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New Global Human Order Articles by President Jagan

Address by His Excellency Dr. Cheddi Jagan, to the Hemispheric Summit Conference on Sustainable Development — Santa Cruz, Bolivia, December 7-8, 1996

Mr. Chairman, My dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I express my sincerest gratitude to His Excellency President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and to the Government and People of Bolivia for the excellent conditions they have created for this historic hemispheric summit on Sustainable development.

The holding of a special summit on Sustainable Development gives recognition to the critical importance of this concept to the fortunes of all our countries. We the participants are therefore saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that we leave here with results corresponding to the seriousness of our task.

We consider that Sustainable Development is an all-embracing approach to socio-economic development. It is centred on the interaction of the economic and political, social and cultural and environmental features of global and national realities and goals.

This concept has gained increasing currency since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992.

Generally also, there has been much progress in developing special agreements, conventions and protocols on some of these principles. A close examination, however, reveals that the implementation process leans heavily in the direction of the environmental issues with little emphasis on the social and economic factors.

We do appreciate that progress has been made on sensitive environmental issues. The Bio-diversity Convention, the Climate Change Convention, Pollution Prevention Programmes and other global partnerships are vital to the protection of our planet. We recognise, however, that the vital issues of financial resources and technology transfer are not adequately addressed in these processes.

Developing countries expect global partnerships to be maintained on a more realistic and just approach. We want to implement all universally accepted requirements for the protection of our environment but we lack the resources to do so. This situation needs to be recognised and understood by the developed world. But world economic and social and social relations continue to be unjust, inequitable and destructive for under-developed countries and the poor of the earth.

We have had to endure deformed dependent development as a result of our colonial heritage and the unfair conditions imposed by those who benefitted from the historical advantage of rapid growth in the colonial era.

The prestigious world economic forum this year concluded that a mounting backlash against the effects of economic globalisation, especially in the industrialised democracies, is threatening to disrupt economic activity and social stability and is creating a mood of helplessness and anxiety.

These poverty gaps have gained momentum and are widening in the north as well as in the south, and between the north and the south. It is necessary therefore for this limitation in the possibilities of developing countries to be recognised by the developed world with a genuine effort to assist.

We have noticed a tendency for developed states to try to revisit earlier commitments with a view to reduce or avoid them, and an approach in new declarations to de-emphasise the economic, social and political needs while shifting emphasis to environmental issues.

This Santa Cruz Declaration and the Plan of Action reflect this shortcoming. Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean support the Declaration and Plan of Action and will work towards their implementation, but we need to make it clear that we are disappointed with the failure to deal more comprehensively with the social and economic requirements of sustainable development. With specific reference to the Plan of Action, it is regrettable that we are only dealing with issues of education and health in a limited way which emphasises their link to environmental consideration.

Health and education are major social issues which are crucial bases for the peoples of the world to make their contribution to sustainable development.

Our Plan of Action is also deficient in its limited treatment of the special vulnerability of small island and low lying coastal states which repeatedly have had their development processes hindered — in fact very seriously set back — by natural disasters.

Sustainable development might be an option for large countries but an imperative for survival of small countries, especially small island and low-lying coastal states. The small islands and low-lying coastal states in the Caribbean are prone to pervasive damage from recurring natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes and tropical storms. They are extremely vulnerable to potential man-made disasters such as oil spills, nuclear accidents and sea level rise. The Caribbean economies are essentially coastal with more than 90 per cent of the population living within 10 miles of the coast. Economic activity in the form of tourism and fishery are heavily dependent on the coral reefs, the mangroves and the beaches. These fragile eco-systems are very vulnerable to damage from man-made or natural calamities.

The special vulnerabilities of small island states, especially those in the Caribbean, and the challenges of managing the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) were recognised in the Declaration and Plan of Action from the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Barbados. We are pleased that this Summit will give due recognition to the Declaration and Plan of Action from the Barbados Conference. We hope that over time, as a Hemisphere and within the Region, we will be in a position to allocate the resources necessary to facilitate meaningful and urgent implementation of the SIDS Plan of Action.

The Caribbean Community Governments are pleased that the Plan of Action from this Hemispheric Summit gives recognition to the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean Sea impacts directly on two-thirds of the States represented at this Summit. Establishing and promoting the Caribbean Sea as a focus for sustainable development would be a major positive action by the Hemisphere in any overall thrust at sustainable development.

The sustainable development of the Caribbean will depend significantly on human resource development and availability. We have not focussed on this in any fundamental way for this Summit. The Caribbean Community believes that this issue is so important that it should be a focus for the next Hemispheric Summit in Chile.

The Caribbean Community was, frankly, very disappointed that its efforts to have these major threats to our continued existence, and indeed our sustainable development, addressed in a balanced and meaningful manner in the Declaration and Plan of Action from this Summit were not as successful as it had hoped.

In spite of our disappointment that the Declaration and Plan of Action could not be stronger in content, the Caribbean Community will join with other states in the hemisphere to ensure that the issues we have identified and emphasised are implemented efficiently in order to move our countries several steps further along the road of sustainable development.

We need to recognise however that these steps can only be limited and piecemeal. Sustainable development is meaningless and impossible without fundamental changes in the relationship between states. It is necessary to take a holistic approach of development and the environment, especially sustainable human development. In the past, they saw environmental degradation as a product of industrial/economic development. Now, it is becoming increasingly evident that poverty is the biggest enemy of the environment.

We need our own strategy of development. The Latin American and Caribbean Commission on Development and Environment, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in their report "Our Own Agenda", pointed out that we followed a model of flawed growth:

"More than a half century of flawed development has produced total stagnation for those of us in Latin America. The burdensome external indebtedness which deprives us of the capital needed for growth and the grave economic crisis which for 10 years has further exacerbated the condition of our underprivileged class are not the causes of our problems but rather manifestations of an outworn model of growth."

The Commission noted the need for a special strategy. The Commission reported:

"There is no universal strategy for sustainable development. The most successful strategies are based on an analysis of our own regional institutional, economic and social peculiarities and of our environmental problems. The achievement of sustainable development also requires the establishment of a medium — and long-term planning mechanism."

Such a development strategy must combine good governance, internationally, regionally and nationally, and must encourage North/South partnership, cooperation and solidarity. This strategy must aim to alleviate, if not eradicate, poverty.

In December 1992, the lead document of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government for the North/South Cooperation Conference, called by President Jimmy Carter and UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, noted that world hunger could be reduced by 50 per cent by the year 2000. Regrettably, no answers are forthcoming.

I have circulated for your consideration a memorandum which analyses the dilemma facing developing states within the context of a global crisis which undermines the the path of sustainable development in all countries, but is exceptionally severe on poorer countries. Juan de Dias Parra, leader of the Latin American Association for Human Rights summarised the recent trends noting that:

"In Latin America today, there are 70 million more hungry, 30 million more illiterate, 10 million more families without homes and 40 million more unemployed persons than there were 20 years ago.. There are 240 million human beings who lack the necessities of life and this when the region is richer and more stable than ever according to the way the world sees it."

We cannot continue in such a direction .We need a New Global Human Order. My memorandum proposes inter-alia:

    • a regional development (integration) fund

    • debt relief

    • an American volunteer development corps

    • a separate global development cooperation fund

A collective effort in this direction will benefit developed and developing countries alike and will create a more conducive environment for sustainable development. We must also strive to build a more genuine democracy having as its objective "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". This would be ensured when it is all embracing — not only representative (5 minute voting) but also consultative and participatory , particularly of women — and when not only civil and political rights but also economic social and cultural rights are realised. A person must exercise his/her right to vote but that right will be exercisable only if the food for life is available.

This must facilitate the broadest involvement of our peoples with a meaningful role for civil society in pursuing the goals of sustainable development. In a few months we will be evaluating at the United Nations the achievements for five years after Rio.

We in this hemisphere must at this forum in a straight-forward approach of genuine criticism and self criticism identify the successes and failures of these 5 years. Especially we must see:

— what has not gone on as planned

— what we need to do to remove these obstacles and move on.

We have had enough of conferences, declarations and plans of action. We need to proceed by dealing not merely with symptoms but with the root causes of our problems. Our specific targets in our Declaration of Santa Cruz and our Plan of Action must be implemented with vigour but must be set against the background of an international effort to secure a New Global Human Order.

Thank you.

Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000


Free and Fair Trade is a Prerequisite for Integration

In what was his last official public speaking engagement before his death, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, on February 13, 1997, addressed the Sixth Meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas Working Group on Smaller Economies. Following is the full text of the address delivered at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana.

On behalf of the Government and people of Guyana, I extend to you a warm welcome to our country, and wish you every success in your deliberations during this Sixth Meeting of the FTAA Working Group on Smaller Economies.

I do hope that, in spite of your busy schedule you will take the opportunity to have a glimpse of our small but beautiful country and enjoy the traditional Guyanese hospitality.

Permit me to pay tribute to the outstanding work which has been accomplished so far by the Working Group on Smaller Economies. We are indebted to Ambassador Richard Bernal of Jamaica for his dedicated, astute and efficient chairmanship.

I am convinced that with continued hard work by this Group, the growth and development of the Smaller Economies can only redound to the benefit of the entire hemisphere .

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates, like the other Small Economies in the hemisphere, Guyana is grappling with the cosmic trends of globalisation and trade liberalization. At the same time we are making every effort to adjust in a rapidly changing economic and political process to avoid marginalisation.

As I see it, given current global trends, there is no alternative but to combine our human and other resources as we seek to achieve a friction-free harmonious and collectively beneficial Free Trade Area, that will be characterized by the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers. As I have said on more than one occasion, as regards the Smaller Economies, we either swim together or sink together in the rising tide of free trade and the sea levels.

Mr. Chairman, I am on record at various fora, as having expressed serious concern about the plights of Smaller Economies, not only in our Hemisphere, but in the entire global system. Many of our countries are experiencing onerous debt problems, grinding poverty, high unemployment and increasing social disintegration. Our countries are seeking debt relief from commercial creditors and other multilateral financial institutions in order to advance the development process for the benefit of our peoples.

A definite solution must be found for the Third World’s crushing external debt problem. It has now reached unmanageable levels. Its net present value is more than 200 per cent of annual exports. In Latin America and the Caribbean, with 181 million out of 441 million people living below the poverty line in the mire of destitution, how can human development take place when, despite onerous debt payments, the stock of debt grows. Between 1981 and 1990 the region’s foreign debt payments were US$503 billion, of which interest was US$313 billion. “At the same time, the region’s consolidated external debt rose from US$297 billion in 1981 to US$428 billion in 1990. The mechanism whereby the more you pay the more you owe is perverse and must be stopped,” noted the 1992 UNICEF publication Children of the Americas.

The present mechanism whereby “the more you pay, the more you owe” is in need of urgent review. It is some consolation that the IMF and World Bank leaders are now recognizing the need for urgent solutions to these problems. The IMF seems willing now to sell part of its gold reserves to assist poorer countries with their debt problems, an idea which was mooted many years ago but is still being opposed by some members of the G7 nations. Debt relief in the form of debt cancellation, grants, soft loans and rescheduling is urgent, if the developing countries are to eradicate poverty, protect the environment, play their meaningful role in expanding world trade and help end stagnation and recession in the industrially-developed countries. Debt relief must be seen as an investment not only in the development of poor countries but also in the security of the rich nations.

Because of the debt trap, we are unable to urgently address and find solutions to help alleviate the suffering of the working people and to provide them with the basic needs for their survival. I have never been associated with “Prophets of Doom.” Rather, I have always been and will always be a supreme optimist. I must say, however, that given recent and current social and political upheavals in several countries in our hemisphere, I am convinced that time is running out. We have to move quickly to solve the mounting social and economic problems occurring in our countries.

At the Summit of the Americas Meeting in Miami in December 1994, I reiterated the urgent need for a New Global Human Order within the framework of a “New Agenda for Development.” I expressed the view that while we embrace the practice of good governance and participatory democracy in the hemisphere, there is also a need to give full attention to the gaps between the rich and the poor, the techno-skilled and the techno-unskilled, and between the North and the South.

In this regard, given existing social and economic realities in our hemisphere, as manifested in the wide disparities between and among us, it is only logical that there should be special and preferential treatment for the less fortunate, in order to facilitate their active and productive participation in the integration process and to increase their levels of development. Free and fair trade is a basic prerequisite for any successful integration of the Americas.

As we move inexorably towards the establishment of a hemispheric free trade area, it is becoming increasingly evident that a special facility should be created to help the weaker economies play a real partnership role in such a collective endeavour. My rationale for calling for the establishment of such a facility is to be found in the fact that there are in our hemisphere larger economies which obviously stand to benefit more than those that can be described as Smaller Economies.

The fact that a few states in our hemisphere, developed and developing, are producing similar products utilizing processes and technology, which are decades apart, is a reality that should be taken into consideration. This does not augur well for fair competition and, moreover, confirms to the dictum that there should be equality among equals and proportionality among unequals.

In this regard, we should take a leaf from the European and South-East Asian experiences. In the EEC mega-bloc, the leaders were more perceptive and understood the inherent problems in liberalizing trade between countries of varying levels of economic and social development. The integration of Europe provides for the free movement, not only of capital, services and goods, but also of people. For the lesser developed countries, like Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, a special Development Fund has been established to raise per capita income to at least the level of seventy-five percent of the Community’s average income. Under NAFTA, there is no such provision even though the disparities in development and income levels are far wider in the Western Hemisphere than in Western Europe.

In the Far East APE integration movement, agreed to at the same time as NAFTA, a realistic differential time-frame for the attainment of free trade has been instituted, 10 years for the more developed countries and 20 years for the lesser developed countries.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates, you are aware that Guyana has been promoting the concept of the Regional Development Fund, now called the Regional Integration Fund. In June 1995, consultations were held in Georgetown and recommendations were unanimously adopted, calling for further consultations on the proposal with the Working Group on Smaller Economies itself, the Caribbean Community and other hemispheric organizations.

The response to this initiative is most encouraging. Studies done by the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Economic System, the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean, and the Caribbean Development Bank were basically supportive of special measures to assist the Smaller Economies within the context of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. In many respects, many of the conclusions arrived at in these studies coincided with the thrust of the proposal for a Regional Integration Fund.

As part of the preparations for the Fifth Meeting of this Working Group, which took place in Caracas, Guyana hosted a second round of consultations on the Regional Integration Fund proposal. These consultations benefited from the full support of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, SELA and ECLAC and several countries of this hemisphere. Indeed, Bolivia and Honduras have formulated proposals which are not dissimilar from the RIF proposal.

Subsequent to the Caracas Meeting, the Government of Guyana in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Secretariat, prepared a consolidated working paper on the subject which I understand, is a key Working Document of this Sixth Session of the Working Group on Smaller Economies.

As witnessed by the Second Hemispheric Trade Ministerial Meeting, which was held in Cartagena, Colombia, in March 1996, and the Caribbean Community/Central America Foreign Ministers Meeting which was held in San Jose, Costa Rica in December last year, it is also my understanding that there is an emerging hemispheric consensus on the necessity for the establishment of the Fund.

I hope too that a consensus will emerge on the burdensome foreign debt, which inhibits the development of our countries. They should not have to make debt payments exceeding ten per cent of export income. Also, that the APEC time frame should be adopted for the FTAA.

The Government of Canada has expressed its willingness to discuss the RIF as a Caricom Initiative with other interested parties. I look forward to the Government of the United States giving the Proposal the support it deserves.

Mr. Chairman, I am convinced that arising from your deliberations in Georgetown, concrete and positive recommendations will emerge as regards the objectives, financing and management of the Fund.

This will ensure that, as we move from the Second Trade Vice-Ministers’ Meeting later this month in Brazil, to the Third Trade Ministerial Meeting in May, also to be held in Brazil, there would be tangible progress with regard to support for the establishment of a Regional Integration Fund, and consequently placing the proposal firmly in the mainstream of the process leading up to the realization of the FTAA.

Let me add that of immediate need to our Smaller Economies is the provision of technical assistance to facilitate, during this preparatory process, our countries’ greater participation in the FTAA and the eleven specialized Working Groups and the actual negotiating process.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates, Ministers of Government, Ladies and Gentlemen, it pleases me to know that Guyana is playing host to this Sixth Meeting of the FTAA Working Group on Smaller Economies.

It gives me great satisfaction to know that Guyana is making a modest contribution to laying the basis for free and fair trade practices in this hemisphere.

I am also proud of the fact that Guyana is making a modest contribution to the process leading up to the negotiations of the FTAA. I am convinced that, as long as we view this process, not only as a partnership, but as the forging of our collective destiny aimed at serving the interests of our people, we can together, create in this hemisphere the world’s most important and vibrant free trade area.

I thank you.

Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 1999

This speech is published in Cheddi Jagan -A New Global Human Order. See more about this book under Books