This publication was released by UNCTAD on the occasion of the Mauritius International Meeting for the Review of the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States/SIDS (10-14 January 2005). It was made possible by financial support from the Government of Ireland. The book discusses:
the question of the definition of SIDS and need for criteria to enhance the credibility of the UN´s advocacy of special consideration of SIDS as an implicit category of countries facing special problems;
the issue of erosion of market access preferences, which is one of the most difficult challenges many SIDS are faced with; and
the importance to SIDS of the relationship between trade and the environment.
The book underlines the fact that SIDS are erroneously viewed as countries in enviable situations, although most of them are characterized by much environmental and social fragility, and a high degree of economic vulnerability to external shocks beyond domestic control. The exceptional competitive disadvantages small island economies face are generally recognized, but development partners and large trading partners have not been willing to translate this recognition into specific support on grounds of SIDS status. In this regard, the publication stresses the importance of clarity and consistency in advocacy efforts as a sine qua non condition for achieving any progress toward special treatment of SIDS. This condition implies as a pre-requisite the existence of an internationally accepted definition of the relevant target group of countries.
UNCTAD was the first institution to denounce the fallacy of per capita income as a yardstick for determining the way SIDS should be supported, and a pioneer in bringing to the international community´s attention the importance of economic vulnerability as a more meaningful criterion for guiding development partners and trading partners in their treatment of these countries.