SVG beats El Salvador to UN Security Council seat
by Bria King
St Vincent and the Grenadines’ (SVG) becoming a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council is reaffirmation that “although we are not better than anyone, no one is better than us”.
These are the words of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who made a public address to the nation yesterday, following this country’s successful election to the Security Council last Friday, June 7.
In celebration of this achievement, Tuesday, June 11 was declared a public holiday and a motorcade was held. A celebration rally also took place on Sunday when the Prime Minister returned to the country.
“Never in the 74-year-old history of the United Nations, has such a country as small as ours been elected to the security council, the 15-member institution responsible for the oversight of international peace and security,” Gonsalves said during yesterday’s address.
“Our election to the security council has been truly historic. Vincentians at home and abroad, the people of the Caribbean and Latin America, the citizens of the small island developing states and the peace loving people of the world rejoice in celebrating our remarkable victory.”
Of the 193 member states of the UN General Assembly, SVG secured 185 votes. El Salvador, who ran for the same seat, received 6 votes. There were two abstentions.
The prime minister said that the country had little to no money to spend on the campaign, which spanned the last 10 years.
And SVG’s win was hinged on “an overflowing of ideas, solid work, creative diplomacy and mature, committed leadership”.
The campaign tools of this country’s most recent win included seven books published by the prime minister in the last nine years, one book published by health minister, Luke Browne and a final book published recently by finance minister, Camillo Gonsalves.
Gonsalves said that the government also “crafted our speeches and governmental publications in thoughtful and innovative ways, brimful with mature analyses and workable prescriptions.”
And he said that SVG’s victory at the General Assembly should serve as an inspiration for young people to set meaningful goals and work assiduously to achieve them.
SVG’s term on the UN Security Council begins on January 1, 2020 and ends on December 31, 2021.
Finance minister, Camillo Gonsalves, while speaking on We FM on Sunday outlined several benefits for the country in earning a seat on the Council.
“I think St Vincent and the Grenadines will play an important role in shaping how the Security Council treats with issues relating to climate change…not in alleviating climate change – because that’s not the job of the Security Council, but in dealing with the security implications of climate change,” he said.
The younger Gonsalves said that security implications of climate change come through hardships people face such as droughts and tsunamis, which have the potential to create refugee crises through migration.
He said fights can result over a lack of food, water or other resources and these are the implications that go beyond reducing harmful emissions that are often talked about in conjunction with climate change.
“We also want to deal with the nexus between development and peace because a lot of times, the security council reaches the party late. The war has broken out already, knives and guns and cutlasses are drawn, but if you looked at the situation a little earlier, you would realise that there is a linkage between underdevelopment or inequality and some of the challenges we face,” the finance minister said.
Gonsalves said that SVG does not want the Security Council to become a development agency, but rather understand that fights often develop due to developmental issues or resource scarcities.
He also said that there are specific issues that exist in the region that SVG also hopes to shed light on while it holds a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.
There are five permanent members of the UN Security Council. They are the United States of America, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the Republic of France.
The other non-permanent members who will sit on the Council are Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia, South Africa, Niger, Tunisia, Vietnam and Estonia.