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#22012 - 04/14/00 11:56 PM Address by Prime Minister Said Musa to the South Summit
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Office of the Prime Minister

Address by Prime Minister Said Musa to the South Summit

14 April, 2000 - Belmopan
Address by Prime Minister Said Musa to the South Summit
Havana, 13 April, 2000

His Excellency Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairman of the South Summit and
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Fidel
Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and of the Government of
the Republic of Cuba, fellow Heads of State and Government,
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates and guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Nothing we say or do will have any true meaning for our peoples unless
we can significantly and quickly reduce the shameful number of those who
live in poverty even as more people than ever become millionaires. One
day humankind will be called to account: how come you made no connection
between growing poverty for the many and booming wealth for a few? It is
up to us to make the connections, and to resolve now to take the
decisions that will enable us to confront those who impoverish us with
their greed.

In Belize we have given the elimination of poverty, which afflicts fully
one third of our people, the highest priority. To accomplish this goal
we must grow our economy in a way that ensures that the majorities
benefit. We have suffered the effects of the structural adjustment
measures imposed on us in the last two decades. They told us these
measures were necessary to stabilise our economies; instead they have
stabilised poverty.

How can we have economic growth when the markets for our agricultural
exports are denied and our small farmers and industrialists are
decimated by accelerated and unjust liberalisation? The time for mincing
words is over; this new millennium calls for a new frankness. Note what
our Foreign Ministers declared as long as two years ago at a Non-Aligned
Meeting: "Globalisation and liberalisation impact negatively on
developing countries generally." This has become even clearer for all
to see today.

As we are forced to play by ever stricter rules of competitiveness, the
North countries maintain their own protectionist mechanisms with
impunity. And at the same time we are told: you must fend for yourself,
and in order to help you to stand on your own two feet we must take away
your crutches now, and reduce official development assistance. But the
cruellest blow is yet to come: when we seek constructive alternatives
for economic growth, the rules are changed on us again and we suddenly
find that we are guilty of unfair competition against the poor,
disadvantaged developed countries!

I am heartened that our Declaration confronts the hypocritical
unilateral moves of some countries to impose their own definition of
"harmful tax competition" to prevent us from using fiscal policy as a
development tool, even as they make it impossible for our traditional
development mechanisms to survive.

The process of globalisation is hurting too many of the world's
population and helping too few. In its wake it leaves perilous
instability and rising inequality within and among nations. Yet we
attend these Summits and repeat the old mantra, as if to convince
ourselves, that globalisation offers great opportunities. How many of
us here can claim that their people are truly benefiting from those
"opportunities"? Today nearly half of the world's population is living
with under $2.00 a day. According to the World Bank, future prospects
also look bleak. Even if the world economy would experience more rapid
growth, neither Latin America and the Caribbean nor Sub-Saharan Africa
would see a reduction in the numbers of those living under extreme
poverty.

We do not deny, of course, that some kind of globalisation, one that
took account of justice and the total human rights of all peoples
equally, would be eminently desirable. But the present tide of
globalisation is a tragedy for 80 percent of the world's people.

Mr. Chairman: we now have a global compact which calls on all states to
co-operate in eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for
sustainable development. To accomplish this goal, adequate and
predictable financial resources must be provided to the South. The
intolerable burden of debt that strangles all hope for many of our
countries must be removed. The transfer of environmentally sound
technologies to developing countries as well as technical assistance
must become more effective and universal.

We must now forcefully assert our right to sustainable development.
Recall the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, which asserted that sustainable
development required a shared effort by all the world's people, a
partnership for survival in which each country has a role that is
related to the roles of others. But the partnership is not between
equals. Developed and developing countries are unequal in their
responsibility for getting it wrong and in their capacity for setting it
right. Common but differentiated responsibility must be the ethical
touchstone of the relative roles of developed and developing countries
in their partnership for survival through sustainable development.

What we need is a global partnership for sustainable development that
respects the indivisibility of environmental protection and the
development process. The North contributes disproportionately to world
environmental degradation, yet wants us to forego development by
following their unilateral rules on conservation. We must insist that
the North countries contribute their fair share of the costs of
environmental protection, as well as share more equitably the resources
of our planet. If they do not, Earth's capacity to support all life in
North and South alike will be in jeopardy.

Globally, only marginal progress has been made in addressing
unsustainable consumption patterns. Every child born in the North
consumes over a lifetime twenty to thirty times the resources of its
counterpart in the developing countries. The world's population
increases at around 80 million persons per decade, but only 5 per cent
of those increases will be in the developed world. Yet from a
consumption point of view that 5 per cent will impose on the Planet a
greater burden than the 95% born elsewhere. Still, the North pretends to
give us lessons about sustainable development.

There are many differing definitions of sustainable development, but I
am sure we can all agree on what sustainable development is not. It is
not a quarter of the world's people hijacking three quarters of the
world's resources. It is not a trade and financial regime that keeps
tens of millions unemployed and deprived of basic education and health
services, unable to meet their most basic needs. It is not a world order
in which more than a billion people live in dire poverty and millions of
children die each year from preventable diseases. And it is certainly
not a world system in which the vast majorities have no voice.

The most urgent reform of the world trade and financial architecture is
the one that will give us a voice commensurate with our numbers and
importance in the world economy; if that is achieved everything else is
possible. It is the height of hypocrisy for powerful nations to pretend
to impose their concepts of democracy and transparency on developing
countries through sanctions and other pressures while they steadfastly
refuse to apply the same standards to the powerful financial and trade
institutions that in a very real sense rule the world today.

Once we have a real voice in those institutions we will ensure that
elementary principles of justice are observed. It is a travesty, for
example, to pretend to extend as charity, and for a limited time,
special and differential treatment for small vulnerable economies, when,
as our South Summit Declaration now clearly states, such treatment, and
I quote, "should be recognised as a fundamental principle of the
multilateral trading system."

The present world order abounds with examples of such hypocrisy and
pretence, where we are told that we have opportunities which on closer
inspection turn out to be traps. Take, for example, the much-vaunted
promise of how the new information technology can revolutionise the
lives of us all and make education available to the most marginalised
people on the planet. And, yes, the rise in the pervasiveness and
rapidity of technology has revolutionised the way some people live, work
and do business, and huge opportunities are opened up. But for whom?

To click on to the internet you need a telephone line. Some 80 percent
of the world's population has no access to reliable telecommunications,
and three quarters of the world's telephones can be found in just eight
industrialised nations. Most rural areas in developing countries,
therefore, who most need the possibilities for education through the
internet, are excluded. As the UNDP 1999 Human Development Report
graphically puts it, an invisible barrier has emerged that "true to its
name, is like a world wide web, embracing the connected and silently,
almost imperceptibly, excluding the rest." It concludes that "the
literally well-connected have an overpowering advantage over the
unconnected poor who's voices and concerns are being left out of the
global conversation".

So how do we, the unconnected, work our way out of this trap? For us to
be able to exploit the opportunities offered by I T, we must fight on
many fronts: to get the infrastructure needed to connect, to create
intellectual property rights rules that do not deny the world's
knowledge from our peoples, to abolish illiteracy, to provide employment
for people so that they can lead healthy and productive lives and have
the inclination and ability to connect,_.. the list is long, and it all
comes back to the need to eliminate poverty. Undoubtedly, allocating
greater resources to, and restructuring, our own educational systems
must receive high priority, and the North has a duty to assist us in
this.

We in the South also have a duty to each other, and the issue of
South-South cooperation must be an important part of the Programme of
Action that we will conclude at this Summit. At this point I must say
that I, like our venerable Chairman, am especially happy to be here in
Havana because I can think of no other country that has in effect
written the book on solidarity. Tens of thousands of young people from
dozens of the countries represented here have received education and
health care in this hospitable land, while thousands of Cubans have
laboured selflessly in many of our countries to spread health services
and technical knowledge in many fields.

This brings me to my concluding point: that we in the South must
co-operate more with each other, and must unite in a solid block to
fight for our common interests and goals. The first step in this
direction, of course, must be taken in the regions and sub-regions that
we belong to. Regional integration is especially important for small
states, who have a limited capacity to deal with our common problems on
our own.

In my own region, Belize is a founding member of CARICOM, and we intend
to remain strong participants in that unit as it seeks to broaden and
deepen its work. At the same time, Belize is a Central American country,
and we have every intention to become a full and active partner in the
integration process. But I must sound a note of caution, Mr. Chairman:
the last few years have seen the unbelievable resurgence of
anachronistic territorial claims in Central America that should have
been buried in the 19th century and that have no place in a twenty-first
century of South-South cooperation and regional solidarity. These are
unnecessary and harmful distractions from our common need to work
together, not against each other, to confront the challenges of
globalisation.

Mr. Chairman, the Final Declaration and Programme of Action of this
historic South Summit give us the instruments we need to engage the
North in constructive dialogue and ensure a globalisation of justice and
prosperity. But this requires such a unity of the South as has never
been seen before. Can we accomplish that? We had better, for if we do
not, our children and grandchildren will never forgive us. Thank you.

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#22013 - 04/15/00 01:43 AM Re: Address by Prime Minister Said Musa to the South Summit
oldgator Offline
Marty: Thanks for posting this. I found it interesting and insightful.
_________________________
The Oldgator's Homepage
http://oldgatorsnest.addr.com

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#22014 - 04/17/00 02:06 AM Re: Address by Prime Minister Said Musa to the South Summit
calypso Offline
Quite an impressive address by the Prime Minister of Belize, at the South Summit...
It was very interesting and encouraging..
Thanks....
_________________________
I like the new feature of the message board..It is a more appropriate format for safe and friendly discussions..Good luck, and hope everything works out for the best, Marty..Thanks...

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