CI Shorts: The Caribbean gets the UN moving
New leaders, bilateral sessions, high-level reporting meetings make up the backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) each year.
During the week in New York, Caribbean leaders rubbed shoulders with their global counterparts. Caribbean Intelligence© has been following some of the Caribbean highlights at #UNGA2018.
- The Caribbean managed to get UN dignitaries on their feet during the launch of the #CaribbeanMoves campaign. The funky, Bolt-like moves actually front a campaign to raise awareness and find ways to combat Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The Jamaican-led initiative promotes the idea of getting people to be more active and improve their lifestyle habits. If the moves they were busting on the floor during a High-Level Breakfast event in New York are anything to go by, the campaign has the blessing of UN diplomats.
- Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley had a busy time at her first UN General Assembly as Barbadian leader. She had a photo opportunity with President Trump and his wife before a New York diplomatic reception, she addressed the UN Secretary General’s High Level Meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and attended a Bloomberg Global Business Forum. Mia Mottley also held her first meeting with Barbadian Diaspora as prime minister in Brooklyn. In her address to the General Assembly, the Barbadian leader said she could not deliver the speech she had arrived with, due to the heavy flooding caused by Tropical Storm Kirk to her country during the UNGA week. She told her audience: “Bear with me. It is impossible to deliver a speech that is focused on anything else other than our reality in the Caribbean...the Pacific Islands...in the world. We have reached the stage when we ask the global community to recognise that what is at stake is not an academic debate...not the profits of corporations...the evidence is clear and decisive, it is the lives and the living of our people. How many more [speeches] must we listen to, until we realise that the agreements that are necessary to fund climate change?” Mia Mottley called for decisive action, adding that “climate change – this is a matter of life or death for us”. She then announced that she was cutting short her trip to New York to return home to Barbados.
View Mia Mottley’s full address to the UNGA:
- Another leader at his first UN General Assembly was Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. He told the Assembly that, even though he had been born after the 1959 revolution and his mandate represented a generational handover, he would continue the work of the Castro brothers. He said: "The generational change in our government should not deceive the enemies of the revolution. We are continuity, not rupture."
- CARICOM Chairman, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, spoke of global inequality and climate change during his address. On climate change, he said: “Together with persistent challenges linked to climate change and more frequent intense weather events, these all impact the pace of our development”. On work to achieve economic independence for his country, he told the General Assembly that “Jamaica is not sitting and waiting on the world to save us. As a small island developing state, we are taking our destiny into our own hands”. He said that the G7 and the BRICS Summit outreach sessions were making a difference in giving small and big nations a “unique opportunity” to address wider issues “to make sure that no-one is left behind”. On climate change, he said that major storms had given way to “super storms”, leaving Caribbean countries living with five months of uncertainty every year. He said that the damage done to Dominica by Hurricane Maria in 2017 was “the closest that we can imagine or compare to a nuclear event”.
CARICOM Chairman and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness:
- Guyana got the backing of Commonwealth members at a fringe meeting of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers held in New York. Guyana’s long-running border dispute, in which Venezuela is laying claim to Guyanese territory, is currently before the International Criminal Court for judgement. Commonwealth foreign ministers stated they ‘reiterated their unequivocal and collective support for the maintenance of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana and its unimpeded right to the development of the entirety of its territory for the benefit of its people’.
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told the UN General Assembly that the world is at what he called a “decisive crossroads”. He explained: “We have retreated from the ethos of integration, cooperation, and consensus building…which is absolutely necessary to solve the global problems that confront us.” Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the world had retreated from the ethos of consensus-building and added that “solidarity has been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency”. He said it would be “folly” to try and place the “genies of multilateralism and globalisation back into their respective bottles” and added that “walls cannot replace bridges”. The Vincentian leader called for “recommitment to the bedrock foundations” of the UN Charter. On climate change, he said that the issues could not be tackled on a “business as usual” basis.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at the UN General Assembly:
- Reparations for slavery, overcrowding in prisons, the judicial process and racism were some of the issues addressed at the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent which had been another fringe meeting at the UN. The group reported on visits to Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago and its human rights observations during a 25 September session. You can view the interactive dialogue of this group on UN Web TV.
Other speeches at the UNGA: