PUNCHING ABOVE OUR WEIGHT: Onwards to the United Nations Security Council
By June 5th, 2019, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will know whether or not its bid to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) would be successful. The Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with ensuring international peace and security in the world, among other things.
The Security Council also has the responsibility for accepting new members to the United Nations, and to make changes to the charter of the UN. It is the only body of the United Nations which has the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
The council consists of fifteen members, five of which are permanent (P5: United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and the Republic of China and ten non-permanent members (E10) elected every two years, with five being replaced every year. Non-permanent seats on the Council are allocated by regions, of which there are 5; Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others Group. In the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, our country will represent the GRULAC group, the Group of Latin America, and the Caribbean
Since we officially lodged our candidacy under the leadership of then Permanent Representative Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves, it was clear that going forward the eyes of the United Nations and by extension the world, would be on this tiny Small Island Developing State, vying to be the smallest ever to sit on the Security Council. This created an opportunity for us to bring leadership to various United Nations processes and show that our country can and does add value to this international body.
The current Permanent Representative Ambassador I.Rhonda King, built on the work of former Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves and was entrusted with the Chairmanship of the Fifth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for its 71st session.
Since then, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was able to successfully pilot a resolution through the General Assembly for the recognition of World Technology and Innovation Day, a day now celebrated yearly on the United Nations calendar. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, through our Permanent Representative served as Vice President to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations for the 2017-18 period and is currently serving as the President of ECOSOC which would end in July this year 2019.
On June 7, 2019, the members of the United Nations General Assembly would through formal balloting, cast their votes that would determine whether Saint Vincent and the Grenadines makes history as the smallest nation ever to sit on the security council.
What does this mean for SVG
It is widely accepted that the United Nations Security Council is the most prestigious organ of the United Nations, and because of the matters the Council is responsible for, the voices of those countries occupying the seats at any given time, be they permanent or temporary, are brought into sharp global focus.
To sit on such a prestigious body, will no doubt put the eyes of the world on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as we would continue to espouse those fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter that we have always held dear, and encourage their continued observance by all nations, great and small.
As a Small Island Developing State, we can be the voice of those like us, and champion causes that are existential, including climate change and its impact on our security apparatuses, border security for small island states with great seascapes to patrol and sustainable development among priority areas.
To be confirmed as candidate through the voting process, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines must obtain two thirds of the members present and voting, which means that we must get at least 129 votes if all members of the United Nations are present and voting on that day.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines can be proud of its record and its reputation at the United Nations and can understandably be confident about our chances at securing the votes necessary to secure a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.
We have already shown our small island exceptionalism on various committees and councils. We now have an opportunity to take on the responsibilities that come with sitting on the Security Council. We take the lead from Prime Minister Gonsalves, and express confidence that after the votes are counted on June 7, 2019, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines would be one of the five nations elected to the United Nations Security Council for the period 2020-21.