Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, on Friday, described as a “sweet victory” St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ election, earlier that day, to a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
“It’s a sweet victory; sweet, sweet victory,” Gonsalves said on radio in a call from New York, where he had gone for last minute campaigning in support of Kingstown’s bid.
“I am saying thanks for of all to Almighty God, we thank the members of the United Nations, we thank the members of the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean, those from the Africa group, Asia-Pacific, Western Europe and others and Eastern Europe; all of the countries of the world,” the prime minister said.
After a decade-long campaign, SVG, the Group for Latin America and Caribbean (GRULAC)-endorsed candidate for the term 2020-2021, secured 185 of the possible 191 votes, while six went to El Salvador, which announced a last-minute bid.
Gonsalves, noting the results of the vote, congratulated SVG’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, I. Rhonda King and her team, as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Louis Straker, who was also in New York for the vote.
He thanked former SVG ambassador to the United Nation Camillo Gonsalves, who first put SVG’s name forward about 11 years ago.
The prime minister also expressed appreciation to all the other people involved saying that at the same time, he wants to reach out to “the president and the great people of El Salvador”.
“They competed against us — El Salvador did — and we have to work together and [with] everybody, maintain Latin American and Caribbean unity, maintain the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and address the contemporary problems touching and concerning security, including the security consequences of climate change, in addition to all the other security challenges.”
Gonsalves said that his government ran “a dignified and purposive campaign, filled with ideas”.
“We presented, towards the home stretch, the book by Camillo, two books by me, lots of material, our work from before with [from former SVG ambassador to the UN] Margaret Ferrari and built upon by Camillo and his own and Rhonda’s over the last few years to the point where we are now president of ECOSOC currently — the Economic and Social Council.
“The response has been tremendous,” Gonsalves said, adding that representatives of the permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, Russia, the United States, Britain and France — as well as countries from all over the world congratulated SVG on its victory.
“One hundred and ninety-one countries voted and it was electrifying and we knew that people were going to give us overwhelming support because, for the first time, we saw people making it known openly that they’re supporting St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“They didn’t like this particular challenge and some even took photographs of their ballots to show us. It was impressive and I will tell you at the moment, tears came to my eyes when the verdict was announced. Historic! The smallest country ever to sit on the Security Council — in the 40th year of our independence!
“I don’t think that in 1979 anybody dreamt that this would happen. We went to independence with a lot of people still living in shelters because of the Soufriere [volcano eruption]. Here we are, 40 years later, about to enter the Security Council, elected to enter the Security Council.”
SVG was elected along with Estonia, Niger, Tunisia and Viet Nam.
He said that all the victorious countries went to the Security Council after Friday’s vote and his team congratulated them.
“We took photographs in the Security Council; you are in the hallowed chamber and to see all the young persons. I paraded my mission to the press corps at the UN and I showed them how many women we have and young women. You know there is a preponderance of women on our staff up here and we are sending others to help to man the stations in preparation for this historic membership.
“I tell you, I feel truly that this is the day that the Lord has made; and we will contribute greatly to peace and security in the world and in this hemisphere. Of this I am sure, with God’s help.”
Gonsalves said that there is a lot of preparation that the country has to do before taking up the post on Jan. 1.
The prime minister said that, on Thursday, he met the acting permanent representative of US, as well as the permanent representative of France and China and on Friday, he met with the permanent representative of the United Kingdom and Russia.
“They congratulated us. The US office yesterday at the UN called our mission to tell them that the rumour is not true that they were responsible for pushing El Salvador. The Lima group also came to me and told me that it is not true that they are the ones who are pushing El Salvador.
“And I accept all what they said because I know members of the Lima group; I know as a fact, they voted along with us, along with others all over the world.
“So it’s a wonderful feeling and I think the people of SVG justly feel proud.”
Gonsalves that the victory says “that the world, as represented through the United Nations, is more than satisfied that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a principled country, we are mature and balanced in our representations, and that we articulate our positions with clarity, we are not a wild set of people, we don’t do bling, we are solid, we analyse issues, we are not involved in frivolities, we are not involved in commess (gossip) and innuendo and our staff, we are professional.”