Sen. Camillo Gonsalves addresses the SIDS conference in Samoa. (Photo: Camillo Gonsalves/Facebook)

APIA, Samoa (CMC) – St. Vincent and the Grenadines has lamented what it regards as the “initial indifference, paternalism and outright antipathy” towards Small Island Developing States (SIDS), saying that they “continue to lurk beneath the thin veneer of diplomatic formalities”.

Addressing the United Nations Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, Foreign Affairs Minister Sen. Camillo Gonsalves said the erroneous view that SIDS should be observers, and not participants, in important matters of international relations “is self-evident in our underrepresentation or outright exclusion from the inner sancta of decision-making bodies” on various issues.

“It is evident here today, in the deeply disappointing absence of high-level representation from many large and developed nations,” he said, adding that the absence of “high-level representation” has “largely left us to talk among ourselves, to preach to the choir, at what is a vitally important international conference”.

Gonsalves said these slights beg the question of whether some powerful states would prefer that developing countries “subsist as full members of the UN in name only, enjoying the legal fiction of sovereign equality, while remaining observers to a geopolitical drama in which we can neither meaningfully act nor contribute to scripting the outcomes”.

However, he urged participating countries to “reject those jaundiced perspectives and state with clarity and confidence that our time is now.

“Not for an episodic, once-per-decade engagement, but for a sustained and sincere restructuring of an outmoded one-size-fits-all approach that serves to diminish our nobility and retard our developmental aspirations,” he said.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines foreign minister also called for an immediate end to what he described as “the practice of using per capita GDP (gross domestic product) as a obstacle to any form of developmental assistance or relief to Small Island Developing States.

“Stripped of context, per capita GDP fails to capture the obvious vulnerabilities and developmental hurdles that confront us on a daily basis,” he said, adding that “any serious analysis of our economic and developmental health must include structured evaluations of our vulnerability and resilience.

“It is only then that a truer picture of our needs and possibilities can emerge. The time for such a reform is now.”

Similarly, he said the related realities of existing debt burdens require “urgent corrective attention”.

Gonsalves said SIDS’ developmental aspirations and manoeuvres are straight-jacketed by an acute absence of fiscal space.

“How can we address myriad climate challenges, the transition to modern modes of production, the adoption of renewable energy, the strengthening of our social safety nets, or the equipping of our citizens to meet tomorrow’s challenges, while managing a debt burden that is among the highest in the world?

“Debt forgiveness, debt for climate swaps, and debt relief based on the magnitude of exogenous shocks are unavoidable elements of any serious SIDS-centred development discussion,” he added.

Gonsalves said the “myopic refusal of international financial institutions and their funders to squarely confront SIDS’ debt burdens can only yield disastrous consequences”.

He said SIDS’ steady developmental progress will be halted and reversed unless there is international cooperation to lighten the Sisyphean boulder of debt that we have been condemned to push ever uphill.

“Debt restructuring, not structural adjustment is the urgent requirement of SIDS’ economies in the wake of the global financial crisis. The time for such restructuring is now.”

Gonsalves said while Caribbean SIDS have, by and large, been experiencing anaemic post-crisis growth, their GDPs have been “battered with regularity and ferocity by the impacts of climate change”.

He said over the last four years St. Vincent and the Grenadines experienced “four distinct climate anomalies” from flood to drought to hurricane?, stating that each produced, on average, “double-digit hits” to the country’s GDP.

We are, frankly, tired of telling major emitters that climate change is an urgent problem, an existential problem, the defining challenge of our times.

We are tired because the response to our alarms has been hollow promises, crocodile tears and studied indifference to the root causes of our distress, he added.

To date, Gonsalves said the response of major emitters amounts to a “reckless and almost criminal disregard of the consequences and obligations of their actions.

“Their continuing refusal to meaningfully mitigate their emissions constitutes an act of aggression and climate warfare against Small Island States and our populations,” he declared.

The foreign minister said while SIDS this year call for “real and substantial commitments of climate financing for mitigation and adaptation,” next year they “demand and expect firm and legally binding commitments to emissions targets that will ensure our continued existence”.

9 replies on “SVG laments outright antipathy against small island developing states”

  1. Small Island Developing States, why should tiny islands with a handful of people be given the same powers and rights as large states. They have already proven they cannot be trusted with any matter just by the way that they hurry and sell their UN votes to the highest bidders from the larger rogue courntries. Its happening right now with their UN support for Russia, who is committing anomalies in the Ukraine and elsewhere. It is happening on a full time basis with Iran, even North Korea.

    Why should SID’s be given debt relief when you have the leaders spending money like water and out of control corruption in the islands. Many states take loans knowing that they have no possible way of repaying them.

    Its quite right that SID’s should be marginalised, they have proven to be untrustworthy.

    At this moment in time they want to be members of Marxist organizations such as ALBA but still want the best of both worlds in being allowed to milk the old capitalist states for all its worth. So no, give them nothing, send them back to ALBA for their squanderable supply of money. See how far they get with that.

    The SIDs have proven unfit for full world integration.

  2. There is a difference between weather and climate. It would be helpful for the Foreign Affairs Minister to learn the difference. All the incidents he quoted are normal weather occurences and while climate change is real, lets not blame every storm or hurricane on cimate change.

  3. Sounds like a hostile beggar to me
    See, this is my problem. One cannot just anoint one’s offspring to a post without a degree of meritocracy being considered.
    I ask you to think of any other country where so much power is held in a single family structure and then consider what style of governance is used by that country.

    It’s not just about doing the right thing, it’s also about maintaining the appearance of what is right.
    There is too much power centralised in one point. This cannot be efficient.

    There is another way.

    1. james the lion monroe says:

      All that power in one family without the consent of the people. I’d like to see that happen in quebec. You would have mass protest in the streets.Look what we did to our premier Pauline
      marois. She wanted to push forward her own agenda,by telling the people they cannot wear religious symbols at work. By the next election, the intire provence, even the french population voted her out of office. That’s what we need in svg .

  4. 1. Respect has to be earned, not granted as a right. Tell me, what have we ever done to earn international respect?

    2. Respect begins at home. When we Vincentians, especially members of the political class, begin to respect and cherish each other, perhaps other nations will learn to respect us as well.

    2. Small size can be overcome with big ideas. The tiny Caribbean nations had a golden opportunity for becoming one large nation — the West Indian Federation — but threw it away because of small-island selfishness and greed. How can we blame the large countries when we are the authors of our own misfortune.

    Other regional associations such as CARICOM and the OECS are mere paper tigers for the same reasons. Clean up your act, Caribbean small-island leaders, and maybe the rest of the world will show us some respect.

    3. Smallness in and of itself is no necessary impediment to development and prosperity, as the prodigal son implies. Look at Bermuda, Sint Maarten, Singapore, Monaco, Hong Kong, etc. for examples of small places which have accomplished great things. Most of SVG’s problems lie right at home.

    4. Asking for debt forgiveness is like asking a hopeless alcoholic to accelerate his drinking. We ran up the debts through drunken spending; we and we alone hold the key to reducing our prodigal behavior.

    5. The problems lie at home so stay home and fix them. Jetting to Samoa using scarce treasury money to spout a lot of fart only makes matters worse.

  5. What a load of ‘Who Shot John’! So Senator Gonsalves believes that the larger nations should forgive the loans of the SID States? Why? Why when if a government borrow money from financial institutions and squander it should they be absolved from repaying in? Granted it is the people, who didn’t benefit from it will have o pay it back, but then if they elect corrupt politicians terms after term, I tend to lose sympathy.

    I can’t help but laugh reading this article. Given that the PM just agreed the draw down of an IMF loan and now the Senator is complaining about the debt which the SID States are burdened with!!!

    Secondly, I get the impression that the Senator is embracing the blame culture!! Climate Change is happening all over the world. Yes – many small nations are not making a big impact but we are all still making an impact. Stop blaming others and as a gov’t, come up with ideas of protecting our island and adapting as best that we can. We are an island blessed with sunshine; why isn’t the gov’t encouraging and openly supporting investment in solar energy – just think of the electricity cost savings to Vincentians. Fossil fuels are running out!! Solar energy is the most abundant and simpliest to implement in St Vincent. Educate Vincentian about this option.

    If we wait on the developed nations to ‘come to their senses and do the moral thing’ by the developing nations, we will all die first. When the tie comes, they will look after themselves first, and then their citizens second. They are not then going to take scare financial resources and compensate us for the damage which they created and which is now impacting on our lives.

    So Senator, please, use your time on podiums and out it to use. Stop blaming others. Stop asking for hand outs so that we do not have to face up to our responsibilities. Instead, use your time to rally your counterparts and come together to effect ideas and plans which will benefit the people of the nations. While some people will always object no matter what the suggestion is, there are some of us who are very willing to work together so that we, and our children, can have an island to live in peacefully,.

  6. Selling passports is something that PM Gonsalves is adament about not doing.

    Yet this behaviour of selling our UN vote is a hundred times worse than that. We are supporting butchers and murderers and revelling in the blood of innocents, when we sell our UN vote.

    Its just further evidence that the ruling family really do not know right from wrong.

  7. 1. Respect has to be earned, not granted as a right. Tell me, what have we ever done to earn international respect?

    2. Respect begins at home. When we Vincentians, especially members of the political class, begin to respect and cherish each other, perhaps other nations will learn to respect us as well.

    3. Small size can be overcome with big ideas. The tiny Caribbean nations had a golden opportunity for becoming one large nation — the West Indian Federation — but threw it away because of small-island selfishness and greed. How can we blame the large countries when we are the authors of our own misfortune.

    Other regional associations such as CARICOM and the OECS are mere window dressing for the same reasons. Clean up your act, Caribbean small-island leaders, and maybe the rest of the world will show us some respect.

    4. Smallness in and of itself is no necessary impediment to development and prosperity, as the prodigal son implies. Look at Bermuda, Sint Maarten, Singapore, Monaco, Hong Kong, etc. for examples of small places which have accomplished great things. Most of SVG’s problems lie right at home.

    5. Asking for debt forgiveness is like asking a hopeless alcoholic to accelerate his drinking. We ran up the debts through drunken spending; we and we alone hold the key to reducing our prodigal behavior.

    6. The problems lie at home so stay home and fix them. Jetting to Samoa using scarce treasury money to spout a lot of fart only makes matters worse.

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