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HIGH-LEVEL PARTICIPATION:

The Barbadian hosts and AOSIS alike were disappointed by both the degree to which the donor countries were represented at the High-Level Segment and the low level of their representation. A number of key OECD countries, some with long, historical ties to islands, including France and the Netherlands, were not represented at all during the High-Level Segment. Furthermore, a number of islands did not even send their Prime Ministers or Presidents to the Conference. Nevertheless, the presence of Fidel Castro provided the High-Level Segment with a suitable diversion. Politically, the lack of high-level representation at this meeting, when coupled with the inadequacy of the Barbados Declaration, leaves room for uncertainty as to the international community's political will to implement the Programme of Action and work towards the sustainable development of SIDS. Obviously, there still remains a need for high-level consciousness raising and greater political commitment at the international level.