September 27, 2011
PM Gonsalves returns from High Level UN meeting

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ trip to New York last week was bracketed by two major UN events: His Monday address to the High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, and his Saturday statement at the General Debate of the UN General Assembly.{{more}}

CARICOM was the driving force behind moving the United Nations to adjust its normal schedule to allow for a two-day High-Level summit on the issue of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The Prime Minister called for the summit to be the impetus for deeper cooperation and coordination in the fight against NCDs.

Prime Minister Gonsalves was also a panelist at a successful and well-attended CARICOM event entitled “CARICOM Takes Stock.” At that event, global leaders attending the United Nations General Assembly gave CARICOM high praises for its “bold initiatives” and “determined leadership” in tackling one of the devastating development challenges of chronic NCDs.

At the UN General Debate, Prime Minister Gonsalves gave a stirring and wide-ranging address, which outlined the “winds of change” affecting the economy, politics, the environment, human rights, and the role of the international community in “adjusting our sails” to respond to these winds. The speech, which was broadcast live on local radio, was well received and highly praised by world leaders attending the UN General Debate.

Prime Minister Gonsalves has traditionally taken advantage of his September visits to the United Nations to strengthen ties with African leaders. Recent trips to the UN have seen Prime Minister Gonsalves holding discussions with countries such as Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

2011 was no exception. Prime Minister Gonsalves held a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma. President Zuma and Prime Minister Gonsalves discussed ways in which Africa and the Caribbean could deepen ties, including specific opportunities for cooperation and people-to-people contacts between South Africa and SVG.

Prime Minister Gonsalves also met briefly with President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.

Beyond the world of multilateral diplomacy, Prime Minister Gonsalves took advantage of week in New York to promote Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and publicise the Argyle International Airport. The Prime Minister conducted interviews with three leading publications: Newsweek International, Travel and Leisure Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.

The Vincentian delegation was also actively engaged in CARICOM issues. Prime Minister Gonsalves met with his fellow Heads of State and Government in a special meeting, while staff of the Permanent Mission of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations participated in the annual meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) to discuss issues of common interest that were likely to arise at the United Nations.

The Prime Minister also held a Town Hall meeting with the Vincentian Diaspora, which was the most well-attended Town Hall meeting of his tenure as Prime Minister to date. Minister McKie attended a Gospel Concert hosted by the Caribbean American Renal Failure Association.

Additionally, Prime Minister Gonsalves participated in a lengthy radio interview on a local Brooklyn radio station, in which he brought listeners up-to-date on events in SVG, and answered callers’ questions.