Media Center



June 5, 2006 - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Thank you Mr Chairman,

First I wish to thank you on behalf of the Delegation of Barbados for so graciously hosting this meeting of the General Assembly.

I wish also wish to congratulate you on your election to the chair of this meeting and to commend you on the theme “Good Governance and Development in the Knowledge Based Society”. There is much that can be said on this given the depth and breadth of the ideas which are intrinsic to it.

To begin let me state that the Government of Barbados, which I am honoured to represent, believes that Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), properly harnessed, can revolutionise societies, businesses and economies, and benefit the citizens of each country.

For these reasons Barbados, along with other Member States, engaged in the wider discussion facilitated by the two phases of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society – the first of which was held in Geneva and the second in Tunisia.

However, while much headway was made at these meeting a great deal of work still remains to be done.

For example, we still need to focus specifically on:

• identifying the public policy issues that are relevant to internet governance; and
• creating a common understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, inter-governmental and international organizations, as well as the private sector and civil society.

It is therefore timely that the Government of the Dominican Republic, Mr Chairman, has taken the initiative to bring greater attention to this topic at the level of the General Assembly. I believe that the OAS can usefully identify public policy issues that are relevant to strengthening existing governance arrangements that would redound to the economic and social development of member states.

This Organisation has already convened meetings to discuss the matter of cyber crime and is to be commended for doing so. However, I hasten to add that consideration should be given to issues which have a much wider impact, for example the developmental aspects of Internet Governance, particularly capacity building in our countries and especially the small, vulnerable economies like mine.

Now may very well be the time for the hemisphere to take special action to ensure that all countries can participate in the benefits of the Knowledge Society, irrespective of their economic circumstances and geographic location. For its part the Government of Barbados is committed to building a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Knowledge Society.

We have liberalised our telecommunications sector and this action has created immediate benefits to Barbadian consumers in the form of lower prices, greater choice in the form of service offerings and enhancement in the quality of service.

We have embarked on a programme of legislative reform to provide a more favourable environment for the development of ICTs. In this connection, we have enacted an Electronic Transactions Act which, among other things, provides individuals and businesses with an opportunity to exercise choice by creating equivalency between electronic documents and paper-based documents.

We have also enacted consumer protection legislation to ensure that consumers are given certain basic rights, whether conducting business in a face to face situation or whether through distance selling means, and that these rights can be properly safeguarded.

Additionally, we have enacted a Computer Misuse Act to curb the misuse or abuse of computer systems. We are also preparing a Data Protection Act and a Freedom of Information Act.

We have liberalised the telecommunications market in an attempt to improve competitiveness and reduce costs.

This emerging framework, while good for business, is designed to benefit the entire population. Government is mindful that all sectors of society – young and old, rich and poor – need to be beneficiaries of any economic advancement. Efforts are being made to ensure that the vulnerable among us are not left behind.

Currently a Community Technology Programme is providing training for thousands of Barbadians in their own communities, at times convenient to them. This is but one step in our efforts to promote a culture of entrepreneurship, so that as many persons as possible will be encouraged to use their newly acquired skills in order to generate income for themselves and their families.

It has also been most encouraging to see young children as well as the elderly participating actively in this programme, particularly those persons who might not otherwise have been able to access the technology.

While the knowledge based society offers much potential many hurdles remain to be surmounted. Barbados sees the OAS playing a useful role through its committees and specialised bodies in assisting member states address issues which will overcome the Digital Divide and improve access to funding and also to cyber security.

The Government of Barbados, ever mindful of the multidimensional aspects of security, will continue to work to address the challenges which constrain the economic advancement of small and vulnerable states and the countries of this hemisphere.

I began by saying that ICTs have the potential to help us to develop our economies and to improve the quality of life of our peoples. But there is also the need to ensure that equity of access is present not only among countries but within individual states as well. I am confident that this organisation can continue to give leadership and assistance in these matters.

I am much obliged to the Chair for the opportunity to speak to this issue.

Thank you.