NEW YORK, USA – Following a secret ballot held Friday, the UN General Assembly elected five countries to the security council, including St Vincent and the Grenadines, the smallest nation ever to secure a seat. Also elected were Estonia, Niger, Tunisia, Vietnam.
The five States will take up their seats as non-permanent members of the security council in January 2020, replacing Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Peru and Poland.
Every year, five countries are elected to the 15-member Council (ten of whom are non-permanent) for a two-year term, according to a geographical rotation set by the assembly in 1963, to ensure fair regional representation: five from African and Asian and Pacific States; one from Eastern Europe; two from Latin American States; and two from Western European and Other States (WEOG).
While Niger, Tunisia and Vietnam were elected unopposed, two of the five seats were contested: El Salvador competed with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to represent the Latin American and Caribbean group; Romania lost out to Estonia in the East European group.
Speaking to the press outside the General Assembly Hall, Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, described the election of his multi-island nation of around 110,000 people, as a “historic occasion.”
Gonsalves added that the country is committed to the principle of sustainable development and as a Small Island Developing State in danger of inundation by rising seas, is very concerned about the consequences of adverse climate change and intends to work very closely with the other members of the security council. The UN, he added, has limitations but it also has “profound strengths.”
Following a call to action and recognition of “a voice of reason on Caribbean, hemispheric and international issues” in support the election June 7 of St Vincent and the Grenadines to the security council of the United Nations, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne extended congratulations to the government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“St Vincent and the Grenadines’ election is a result of hard work and earned respect for your government under your leadership. You have demonstrated that smallness is not an obstacle to meaningful participation in global decision making. I have every confidence that St Vincent and the Grenadines will give a loud voice to the causes of small states in the security council and that it will continue to uphold principled and objective positions on issues with which the council will grapple.
“Antigua and Barbuda is proud of St Vincent and the Grenadines and we send our best wishes for a successful tenure on the Security Council and assure you of our unstinting support.”
Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), ambassador Irwin LaRocque also welcomed St Vincent and the Grenadines to the security council of the United Nations (UN), as an opportunity for a small state to bring a unique perspective to threats to international peace and security.
“I congratulate prime minister Gonsalves and his team and the diplomats of our Member States on this successful bid by a CARICOM candidate. I am confident that St Vincent and the Grenadines, whose candidature was endorsed by the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN (GRULAC), will be a strong advocate on behalf of the Region and the wider SIDS community, particularly for the issues that are important to us,” LaRocque said.
The security council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 members and each member has one vote. Under the charter of the United Nations, all member states are obligated to comply with council decisions.
The security council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the security council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.