Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves. (Photo: SVG UN Mission)

ST. VINCENT: – the Permanent Representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves, has said that the UN remains the only venue that offers small nations “both a seat and a voice in global affairs”.

In making the point, Gonsalves said small states have out of “principle and necessity … emerged as some of the most jealous and zealous guardians of the United Nations Charter”.

Gonsalves’ comments came on Wednesday, Sept. 29, while speaking at the General Debate of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)

He said the theme of the gathering — “Reaffirming the central role of the United Nations in global governance” — resonated loudly with SVG and many of the “small and marginalized states” making up the 192 members of the General Assembly.

“The Charter is the document that guarantees our place in this Assembly as the sovereign equals of every other country of the world. And the United Nations remains the only venue that affords us both a seat and a voice in global affairs,” Gonsalves said.

He said that to SVG, the UN “must be the center of global governance because it is our only option for global governance”.

“There are some states that fortuitously find themselves in the inner sanctums of the Security Council. And the G8. And the G20. And the OECD. For them, the centrality of the UN may vary with the political winds or the shifting sands of great power intrigue. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has no such luxury. We cannot take our ball and go home, to play on other fields and interact in other fora. The United Nations is all we have. Its centrality in global governance, for us, is therefore an essential and indisputable truth,” Gonsalves said.

The diplomat said the centrality of the United Nations’ role “is being challenged as never before”.

“Various organisations and small groupings of states, with selective membership and opaque modus operandi, have coalesced to become global decision-makers and shapers of our post-Cold War existence. For our purposes, it is irrelevant whether these groupings have formed to respond to, or to precipitate, the UN’s declining effectiveness,” Gonsalves said.

He said that in the in the face of global crises of economy, climate, trade, and reform, the body of nations “have been tested and found wanting”. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)

“We face the real threat of devolving into a mere ‘talk shop,’ an amalgam of unwieldy bureaucracies or a toothless rubber stamp of decisions taken elsewhere. To avoid such an ignominious fate, we must actively defend our role and legitimacy as the global centre of international governance and decision-making,” he said.

Gonsalves said that for the concept of global governance to have meaning and relevance, the UN “must inject some measure of consistency and predictability into the rules that govern our family”.

“Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is committed to the international rule of law and the role of the institutions that advance the rule of law and adjudicate international disputes. Governance is ineffective if the rich and powerful among us can place themselves beyond the ambit of timely compliance with rules and decisions,” Gonsalves said.