|General Debate of the Second Committee of the Sixty-Third Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York|
|Tuesday, 07 October 2008 18:33|
Statement by Ambassador H.M.G.S.Palihakkara, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations at the General Debate of the Second Committee of the Sixty-Third Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, 07 October 2008
1. Allow me at the outset to warmly congratulate you on your election. My delegation would like to assure you of our fullest cooperation to you and the bureau.
2. I also wish to thank the Deputy Secretary General Madam. Asha Rose-Migiro and the Under-Secretary General Ambassador Sha Zukang for their briefings as.
3. My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by the Chair of the Group of 77 and China.
4. We are at an important juncture in our quest for achieving a sustainable human and economic security for all humanity. As we arrive at the mid-way time line in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we hope that the High-Level Event on that subject concluded a week ago, would indicate practical ways forward to renew our commitments and to achieve the MDGs in 2015.
5. In the face of the multiple crises that pummel the world economy and its financial infrastructure, the challenges confronting us now appear greater than what was predicted initially. At a time when the global economy is heading in a downward path, added pressure is being exerted on developing economies as they already grapple with soaring food and energy prices. The momentum built over the past years and in fact some visible gains in our countries in realizing the Internationally Agreed Development Goals and MDGs run the risk of reversal due to these negative countervailing forces.
6. Over one billion of the world population who suffer from chronic hunger, and the recent price hikes in food commodities can aggravate this situation making more people vulnerable to the effects of food crisis. It is obvious that the extent of arable lands need to be increased. And we should not also rush to bio-fuels sacrificing available arable land. There is no point in looking for stop gap solutions to energy problems by aggravating which is the more fundamental issue food crisis. While every arable land is utilized for crop production, we need to complement these efforts by providing improved seeds, timely fertilizer supply and more investments on agriculture research and better infrastructure. In our region of South Asia our leaders decided to do just that at the SAARC Summit concluded in Colombo just prior to this GA Session.
7. The Government of Sri Lanka has launched a number of initiatives to empower small and medium farmers including through a fertilizer scheme at a cost of US$138 million in the first half of year 2008, to improve the food and nutritional security of its people. Having realized the importance of collective efforts, the South Asian leaders, again during their recent Summit meeting in Colombo decided to establish and operationalize the SAARC Food Bank as a short term means to help augment the global efforts on food security.
8. Increasing vulnerabilities arising out of the widening disparities in international trade and financial regimes, poor investment flows to developing countries, technological and digital divide and irregular migration are key challenges that yearn for practical solutions. The developing countries will be the hardest hit if urgent and collective measures are not implemented to correct these deficiencies in the macro economic framework. Fighting inflation and unemployment simultaneously is an arduous task faced by the developing countries. This vicious cycle could only be broken by raising investments and stimulating local production sectors. International partnerships in development can make a considerable positive impact in this regard.
9. The UN MDG Report for 2008 reveals that official development assistance has declined for the second consecutive year since 2006. The Report further states and “ even a sudden escalation of aid flow will not compensate for the failure to provide the continuous and predictable build-up in official development assistance that was implicit in 2005 World Summit and related commitments- to increase aid flow up to US $ 130 billion in 2010” Agreed ODA targets should therefore be met in full.
10. Developing countries need to accelerate growth to curb the widening gap between the rich and the poor. However, they continue to face constraints in building national capacities, improving market access and increasing the export volume. Stringent measures and conditionalities continue to prevail when seeking qualitative development aid, investment opportunities and export markets for labour intensive products from developing countries such as agricultural produce and textiles. This disturbing trend needs to be redressed through implementing open, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory trade and financial policies. What most of the developing economies especially the Middle Income Countries like my own need is assistance for fair trade.
11. While many developing countries struggle to overcome the economic and environmental challenges amidst the winds of globalization, international migration has been an issue of concern with far reaching socio-economic consequences to the migrants as well as sending and receiving States. International migration should be a part of the international development strategies, and welfare of migrants and their families need to be addressed as a matter of priority. We support calls for increased commitment to and compliance with international regimes in protecting and promoting the rights of migrants including right to decent work, and enhancing their welfare. We share the view that migrant remittances, which are private funds, could not be a substitute for ODA.
12. Our efforts at achieving development will not be complete and meaningful unless the sustainability of the natural environment is assured. The increasing magnitude and the frequency of climate related disasters tell us that it would only be prudent to revisit the policies and strategies we have adopted over the years in pursuing economic development. The South Asian Heads of Government at their summit in Colombo urged that all of us should try to live in harmony with nature and not at its expense. Effects of climate change have become a stark reality now. They have aggravated the food and energy crises demanding a more balanced and careful approach to economic and environmental policies, both at the local and global levels. Enhanced international cooperation in the field of disaster risk reduction and management is essential to help countries prone to natural disasters to prepare for and respond to such disasters.
13. Against great odds, many developing countries still possess higher potentials for development if their natural resources and biodiversity are put to correct use. Regrettably what we experience is an exploitation of our natural resources. Considered efforts are therefore required for an internationally agreed trade-off for the forest cover and biodiversity that is being preserved by the developing countries, which create a critical buffer in reducing the green house gas emissions and combating desertification. More needs to be done of course in transferring technology and know-how to developing countries to arrest the widening gap in the quality of life between the developed and developing countries.
14. Sri Lanka appreciates the development assistance that Sri Lanka continue to receive from our development partners and the UN Agencies. Our primary focus however is on self-reliant growth and development. Over the years it has helped us to achieve an average growth rate of 6 % amidst the scourge of over two-decades of terrorism and continuing vagaries of the external environment. We have achieved much success and are well on track with regard to fulfilling several key IADGs and MDGs targets. Free education, mid-day meals and free text books for students as well as scholarships for needy students have resulted in over 95% primary school enrolment and retention rate, as well as a 95 % of literacy rate among the youth. A system of free health services has resulted in high life expectancy, lower child mortality and enhanced maternal care comparable to higher GDP scenarios. In order for the developing countries to continue with such strategies for development, it is incumbent on all development partners to ensure that investments, trade flows, ODA and people to people contacts are facilitated on a non-discriminatory and equitable manner without conditionalities.
15. As signaled by the USG and DSG, we are hopeful that our deliberations in this Committee and at the forthcoming international forums such as the Doha Follow-up Conference would pave the way to a better understanding of the challenges in front of us and enable us arrive at consensus on a pro-poor outcome that helps accelerate achieving the Internationally Agreed Development Goals and MDGs.
16. We hope that this Committee’s work will send a clear message, through the preparatory process to the Doha Review Conference that the current systemic weaknesses of the world economy are addressed and a way forward found for financing for development based on the high-level assessment and recommendations emerging from the MDG event at this session of the UNGA. Despite concerns about the timing of the event, all efforts must be made to make the Doha review a success.
I thank you, madam chair