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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ambassador Gonsalves Assails Global Imbalances at United Nations General Debate

[LEFT] Part I on Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves' speech to the United Nations General Debate; [RIGHT] Part II of Ambassador Gonsalves' statement
(The entire statement can also be viewed via RealPlayer by clicking HERE)

NEW YORK, NY, September 29, 2009: Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has highlighted in stark terms the threats facing his country and the structural imbalances in global relations. Addressing the General Debate of the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Ambassador Gonsalves detailed his country's "discontent with the status quo" and called for developing countries to push for structural changes in global governance.

The Ambassador identified a single root cause of many of the issues facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines: "A struggle by the powerful to cling to their dominion, long after the legitimate bases of their power have faded." He went on to criticize the Security Council, the Bretton Woods institutions and the blockade on Cuba. Noting that the G-20 suffered from a lack of legitimacy, he said the geopolitical status quo remained. "Although we have a seat in this hallowed building, it is often the seat of a spectator in a historical drama." On the subject of the global economic and financial crisis, his country suffered from its consequences, although it had played no part in its creation.

Gonsalves added that the "invisible hand" of the market is still clasped firmly around the throats of poor people and the developing countries of the world.

Ambassador Gonsalves stated that, in addition to the global economic crisis, the country faces "the triple threat of being globalised, climatised and stigmatised". He told the General Assembly that the World Trade Organization had globalised the multi-island Caribbean nation out of its trade in bananas, which, until very recently was the engine of its economic growth. The tourism industry was threatened by climate change as intensified hurricanes destroy the coral reefs, damage costal infrastructure and erode beaches, Gonsalves said. Additionally, he said, the country faces "being stigmatised out of our transition into financial services, as the G20, the OECD (Organisation for Economic and Cooperation Development) and other non-inclusive bodies seek to scapegoat and root out so-called 'tax havens' in a pathetic effort to cast a wide and indiscriminate net of blame across a swath of legitimate and well-regulated countries' development efforts," he said.

The Ambassador said his country noted the "irony of these paternalistic prescriptions from the same countries that are unable to stem corruption and mismanagement within their own borders, where corporations recklessly squander trillions of dollars and a single buccaneer investor can make $50 billion disappear into thin air.... "The unholy trinity of exogenous assaults on our developmental prospects...cannot be ignored," he said.

The Vincentian envoy said that in addition to the "unholy trinity of exogenous assaults" on its developmental prospects, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines could not ignore the security threats engendered by the illicit trade in firearms and narcotics. "We in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines find ourselves unfortunately located between the supply and demand of these poisons and weapons, and their deleterious effects rip holes in our cohesive social fabric," he said. He said "the Caribbean, which produces not one single firearm [nor] one single kilo of cocaine, is awash in drugs and guns, and is now the sub-region with the world's highest per capita murder rate".

The citizens of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines would soon vote on a new constitution to transform the country into an independent republic, he announced, before turning to the subject of international relations. It was necessary for multilateral cooperation to be inclusive and participatory and, to that end, poor and developing countries were urged to help remake the United Nations. The global economic and financial crisis, poverty and development weren't academic issues; climate change wasn't theoretical and global governance was not a "diplomatic parlour game", he said, and concluded: "We stand now in the autumn of our discontent. But, as Gandhi said, 'healthy discontent is the prelude to progress'."

[Click HERE to view a copy of Ambassador Gonsalves' Statement in .pdf format]

This article contains elements from reports of the UN News Center, the UN Department of Public Information, I Witness News, Caribbean360.com, and the St. Kitts/Nevis Sun