The discussion of A/CONF.167/PC/6, Overview of the activities of the UN system, took place with only half a dozen UN agencies and the Regional Commissions present. While the Secretariat was thanked for its efforts, many delegates pointed to some of the shortcomings of the document. In particular, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Iceland, and Canada regretted that the activities described were not always specific to SIDS. In addition, issues of concern to SIDS, such as communication and transport, were not always addressed in sufficient detail.
Australia called for a new document providing a complete picture of what the UN is doing, what it can do, and how well it is doing it. Kiribati reminded participants that some UN agency programmes will not benefit SIDS that are not members of the agency in question. Vanuatu added that the imperfections of the report reflect the imperfections of the UN system. The US urged the international community to make the best use of the institutions already in place and to implement existing conventions. Canada suggested that a questionnaire be circulated to assist in evaluating programmes carried out at the national level and to include relevant comments in an inventory compiled by the Secretariat. Cuba suggested that the participants meet once more before Barbados when they have a better sense of what is already being done and a clearer idea of what is needed.
Miles Stoby, from the Secretariat, urged the delegates to remember that the UN has no specific mandate to deal with SIDS as such. He indicated that a new document could be prepared for Barbados if its focus was more clearly defined. He suggested that as information systems are expensive, a SIDS referral point within the UN system could be created.
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