St. Vincent’s Victory at UN Security Council

According to The UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, “St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean islands that effectively defied with arms Europe’s colonization of the region for three hundred years, finally falling to the British in the 1790s, is now the smallest nation ever to be elected to the UN Security Council. Once again, in its modern history the tiny nation is situated at the centre of the international dialogue about security and justice.” He was commenting during a Vice-Chancellor’s Forum hosted by The UWI on Thursday, November 7.

Vice-Chancellor Beckles stated, “This election of St Vincent and the Grenadines is historic on two levels—it illustrates the power and confidence of Caribbean leadership to engage in global diplomacy to build bridges across the world and to win the moral and political argument and this is a triumph to Prime Minister Gonsalves.”

The Vice-Chancellor’s Forum which examined the significance of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ elevation to the United Nations Security Council and what it means for international relations in the region, was part of an ongoing series facilitated by the activist university on conversations relevant to regional development. It included an address by Prime Minister, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. The Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, as well as a discussion featuring Ambassador of Trinidad & Tobago to the United Nations, Penelope Beckles; former Ambassador of Jamaica to the United Nations, Raymond Wolfe; former Ambassador of Grenada to the USA and OAS, Gillian Bristol and former Representative, Jamaica United Nations Mission, Joan Thomas-Edwards.

Delivering welcome remarks, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs at The UWI and Chair of Forum, Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal contextualised the purpose of the event. He said its intent was to “celebrate this momentous achievement, discuss what are the opportunities and implications of ascending to this important role, and to remedy a serious defect in our recording of history.” He added, “We have very little diplomatic history although the Caribbean has certainly exerted an influence way beyond its size. Small states have always had a unique role in global affairs.”

Vice-Chancellor Beckles positioned the importance of the opportunity, noting that the United Nations Security Council is “Arguably an institution that has the potential to craft new development paradigms for this 21st century.” He continued, “Not only in respect of the economic relations of the world but also in terms of the political narratives of social justice, the equality of nations and the infrastructure of democracy and at the core of it, the security of all nations including the most vulnerable—those that are vulnerable in terms of their economic structures and those vulnerable in terms of their exposure to the catastrophes associated with global warming.”

In his address, Prime Minister Gonsalves stated, “At the global level, our campaign carries the tagline: Friends of all striving for a better world and this fits with how we see foreign policy. In our representation on the UN Council we are advancing the interest of the Caribbean and Latin America and of course the world.” He emphasised, “At the top of our agenda would be the security consequences of climate change…and second, which is in fact, fundamental to everything is to make sure that international law is upheld and preserved. He noted that St Vincent and the Grenadines is small but will raise its voice against injustice from more powerful countries.

Prime Minister Gonsalves also mentioned that among the delegation appointed to represent St Vincent and the Grenadines is UWI academic, Dr. Halimah DeShong. Dr. DeShong who heads the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at The UWI Cave Hill Campus is expected to oversee matters related to women’s issues. The St Vincent and the Grenadines will officially take up the two-year Council seat in January 2020.

Photo caption: (l-r) Mrs. Joan Thomas Edwards, Former Representative, Jamaica United Nations Mission; Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs, The University of the West Indies (The UWI); Ambassador Gillian Bristol, Former Ambassador of Grenada to the USA and OAS and Ambassador Raymond Wolfe, Former Ambassador of Jamaica to the United Nations, following the Forum on “The Caribbean/St. Vincent and the Grenadines elected to the UN Security Council”, at The UWI Regional Headquarters on Thursday, November 7, 2019.