ST. VINCENT: – The Dr. Ralph Gonsalves administration on Monday released a document it used to brief Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders gathered in Brazil in April on the country’s intentions to “cast its candidacy as representative of those States traditionally excluded from the [United Nations Security] Council”.
The April 26, 2010 document was circulated to the media hours after Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace challenged Gonsalves to deny that he had told other CARICOM leaders that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) would contest for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for the 2011-2012 term.
Last Thursday, when Eustace first spoke of Gonsalves’ plans, SVG’s Permanent Mission to the United Nation issued a press advisory saying Eustace had made “false statements … [that] could adversely affect the implementation of the SVG’s foreign policy and its international standing”.
Eustace on Monday said he was standing by his statements, even as the Mission requested that he “retract his false or misinformed statements in a public forum similar to that which he uttered his inaccuracies”. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
Hans King, Press Secretary to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, commenting on an I Witness-News report on Monday, wrote:
“Arnhim Eustace continues to display a certain lack of knowledge of the language of diplomacy. The release from the Permanent Mission never denied SVG’s interest in having a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, it stated SVG has not ‘announced it candidacy’, a claim which Eustace made last Thursday and which is false…
“Why [doesn’t] Mr. Eustace just admit he was wrong and misleading [?]” King further wrote, as he called on Eustace to “make it clear whether, if SVG does announce its candidacy, … he and the NDP will support or oppose this country’s candidacy”.
Campaign against Colombia
The document circulated to the media on Monday noted that, if successful, SVG would be the first CARICOM state since Jamaica was elected in 2000, the first Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member, and the smallest state, by population, to ever hold a seat on the Security Council.
It however acknowledged that SVG’s proposed candidacy “would likely necessitate a campaign against Colombia”, which is currently a declared candidate for the sole vacancy allocated to the Group of Latin American and Caribbean (GRULAC) in the October 2010 elections.
“The existence of the Colombian candidacy underscores the need for a strong and unambiguous endorsement from CARICOM; as well as coordinated efforts by CARICOM Member States on behalf of the Vincentian candidacy,” the document said.
Clash of ideologies
However, Eustace believes that SVG’s possible candidacy for the Security Council seat is being fueled by the ongoing ideological war being raged against the United States by the Venezuela-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA).
“I am satisfied that ALBA is the one … who pushed Prime Minister Gonsalves to tell his [Caribbean Community] colleagues that St. Vincent is going to contest for the seat in the United Nations … because they don’t like Colombia and Colombia is the country that is named,” Eustace said on Monday.
Cuba’s Granma newspaper, reporting on an ALBA gathering in Caracas last month, quoted Gonsalves as urging ALBA states to fight against colonialism and imperialism and expressing his confidence that Vincentians and the region understand that ALBA is the way to leave behind underdevelopment.
However, the document said that SVG’s “proposed candidacy is less a challenge to Colombia than it is an advancement of a principled position on the representation of CARICOM, SIDS [Small Island Developing States] and small states at the upper echelons of multilateral diplomacy”.
It said that SVG had considered the current GRULAC hopefuls, and views Columbia the most appropriate to challenge.
This is “based on the frequency of Colombia’s participation on the Security Council, the short “turn-around” since its most recent election to the Council, and the likelihood that it will be unable to garner unanimous Latin American support within GRULAC”.
The document noted that Colombia and Argentina have each served more terms on the Security Council than all of CARICOM combined and both Latin American nations have also declared candidacies that would commence less than 10 years since they were last elected to the Council.
Colombia last served from 2001-2002 and Argentina 2005-2006.
“The frequency of their memberships and the short lapse between elections will benefit Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which has never been elected in 30 years on UN membership,” the document argued.
SVG believes that Colombia is a weaker candidate and more “controversial candidate within Latin America, and is unlikely to garner the level of support within GRULAC that Argentina would”.
Its proposal to CARICOM leaders further noted that the issue of Security Council reform and the participation of small states in multilateral affairs is on the agenda in a way in which it may not be in 2013.
‘a good chance’
The Gonsalves administration said it believes that SVG “has a good chance” of gaining the two-thirds majority required to hold a seat on the Security Council.
He however acknowledged “the difficulties in mounting a successful campaign”, noting his country’s late entry into the race, Colombia’s “far greater resources” and bias by UN members who feel that SVG is too “small” to be a Security Council Member.
The document said that if SVG does not reach the two-thirds majority threshold, the country is “confident that it can gain the votes necessary to produce a deadlock in the race against Colombia”.
It said that given SVG’s “intention to run as a ‘CARICOM candidate’” if such a deadlock occurs, the country would be well positioned to insist upon both candidates yielding to a “compromise candidate” from the CARICOM subregion to represent GRULAC in the Security Council.
“Such an outcome would also constitute a regional success. As such, in addition to the issue of a strong endorsement, CARICOM Member States may wish to consider their willingness to step forward as the compromise candidate in the event of a stalemate between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Colombia,” the document said.