“With the audacity of David, the widow’s faith, the spirit of Chatoyer, the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, we begin a historic journey,” said King in a statement, stating that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has become one of only 15 members of the U.N.’s most powerful organ.
She said 40 years after achieving Independence from Great Britain, SVG has become the smallest nation ever to serve on the prestigious body, “which is tasked with maintaining international peace and security.
“On January 2, 2020, we will plant our flag outside the Security Council chamber and take up our seat at the horse-shoe table within the chamber, where we will remain for the next two years,” said King, noting that SVG enters the Security Council “on the cusp of its 75th anniversary and at a time when the world is riddled with challenges, and the rules-based system is increasingly under threat on many fronts.”
While stating that SVG is “not without its own homegrown challenges,” King invoked “the spirit and audacity of hope,” and reflected on “what is possible and the transformative opportunity that is before us.”
The ambassador noted that, in 1763, Britain assumed control of SVG, and that, with the exception of a few years of French occupation (1779 to 1783), the country remained under British colonial rule until internal self-government in 1969 and constitutional Independence in 1979.
On Independence, she said SVG joined the international community, gaining “the right and assumed the immense responsibility to chart our own course in an increasingly complex world.” King said some have even argued that small islands are not viable as independent states, but added that “we have seen, difficult though it can be, that this micro-, multi-island state has made great strides through strategic, creative and innovative measures and faith in Almighty God.”
She said the story of David and Goliath in the Bible “reminds us that the small can overcome the powerful, that the small overcomes the powerful is more often the case than it is not.
“As a young nation, we will be remiss if we believe the fight for our independence to be (is) a done deal,” King said. “Small states, by definition, are vulnerable in a world, where international law is compromised and only might makes right.
“This makes us natural defenders of the international order that protects us,” she added. “Indeed, it is the responsibility of a small state.”
Additionally, King said the people of SVG are part of the Sixth Region of Africa, also known as the African diaspora, stating that more than 50 percent of the U.N. Security Council’s agenda today comprises conflicts on the African continent.
“Today, this nation (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) can stand up for and with the people of Africa as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council,” King said.
In October, the SVG’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. began its three-month observation period of the U.N. Security Council. The mission declared in a statement that the Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2019 observation was ahead of officially taking up the country’s two-year seat on the Security Council on Jan. 1, 2020.
“St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a small country that consistently punches above its weight in international affairs,” the statement noted. “The state uses the tools of diplomacy and multilateralism to advance its interests in the global arena.
“… While SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) is small, the combination of our history, experiences, and perspectives – which we refer to as a ‘small island exceptionalism’ – compels us to lift our voices and share our unique opinions on the issue of climate change and its implications for global peace and security,” the statement added.
Jubilation ripped through the Vincentian community at home and in the diaspora last June when St. Vincent and the Grenadines was elected as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. At the time, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Louis Straker described his country’s election as “historic.”
According to the U.N., 185 countries voted in favor of SVG, with two abstentions. St. Vincent and the Grenadines only needed 128 votes to hold the seat. U.N. General Assembly rules state that candidates running for a seat on the Security Council must win a two-thirds majority of votes to succeed, even if they are running uncontested.
With the historic vote, SVG became the smallest country ever to hold a U.N. Security Council seat. SVG is 150 square miles in size and has a population of about 110,000.
Other countries elected in the June vote in the U.N. General Assembly were Estonia, Niger, Tunisia and Viet Nam. The four states, along with SVG, took up their seats as non-permanent members of the Security Council, replacing Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Peru and Poland, the U.N. said.
There are five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are: China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.
The non-permanent seats are allocated according to a rotation pattern set by the Assembly in 1963, according to the UN, “to ensure a proportionate representation over time from the different parts of the world: five from African and Asian States; one from Eastern European States; two from Latin American States; and two from Western European and Other States.”