GASTON BROWNE, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that Guyana’s election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2024-2026 demonstrates that “smallness is not an impediment to making significant contributions to international decision-making”. Also noting that the world is “failing developing countries”, he stressed that those States must build unity. “A united front can compel the global community to sit up, to listen and to act,” he stated, pointing out that his country’s President has been building alliances to counter climate-change impacts. To this end, Antigua and Barbuda cofounded the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, which requested an advisory opinion by the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, he noted, also reporting that advisory proceedings started in Hamburg on 11 September. Emphasizing that small island States do not want to rewrite laws but, rather, seek to clarify the existing ones, he added: “SIDS [small island developing States] cannot sit idly while our countries sink beneath our feet or are crippled by a burden of debt, as we are left — abandoned by the international system — to rebuild within our own limited means, one disaster after another.”
Although these countries are not the poorest, they are vulnerable to climate change and lack resilience due to structural problems, limited human and financial resources, and a lack of economies of scale caused by their isolation from “manufacturing hubs”. Denying them concessional financing based on their per capita income is unfair, he underscored, noting that the multidimensional vulnerability index is their “getaway” to essential financing and “possibly the final beacon when seeking insurance and compensation against the rising tides”. Announcing that Antigua and Barbuda will host the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States in 2024, he said it will also establish a centre of excellence for small island developing States.
Recalling that, historically, the nations that thrived on the industrial revolution did so “on the backs of enslaved and victimized generations from the Caribbean and other corners of the African diaspora”, he said it is unjust that the countries that paid the highest human price are bearing the heaviest climate burden.
He went on to report that the use of illegal guns accounts for a homicide rate of 15.1 per 100,000 people in the Caribbean region, spotlighting that most of those weapons are smuggled or trafficked from the United States. At the same time, his country faces challenges in obtaining modern technology — satellite imagery, radar and surveillance systems — to tackle smuggling of weapons, he said, voicing concern over the potential acquisition of autonomous weapons by organized criminal groups. “This isn’t the plot of a dystopian novel, but a looming reality,” he stressed, urging Member States to formulate a legally binding instrument to prohibit lethal autonomous weapon systems by 2026. Also noting that his country is small, without military might and financial influence, he emphasized: “We refuse to let our size diminish our voice or lessen our rightful place at the decision-making table.”
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