Canada, having failed in previous bids to secure a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, is seeking lessons from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, says Prime Minster Ralph Gonsalves.
SVG has begun three months of observation of the Security Council in preparation for its January 2020 assumption of a non-permanent seat for a two-year term.
In June, SVG became the smallest nation ever, by landmass and population, to be voted onto the Security Council, the UN’s highest decision-making body.
Gonsalves told the media in Kingstown on Monday that he met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, a Canadian delegation, headed by former prime minister, Joe Clark.
“Canada is wanting to, among other things, find out our own experiences in running for the Security Council and how we managed. The last time Canada tried, they failed,” Gonsalves said.
He noted that Ottawa failed in its bid, a decade ago, when it attempted to secure one of the two positions allocated for Western Europe and others, when the other candidates were Germany and Portugal.
Germany won the first position and then there were several runoffs between Portugal and Canada, with Portugal eventually winning after Canada withdrew on the floor of the General Assembly.
Now, Canada is in a contest with two other countries for the Western Europe and others, Gonsalves noted.
“You can win in your group but lose at the General Assembly and vice versa,” Gonsalves said. “So you have to get two-thirds of the General Assembly vote, which means you have to get 129 votes minimum.
“So Canada was interested in that and, of course, they are interested in St. Vincent and the Grenadines giving their support but also to see if, given my own longevity as leader, to see what I can do in relation to other leaders in the Caribbean.”
Gonsalves, however, said there are three good candidates for the positions, namely Canada, Norway and Ireland.
He noted that the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg attended the last meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government Summit in St. Lucia in July, adding that he met her there and also in New York last week.
Gonsalves said he also met with the Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Eric Varadkar.
“We have not indicated which are the two countries which we will be voting for out of those three and, as I say, they are all excellent candidates.”
He said being on the Security Council is so significant for Canada that, with elections coming soon there, Ottawa had appointed a former prime minister from both the liberal and conservative parties as lobbyists.
“And everybody is doing a lot of lobbying, which makes our achievement, what we accomplished all the more significant in respect of the smallest country ever (to sit on the UN Security Council). And Canada was keen to find out how we did ours.
“Of course, there are many bilateral issues between us other than those matters so there was a wide discussion on those,” Gonsalves said.