Remarks at the Meeting of the UN Steering Committee on Partnerships for Small Island Developing States (via VTC)

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 9, 2020


We are pleased to participate in this important and timely discussion and very much appreciate your and Amb of Antigua and Barbuda for your leadership and for the perspectives and leadership shared today by the outgoing co-chairs. The United States has for decades stood in partnership with the SIDS and we are standing in solidarity with SIDS in the fight against COVID-19.

The United States has acted swiftly to respond to and mitigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic among SIDS. I want to highlight our some key assistance data, but to echo as well some of the calls for action today. To date, the U.S. government has allocated over $122 million in health assistance to Pacific Island countries.  U.S. assistance will help Pacific Island governments respond effectively to COVID-19 while protecting the rights of vulnerable and marginalized groups.  In the Western Hemisphere, we are providing over $20 million in health and development assistance funding to help SIDS combat COVID-19.

This builds on decades of U.S. investment and partnership in the two regions.  Over the past decade, the United States has provided more than $5.2 billion in assistance across the Pacific, including $620 million in health assistance.

In the Caribbean, we’ve invested more than $840 million total over the past 20 years, including $236 million for health, building resilience in the face of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases.  In Barbados, to give just one example, $6 million in U.S. funding facilitated the opening of the Collymore Rock public health laboratory in 2018.  This lab is now processing COVID-19 test results for the residents of Barbados and the region.

I mention these as these are not splashy one-off events or short term focuses, but long-term investments in resiliency to address needs that SIDS identify.

I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the Pacific Islands for their robust sub-regional and regional multilateral processes and partnerships.

As the United States said last summer at the adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum, the United States supports closer partnership and coordination between the Pacific Islands Forum and the UN.  Establishing a Multi-Country Office in the North Pacific could strengthen these ties and help SIDS make even better use of UN resources.

Ensuring access to UN resources is essential.  We urge the UN to make it simpler and more straightforward for SIDS to access resources, especially as they seek solutions to COVID-19 challenges.   This has long been an issue and it needs to be addressed now.

We strongly support the SIDS expanding partnerships with the private sector to achieve sustainable development.

We are committed to building and enhancing robust partnerships with the SIDS to support your immediate COVID-19 related challenges and long-term development goals.