ABCD Commission initiative to gain momentum at UN General Assembly
Dr. Ralph Gonsalves
September 19, 2023
ABCD Commission initiative to gain momentum at UN General Assembly

Efforts to establish an ABCD Commission are expected to move a step further this week on the outskirts of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which will take place in New York from September 18 to 26.

The Commission, as proposed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, is the coming together of all African persons in the world through a linkage between Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean and the Diaspora of Africans, hence the name ABCD Commission.

Speaking at a press briefly at Cabinet Room recently, Gonsalves said he was out of state from August 23 to August 27 and during that time, he, accompanied by our Permanent Representative to the UN Rhonda King, attended a meeting with the leadership of the African Union’s (AU) Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

He said during the UNGA meeting this week, representatives of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will hold discussions with the targeted bodies with the aim of moving the initiative forward, which if successful, will link two billion people.

“We are hoping that this will give a big boost to decide the ABCD Commission and other issues with CELAC and the African Union and this will connect two billion people.

“I have always been explaining to the people of the St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), to the Caribbean, that it is vital that these links be made.

“We have shared experiences, but shared experiences must always be translated into shared expressions including institutional expressions to get things done,” Gonsalves told the press briefing in Kingstown.

He said if shared experiences are just talked about, it is a good feeling, but if they are not acted on, it is a waste of time.

Gonsalves said an initiative like the ABCD Commission is an effort to get things done to improve our lives and livelihoods and to enhance our humanization and level of living.

“Those who have a colonial mindset don’t like it when we think in these terms but we have to and whether you start to think about it now or you start to think about it later as sure as the sun rises, you better be thinking about it given the age of the world as it is evolving.

“It has always been so but the circumstances, given the evolution of the global political economy, is absolutely necessary and desirable for initiatives like these to be taken,” Gonsalves stressed.

He said he is hoping to advance, through the ABCD Commission, reparations for Native Genocide and the Enslavement of African Bodies; matters involving shipping, air transport and education and coordination on issues concerning health and ongoing political engagements to ensure peace in the Caribbean and in Africa which he sees as a basis for sustainable development.

The meeting this week is expected to hear from among others, SVG which is President pro tempore of CELAC, Argentina which is the immediate past president, Honduras, the incoming president and PM of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit. President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the secretary general of CARICOM Dr Carla Barnett are also expected to be a part of these discussions.

Gonsalves said during the meetings, the AU will be represented by their overall political chair, the head of the AU commission (headquartered in Ethiopia) and also the leader of the five regions of Africa, North, South, East, West, Central as well as the representative of Africans in the Diaspora.

The Prime Minister noted also that central matters to be pursued at the CELAC/AU summit will involve, not all of CELAC initially, but a substantial number of the CELAC countries.

Gonsalves said the proposed ABCD Commission is expected to be a permanent body which will coordinate a set of functional cooperation and integration activities between Africa, CARICOM and countries like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador.