Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was slated to leave St. Vincent and the Grenadines today (Wednesday) for London and the east African nation of Uganda, where he spent time doing research for his doctorate 50 years ago.
Speaking on NBC Radio earlier today, Gonsalves said he would go straight to the airport after the weekly Cabinet meeting.
“I have to go to London where I have a meeting with the minister for Caribbean affairs tomorrow in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” he said, adding that he had been advised that the British foreign minister would not be in London.
“And then from there, I go to Uganda for the [Third South Summit] — G77, the group of 77, which is 134 members of the United Nations who’re from the south, who gather in solidarity to address a number of questions.”
The summit, which takes place Jan. 20-23, will be held under the theme “Leaving No One Behind” and looks to bring a new dynamic to the cooperation among its 134 member states of the Group of 77 in a more competitive world.
The Summit aims at boosting South-South cooperation including in the areas of trade, investment, sustainable development, climate change, poverty eradication, and digital economy.
Gonsalves said that as a small island developing state, St. Vincent and Grenadines remains “a special case, a case of exceptionalism in the quest for sustainable development in view of our unique and particular vulnerabilities including our small size, our remoteness and relatively speaking, narrow resource and export base, external economic shocks and exposure to the global environmental challenges, especially the large range of impacts from climate change and more frequent and intense natural disasters.
“This thing is existential for us and we have to have cooperation among each other as SIDS.”
He said SVG has to have cooperation with like-minded countries in the south, developing countries and its interface with developed countries.
“So, it’s vital that we put down our marker and importantly, too, … St. Vincent and the Grenadines role as pro tempore president of CELAC.
“We have particular kinds of arguments to make in respect of peace, global security, prosperity, sustainable development, for all of humanity, not just a handful, in a small group of countries in the rich north. It’s an important gathering.”
The prime minister said he will be accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Keisal Peters, SVG Ambassador to the United Nations, Rhonda King and a security officer.
He said he first went to Uganda nearly 52 years ago.
“I’ve been back since. I addressed the African Union there,” he said, adding that he also addressed the continental bloc in Ethiopia and Libya.
“But I went to Uganda as an exchange student, doctoral students from UWI and Manchester University which awarded me my PhD in 1974. In fact, my PhD dissertation was an aspect of the political economy of Uganda,” the prime minister said, adding that July will be 50 years since he completed his PhD.
“It would be good to be back in Uganda on another occasion,” the prime minister said.