This month in the Security Council – January 2020
PM Gonsalves meets the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres; photo credit- Mark Garten/UN Photo
January 31, 2020

This month in the Security Council – January 2020

1. January 1, 2020 marked the commencement of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ tenure on the UN Security Council. Our first month on the Council saw our delegation taking part in a number of important dialogues and high-level debates on areas of international concern. These included briefings, consultations and other meeting formats to consider the situations in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Colombia, and Israel/Palestine as well as the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), and the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

2. On January 9th, Dr. the Honourable Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves, in an address to the Council on the topic of “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Upholding the UN Charter”, highlighted that “one of the essential contributions to be made by small states like ours is the tireless advocacy for timeless principles enshrined in international law.” This comment embodies Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ pragmatic and principled approach to foreign policy and has set the tone for all of our Security Council engagements that follow.

H.E. I. Rhonda King (right) delivering a statement at the open debate on “The Situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian Question”; photo credit- UN WEBTV

3. For 2020-2021, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will Chair the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions. This working group is tasked with making recommendations regarding the working methods of the Council. Under the pioneering efforts of Japan and successive Chairs including Kuwait, the Working Group, has endeavored towards ensuring that the Council’s working methods remain transparent, efficient and inclusive. At the same time, there have been discussions about the appropriate balance between efficiency and transparency and balance between open and closed meetings. Between the 16th and 19th of January, we co-hosted alongside Kuwait (the previous chair) a planning retreat in SVG to promote inclusive dialogue amongst all Council Members towards creating practical and actionable outcomes for implementing our working methods highlighted in S/2017/507 and making improvements where possible. All Council Members, as well as representatives from Security Council Affairs Division (SCAD) and Security Council Report took part in the retreat. A Chair’s summary of the event (non-binding and non-attributable to member states) will be published in the coming weeks.

4. On Israel/Palestine, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines expressed its solidarity with the State of Palestine as it strives for a peaceful and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our delegation reaffirmed our nation’s support for the internationally-agreed two-state solution and indicated that we owe it to the young people in both the State of Palestine and the State of Israel to resolve this conflict.

5. On Syria, a cross-border resolution that provides humanitarian aid was renewed on the 10th January. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines voted in favour of this resolution. Our explanation of vote noted that our decision was driven by a deep sense of urgency to provide much needed humanitarian support to people in Syria and we embraced the option for the sake of human dignity.

There was also an Arria-Formula meeting on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, Syria. Our delegation highlighted that the weaponizing of toxic chemicals is unquestionably one of the great threats to international peace and security. We reiterated our support of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – the watchdog of the Chemical Weapons Convention– and emphasized that the body should be impartial, not politicized, and above reproach.

6. On Libya, the Security Council was briefed by the SG on the recent Berlin Conference where international leaders discussed the ongoing crisis. Following this meeting, the Council issued elements to the Press welcoming the conclusions reached by international leaders at the Conference and reiterating their support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in his efforts to bring about a lasting ceasefire and a Libyan-owned and Libyan-led political solution. The Council urged the Libyan parties to engage constructively in order to conclude a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible.

H.E. Dr. Halimah Deshong delivering a statement on UNOWAS; photo credit- UN Photo

7. On peacekeeping operations in Mali, we highlighted that across such a vast territory plagued by the multifaceted challenges of persistent underdevelopment and increasingly exacerbated by climate change, the restoration and extension of State authority depends on the support of a wide range of actors across the region and within the international community. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines expressed its support for the stabilization mission, but also drew Council Members’ attention to the need for development in the country and encouraged our partners and friends in the international community to explore all options available in bringing investment to this region.

8. On South Sudan, the Revitalized Peace Agreement which set out the conditions to form a transitional government by February 22, 2020 was extended for 100 days given that many of the agreement’s critical elements remain unresolved. An Informal Interactive Dialogue was held on January 23rd to update the Council on this fragile situation. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the mediator for the South Sudan peace process, briefed the Council on the latest developments. Council Members also discussed negative developments in the humanitarian situation, including recent security incidents and devastating floods.

9. On the role of UNOWAS, we expressed our concern about the impact of climate change in West Africa and the Sahel region, and highlighted our regard for the millions of people negatively affected by instability in the region which drives displacement, food insecurity, the risk of acute malnutrition, and a general lack of basic services. Saint and the Grenadines also emphasized that the root causes of instability must be addressed by employing comprehensive strategies which incorporate elements of sustainable development, climate adaptation and resilience measures.

At the end of our first month on the Council, our diplomats have been working assiduously to advance Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ foreign policy positions and our key priority areas of focus.

By the time of this publication, a number of important matters would have been addressed in the Security Council, including; the monthly briefings on Syria (humanitarian and political), the UN Support Mission in Libya, the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus and the sanctions measures imposed on the Central African Republic.

On a monthly basis, we will continue to update the nation on our progress on the Security Council. Interested individuals can visit for updates and the full text of our statements as we move forward together in this journey.