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poor countries lash out at the rich


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Published on Friday, July 19, 2002 by Agence France Presse
Breaking from Protocol
World's Poorest Nations Lash Out at Globe's Richest

NADI, FIJI -- The world's poorest nations unleashed a barrage of complaints against the globe's richest countries here, voicing anger over globalization, migration, nuclear waste and unilateralism.

Delegates to the 78-nation African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) summit, which normally restricts its agenda to trade and aid issues with the European Union (EU), broke from protocol to address political concerns with the developed world.

3rd Summit of ACP
Participants of the 3rd Summit of ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) listen to Fijian Prime Minister and acting President of the ACP Laisenia Qarase, in the resort town of Nadi, Fiji, July 19, 2002. Leaders and ministers from more than 60 of the world's poorer nations are gathered in the Fijian resort town of Nadi for the 3rd APC summit. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside
A statement at the end of the summit acknowledged poor nations did benefit from globalization, such as through reduced trade barriers, but said the process still discriminated against them.

"The envisaged benefits have not materialized for most of the poor countries and even when they have, these are not equitably shared while the costs are borne by all," the statement said.

ACP states enjoy preferential trade access to the EU but these are to go by 2008 in a new deal to be negotiated over the next five years.

Delegates to the summit opposed the changes, saying poorer countries needed special treatment and policy flexibility to enable them to develop their economies and protect their own financial interests.

The summit also strongly condemned nuclear waste shipments across the world's oceans by EU member states and Japan.

The criticism came as British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. shipped low-level radioactive waste from Japan to Britain on two ships, currently believed to be in the exclusive economic zone of Vanuatu, west of here.

The shipments, part of regular traffic between Britain, France and Japan, have for several years outraged Pacific nations who fear they are an environmental and security risk.

The communique on nuclear waste included unexpectedly tough language after objections from African nations were overcome.

"We express our strong objection to the transport of nuclear and other hazardous materials through the waters around ACP states," the communique said.

"We call for the immediate cessation of such practice, in order to prevent any occurrence of accidents that could seriously threaten their sustainable development and the health of their peoples."

One government leader told AFP at the summit that nuclear shipments were a delicate issue with African nations unwilling to condemn EU members.

"But we told them that this is an issue which affects everybody, and they (the nuclear powers) will take their wastes through their waters some day," the leader said.

The communique also expressed concern at European policies on migration, calling on EU nations to enter into bilateral negotiations to protect immigrants from the developing world.

"We note that while ACP migrants in industrialized countries contribute significantly to economic development, they are often marginalized," the delegates said in the statement.

"We reject recent developments implicitly linking migration to aid by some donor countries."

The statement also expressed concern at what it said was a growing trend towards unilateralism in international affairs.

It expressed condemnation of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States but called for the fight against terrorism to take place through the United Nations charter and within international law.

The statement said the fight against terrorism would only be won with appropriate treatment of its root causes, including poverty, under-development and oppression.

Global warming was another concern raised by the ACP, saying the existence of some member nations was in danger because of the phenomenon.

However not all anger was directed at the developed world, with the statement voicing concern over internal violence within their own countries.

The statement highlighted "the wanton acts of destruction and massacres committed against innocent civilian populations by armed troops and militias in ACP countries".

Copyright 2002 AFP