Vincentian diplomat Camillo Gonsalves says the UN is under threat of becoming a 'talk shop'. (Photo: SVG UN Mission)

ST. VINCENT: – A Vincentian diplomat has warned that the United Nations (UN) is under threat of becoming “a mere ‘talk shop’, an amalgam of unwieldy bureaucracies or a toothless rubber stamp of decisions taken elsewhere”.

Permanent Representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves, made the observation on Wednesday, Sept. 29, while speaking in New York at the General Debate of the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Gonsalves said that to avoid such a shameful fate, the UN must actively defend its role and legitimacy as the global centre of international governance and decision-making.

“… [T]alk is cheap, even when it is the heady talk of billions of dollars. Commitments made must be commitments kept. And we must hold to account those who repeatedly make empty promises,” Gonsalves said.

He offered suggestions to assist the UN in defending its role and legitimacy as the global centre of international governance and decision-making. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)

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 its “family”.

“Governance is ineffective if the rich and powerful among us can place themselves beyond the ambit of timely compliance with rules and decisions,” he said.

He urged the United States and Antigua and Barbuda to quickly resolve the dispute regarding online gaming, which the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has adjudicated in Antigua and Barbuda’s favour.

“The resolutions adopted and decisions taken by the General Assembly must have some worth beyond the paper upon which they are printed,” Gonsalves said, adding that UN members have annually made near-unanimous, calls for an end to the Cuban embargo.

“Member States must take the sovereign decision to honour the will of the international community, not because they have to, but because it is the right thing to do,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves said that the UN must hold every nation to account for commitments that have been voluntarily taken, noting that developed countries have not delivered on their promise of aid to poorer nations.

He said that six months after a UN donors conference for victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, the country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has receive only “a pathetically miniscule percentage of those pledges”.

Gonsalves said the aid has not arrived even as 1.5 million Haitians are still living in tents and women and children living in tent cities were killed when heavy rains and winds struck Haiti recently.

The diplomat spoke out against “the creeping encroachment of non-inclusive, non-transparent, non-representative groupings”, urging the UN to “cede no ground” to the development. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)

Gonsalves said there is “an undeniable logic” to a small group of the world’s largest economies meeting informally to thrash out matters that affect only their own large economies.

“In the wake of worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, 172 economies should not be locked out of economic discussions, waiting anxiously on the doorstep of the G20 for signals and policy shifts that affect our continued survival,” Gonsalves added.

“Good global governance must therefore be premised on global inclusivity. …No corner of the world should be excluded from participation in the global family,” Gonsalves said, as he called on the UN to “to ensure the meaningful participation of the 23 million people of Taiwan”.

Gonsalves further told the UN that member states must never be shy to use the institution to operationalise their commonly held ambitions for a better world, and to tackle global issues.

“Too often, we spend time lowering – rather than rising to meet – the expectations of a world that is clamouring for our leadership,” he said.

A crucial component of the overarching principle of sovereign equality is that of sovereignty itself, Gonsalves said.

He said that his country rejects any foreign or outside interference in the democratic processes of independent states.

“This is a principle upon which we are unyielding. In many of our small countries, it takes only a few minor mercenaries, and ideologically misguided or misinformed millionaires, to fundamentally threaten the fabric of our fragile democracies. Unfortunately, these interlopers are often aided and abetted by those unpatriotic opportunists who see sovereignty as a fungible commodity, to be bartered and traded to the highest nefarious bidder for short-term political gain,” he said.

He said that SVG is a strong ally in the UN’s efforts to re-establish its central role in matters of global governance.

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