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Gov’t ‘angered’ by climate change treaty standstill

Gov’t ‘angered’ by climate change treaty standstill

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The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) says it is “angered by the continuing and inexcusable failure” of the international community “to move decisively towards a meaningful and legally binding climate change treaty”.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves further told the United Nations on September 28 that some of its member nations “may simply cease to exist as a result of our inaction and political cowardice”.

Other nations, including SVG, are “already victim of increasingly intense and frequent storms, hurricanes and weather events,” he said.

“These changes threaten not only our way of life, but risk reversing our recent developmental progress”.

He told the General Debate of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly that the islands of the world “are at war against climate change, warming temperatures and rising seas.

“This war is not a future event, it is a present-day and ongoing battle. As all of you in this room are aware, it is a war that we are currently losing. The survival of our islands is at stake, and the responsibility for immediate change lies undisputedly with those whose reckless pollution over generations has led us to the brink of catastrophe.”

Gonsalves said former UK prime minister Winston Churchill inspired his people and the world to “fight on the seas and oceans [and to] defend our island, whatever the cost may be”.

“Today, Excellencies, know this: We shall fight the rising seas and encroaching oceans and defend our islands’ right to exist at any cost. We call on all nations to join us in the fight, for this is a war that can still be won.

“Our negotiations to arrest climate change are not merely some arcane academic or diplomatic pursuit, and cannot be treated as any interminable, run-of-the-mill United Nations process. Let us set aside narrow, short-term interests and act as we are capable of acting: for the benefit and protection of all mankind,” he said.

Arms treaty standstill

Gonsalves further said the global pursuit of a global, robust and binding arms trade treaty is another existential threat whose solution has fallen victim to UN paralysis.

He said over 70 per cent of homicides in the Caribbean are committed with firearms — “a remarkable statistic for a region that produces not one single gun or bullet”.

He further said while SVG has a largely unarmed constabulary and lacks a standing army, the nation struggles daily against an influx of illicit and untraceable firearms that poses a grave threat to its national security and way of life.

“The producers of firearms, as well as the source and destination markets for illicit narcotics, can and must cooperate to restrict and regulate the international flow of small arms, light weapons and ammunition. While we have failed in our initial attempt to forge an arms trade treaty, I call on this Session of the General Assembly to redouble its efforts to negotiate such a binding agreement before we reconvene this debate next September,” he said. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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