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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
H.E. Mr. Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister

26 September 2008

Statement Summary

RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, expressing solidarity with the nations battered by hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike, said his country stood with them in their rebuilding efforts.  He went on to wholeheartedly endorse the calls for frankness and democratization, reaffirming also that the United Nations, as the “supreme multilateral institution”, must do more.  There was no doubt that the world’s peoples were aware of the challenges, but work entrusted to the Organization had been compromised by apathy, inaction and the crippling pursuit of narrow self-interest by a handful of powerful countries.

Recalling that a year ago, he had denounced the failure to end the “genocide” in Darfur, he said that one year later, he was shocked by the global community’s subsequent collective stumbles, last month.  For instance, Force Commander Martin Luther Agwai’s promised peacekeeping force of 26,000 was still less than 10,000 strong.  That, among other worrying events, had caused Mr. Gonsalves to wonder about the promises of “never again”.  His people, whose past and future were interwoven with the continent, asked:  “how can I face such slaughter and be cool?”  The credibility of United Nations decisions made in the name of peace and security hinged on a Security Council that was democratic, and diversity in the General Assembly, he declared.

On the food crisis, his Government was implementing a creative national food production plan that mixed agricultural incentives with education and assistance measures.  However, farmers, tradesmen and private sector actors were still waiting for the oft-promised opportunities that supposedly accompanied globalization.  On the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization Talks, he said solutions to economic crises hinged on genuine negotiation and compromise in the interest of the world’s least privileged.  After promises of devoting 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to official development assistance, his country had been forced to “scour the globe” for development partners.

Taking up other matters, he called climate change, an issue of “life and death” to Caribbean peoples.  On the “creeping return of cold war rhetoric” to the international discourse, he urged guarding against the return of discarded philosophies.  He hoped the Assembly would hew closely to the principles of multilateralism.  While the Assembly had gradually strayed from the noblest of its goals, he urged keeping promises for the good of the global family.

[Source: GA/10756]