Global Institute for Leadership and Management Development
UVI can help island nations have greater pull in world affairs, U.N. ambassador says
By Tanya Mannes - Daily News Staff
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
St. Thomas -- an ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday that the University of the Virgin islands can play a key role in harnessing the resources of small, developing island nations to ensure that they have a collective voice in world affairs.
Jagdish Koonjul, permanent ambassador from Mauritius to that U.N. since 2001, is chairman of the U.N. Alliance of Small Island States. He spoke Tuesday at the opening ceremony of UVI's 11th annual Summer Institute for Future Global Leaders of the Caribbean.
Koonjul said that the U.N. is moving toward internal reform, which, combined with trends in foreign policy, could concentrate powers in the hands of a few countries. He cited as an example a proposal to expand the U.N. Security Council, an action that could weaken the overall body's collective decision-making, he said.
"Important world decisions may be taken outside the U. in process by a few of the most powerful members, for example, in a bilateral or regional framework and then imposed on the rest of the membership," Koonjul said. "The biggest challenge for the small and medium-size countries would be to preserve their rights to participate fully and effectively in decisions which will have an impact on them directly or indirectly."
In order to survive, Island states must strengthen their regional Corporation and economic integration through frameworks such as the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, he said.
"It will be important to establish regional and international networks to exchange ideas and learn about each other's problems and forge alliances, because global problems will need global solutions," Koonjul said. "The University of the Virgin Island's is one of the pioneers in the Small Island Developing State's Universities Consortium projects, which I believe could be used extensively for such purposes."
UVI is one of five founding members of the consortium, and in January, UVI's President Dr. LaVerne Ragster was named chairwoman of the governing board. The consortium comprises: UVI, the University of Malta, the University of Mauritius, the University of the South Pacific and of the University of the West Indies. A goal of the consortium is to develop coursework or degree programs to teach students about unique requirements for sustainable development-"smart growth"-on small islands.
Of the small island developing states, 37 are voting U.N. members, and 14 including the US VI, are considered associate members of the regional U.N. commissions.
The Summer Institute for Future Global Leaders aims to prepare University juniors, seniors and first-year graduates for global leadership roles. The opening ceremony marks the start of a series of lectures, workshops, roundtable discussions and forums involving 50 student leaders from colleges and universities. The students are from the Dutch, French, English and Spanish-speaking Caribbean, the United States and your. The two-week Institute includes field trips to the V. I. Superior Court and the Legislature.
This year Institute, according to institute director Solomon Kabuka, will examine the challenges facing small states.
"Small states have fewer resources available to deal with challenges of the global environment," Kabuka said.
The public is invited to attend its three forums that will address global issues:
*Caribbean forum: "CARICOM: A Vanguard for Caribbean Integration and Prosperity,: from 9 to 10:20 a.m. today, Chase Auditorium.
*African forum: "Profiles in Perspectives on Development in the Global Environment," 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, Chase Auditorium
*World Forum: "Is the United Nations a Viable Option for Small States' Development in the 21st Century?" 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. May 25, UVI Sports and Fitness Center
- Contact Tanya Mannes at 774-8772 ext. 317 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org