Bahamas Prime Minister, the Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham was in New York this week participating in the United Nation’s **MDG High Level Event**, and sessions of the **Clifton Global Initiative**. The Prime Minister also delivered “The Bahamas’ Statement” to the UN’s **63rd General Assembly** on Friday.
Participating Heads of State at the High Level Event all stressed the urgency of action – with a focus on poverty, health care and education across the globe.
In his presentation to the General Assembly, Prime Minister Ingraham spoke to The Bahamas’ commitment to the creation of a “society for all” in 1995, followed by its recommitment to this objective five years later when it signed on to the Development Agenda. Now at the halfway point, he said, efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and ultimately create a society for all, must be carried out in tandem with steps to achieve full employment and decent work for all.
Noting that the implementation of the MDGs is aligned with the Government’s philosophy and programmes, Mr. Ingraham used the opportunity to report on the achievements of the Bahamas in terms of the MDG targets and indicators. In this connection he spoke to issues such as assistance to the poor and to low-income families; international migration and development; the impact of the energy and financial crisis on poverty alleviation; challenges of climate change, especially for Small Island Developing States (SIDS); and the preservation of marine and terrestrial environments.
On the occasion of the address to the General Assembly, The Bahamas:
• reaffirmed its support for the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform with a view to expanding the membership of that body in both the permanent and non-permanent categories as well as improving its working methods; and the General Assembly’s adoption in September 2006 of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy as a framework for collective action to prevent and combat terrorism;
• committed to the full implementation of a culture of peace, justice and human development, and respect for all religions and cultures.
• noted its ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the International Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) and its three Protocols.
• referenced the meteoric rise in the illicit trafficking in drugs, small arms and light weapons, illegal migration, and human trafficking and noted the formidable challenges to the national security and socio-economic growth and development of The Bahamas and member States of the Caribbean; none of which significantly produce or supply narcotics or manufacture or supply small arms and light weapons.
• reiterated the call made by CARICOM last July for the illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons to be addressed in a holistic, transparent and legally-binding manner, with renewed commitments for effective and enhanced safeguards.
• reaffirmed its commitment to the fundamental principles of human rights, dignity and freedom for all, and commended the entering into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
On the last, Prime Minister Ingraham noted that on December 10th one of the greatest achievements of the United Nations would be celebrated: the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The Prime Minister also spoke to the current global economic climate and the formidable challenge to both developed and developing countries. *”The Bahamas has established a comparative and competitive advantage in a number of international service industries by laying a solid foundation based upon the Rule of Law with its attendant protection of private property rights, combined with sound macro-economic policies and a commitment to democratic ideals that foster an enduring political stability.”* He further said The Bahamas’ participation in the international economic, financial and trading systems has allowed this nation to embrace opportunities presented by globalization and to achieve reasonable levels of growth and development. *”Nevertheless, we remain vulnerable to the challenges posed by our size and the limits on our representation in global governance.”*
The General Assembly was informed that The Bahamas supports the strengthening of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation on Tax Matters and its upgrade to an intergovernmental body. Further, the Prime Minister affirmed, *”It is the view of The Bahamas that international tax matters should be discussed in an open, transparent and inclusive forum, including issues of importance to small developing countries that are not adequately addressed in other organizations. It is for this and other important reasons that The Bahamas calls for the convening of a major international conference to review the international financial and monetary architecture and global economic governance structures.”*
Arising from the above, the Bahamas Head of State said the case of small developing countries must be addressed in the context of international systems that are fair, equitable, objective, open and inclusive. He called for effective, permanent representation of developing countries, particularly small developing countries, in international economic, trade and financial institutions, including the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as other bodies like the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) and the Basle Committee.
***Editors Note**: BFSB’s CEO & Executive Director, Wendy C. Warren, commented on the Prime Minister’s remarks on inclusive international systems. She said, “The Bahamas stands to gain considerably on the global stage when we are seen to be a constructive contributor to key international developments, whether the matter at hand is climate change or governance in financial markets.
“Global agencies will be called upon to make wide-sweeping recommendations. As such, the United Nations General Assembly provides an ideal forum to call attention to the need for a global response to the current financial markets crisis, one that includes the developing nations whose economies are greatly influenced by this industry. Without the active participation by developing countries in formulating a global response, we may find that recommendations will not take into account the progress and role of financial services industries in these countries. “