By Dominic Brisbane

Before I begin this commentary, I offer a public apology for signing the previous pieces as an “academic.” Some readers have expressed disagreement with this since, in their opinion, I used the word “academic” too loosely. Going forward, I will forgo that credential as I prefer any feedback to be a discussion of ideas rather than of titles. The tendency to focus on titles rather than the quality of ideas remain an entrenched legacy of colonialism that distorts our ability to think critically — but I will write more about this in a later piece.

In my last article, I highlighted that our success at securing a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) gives us the opportunity to add nuance and context to the discussions and decision-making at that forum. Through these discussions and decision-making processes, SVG will build many important relationships. This is what foreign policy is about — building cooperative relationships with other countries to solve problems and create mutual benefits.

For the years 2020-2021, the state of SVG will have an opportunity to build close working relationships with the five UNSC permanent members (the United States, China, Russia, France and the UK). In 2020, SVG, Tunisia, Vietnam, Niger, and Estonia will join Indonesia, South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Germany and Belgium as non-permanent members of this body. In 2021, this former group (SVG included) will be joined by five incoming members that will replace the latter, outgoing group. Over the two-year period, our nation will have the opportunity to work directly with 19 other countries on some of the most important issues for global peace and security. 

Yet, the potential relationships do not end here. Countries who are not on the UNSC may seek to lobby members of the council in order to advance their respective interests. By playing a facilitating role, we can build relationships with those countries that are currently on the sidelines of the UNSC. Still, relationship-building may extend further. The salience (importance) of a country that sits at the UNSC may produce opportunities to work with other organisations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), numerous international human rights organisations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These supporting organisations all play important roles within the UN system and our positionality within the UNSC may yield many opportunities to work directly with these stakeholders. 

As some researchers have pointed out, there is also a documented history that shows that UNSC members are more likely to receive loans from the World Bank as the United States tries “to wield geopolitical influence” — by attempting to shape the agenda at the UNSC through these “carrots” that are thought to affect member states’ voting behaviours. In this regard, I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement that “we are not adopting a transactional approach” to our membership at the UNSC. Yet, it is important to highlight that through this important position — at the centre of global power politics — as a sovereign state we can determine the nature of our foreign relations and the principles we exhibit as we pursue those relationships. 

Beyond our state-to-state relationships, our country’s representatives at the UNSC will also build important working relationships as they gain professional experiences through the many formal and informal sessions that they will participate in. This will serve only to strengthen SVG and its foreign policy mechanisms. In the longer-term, we will be better equipped to navigate the international waters with a group of international civil servants that have been exposed to the highest levels of global governance. And even beyond this, the opportunities for these civil servants to deepen relations on a personal level — will serve to bring even more attention to SVG and the wider Caribbean region.

But what are the benefits?

In answering this question I ask, rhetorically, “Why build relationships?” Foreign policy is about building relationships in order to solve problems and create benefits. These benefits, whether international financial assistance that help us to build human capacity and infrastructure, trade agreements that create potential market opportunities for local businesses, or tourism that brings investments and foreign currency, are all results of successful relationship-building. So why should we build relationships? That is how we would change the world…

In my next article, I will highlight how SVG can change the world.

Dominic Brisbane is a Vincentian 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 UN Security Council — building relationships”

  1. Are we to be a continuing parasite on the rest of the world in our begging Dominic or prostitute our position to the highest potential buyer for our vote on the Council Dominic? Your argument here appears to suggest as much! That may well alarm those in Cuba, Venezuela, Taiwan and Iran!

    However, that apart Dominic, one would first always feed their own household and children before attempting to feed our neighbours!

    Nevertheless your argument Dominic, appears to be suggesting that our aim is to use the two year position on the Council, just to extend our influence and sphere for an extended begging campaign, rather than our fixing our economy through effective economic planning policies here at home.

  2. SVG can change the world – are you kidding! The entire world is in chaos and nothing will change that for several years. Look at what Israel has done to the Palestinians and the UN has done nothing to free these people. The US is using its power on the same council; to destroy the lives of the people in Iran and Venezuela and the world is saying or doing nothing to help the folks in those countries.
    Meanwhile Saudi Arabia is bombing school children, starving babies and creating poverty in Yemen and Trump is looking for $800billion from Saudi Arabia instead of calling out the prince for killing the journalist.
    The UN is nothing but a Ponzi outfit controlled by five countries that block anything the leaders don’t like. Can SVG stop the war that will soon take place between Iran and the lying USA? I don’t think so!

  3. Forgive me Dominic, but I had to do a double take! You wrote that SVG can change the world? How about the S.V.G administration changing S.V.G for us its inhabitants, rather than so doing, before you and they, U.L.P administration, embark on changing the world, or is that objective of changing S.V.G for the bette,r by far, too hard for you and they, the U.L.P administration?

    We the unnoticed and ignored S.V.G inhabitants would rather settle for just “gainful jobs” for now, as they would do for a start, by putting food on the table or are these things, a little too ambitious for scrunters here?

    We the ignored and neglected peoples of S.V.G, are quite happy to let you and the U.L.P administration, have all of those high-minded stuff that you so much love to boast about doing, such as country hopping and world security!

    Vincentians for its part with hungry bellies, can never reach such lofty heights in aspirations, therefore, they would just quietly settle for a few gainful employment!

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