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Former Ambassador – My votes were endorsed

Former Ambassador – My votes were endorsed

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A former ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations has responded to statements made in a confidential United States embassy cable, published recently on the Wikileaks website.{{more}}

Margaret Hughes Ferrari, who served as this country’s representative to the UN from September 2001 to October 2007, said in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Friday, July 1, that whenever she voted at the United Nations, it was with the endorsement of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Ferrari’s response came days after the June 23, 2011, publication of a report of a January 29, 2008, meeting between Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and then US Ambassador to Barbados and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Mary Ourisman.

In the cable, Ourisman reports that Gonsalves made a “surprising admission” that St. Vincent and the Grenadines had not been consistent in the past in voting on human rights at the United Nations. Ourisman said Gonsalves “blamed” this situation on Ferrari’s “cynical” view.

However, Gonsalves, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT after the release of the cable, said he may not have used the word cynical.”That may have been her (Ourisman’s) own interpretation,” he said, adding that Ferrari felt that the United States was politicizing human rights, and sometimes abstained from voting.

Ferrari said the Prime Minister’s remark that she felt the US was playing politics was “completely accurate”.

“I felt that we had no doubt that the countries which were targeted year to year had some serious human rights violations, but we felt indeed that there were several other countries which we named that had equally if not greater human rights violations, and they seemed to have been left alone. We felt it was being politicized that these countries were being selective in their choice of who to target and who not to,” Ferrari said.

Explaining how decisions were made in relation to how this country voted at the United Nations, Ferrari said there were many issues where traditionally, this country voted one way or the other. However, for controversial issues, she consulted with the capital.

“When it came to controversial issues, for example voting on certain countries’ human rights records, those matters I would have made certain recommendations to the capital, based on not just my feelings, but the way CARICOM was tending to vote as a whole, and my recommendations would either be accepted or not, as the case may be.

“In the case of those resolutions which were put forward by the Western group of States, I did in fact, for several consecutive years, recommend that we abstain, for reasons which were given to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And I discussed the matter with not just the Ministry, but the Prime Minister, on more than one occasion, and we did abstain,” Ferrari explained.

When asked if she was surprised at what Ourisman reported that the prime minister said, the former Ambassador said, “I have no idea what the Prime Minister said to the lady. I only know what she reported back to her bosses in Washington.”

“I would be very surprised indeed if the Prime Minister said that I voted without endorsement from capital, because simply that would not be true.”

“Whether he said my view is cynical, I don’t know whether it is cynical or not, but that was my view and the view of several other CARICOM people who voted the same way we did.” Ferrari stated.