Distinguished Co-Chairs, Excellencies,
Thank you for the opportunity to address this Council today and to make my contribution to this debate on United Nations Security Council Reform on the question of the Veto. St. Kitts and Nevis aligns itself with the statements made by the Caribbean Community and the L.69 which has detailed the specifics of our national position.
Since this is my first time taking the floor on this important subject, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate your Excellencies, Ambassador Alexander Marschick, Permanent Representative of Austria for your appointment as Co-Chair of the IGN for the remainder of this session, and to Ambassador Tareq Albanai, Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwaiti for your leadership and your efforts towards steering a process that is inclusive and encourages frank exchange of views and information and ideas sharing.
Thank you for your letter of February 2nd which established the focus for today’s meeting. St. Kitts and Nevis welcomes the opportunity to participate in the informal, informals. As a pro-reform country, we pledge our support and intend to do our best, to add value to the process in the current session.
Like many of the small states participating in this debate today, we are hopeful that our statements will not fall on deaf ears, but will find fertile ground upon which to take root, germinate and expand the process moving forward. We are only too acutely aware that in these perilous times, charged as we are as leaders with solving some of the most intractable challenges of our times, that TIME itself must be treated as a very precious commodity and it should not be spent on fruitless endeavours.
This is 2023, not 1923. I say this to remind us that when the United Nations was formed 77 years ago in 1945, some 750 million people, nearly a third of the world’s population, lived in colonies.
Today, there are 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining and fewer than 2 million people live in them. This Third wave of decolonization, which changed the face of the planet, was born with the UN and represents this body’s first great success and finest legacy.
Therefore, I can say that because of the establishment of these our United Nations, which affirmed new notions of the nation-state, sovereignty and the principle of self-determination, that small states like St. Kitts and Nevis were able to become independent. As freshly-minted nation states, our first order of business was to hasten to join this venerable body to exercise that independence.
This brief foray into history demonstrates three important facts about the United Nations:
1) that from its very inception, the United Nations was never about the bricks, mortar and splendor of fanciful buildings but was built on and in the paramount interest of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of The People who inhabit every single member state that is part of the organization. These are what form the sinews and lifeblood of the living, breathing, growing and evolving organism that is the United Nations.
2) that Change and the need for change are necessary constants in the evolution of humanity in a world that is ever-changing, ever-evolving and ever-transforming. The moment we cease as a body to change with the changing times, we will break and destroy ourselves against the powerful forces and tides of nature, human nature and the rhythms, ebbs and flows of our planet. Adaptability, responsiveness and flexibility in face of the changing times must therefore inform our actions, procedures, working methods and decision-making. We must Change or Perish!!
3) that all states are created equal, regardless of size, the wealth of our economies or military might. This principle was forged out of the demise of empire and hegemony as an organizing principle of human civilization.
We all agree that we are living in a watershed moment, these are not my words but is the theme that we set for ourselves as the guiding principle of this 77th session of the General Assembly.
In face of the myriad of interlinked crises of unprecedented breadth and complexity, the United Nations cannot face the hurricane-force winds of change and upheaval with rigidity and inflexibility. We must, now more than ever, give honour to the ethos from which we were forged as I have just described.
For the United Nations to remain relevant and effective, its institutions must reflect the realities of the modern world and the diversity of the peoples that it has expanded to represent. The United Nations Security Council, in particular – the sole organ with the authority to make decisions with legal force to address global challenges – cannot be allowed to remain undemocratic, hamstrung, limited and paralyzed by an archaic veto system that disempowers and disenfranchises the majority of the UN membership and Peace itself.
Again, I emphasize, the United Nations Security Council must change, or become victim to our own inaction!
We are living in a watershed moment where we must recalibrate the lenses through which we view our problems in order to zoom in on the opportunity they represent! Where change must be embraced and not resisted. And where each member’s voice must be heard, honoured and respected. The alternative will only lead us down a road of division and more disasters.
When viewed from this lens, I guarantee that our vision will sharpen and the pathway to solving our problems, together, will become clear. It would become clear that the retention of the veto is a remnant of colonialism, and an instrument of division, and the burden it places on those who wield it is too overwhelming and enticing in these times. It must either be shared under an expanded Permanent membership which reflects the world as it is, not as it was; or it should be completely abolished and allow all to weigh in on important decisions of war and peace.
Only then, will our world be forced to choose dialogue over war and death and the lurking and sinister forces of hegemony and Empire be held in check by a peace-loving majority. Only then can decision-making on these most consequential of all questions can be guided by the wisdom that given the complexity, interdependent and interlocking nature of our world, we will either rise together as a human civilization or fall together.
Distinguished Co-chairs, Excellencies,
This is a moment of change and crises, which means that the time is ripe, and right, for us to bring to a close decades of debate on the issue of UN Security Council reform. If we were all to take a look back into our files we will see that the arguments and ideas for more balanced and inclusive structures and procedures have hardly changed and at this point in time, we are going around in circles as we constantly meet our Jericho – this rigid wall of intransigence and indifference by members who refuse to acknowledge simple truths – we cannot go on as is.
But today as a first step, I urge us to lobby a decisive salvo at that wall of rigidity during this IGN session, by addressing the one fatal flaw of the process, as identified by my L.69 colleagues, which is the absence of records and documentation.
Today, I posit that the key to untangling this Gordian Knot, is written in the Good Book, the Holy Bible, in the book of Habakkuk, Chapter 2, verse 2 which entreats us to “…write down the vision and make it plain on tablets (which is paper in our time), that he who reads it may RUN”!
Herein lies the secret to breaking the deadlock. Herein lies the secret to reinvigorating the IGN process! For it is only when we write down the vision for transforming, reshaping and redesigning ourselves, in keeping with the changing times, can we build a basis for a plan of action and implementation.
Deadlock is not an option. Failure is not an option. We must heed the words of William Shakespeare, which speak to the opportunity we face today and the dangers posed by failure:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
I thank you!