Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
May I begin, Mr Chairman, by extending my delegation’s sincere gratitude to the people and the Government of the Republic of Cuba for their warm hospitality, and the excellent arrangements made for this conference. May I also suggest, being the only woman speaker to join the male club of speakers here at this Summit, that gender equality should, and must, be an integral part of the efforts towards development, and that neglecting women’s potential can in no way be beneficial to the advancement of development.
In the past couple of years the issues and challenges of globalisation and development have been high on the agenda of various international conferences. In Seattle last year the discussions have revealed the importance of a broad and inclusive global dialogue on the impact and implications of globalisation to address the specific concerns of the developing countries in the faces of challenges of globalisation. In Bangkok, the UNCTAD X presented us with an opportunity to reflect on developmental strategies in an increasingly interdependent world, and on how to make globalisation an effective instrument for development. Today here in Havana the developing countries of the “Group of 77” are deliberating on the importance of a more equitable distribution of knowledge, technology and opportunities to combat poverty, avoid the risks of marginalization in an increasingly knowledge-intensive world, and build the foundations for enduring and equitable growth. Later this year political leaders from around the world will gather for the Millennium Summit, the largest ever gathering of the Heads of State and government the world has ever seen, to discuss the challenges of globalisation and agree on strategies of confronting them together.
As we can see, this is a time of reflection, but also it is a time of action. And acting means above all working together towards building genuine and lasting partnerships – among governments, among international institutions, among and within societies – to channel the potential of co-operation towards promoting the integration of developing countries into the global economy. As was stated at UNCTAD X, globalisation can be a powerful and dynamic force for growth and development. But it cannot be allowed to run wild. To confront the challenges of globalisation, we must learn to manage it better together. For this it is essential to persevere in the search of solutions through open dialogue, sharing of experience, and co-operation among developing countries and through fostering a better focused development co-operation between ourselves and the developed countries. In view of the enormous challenges that the developing countries are facing to reduce poverty and human misery, we think it important to arrest the trend towards the decline in the official development assistance and pursue a sustained dialogue on the financing of development.
In his intervention at this South Summit UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented some of the views contained in his Millennium Report and asked the leaders to consider the initiatives suggested in his report. I think that the strong emphasis that his report puts on the major role that information technology can and must play in fighting poverty and promoting human development is very much in line with the discussions that we hold here at this Summit on the means and ways of ensuring broader participation of developing countries in the current technological revolution to advance our progress towards prosperity through knowledge. The proposal to develop a network of 10,000 online sites to provide tailored medical information and resources to health care facilities throughout the developing world can contribute a lot to the improvement of our health care systems, especially in rural areas. The initiative fits especially well with the specific conditions of my own country characterised by a vast and scarcely populated territory.
In view of the worst natural disaster that my country is facing currently due to the worst winter in the last 30 years, a disaster which resulted in huge losses of livestock and affected the life of 20 percent of our population – and revealed the shortcomings in the government?s disaster response capability – we see great value in the Secretary-General?s disaster response initiative which, as suggested, will provide uninterrupted communications access to areas affected by natural disasters and emergencies.
Achieving universal primary education by the year 2005 is one of the priority goals of my government?s human development strategy. For our younger generation to live and prosper in an increasingly knowledge-based environment and in an increasingly technologically advanced world we must ensure that the basics are in place, such as primary education for all and basic social services for all. We cannot benefit from the advances in information technology unless we provide better education opportunities for the children in developing countries.
My Government is of the view that ensuring economic growth and better living standards for the population, building transparent and accountable government, improving public administration, ensuring gender equality and environmental sustainability constitute crucial elements of an integrated developmental strategy. My government believes it important to strengthen the institutions of democracy, implement anti-corruption policies, and build partnerships between government, the private sector and the civil society to promote national development. In co-operation with the UNDP my Government will be holding a Workshop on Human Security later in May in our capital city to discuss the multiple challenges that my country is facing to address the issues related to ensuring human well-being in an age of globalisation, interdependence and information technology.
We believe in the merits of a rules-based multilateral trading system. But we also think it important to pursue further efforts within this system so that the concerns of developing countries and of the economies in transition are better addressed. Trade-related technical co-operation and technical assistance should be further extended to developing countries. The special and differential treatment for developing countries remains of continuing importance.
My government believes that there is a need to further promote international co-operation to address the particular needs of the land-locked developing countries. Land-lockedness serves as a severe impediment in our way to our fuller integration into the multilateral trading system and marginalises us in the face of the opportunities offered by the growing globalisation. In this regard, I wish to associate myself with those who spoke here in favour of an enhanced regional and sub-regional co-operation. I also wish to note with appreciation UNCTAD’s co-operation with the land-locked developing countries in the area of the promotion of transit transportation as well as the Group of 77’s strong emphasis on the convening of the Ministerial Meeting on Transit Transport Co-operation in the year 2003.
May I conclude by expressing my confidence that the South Summit of the Group of 77 will constitute a major moment for us all to reflect on our shared concerns and on the shared efforts that the developing countries should be pursuing to ensure our shared prosperity.