RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minster of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, stressed that the international community must work together to defeat COVID-19 and return to an acceptable level of normalcy so economies can reopen. In that pursuit, pre-existing, divisive and debilitating conditions ought to be addressed and historic wrongs righted. “The metaphoric lions and lionesses, globally, ought to converse with each other meaningfully, rather than hanker for perpetual disorder, insecurity and war,” he stated, adding that they did not actually need to lie down with each other in joyous embrace, but simply compromise in the interest of all.
However, efforts to tackle the pandemic have been undermined by vaccine nationalism, the politicization of roll‑out and accessibility inequity, he pointed out. While some rich countries in the North Atlantic region have delivered or agreed to deliver vaccines to some less developed countries from their surpluses, there might have been some slow deliveries that ended up, embarrassingly, with expired doses of the vaccines running into several millions, he observed. Vaccine roll‑out programmes were further compromised by behemoths in global communications, enveloped in mega profits and profiteering, that own and control the various Internet platforms. Such entities have operated with little or no public regulation nor any real sense of responsibility for the anti-vaccination misinformation and disinformation which occupy cyberspace. Consequently, real people have died in multitudes across the world, he stressed.
Turning to climate matters, he cautioned that a looming ecological disaster awaits humanity unless it changes course. Science, the real world and the Paris Agreement have pointed to alternative pathways for humanity, but the political will and requisite resources from the major emitters to address the grave challenge of climate change have not gone much beyond “pious mouthings and marginal tinkering”.
Outlining the myriad economic challenges facing developing countries, he called for meaningful debt restructuring and a favourable reform of the global financial architecture. That would need to include replacing certain wrong-headed criteria, such as gross domestic product (GDP) per head of population. Also essential in those efforts was the cessation of unilateral sanctions and the weaponizing of the financial and banking systems against small States, including the termination of corresponding banking relationships. He went on to stress the need for reparatory justice from European nations in respect of native genocide and African enslavement, from which the European nations profited systematically.
As for Security Council reform, he demanded renewed impetus to address the stranglehold of the five permanent members. As a non-permanent member of the Council for the last two years, his country has been a central party to the establishment of an institutional nexus known as the A3+1 [the three non‑permanent members from Africa plus Saint Vincent and the Grenadines], offering to the proceedings a distinctive voice for Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, he reported.
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