Address by H. E. Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo President of The Republic of Guyana at the United Nations Millennium Summit .
September 6th. 2000 New York


Posted September 7th. 2000

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary General,
Distinguished delegates,

This Millennium Summit has raised the expectations of the world's peoples that out of it will come renewed commitment and determined action on the part of the United Nations organization to secure for them a future of global peace and development. As the leader of the Guyanese people, I bring to this forum their aspirations for a better life in the hope that they will be speedily satisfied.

My hope is encouraged by the fact that this event is jointly presided over by two distinguished colleagues, H.E. Mr. Sam Njumo of Namibia and H.E. Ms. Tarja Halonen of Finland, representing respectively the developing and developed countries which constitute our membership. I have every confidence that, under your able direction, we will be able to find the way forward to achieve our objectives.

In this regard, I offer to Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General, our sincere appreciation for the very thoughtful and incisive report which he has laid before us at this meeting.

Time obviously does not allow me to address in any depth all the issues which the Secretary General has raised. Hopefully, in the interactive dialogue over the next few days, I will have the opportunity to revisit and reflect upon the more salient issues with the careful attention that they deserve.

Without anticipating the conclusions of our further analysis, Mr. President, I believe that there is one compelling lesson that can be drawn even now and that is, if humankind is to live in freedom from fear and want it must be of one mind and purpose. If nothing else our shared experience has taught us that it is no longer possible to live in isolation.

Indeed, if we are to survive as a civilisation and even as a species, we must come to learn the virtues of interdependence and international cooperation. Survival will not necessarily be of the fittest but will depend rather, on the sturdiness and steadfastness of the general will. It will depend also on our ability to create a new global human order in which every man, woman and child is allowed an opportunity to enjoy a decent standard of living. Ultimately, it will depend on whether or not, we as leaders both in the North and South, are prepared to subscribe to and uphold such values and principles as democratic governance, respect for human rights and international law, justice and equality.

As a newly restored democracy, my own Government has placed people at the center of development. We have sought to involve them fully in the process of decision making. We have reached out to the private sector and civil society as a whole so that they can become both not only beneficiaries of development but also contributors. Persuaded of the need for national capacity-building, my Government continues to devote an increasing percentage of our annual budget to the improvement of the social sector particularly in such vital areas as health, housing, education and training.

Admittedly, however, our efforts remain limited by scarce development financing. Although alleviated by the HIPC initiative and other related arrangements our debt burden remains a serious impediment to progress. There is an urgent need for deeper and wider relief to allow small countries such as ours to compete in the global market place. Also required are higher levels of development assistance, increased investment flows and an expansion of trade to permit developing countries to take advantage of whatever benefits globalisation may hold. I call upon our partners in the developed world to respond positively to the needs of especially small developing economies.

As I stated at the South Summit which was held earlier this year in Havana, only a fundamental reform of the international economic and financial system can satisfy these needs. The prevailing model of development by which countries implement sound internal policies but fail to progress because of external factors is disastrous. It must be replaced by another paradigm that allows developing countries to participate in the global economy while protecting them from its volatility. Moreover, as I asserted, the success of the model should not be measured by standard economic indicators but by its ability to reduce poverty and empower people.

As we search for this new model we cannot be blind to breaches of international peace and stability which render development difficult if not impossible. The threat or the use of force to resolve disputes whether inter-state or intra-state militates against national economic and social progress and must therefore be condemned. The international community must deal swiftly and condignly with such futile conflicts and demand from all states full respect for the United Nations Charter and for the rules and principles of international law. An expanded and more democratic Security Council could, in my view, serve to preserve global security.

Mr. President, Excellencies, Mr. Secretary General, Distinguished delegates

On my return to Guyana, my people will be sure to ask of me What good has this Summit brought us? Will it serve to reduce poverty and create jobs and employment for our young people and social security for our old? Will it help our country to bridge the development and digital divides which now deny it the possibility of full and productive participation in the global economy? I would like to be able to respond positively to these concerns and to assure them that the new millennium will bring them both peace and prosperity.

I know however, that the hopes and promises of this event will only be realized if there is strong and shared determination by all states to create a new global human order that is free from fear and free from want. Less than two weeks ago In its continuing commitment to the creation of such an order, my Government sponsored a symposium in Guyana to explore the possibilities for promoting a wide consensus on a vision and strategy to achieve international sustainable development. We will be pleased to offer the result of that dialogue as a contribution to the work of this Millennium Assembly. I invite my colleague Heads of State and Government to join this enterprise to build a brave new world for this and all generations to come.

I thank you.

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