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By *Dominic Brisbane

At the beginning of any meaningful relationship, the first thing we should concern ourselves with is what we bring to the table, instead of asking what we can get out of that relationship. This is a fundamental truth to any successful union, whether it be love, friendship, marriage, or camaraderie.

If relationships are driven only by self-interest, they tend to be short-lived affairs as before long, participants compete rather than co-operate. We must be loyal to more than ourselves to build trust and nurture strong alliances. This is the lens through which we should view St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ (SVG) non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC). At the UNSC, the state of SVG will build important relationships with other countries to help manage some of the world’s biggest problems. But what do we bring to the table?

At this forum, SVG will bring the unique experience of a small nation that continually grapples with maintaining its independence while becoming increasingly interdependent, as globalisation drives countries to rely on each other to manage risks that are increasingly transnational in character. This is how globalisation works — the movement of people, goods, capital (money), and ideas across borders brings challenges that are difficult, or usually impossible, for a single country to manage. This is evident with today’s challenges of terrorism, climate change, and the global refugee crisis, just to mention a few. 

Globalisation is an uneven process that affects each country differently. Some, especially the large industrialised nations, are able to accumulate a lot of wealth through globalisation, while small island developing states (SIDS), which have limited physical resources, are usually given a disproportionate share of the “burdens” of globalisation. The most significant of these burdens are the disasters produced by climate change which threaten to derail economic growth and development in SIDS, despite the fact that islands produce relatively insignificant levels of global emissions.

The illicit trade of arms, ammunition and dangerous narcotics (such as cocaine) is another burden which creates significant challenges for SIDS, despite the fact that these are all produced outside of our countries. With the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and subsequent changes in the global regulatory trade environment — primarily of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) — that led to the removal of preferential trade agreements for bananas — the Caribbean region was negatively affected disproportionately to the rest of the world. These are just a few of the ways that the “small island” experience of globalisation differs from the mainstream. There are too many to mention here.

Although it may seem as if globalisation disempowers small states, it is the very nature of these experiences that will prove beneficial to the discussions we will hold at the UNSC. Global decision-making affects SIDS in ways that they do not affect our larger and well-resourced counterparts. Better than most, we understand the adverse effects of global decisions. When a country is targeted with economic sanctions, that country’s trading partners, as well as others in the wider global economy, may suffer significant externalities.

These externalities often have disastrous consequences on the vulnerable economies of SIDS. When violent intervention takes place in an oil-exporting country, the supply of oil to the world market is usually reduced leading to increases in the price of oil, which create contagion (trickle effects) in many of the industries that oil supports — for example increased oil prices leads to increases in transportation costs, which in turn may affect prices of food and reduce tourism (areas we heavily rely on). Again, these factors disproportionately affect the economies of SIDS. This is why the nuanced perspectives of small island states are essential for quality global decision-making.

Globalisation produces many challenges and contradictions. Marc Abélès, a political anthropologist, argues that through globalisation “the state is overwhelmed by the complexity of the challenges and caught between the demands of the global and the tenacious realities of the local”. This proves especially true in SIDS that are limited in their resource capacities. Yet, our unique experiences with globalisation place us in an advantageous position to contribute to the highest levels of discussion and decision-making at the UNSC. Our focus should not be limited to what we can get out of this position, but how we can contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Beyond the narrow self-interest that often drives states’ behaviour, it sends a big message for small states like SVG that so often depend on external aid and assistance to step up to the table and lend its voice on important issues. It shows that despite our small size and vulnerabilities, we are able to see beyond these limitations and help the international community to deal with the most pressing issues. It also shows that as an independent state, we are of equal stature with the largest and wealthiest power brokers that operate within the UN ecosystem. SVG may be a small state, but it can provide big perspectives.

In a subsequent article, I will highlight some of the benefits that SVG may gain through its role as a non-pemanent member of the UN Security Council.

*Dominic Brisbane is a Vincentian academic who studies globalisation and global governance.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

3 replies on “SVG at the UNSC: small states, big perspectives”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    Unfortunately, since its founding in 1945, tiny, resource-poor nations like SVG have had no significant impact on decision-making or policy formation at the UN. None.

    SVG’s membership in the Security Council will not change this despite your high sounding words.

    The most we can hope for externally is to raise our personal profile on the world stage by showing the world that there is a indeed a country called SVG.

    The most we would achieve internally is more developmental loans and grants and a continuation of the reign of the ULP.

  2. How can we possibly have faith in this man when you look at his record of making and changing laws to suit himself and cronies he wants to protect. How can we believe in his honesty when we have seen that he is not just an extremely mendacious person but even his written word is feckless and cannot be trusted. Remember how he signed an agreement with the teachers Union telling the teachers it was the best agreement they had ever had. When they tried to enforce it he told them they could not enforce it because it was unconstitutional and that he knew that when he signed it.

    We must remember what this man has done to people like Bigger Bigs. He told us he sometimes tells lies, do they really want or need a liar in the UN?

    He told the UN he was a catholic, yet he said in SVG parliament if he works Obeah he only works Obeah for the Lord, which must be a reference to Satan, because no one can work Obeah for God. Yet God fearing Vincentians say nothing about such blatant blasphemy, speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; little more than profane talk, profanity • profaneness • sacrilege • irreligiousness • irreverence • taking the Lord’s name in vain • swearing • curse • cursing • impiety • impiousness • ungodliness • unholiness • desecration • disrespect • imprecation • execration.
    .
    Think about these words police, judiciary, family dynasty. Then think about these descriptive words, spitefulness • spite • malevolence • maliciousness • animosity • hostility • ill will • ill feeling • hatred • hate • bitterness • venom • vindictiveness • vengefulness • revenge • malignity • malignance • evil intentions • animus • enmity • devilment • devilry • bad blood • backbiting • gall • rancor • spleen • grudge • bitchiness • cattiness • maleficence.

    Then think about these words rape, sexual assault, also regarding indecent acts, gestures, or expressions; indecent behavior • gross indecency • pornography • obscenity • rudeness • coarseness • dirtiness • smuttiness • vulgarity • grossness • crudity • crudeness • bawdiness • lewdness • raciness • salaciousness • wickedness • impropriety • indelicacy • unseemliness • impurity • ribaldry • lasciviousness • licentiousness • prurience • profanity • foulness • vileness.

  3. OUR SVG RECORD at the UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION, so far, DURING THE TENURE OF THE RALPH GONSLAVES “U”lp mal-administration, has been to PARROT AND SPOUT TIRESOME anti-West
    COMMUNIST AND COMMUNISTIC [a la SENATOR BAPTISTE] RHETORIC, while shamelessly HOLDING OUT THE PROVERBIAL “BEGGING BOWL” to these self-same democratically elected WESTERN NATIONS, inclusive of GREAT BRITAIN, CANADA and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
    But, THIS IS THE STANDARD COMMUNIST TACT.
    THEY FIRMLY ADVOCATE that FREE ENTERPRISE MARKET ORIENTED DEMOCRACIES have the SEEDS OF THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION “within themselves” – – – and so the MASS MURDERING COMMUNIST [‘scientific socialist’, marxist-leninist, ‘international’ socialist] REGIMES go one further and SINISTERLY STRIVE to USE THE WEALTHY, POWER AND GENEROSITY OF WESTERN DEMOCRACIES to DESTROY DEMOCRACY.
    Ralph Gonsalves, the “RED WOLF” COMMUNIST of the just a few years back [cf back issues of the SVLP’s political organ “The STAR” NEWSPAPER, and transcripts of speeches by leaders/MPs at past SVLP public meetings] was a PROMINENT ADVOCATE of THIS ATHEISTIC COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY throughout the English-speaking West Indies – – – ASK him!
    ASK Youlimo’s RALPHIE.
    Were YOULIMO The ARCH-ENEMY OF ST.VINCENT LABOUR PARTY?!
    Ironies of Ironies, says the acknowledge wisest man on Earth. Nah me-yah say so!
    SO, Who is FOOLING Who???
    Could ST.. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES BE SO PURBLIND . . .SHORT-SIGHTED . . . or, LACKING IN MEMORY?
    OH, so we should exercise some sort of arcane, one=sided FORGETFULNESS?
    TELL ME, has the COMMIE ‘comrade’, a worshipper of the communist castros and communist high-priests like LENIN, STALIN, and MARX – – – EVER FRANKLY, PUBLICLY ADMITTED TO HAVING ‘formerly’ FANATICALLY ADVOCATED THIS MURDEROUS, FAILED COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY – – – CONFESSED ITS EXCESSES AND ANTI-HUMAN BRUTALITIES AND RANK ATHEISM – – – AND, PUBLICLY REJECTED OR ABSOLUTELY RENOUNCED THAT NASTY, WICKED COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY OR ITS PRACTICE?
    Has Communist ideologist ralphie EVER made such bossom ADMISSION, CONFESSION, OR RENUNCIATION to THE SVG LABOUR PARTY?
    IF NOT, my fellow Vincentians:
    THEN WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A COMMUNIST MOLE, deep-cover or not, DOING THE MENDICANT BIDDING OF HIS COMMUNIST AND neo-CZARIST MASTERS.
    The guy HAS NEVER RENOUNCE THE ‘SCIENTIFIC IDEOLOGY’ that HE STRIDENTLY ADVOCATED FOR MANY YEARS at the UWI and throughout the West Indies.
    OK, then. Let’s CHECK THE RECORD.
    How many of us have EXAMINED SVG’s VOTING RECORD at THE UNITED NATIONS?
    Even the most cursory glance, would reveal A SLAVISH PANDERING TO HIS COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY AND COMMUNIST/CZARIST MASTERS – – – decidedly ANTI-WESTERN, ANTI-BRITISH, AND ANTI-AMERICAN.
    And, ANTI-DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS,
    But, PRO EVERY NASTY, BRUTAL, TERRORISTIC, COMMUNISTIC REGIME – – – or, ANY or ALL BRUTAL DICTATORS OR DESPOTS THAT WOULD FURTHER HIS COMMUNIST, “scientific socialist”, ‘international’ socialist, MODERN SLAVERY AGENDA.
    The communist and neo-Czarist despots religiously angle to get their COMMUNISTIC CLIENT STATES, or ideological cronies, ONTO THE UNITED NATIONS’ Security Council, EVERY TIME continually, IN ORDER TO FURTHER THEIR COMMUNIST/DESPOTIC AGENDA OF COMMUNISTIC WORLD DOMINATION.
    St. Vincent is JUST but THE LATEST EXAMPLE.
    A [creeping] COMMUNISTIC CLIENT STATE serving the interests of the nefarious international schemers.
    The UNO General Assembly’s vote to put SVG onto the UN Security Council for the next biennium, starting January 2019, is DEFINITELY NOT IN THE INTEREST OF THE DEAR BELOVED PEOPLE OF SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES.
    No apologies, mi brethren.
    TRUTH hurts.
    But, then again, THAT IS LIFE – – – isn’t?
    ONCE AGAIN: Quo vadis, SVG?
    My dear most beloved ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES – – – whither goest thou?
    My dear countrymen, natives of the HOME OF THE BLESSED, Hairouna: –
    The PRICE of HUMAN FREEDOM is ETERNAL VIGILANCE.
    i rest my case, for the moment, with Bro. Jimmy Cliff’s very sage forecast:
    “TIME WILL ALWAYS TELL”,

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