization, which now has about 66 members, he said.

Realistically, though, like Pascal, the cabinet minister thinks the struggle for the implementation of the RMS and the resumption of commercial whaling may take years before it's successfully concluded.

"Look, this matter is not being decided on scientific research but on the emotion of anti-whaling nations," he said. "If it were based on science, the science of the IWC's own scientific committee, it would have been implemented long ago. Therefore, the matter of when and where I will be expecting a vote isn't clear-cut.  I do believe this will go on for many, many, more years if the RMS isn't revised in terms of looking at how it can be structured in the future in order to bring about a result."

INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION

Dominica --A Country With Something to Prove about Whales,

Whale Watching and, Hopefully, Whaling side-by-side

By Tony Best

Ulsan , South Korea , June 22, 2005 (CNS NEWS)

 

Almost 11,000 humpback whales may be swimming in Caribbean waters, and Dominica believes that figure may allow it to prove something to the world.  Its point: whale watching and whaling for food can co-exist, contrary to what some opponents of whaling argued at the 57th annual meeting of the IWC in South Korea .

“We in Dominica are a whale-watching destination, but we want to see the day when whale harvesting can be undertaken,” said Lloyd Pascal, a former Minister of Agriculture who is now Dominica ’s top representative to the IWC.

“Whaling,” he added, “has a long tradition in the Caribbean , and St. Vincent has shown that the marine animals can be a source of food protein for people. We see whales as a source of food as well, and when the day comes for the resumption of commercial whaling under the auspices of the IWC, Dominica would consider its options when it comes to whale-hunting.”

Pascal, who has represented Dominica at IWC meetings for the past five years, is one of the most vocal advocates of the sustainable use of the marine resources, including whales, in the waters of the Caribbean Sea , the Atlantic Ocean , and elsewhere. While he believes in abiding by the Commission’s moratorium on commercial whaling until the organization changes its mind by adopting the scientific committee’s Revised Management Scheme for commercial whaling, he is convinced that ending the ban is the right thing to do.

“We want to show the international community that whale watching and whaling are not incompatible,” was the way he put it. “They are not mutually exclusive. Whale watching is a part of our tourism industry and that should continue--but whaling can also occur, should Dominica decide to go that route.”

He said that the IWC’s scientific committee estimated that some 10,750 humpback whales were roaming the Caribbean waters every year, and, therefore, a strictly monitored and limited IWC program of commercial whaling wouldn’t hurt the whale stock.

“We in the region are very pleased to hear this figure from the IWC scientific committee,” said the Dominica representative. “ St. Vincent only takes four a year, on average, so as soon as there is a lifting of the moratorium, Dominica will be able to make use of this stock of humpback whales so we can feed people and also make some money out of it. As soon as the moratorium is lifted, Dominica would have to decide how it is going to make use of the resources in its waters. One of the things we are saying is that while we promote whale watching, there is absolutely no contradiction in whale watching and whale hunting at the same time.”

It would take a two-third majority to end the moratorium, and Pascal was quick to admit that the pro-whaling group of nations, including Dominica’s neighbors in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Japan, Russian Federation, Suriname, Belize, Benin, Mauritania, Gabon, Senegal, China, the Solomon Islands, Norway, and Iceland, other sustainable-use nations now have the votes to end the moratorium.

“It may not end any time soon,” he said, “but you never know, because countries that have waited so long for a moratorium which should have been lifted since 1990 are now contemplating their options of resuming commercial whaling outside of the IWC.”

Whale meat is eaten in certain parts of the United States , the Russian Federation , South Korea , Japan , Norway , Greenland , Iceland , and St. Vincent .

International Whaling Commission

 

Caribbean Nations Lose Fight for Secret Ballot in IWC

Vows to Carry on War at Next Year's Meeting in St.Kitts

By Tony Best

 

 

Ulsan , South Korea , June 21, 2005 (CNS NEWS)

 

            Caribbean nations may have lost another round in the long running battle over secret balloting in the International Whaling Commission, but they aren't giving up on the war.

            Indeed, although the IWC's 57th annual meeting is far from over, six Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries -Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kits-Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent -- plus Suriname are already planning for next year's conference in St. Kitts-Nevis, where they plan to raise the issue once again.

"Yes, we are going to ensure that the issue gets on the agenda of the 2006 meeting in St. Kitts-Nevis," said Cedric Liburd, St. Kitts-Nevis' Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, who is also his country's IWC Commissioner. "This is a matter on which we in the Caribbean feel very strongly because of the problems we have faced due to our voting in support of the sustainable use of the world's marine resources."

Joanne Massiah, Antigua 's Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, agreed. "Several international bodies use the secret ballot, and we believe the IWC should protect its members' interests by having it as well," she said. "We are not giving up on this."

Every year since the turn of the 21st century--or even before--the OECS states have been waging a relentless, but so far unsuccessful, battle to get the IWC to use secret balloting as one way of protecting themselves from threats from NGOs and rich countries which object to their support for sustainable use of marine resources and their backing of Japan's scientific research whaling program. They also support Japan , Russia , China , Norway , and several African and Central American states in a campaign to get the IWC to approve a limited and strictly management scheme of commercial whaling that would target only those species of whales that are in abundance.

            After being threatened with a tourism boycott because of their pro-sustainable whaling stance, Antigua and the OECS countries have been trying to get the IWC to introduce secret balloting. But most Commission members have declined to approve it.

            When the issue came up the first day of the conference, Australia and New Zealand led the fight against the Caribbean 's proposal, which lost by a vote of 30-27, the closest the OECS states, backed by Suriname , African nations, and a host of others came to gaining a majority.

            Now they are planning for next year. "It is one of our major efforts to have the conference exert the right to secrecy, because we in the Caribbean recognize that the larger countries and NGOs are using open voting to create a problem for us," said Liburd. "We feel that if we were able to have the votes taken by secret ballot, we would have been able to make sure that the right to vote on the floor can be exercised without the threats and the reprisals. The NGOs and some of the larger countries are using the way we vote to create problems for us in St. Kitts-Nevis and in the Caribbean generally. We feel we have a right to vote according to our conscience--and to do so in secret--and that's why we are pushing for it. We will not stop because of this year's loss."


            But, representatives of
Australia , New Zealand , the U.S. , and the U.K. , for instance, argue that secret balloting was unnecessary, because most IWC members knew how the various countries voted anyway.

            Japan frequently speaks out for the Caribbean 's secret balloting plan.

            Liburd explained that the region's goal was to shield the countries from victimization.

"Just like in our parliamentary elections at home, we use the system of secret ballot to protect the right of the voter and avoid any problems of discrimination," he said.  "We think the same principle should be adhered to in the IWC."

            For her part, Massiah, an attorney who is attending her second IWC meeting, complained that objections to secret balloting were based "on a twisted notion of transparency" in the voting process.  "The advocates for open voting are suggesting that any movement to secret balloting would mean that persons in our home countries wouldn't know how we voted on specific issues before the IWC," she said. "But the fact of the matter is that certainly within the Caribbean region, certainly in the OECS, people already know how their representatives are voting."

            In backing the "sustainable use of marine resources," the Caribbean was incurring the wrath of some powerful, large nations and prominent NGOs. The secret ballot, they believe, would eliminate false allegations and any threats against countries in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

CARICOM/HAITI BROUHAHA

By Serge Beaulieu
U.N. Bureau Chief

United Nations, New York, July 14, 2004 (CNS NEWS)

A team of five foreign ministers from Caribbean countries is in Haiti this week to discuss a new approach to the dilemma of relations with the U.S.-backed Haitian government.

After the departure of Haiti's president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, Caricom's 14 member countries have tried very hard to show that they are in command in their region. But, with U.S. interference, they had to back off. They were not even able to convene a U.N. General Assembly meeting in order to find out what had happened to their man in Haiti, who claimed that he had been kidnapped, put on a plane, and sent to the Central African Republic, without his consent.

The U.S.-backed Latortue regime in Haiti quickly responded by announcing that it had broken relations with Jamaica, which had provided temporary refuge for Aristide after he left the Central African Republic.

During his subsequent visit to the United Nations last March, Latortue claimed that the question of Caricom was "behind us."

"Not so," said some Caribbean leaders.

At Caricom's recent Heads of State conference in Grenada, the question arose again. They decided to send a fact-finding mission to Haiti, comprised of five foreign ministers from Antigua, Barbados, the Bahamas, Trinidad, and Guyana.

In order to recognize the government of Haiti, the Caribbean Heads of State requested the following: release of Aristide's former prime minister Yves Neptune from jail; a date be set for a general election; a disarming of all banned forces, including the insurgents who overthrew Aristide; and a guarantee of full participation in the election, including the supporters of Jean Bertrand Aristide.

This is a diplomatic success for Caricom, which has been able to stand fast until now against the mighty United States.

On another front, U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan in a solo approach designated J. Gabriel Valdes, a former minister for foreign affairs of Chile, as his representative to Haiti, with a budget of more than $172 million for a 6-month period. With a cap of 8,000 troops, he knows that he is the real governor, especially when the World Bank is on the eve of approving another $924 million to put Haiti on its feet. 

The sad part of this is that the whole situation happened at the time Haiti was proudly celebrating the 200th anniversary of its revolution against imperialist forces of Europe. Haiti, the world's first black republic, is paying a heavy price for its past glory.

Let's watch.

 

 

L’ECHEC
WHAT WILL BE HAITI ’S FUTURE?


Fort Lauderdale, Florida, June 5, 2004 (CNS NEWS)  

Popular broadcaster Serge Beaulieu, affectionately known as Bouboule, was the keynote speaker to a crowd of Floridian Haitians Saturday night at the Broward County Main Library in Fort Lauderdale . He asked the audience to explore with him l’échec Haiti ’s 200 years of failure.  

The three-hour conference also featured the poet Heraste Obas, who passionately expressed the hope that Haiti will not perish.  

Senagalese Professor Babacar M’Bow, who had just returned from a conference in Trinidad and Tobago , spoke de la memoire ŕ l’histoire, stressing the importance of respecting one’s heritage.  

Wearing his signature bow tie and speaking in his mellifluous, deep, and penetrating voice, Bouboule asked: “Will Haiti survive? He said the land would always be there but wondered about the society as it exists today.  

After the slave revolt that won Haiti ’s independence in 1804 from Napoleon’s France , Haitian society saw the disappearance of the white conquistadors, while the mulattoes and the blacks managed to survive, even while distrusting each other.  

Most of the mulattoes maintained their wealth, educated their children in France , Switzerland , and Germany , and kept a European flavor on the island.  They built gourmet restaurants that served the finest French wines, established their own social clubs, and managed to be in charge of the government.  

In the late 1940s, Bouboule said, a social revolution began, which enabled the blacks, who had been living in abject poverty, to have aspirations of power. This movement was short-lived, but in 1957, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier appeared on Haiti ’s political scene with the goal of giving power to the masses. The Duvalier regime, father and son, lasted longer than previous ones but was mired in controversy. It was viewed askance by the international community, which was anxious to end the era of the caudillos, civil and military in Latin America . The Dominican Republic ’s Trujillo , Nicaragua ’s Somoza, and Haiti ’s Duvalier were targeted, and the communists had dreams of controlling the world.  

After the fall of the Duvaliers in Haiti , the brief period of relative calm that emerged was suddenly reversed by another type of government: the ochlocracy. The populista, the masses, overwhelmingly embraced the message of a young, activist priest, Jean Bertrand Aristide, whom they nicknamed “Titid” and viewed as a savior.  

But, in less than one year, the military reacted and Titid was overthrown. He went into exile, first in Venezuela , then to Paris , and finally found a niche in Washington , where he was able to meet with the most powerful of America ’s political elite, including the Clintons and the Kennedys. After two years, Titid, with the help of 20,000 U.S. Marines, was able to return to Haiti , where he resumed the presidency. But his tenure did not fulfill the people’s expectations, and he was at odds with the mulatto class. The fight ended the same way—but this time with the American power overthrowing him. The vacuum was quickly filled with American-backed individuals, who today don’t seem to know what Haiti ’s future will be.  

Within that thumbnail historical context, Bouboule questioned the future of Haiti and the coexistence of the two societies: mulatto and black. Titid left Haiti with the masses poorer, disillusioned, and more desperate than they had ever been. Unfortunately, for the first time in the country’s history, the masses had destroyed century-old institutions, such as the historical cathedral of Port-au-Prince where Haiti ’s great hero Toussaint L’Ouverture spoke. On February 29 this year, when Aristide’s overthrow was known, the masses burned to the ground banks and homes and ransacked established businesses. Without a quick intervention once again by the U.S. Marines, that trend would have continued until today.  

Now, while 8,000 United Nations troops are in the process of arriving in Haiti , some of the country’s provinces are not under the U.S.-backed government control. Bouboule questioned the extent of the hate of the masses for the other part of the society. Time constraints prevented a deep analysis, but it seems that both historically and now the political leaders have been interested in taking the power—not in improving the country or the well-being of its people. The warning bell in Bouboule’s urgent message was that, unless something changes, in the future, the two societies may not be able to coexist.  

The audience seemed to agree with his points il faut comprendre avant d’apprendre (It is necessary to understand before one can learn) and that there is a difference between le dire and le faire (saying and doing).  

Bouboule said that the future of Haiti is in the hands of the youth and that they have to be taught how to steer the ship.  

The seminar, sponsored by “Nations and Cultures,” was a celebration of its first anniversary on radio in southern Florida . The organizing committee included Jean-Rony Monestime, Fritz Obas, Felix Norvilien, Francelet Fileus, Samson Myrtil, and Henri-C.K.P. It was a night to remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARICOM’S DIPLOMATIC BUNGLE

By Serge Beaulieu
UN Bureau Chief  

United Nations, April 13, 2004 (CNS NEWS)  

The fourteen countries of Caricom did not even exist when the Monroe Doctrine was enacted in 1823 to protect the interests of the United States against the intrusion of European powers in the affairs of America .  Haiti was already an independent country but continued to suffer the humiliation of the European powers with a powerful United States averting its eyes.   

France, England, Italy – even Germany – continued to ransom Haitian ports in dispute with a weak Haitian nation. It took the United States more than 30 years before recognizing Haiti as an independent country.  Nevertheless, Haiti has survived, and, hopefully, will continue to survive.  

With the United Nations decolonization movement in the 1960s came the independence of the British Caribbean islands. They were quick to unify under a treaty to form a trade association in 1973 that they called Caricom. This trade association evolved to become a political body that requested to participate in the Organization of American States (OAS), the regional organization, and as a block at the United Nations as well.  

For several years they ignored Haiti, one of the largest countries in the Caribbean, until the creation of the ACP (the Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Group of States).  Spain, one of the major European donor countries, indicated it was interested in helping to finance Caribbean development as a whole, not just the former British Caribbean islands. Haiti was accepted as a full member, while the Dominican Republic was invited to participate in some capacity.  

The arrival of Jean Bertrand Aristide as Haiti’s head of state was a way for Caricom to expand its membership and speak as an inclusive Caribbean organization. It is in that light that when President Aristide was overthrown, or, as Aristide alleges, kidnapped, Caricom found itself in a delicate situation to intervene for one of its leaders. The situation could have remained there if Jamaica’s Prime Minister Patterson had not decided to offer hospitality to the deposed Haitian president from his place of temporary exile in the Central African Republic.  Patterson’s invitation, and Aristide’s acceptance, provoked a hasty reaction from Haiti’s US-designated prime minister, Gerard Latortue, who recalled the country’s ambassador from Jamaica and cut relations with Caricom.  

Patterson, taken by surprise by this reaction, decided to submit the question at the forthcoming Caricom Heads of State meeting in St. Kitts in March. The Caricom Heads of State, in turn, decided to withhold recognition of the US-backed Latortue government and requested a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss Aristide’s allegation that he was kidnapped at gunpoint by the US ambassador and a group of Marines and put in a US plane bound to nowhere, until he recognized that he was in the Central African Republic.  

The investigation requested by the Caricom Heads of State was approved by the 52 countries of the African Union. So far, nyet.  An adviser named by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Reginald Dumas of Trinidad, expressed surprise at Caricom’s delay in lodging its request for the probe, sparking a tiff with the Trinidad and Tobago foreign Minister, Kwolson Gift. Gift said he was doubtful of Dumas’ justification for his observation, since the investigation called for by Caricom was not within his purview.  

Meanwhile, last Monday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell landed in Haiti’s capital city Port-au-Prince to offer support and legitimacy to Latortue’s government.  

At the United Nations, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, in opening remarks to a meeting in New York between representatives of Caricom and the UN system, said that the UN is seeking to draw in all relevant actors and pursue a common strategic aim in Haiti.  

“We will explore with Caricom, as well as with the OAS, what each of us is best positioned to contribute, in cooperation with our Haitian partners,” she said. “And since Caricom, the OAS, and the UN system will remain in Haiti long after the peacekeeping phase ends, we need to ensure that an integrated and common approach is followed.”  

Looking at the broader issues facing the Caribbean region, the Deputy Secretary-General noted that one of the main areas of collaboration between the UN and Caricom is trade, particularly the joint effort to press for greater liberalization and an international trading system that brings development gains for the bloc’s countries.  

Frechette’s presentation did not include mention of Caricom’s request for a General Assembly probe into Aristide’s allegations, and US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that such a probe would serve no useful purpose. Has the matter simply died? Although the president of the General Assembly is the representative of St. Lucia, a Caribbean country, backed by 52 African members of the AU, it appears that without the okay of the United States no group can convene the General Assembly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian Hunte briefing journalists

GA PRESIDENT JULIAN HUNTE OF ST. LUCIA
TALKED ABOUT INNOVATIONS 
AT A UN PRESS BRIEFING

By Serge Beaulieu
UN Bureau Chief

United Nations, New York, October 7, 2003 (CNS NEWS)

How does a man from one of the world’s tiniest states, Saint Lucia, population 158,000, area 238 square miles, react after presiding for two weeks over a world body comprised of 191 member states represented by kings, presidents, heads of state and government, some of them with huge populations, such as China and India, each with more than 1 billion inhabitants?

Looking at Julian R. Hunte, President of the 58th General Assembly, at a press briefing Tuesday morning at the United Nations, one might wonder: How did he get there? The answer lies in the principle of universality that the founding members of the UN invested in the Charter, with the notion one nation, one vote, although today this principle seems to be on the verge of giving way to superpowers, which are represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Listening to Mr. Hunte talk about his plan for the General Assembly, one discovers business expertise in this man of action. Among other things, Mr. Hunte serves as his country’s Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation. Covering revitalization of the General Assembly to reform of the Security Council, the President insisted that he has his own inner circle group working on a presentation of some fresh ideas. An inner circle working with the president of the Assembly is a brand new development at the UN. He also said that he has encouraged each chairman of the General Assembly committees to meet with the press and explain their work, something else that has never been done in the history of the United Nations.

When asked about the ambiguity of Article 11 of the Charter over matters of peace and security concerning the role of the General Assembly over which he is presiding and that of the Security Council, he said:

"Peace and security is not the only responsibility that the General Assembly has, it is just one." What the General Assembly has done is say that "peace and security will be the preserve of the Security Council, and they will hand these matters specifically to them. Yes, you may discuss peace and security matters in the General Assembly, but you cannot make recommendations while these matters are being discussed by the Security Council.

"The General Assembly has the authority to discuss any matter; that is its role and function. But on issues regarding peace and security, what is happening in Kosovo, what is happening in Afghanistan, [the Security Council has] a special charge under the Charter to deal specifically with those issues.

"We had a situation just the other day where the United States vetoed the resolution as it related to Mr. Arafat, and it was brought to the General Assembly. Of course, the General Assembly cannot force anybody to do anything, but morally they made their views known loud and clear that they thought it was not something the international community should condone. So the General Assembly does have the authority to discuss matters that relate to peace and security, and it does."

The President also answered questions concerning some of the world’s smaller countries, such as his own Saint Lucia. Mr. Hunte said that the ten-year review for the Barbados Plan of Action, scheduled for August 2004 in Mauritius, would be extremely important to address the vulnerabilities of small islands. He said that if nothing were done about global warming and rising sea levels, some islands in the Pacific Ocean would just disappear. Asked about a free trade zone in the Caribbean, he said that such a zone would not change the political status of the islands.

Asked about his discussion with Haiti’s President Aristide when he was at the UN last week, Mr. Hunte said: "As you know, I’ve been actively involved in Haiti, representing Prime Minister Kenneth Anthony, who is in charge of justice and governance. I do get the impression that the situation there is easing a bit. As you know, they have now introduced a special envoy, and he has been doing work with the opposition groups and with the government, with the expressed intention of ensuring that an electoral council is formed. As of when the electoral council is formed, this will then facilitate an election being held that would be deemed to be more credible than if it were done otherwise. The problem that constitutes Haiti now is that elections are constitutionally due in January of 2004. So something has got to give, something has to be done. Beyond that I can’t comment except to say that Haiti is very close to my heart; I can only hope that the situation there will be resolved in a way that will give the people – what concerns me a lot is the human suffering of the people of Haiti. Sometimes I believe, and I’m not attributing this to any government or political party or what have you, but very often in the whole equation I sometimes get the impression that the people are the ones who are forgotten. I hope, and will continue to work -- in my discussions with the President, I did offer my continued support, and I have been following up, despite the fact that time is so limited in terms of being able to do things other than what I’m doing here at the GA. So, that is where it’s at."

 

 

 

Tony Best

Barbados Reserves Right to Speak Its Mind

By Tony Best

United Nations, New York, September 26, 2003 (CNS NEWS)

Barbados may be small, but it intends to speak up on any international issue
in which it has an interest or concern.  It believes the United Nations and
the multilateral system are the mechanisms to be used to solve pressing
global problems.

That reminder and bit of advice were delivered to the United Nations General
Assembly by the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Billie Miller, who
said in a foreign policy statement that the Caribbean country reserved the
right to express its views on global issues of concern to its government and
people.

Without referring to the U.S. or linking that statement to the Iraqi
controversy and the criticisms which were directed at Barbados by Bush
Administration officials after the island-nation had voiced its opposition
to the unilateral invasion of the Persian Gulf state by an American-led
coalition of military forces, Miller put the UN on notice that Barbados
wouldn't be cowed into silence.

"As members of this organization [UN], we are assured that our voice will be
heard regardless of our size or economic power," she declared. "Therefore,
we may not have the capacity to influence situations by way of exerting
military, economic or even political power, but we do cherish our right to
express our opinions about any issue of concern to us, without let or
hindrance."

On Iraq, Miller said that "some of the most intractable problems facing the
international community" this year "and beyond," were the "divisions,
uncertainties and doubts, which have emerged since the U.S.-led invasion of
Iraq."


PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION:

Barbados to Replace Jamaica on PAHO Executive Committee

By Tony Best

Washington, D.C., September 29, 2003 (CNS NEWS)

After an absence of about a decade, Barbados is taking its place once again
on the executive committee of the Pan American Health organization. Elected
last week to a three-year term, Barbados will replace Jamaica.

The election took place at the annual meeting of ministers of health of PAHO
member-countries that ended Friday in Washington. Barbados, Costa Rica and
Argentina were chosen to replace El Salvador, Jamaica and Uruguay.  Barbados
was the top vote getter in the election.

Dr. Jerome Walcott, Barbados' Minister of Health, said that the nine-member
panel was crucial to the running of the Western Hemisphere's premiere
regional health agency, which is a part of the World Health Organization
(WHO).

"We try to have Caricom representation on the Executive Committee, and,
because Jamaica was coming off, we decided to seek to be its replacement,"
said the Minister. "It is a very important committee. It is the one that
more or less plans what will be done in PAHO for the year. It has under its
command the planning and programming of PAHO. It also has a lot of important
things, like the relationship with NGOs. It is the center of activity for
PAHO."

Barbados last served on the committee in 1992.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


Tony Best