United Nations second term for champion of Caribbean essential causes
By Sir Ronald Sanders
Kaieteur News – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has announced that he is available to serve a second term when his current term ends on December 31.
Guterres is arguably the United Nations Secretary-General who has paid most attention to the concerns and challenges of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries. Over the past four years, the policies and priorities he has pursued vigorously and tirelessly debated the interests of the people of the Region.
When three Caribbean countries experienced severe devastation in 2017 and 2019, Guterres made it his business to fly to them, not only to see the devastation, but to make the world aware of the disasters, and to draw up plans to help.
Visiting Barbuda in 2017, weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Irma, he walked with the victims in the disaster who left no deserted house and no functional building. Guterres told the world, “I’ve been in conflict-torn areas. In my own country, I’ve seen earthquakes, I’ve seen storms […] I have never seen such a high level of devastation as the one I saw in Barbuda. ”Moving from Barbuda to Dominica, which was worst affected by its much larger population, the UN Chief Executive stated,“ the link between climate change and the destruction we are witnessing is clear, and the international community has a shared responsibility to prevent this. suicidal development. ”
He immediately launched an agenda on the theme of linking climate change with natural disasters. Justification for his campaigning and advocacy was reinforced two years later, in 2019, when Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas chain islands. Again, turning up to focus the world’s attention on the disaster, Guterres told global audiences, “Hurricane Dorian is classified as Category 5. I think it’s a Category Hell.”
The Secretary-General acknowledged the links between natural disasters caused by climate change, the accumulation of unsustainable debt by countries struggling to rebuild infrastructure and economies, and the vital need for better debt forgiveness; debt rescheduling; and access to reduced funding from the International Financial Institutions. He has promoted this stance relentlessly.
As recently as January 25, he told a meeting of the Climate Change Summit in the Netherlands, “We are facing a climate crisis. We are already witnessing the extremes of volatile climate and volatility, affecting lives and livelihoods on every continent. According to the World Meteorological Organization, there have been more than 11,000 disasters due to weather, climate and water-related hazards over the past 50 years at a cost of about US $ 3.6 trillion.
The dangers of extreme and climate-related weather have also killed more than 410,000 people in the last decade, the vast majority in low and lower middle-income countries. ”
And, he added, “We must expand the provision of liquidity and debt relief instruments to developing and middle-income countries that lack the resources to relaunch their economies in a sustainable and inclusive way.” Guterres was drawing the world’s attention to issues facing the Caribbean region, with the authority that only Caribbean countries can assemble.
It has also emphasized that “The share for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in total climate finance remains small, representing only 14 percent and two percent of flows respectively. “In that context, he has argued for” support for regional adaptation and resilience initiatives that would allow debt-for-adjustment swaps for the Caribbean or Pacific Islands and provide great liquidity needed to vulnerable countries in dire need. ”
Similarly, since mid-2020, it has been warring over developing countries, especially small states, over the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his flagging championship, on January 25, he told the World Economic Forum in Davos, “Inclusive and sustainable recovery worldwide will depend on the availability and effectiveness of vaccines for all, immediate financial and financial support in developed countries and countries evolving, and transformational long-term stimulating measures. ”
Declares “Vaccines must be regarded as global public goods – human vaccines,” Guterres told the world’s leading economic and financial leaders; “If developed countries think they will be safe if they vaccinate their own people while neglecting the developing world, they are wrong.” He argued that what is required is “full funding for the COVID-19 Access Equipment Accelerator and its World Health Organization (WHO) led COVAX facility.”
Countries in CARICOM, which no longer have vaccines and have little hope of getting enough, under the WTO’s current COVAX program to vaccinate their populations, strongly agree with Guterres’ stance.
It is significant that he attended CARICOM Heads of Government Meetings in 2019 and 2020 to hear their concerns directly.
On January 28, the Secretary General outlined his priorities. They reflect concerns expressed by CARICOM leaders, including promoting vaccine fairness, providing access to the world’s poorest countries; combating climate change and biodiversity loss; overcoming the serious effects of poverty and inequality; and strengthening multilateralism to ensure the provision of public health, peace and a healthy environment.
Undoubtedly, there is good reason for all CARICOM leaders to take leaves from the books of Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who pledged his support by letter to Guterres on January 12, and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who on the same day, “He warmly welcomed the Secretary General’s decision to run for a second term and congratulated him on a successful first term.”
António Guterres, by carrying out his work only faithfully to the countries he represents – including small provinces – has proved himself worthy of the unfailing support of CARICOM countries.
(The author is Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador to the US and OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and Massey College at the University of Toronto. The views expressed are his own .)
Previous responses and commentaries: www.sirronaldsanders.com