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EDITORIAL: World a better place with the United Nations

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: World a better place with the United Nations

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The United Nations has been unfairly caricatured as the world’s “largest talk shop”.
Nothing can be further from the truth. For if we didn’t have the UN we would be forced to create it. Imagine a world without UNICEF, UNESCO, UN Development Programme and the World Health Organization, for instance.
The UN and its specialized agencies have significantly improved the quality of people’s lives in every corner of the globe, the Caribbean included.
Just as important, the Security Council and General Assembly have consistently prevented global conflicts. And the world body has paved the way for the emergence of at least 100 sovereign states, Barbados among them, since 1950.
That’s why the upcoming UN General Assembly which begins in New York on September 17 is so important. It will be convened under the guidance of an experienced Caribbean diplomat, John Ashe, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador. He is the third person from the Caribbean – following Rudy Insanally of Guyana and St Lucia’s Julian Hunte – to be elected president of the General Assembly.
Why is the General Assembly so vital? It gives small countries like Barbados, Jamaica and the others in our region a platform to articulate their policies on crucial international issues.
If past experience is a guide, Barbados may take to the podium to express its views on global peace and security, the situation in the Middle East, reform of the Security Council, the development of Africa and the promotion of justice and international law.
We must do more than that. We trust our delegation would zero in on a major agenda item: “the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons”. The reason is clear. The Caribbean is awash in small foreign-made arms and ammunition, which are the instruments of more than 1 000 victims every year. What a nightmare.
Another thing. In the absence of a foreign policy statement on the situation in Syria we will have to wait until we speak at the General Assembly on where our country stands on the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria and on Washington’s planned response.
Time was when our governments would find a way to express our position in unequivocal terms itself. Alas, not so any more. We have either lost our voice or our confidence to speak on such matters of grave importance. That’s probably a reflection of our inadequate representation at the UN, the world’s main forum for multi-lateral diplomacy.
Oh, how we miss the outstanding presence of the late Oliver Jackman, Dame Nita Barrow and in more recent times Dr Chris Hackett when they were our top UN diplomats.