Without mincing his words; not even a little bit to suit world leaders, Prime Minister Gaston Browne opened his remarks at the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly on Friday saying clearly, that trust in the Security Council has been diminished by the actions taken within its membership.
He said actions taken or perhaps not taken by these Security Council members have plunged Small Island Developing states into a fearful atmosphere of economic and financial instability, and the worry of expanded warfare.
“Every nation, without exception, is confronting escalating inflation, food shortages, high prices, and increasing debt,” PM Browne said, referencing a promise by the world powers years ago
“Seventy-seven years have passed since the leaders of the world’s big powers promised the international community that they would: “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. The five victorious nations of the Second World War assigned to themselves, permanent membership of the UN Security Council,” he said.
According to PM Browne, these world leaders assumed the responsibility to implement the promises of the Charter not only in their interests, but also on behalf of the many nations, which did not choose them, and which had no option but to trust them.
“Mr. President, the state of today’s world does not readily inspire such trust. Instead, it arouses an overwhelming sense of disappointment. It is a disappointment, that a small country, such as mine, would be less than candid, less than honest if we did not convey our sentiments to the permanent members of the Security Council. We are obliged to ask: What happened to the commitments, which were chiseled into the UN Charter, as binding obligations on all, but particularly those in the Security Council, who took to themselves the task of guardianship of peace and development”?
He said every nation, without exception, is confronting escalating inflation, food shortages, high prices, and increasing debt. But the worst, according to him is the effects are being suffered by the poor and powerless, the small and exposed.
“There should be no doubt, in this Assembly, that trust in the Security Council has been diminished by the actions taken within its membership. Many small and defenseless nations now feel gravely unprotected by the weakening of the international legal order, which was our first, last, and only defense against aggression,” PM Browne told world leaders at the UN
Coupled with the war in Ukraine and the ills that it brought along, Browne also spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Even worse, our development prospects and our hard work to rise from poverty, are being retarded by the high prices and severe disruptions that began with the COVID-19 pandemic, and that are being exacerbated by the war on Ukraine. Therefore, Mr. President, we call on the Permanent Members of the Security Council to recommit themselves to the role, which they assumed and pledged to safeguard. Peace must be restored for the world’s sake… and soon. It is the Permanent Members of the Security Council – all of them – which have that primary obligation”, he said.
And according to Browne, abandoning that obligation in the pursuit of selfish desires legitimizes the call for reform and an expansion of the Security Council.
Concerted action by the Security Council is necessary to prevent major human rights violations, stop ongoing breaches and address global conflicts, according to PM Browne.
“If this fails to happen with the urgency that is required, it may call for the General Assembly to initiate its global actions, and to authorize their implementation. I do not anticipate that this call for action by the General Assembly would be welcomed by the Permanent Members of the Security Council. However, each of them must understand the deep concern of other nations when the Council is dysfunctional on issues whose effects are global. Peace in the world is not a commodity to be traded; it is a right to be protected in the interest of all,” he said.
This observation is also strongly pertinent to the issue of Climate Change, which poses an existential threat to small island states and countries with low-lying coastlines, Browne added.
“We will all recall that last December, due to a veto cast by one of the 5 Permanent Members, the Security Council had to reject a draft resolution, framing the problem of climate change as a threat to international peace and security. That draft resolution was co-sponsored by one hundred and thirteen member states, representing the second highest number of countries to support a draft resolution in the history of the Security Council. Mr. President is it fair that the evidence-based resolution, which emanated from the concerns and anxieties of so large a host of nations, should be vetoed by a single country,” he said,
PM Browne said climate change remains the single greatest, most common threat to all mankind, more so, for small island developing states (SIDS), which lack the financial resources to adapt to mortal shocks, and to rebuild in their aftermath.
“SIDS have a legitimate and urgent concern. For although collectively, we contribute the least to CO2 emissions – a mere 0.2% – we are the greatest victims, not only because of unattended loss and damage to our lives and livelihoods but also because the very existence of our countries is fatally endangered. Mr. President, the effects of global warming are universal; they reach every country,” Browne said
Adding, we all must understand that, in as much as global warming is universal, its damaging effects are not the same; the burden falls mostly on the poor in small developing nations, such as mine. That is why, as the representative of the people of Antigua and Barbuda, I must stand up for their rights; including their right to livelihoods and life”
Browne said his voice cannot be stilled while danger gathers in the skies above my small and vulnerable country.
“I have no choice but to fight unrelentingly for climate justice. Distinguished Colleagues, many are beginning to lose faith in the Security Council. We must not be forced to lose faith also in the collective authority of this UN General Assembly. That is why my government urges this Assembly to act on behalf of the smallest and most powerless among us, and in the interest of global justice,” he said.