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June 5, 2005 - FORT LAUDERDALE

Madame President,

I wish to congratulate you on your Presidency of this General Assembly and to thank your Government for the excellent arrangements which have been put in place to make our gathering in Fort Lauderdale as enjoyable and productive as possible.

Madame President,

The theme of this Dialogue, "Delivering the Benefits of Democracy" is most fitting.

There are many different definitions of democracy and its application in different countries has been even more varied and, at times, even contradictory.

From our own perspective, democracy means involving the People in decision making and ensuring that Governance takes place in a manner in which the rights of a people are respected. Democracy also means the right of a people to live in peace and safety and enjoy a good quality of life.

Driven by these principles, leaders of countries at all levels, have over the years been debating and implementing measures in an effort to deepen democracy. This has resulted in general improvements in the international democratic architecture:

a. The Cold War has come to an end. No longer is the world as ideologically polarized as it used to be;

b. there are now less countries with military dictatorial regimes;

c. more and more Governments are implementing legislations to accommodate the demand for more transparent and accountable governments;

d. the phenomenal increase in the number of civil society groups have forced many Governments to be more accommodating in how they Interface with the people;

e. the technological revolution which has taken place in the last 10-15 years, particularly in the area of information, has forced many Governments to become more attentive to the needs of their people.

Despite these welcome Improvements, however, there are global developments which run counter to the" notion of what is democratic and what democracy is all about:

a. multilateralism is, at best, under siege, as the superiority of might has demonstrated its capacity to assert itself over the principle of what is right;

b. some regional institutions have not been consistent in how they apply their Charter, particularly as it relates to transition in the leadership of Governments;

c. the International trade agenda is heavily weighted against the developing states;

d. the poverty gap has widened -most notably in Africa and in South America. In 1960 the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the twenty richest countries was eighteen times that of the poorest countries. In 1997 the gap had grown to thirty- seven times and in 2004, to fifty-two times;

e. acts of terrorism have increased;

f. acts of corruption seem to be on the Increase rather than on the decrease and this is so in both large and small states;

g. transnational organized crime threatens democracy everywhere. The United Nations estimates that the turnover of organized crime in 2004 was US$500 billion making it one of the largest industries in global terms. This organized crime is now perceived to be a significant problem for investment, migration of skilled persons, public security and even the sovereignty of some countries;

h. expenditure on armed conflicts and wars has increased. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that in 2002 world military expenditure was US$794 billion. It is tempting to think of what we cold do with that amount. It would cost US$15 billion a year to provide basic primary health care to all the world's people, about US$2 billion to fund famine relief and about US$5 billion to provide a basic education for all;

i. the human rights of many persons are being violated in some countries -some ironically in the name of democracy.

Madame President,

It is difficult for democracy to deliver benefits in the way that it ought to in any country if on the international and regional scale there are developments inimical to the growth of democracy in individual countries. Yes, we must work towards strengthening democracy in our respective countries, but we also have the task of ensuring that greater democracy exists at the regional and global level. Democracy on the inside becomes tenuous if democracy does not exist on the outside.

It is within this context that I wish to make the following recommendations:

1) That we reaffirm our commitment to the principle of multilateralism.

2) That we recommit ourselves to using the established global institutions to promote peace and harmony and try to resolve our differences.

3) That the Charters of Regional Institutions, such as the Inter- American Democratic Charter, be scrupulously adhered to and be applied to all states equally, whenever there is a violation of the said Charter.

4) That the negotiations impacting on the international trade be equitable and balanced at their outcome. This requires the need for special and differential treatment of the less developed countries. It is wrong, for example, for subsidies when applied in some countries, to be regarded as "assistance" while in other countries it is viewed as a "hand out". Democracy requires the application of the same test for all countries.

5) Every effort must be made to eradicate poverty from our countries. The development agenda must become a priority if we are really serious about democracy.

6) Every measure must be put in place to identify, isolate and eradicate terrorism. The intention to eradicate terrorism, however must not be used as -a pretext to subvert the inalienable right of a people or country to democratic expression or to their sovereign existence,

7) Globalization and liberalization must assume a human face. While the processes of globalization are inevitable and Irreversible, we must never assume that market forces, left on their own, will resolve social inequalities. The state has a moral and political duty to ensure that the effects of globalization enhance, rather than curtail, democratic growth.

8) Corruption must be ruthlessly weeded out of government and those who are found to be using their privileged access to state facilities to advance themselves must face the full force of the law. Corrupt practices hurt the poor and the least advantaged in the society. No longer must 'kickbacks' and bribes be seen as "part of the process".

Madame President,

No country should claim the right to a have a perfect system of Government, as each is unique in its political, economic, and social development. What is important, however, is that we must all be driven by the principle of trying to find the best method for including the people in decision making. We must also move towards finding the best way to help improve the quality of life of our people. For democracy to properly meet the expectations of our people therefore, we must strive for certain basic things:
1) A society that is well ordered and peaceful, and where the rule of law applies equally to one and all.

2) That the people be able to decide, in keeping with agreed norms, the character and leadership of their Government.

3) Access to good quality education -certainly at the early childhood, primary and secondary levels.

4) Access to proper and affordable healthcare proper housing, decent infrastructure and public transportation.

5) The availability of employment to that each person can earn a decent living.

My delegation views this meeting as an opportunity for Member States to reaffirm our commitment to the goals and undertakings adopted over the years aimed at consolidating democracy, promoting peace, security and harmonious relations safeguarding human rights and advancing the economic and social development of the hemisphere. The fact is that from its inception, the OAS has set out to fulfill these Charter responsibilities, but I contend that the benefits of democracy can be best delivered locally, if we improved democracy internationally. I close with a quotation from my Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P .J. Patterson, which I believe is apt for this Dialogue “Even as we eloquently articulate the need for democracy and sustainable development, success in achieving these objectives will continue to elude us unless and until we accept the oneness of the human family and the interconnectedness of the nations of the earth, our home.”

I thank you.