The smallest country to lead the UN Security Council

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines may be the smallest country ever on the UN Security Council, but that doesn’t mean it’s intimidated by big powers. Instead, the island nation has amplified the voice of Africa and the Caribbean at UN forums.

“I think what the small countries do is always remind the big countries of the importance of not only upholding international law,” Inda Rhonda King, St. Vincent’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told PassBlue. “But to remind them of their obligation under the law, which is not just to serve the international community . . . It’s like putting them on a moral compass.”

St. Vincent joined the United Nations in 1980, and with a population of 110,000, it does represent a small country, including the Caribbean. In January 2020, weeks after holding a two-year seat on the Council, the country spontaneously formed an alliance with the three current African members of the Council, Niger, South Africa and Tunisia, creating A3+1.

“I think it works,” King said in a recent interview. “It certainly raised a lot of eyebrows because until we linked St. Vincent and the Grenadines to being predominantly African-descendant and Aboriginal, it wasn’t clear why that was the case.”

Its foreign policy is unconventional; it is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. While Ambassador Kim said her country had good relations with Britain, France and the United States in the Security Council, its voting methods and statements sometimes resembled the words and actions of China and Russia. However, St. Vincent has no formal relationship with Beijing because it formally recognizes Taiwan. “It’s an independent, homegrown, uniquely Vincentian foreign policy,” she said.

Jacqueline Braveboy-Wagner is a professor of political science at the City College of New York and the City University of New York, specializing in the Caribbean and Caricom, the regional organization for Caribbean countries. She admits that St. Vincent’s foreign policy is puzzling.

“They are not pro-Russian, although their stance on Venezuela may make them appear pro-Russian,” she said. “They’re not particularly happy with Britain, the (former) colonial power, and while most of their trade relationships are still with Britain and Europe, they’re not big with France, so I think in terms of permanence members are concerned that St Vincent might Will go any way.”

For November, the country’s only and only council president during its two-year tenure, St. Vincent said it wanted to give a voice to the voiceless. One meeting will discuss the question of Palestine, which is of particular concern to the ambassador.

On 2 November, British Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves spoke to the media about his country’s place at the United Nations: “I value this loving engagement because without the United Nations and international law, Multilateralism, we will always be living in a state of nature, and I don’t think people all over the world will like that. In this pandemic world, it’s only if everyone works together and countries have to own their own processes can happen.” (Gonsalves, a member of the United Labor Party, is running for a fifth term in the Nov. 5 election.)

The Council will host an event for the UN’s annual Police Week, which St. Vincent will use to highlight the challenges UN police forces face in Haiti. Its thematic debate on Nov. 3 will focus on the drivers of the conflict, which Gonsalves will chair virtually.

Security Council agenda for November 2020. VTC stands for Virtual Conference Telephone.

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