The month of May was a busy period in the Security Council with a packed agenda of activities conducted remotely considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Our delegation continued to work closely in the “A3+1” configuration with our African brothers and sisters (Niger, Kenya, and Tunisia) on many country-specific and thematic issues.
1. Maintenance of international peace and security (Upholding Multilateralism and the UN-centered International System): Our delegation was represented by Prime Minister Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves at this high-level briefing.
Prime Minister Gonsalves noted that in the face of vast but continually expanding peace and security challenges experienced globally, we must move quickly in a fresh direction. Bold and innovative steps are needed to alleviate human suffering, especially in conflict-affected settings. He further noted that it is necessary and desirable that all states must work together, constructively and within the framework of international law. When disputes do occur, they ought to be settled amicably and equitably through dialogue, diplomacy, mediation, and other participatory approaches, rather than through unilateral or coercive means. There can be no substitute for trust and mutual respect. Any deviation from these universally accepted norms, wheresoever and by whomsoever committed, severely undermines the ideals of multilateralism embodied in the UN Charter.
2. Peace and security in Africa (Addressing root causes of conflict while promoting post-pandemic recovery in Africa): Saint Vincent and the Grenadines emphasised the disproportionate societal burdens that African countries shoulder including food insecurity, forced displacement and the need for humanitarian assistance. Home-grown solutions such as the African Union’s “Agenda 2063” and the “Silencing the Guns” initiative remain the surest pathway to peace and security in Africa. We also stressed the importance of making COVID-19 vaccines and other critical medical supplies available, affordable, and accessible by all.
3. The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question: On 16 May, our delegation expressed immense concern for the Israeli military campaign against the State of Palestine and we joined the UN Secretary-General’s call for an immediate ceasefire. We condemned the airstrikes in Gaza which killed over 180 Palestinians, including children, and injured some 1200 others. We also expressed alarm at the escalating attacks, provocations, and incitements by Israeli forces on various holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque. We stated that we remained deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem, including families in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods. Our delegation called on Israel to cease all settlement activities, and to abide by its legal obligations and responsibilities under international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. We reiterated that a two-state solution based on 1967 borders is the most credible path to resolving this issue.
Previously, on 14 May, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines issued a communique on the military aggression of the State of Israel against the State of Palestine.
On 22 May, the Security Council issued a press statement which welcomed the announcement of a ceasefire beginning 21 May and called for full adherence to the ceasefire. It further stressed the need for immediate humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population.
4. United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Improving Safety and Security of Peacekeepers: Our delegation noted that peace operations remain one of the most effective tools in our collective quest for peace and security. Yet, amidst a plethora of emergent and contemporary risk factors, such as the COVID19 pandemic, the hazards of climate change, and the asymmetric threats posed by armed groups and terrorists, peace operations have become increasingly complex. We highlighted that the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse is one that demands urgent attention, and we firmly condemned these violations and reaffirmed our support to the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. Swift and impartial investigations must be conducted whenever these incidents occur.
At the time of publication, the Council would have also held meetings to discuss country specific situations in the Middle East (Syria and Yemen), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Libya. Meetings were also held to discuss the G5-Sahel Joint Force and the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL.
There were also Arria-Formula meetings (informal meetings) on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on violations against children in situations of armed conflict and the impact of emerging technologies on international peace and security.
Please visit svg-un.org for the full text of all statements and other updates.