Talks must be exhaustive to avoid conflict
- Sir Shridath

Stabroek News
July 7, 2000

Former foreign minister Sir Shridath Ramphal, in a speech at the Foreign Service Institute yesterday, said, in a veiled reference to the current Guyana-Suriname border dispute, that diplomatic negotiations must be exhaustive to avoid the "taboo" of armed conflict.

Ramphal was speaking at the unveiling of the Foreign Ministers Gallery; photographs of the previous and present foreign ministers, who along with Ramphal include Rashleigh Jackson, Frederick Wills and the present Minister Clement Rohee.

Ramphal, who heads the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, spoke on the subject of `Small States' Approaches to Conflict Resolution in a Globalised Environment.'

He lamented that too often these conflicts involved "developing countries squabbling amongst themselves." Nevertheless, Ramphal said it was essential "to use every diplomatic effort... every possibility of partnership to ensure the principle of the non use of force prevails."

Ramphal stated that a country's sovereignty was paramount through the adherence to international laws, rules and disciplines. Asked whether diplomats were really looking for a final solution to Guyana's long-running border disputes, Ramphal said while the long-term view was for complete resolution, often negotiations were needed to cool down nationalist tendencies. But despite this "ad hoc" approach, solutions which prevent deterioration in relations should not be denigrated. In the larger context of global negotiations, Ramphal stressed the importance of an activist policy by even the smallest states. It was in the interests of developing nations to attend and engage the attention of such bodies as the WTO, which has the capacity to rein in the most powerful countries. The developing nations of the South, whilst maintaining their own solidarity, should discern the philosophical differences between the industrialised nations and discover niches to their economic advantage.

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