ST. VINCENT:- St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will no longer pursue a possible candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in October, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said in a statement on Friday.
The country has instead instructed its Permanent Mission to the United Nations to submit the necessary documentation to formally announce its candidacy for the 2020-2021 term.
The statement cited a lack of support from two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states, noting that an SVG bid against Colombia “could only succeed if it enjoyed the unanimous endorsement” of all 14 CARICOM nations.
“Given the decision by those two states not to support a potential Vincentian bid for the 2011-2012 term, CARICOM was unable to unanimously endorse that candidature,” Gonsalves said in the statement.
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace announced late April that the Gonsalves administration was discussing with regional governments a possible candidature.
Eustace said Gonsalves was a proxy for the Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and the Caracas-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) in an attempt to undermine Colombia’s chances of being elected to the Council.
However, Gonsalves said his administration did not intend to disrespect citizens by not announcing its plans, saying, “You have to lay the basis for diplomacy in private.” (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
The statement issued on Friday said a number of countries had approached SVG “to consider offering its voice and perspective to the deliberations of the United Nations Security Council”.
The country has since been “actively investigating the feasibility of announcing its candidature,” the document said.
Those investigations included canvassing member states of the United Nations, an assessment of the financial and human resource implications of such a bid, and discussions with member states of CARICOM.
SVG’s analysis indicated a strong likelihood of success in either seeking the 2020-2021 position or in a competitive election against Colombia for the 2011-2012 vacancy, pending unanimous CARICOM support, Gonsalves said.
In a brief prepared for the Heads of State and Government of CARICOM in April, SVG emphasised that “the need for a strong and unambiguous endorsement by CARICOM is essential.”
The Government discussed the possible candidacy with selected OECS heads of government in Antigua and Barbuda on April 9 and at meeting of CARICOM heads of state in Brazil on April 26. It was further discussed at a CARICOM’s Council for Community and Foreign Relations (COFCOR) meeting in Dominica on May 6.
“However, for varying reasons unrelated to [SVG], two CARICOM states indicated that they did not view a 2011-2012 candidature as compatible with their individual national interests. As a result, these two CARICOM states declined at this time to endorse the potential Vincentian candidature,” Gonsalves’ statement said.
“In light of CARICOM’s failure to unanimously endorse the candidacy, the Government of [SVG] decided not to announce a bid for the 2011-2012 term…[but] instead decided to make its historic bid for the term beginning in 2020,” the document added.
Eustace has said that his New Democratic Party is not opposed, in principle, to SVG holding a Security Council seat.
However, although he did not give any evidence to support his claim, he suggested that the country was being used as a satellite of Caracas, with which Kingstown has increasingly warm relations.
The former prime minister is concerned about the recent agreement among ALBA nations to consolidate their integration and sovereignty in the interest of constructing the road to socialism.
“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.
However, Eustace has been criticised for his response to his country’s possible candidacy for the Security Council seat.
Noted Caribbean journalist Ricky Singh said Eustace was trying, “for domestic political reasons”, to frustrate the bid.
In SVG, social commentator Jomo Thomas, who is also General Secretary of the socio-political group, People’s Movement for Change, said while the opposition accuses Gonsalves of following Chavez’s dictates to challenge Colombia’s bid, “There is no context to the discussion”.
“Rather than speak to the possibilities, responsibility and the effort required to mount a successfully challenge for the Security Council seat and against Colombia, a nation favoured by the United States, the debate has been marred by political gamesmanship, political calculations and in some cases misinformation borne out of ignorance or a deliberate attempt to mislead and confuse,” Thomas said in a recent media commentary.
SVG is the smallest country, by population, ever to announce its candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. It is the first member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) ever to put forward its name as a candidate for this position.
Within CARICOM, only Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have ever held a seat on the Security Council.
Among the independent countries of the world categorised as “Small Island Developing States,” to which SVG belong, roughly 80 per cent have never served on the Security Council.