Barbados’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Elizabeth Thompson. (Photo: Barbados’ Mission at the UN)

Barbados was at the forefront of creating history at the United Nations on March 22 and 23. 

Using virtual online platforms and emails, the UN’s 193 member-states negotiated and agreed to adopt an Outcome Document on Financing for Development (FfD) for the period 2020-21. It was the first time in the organization’s 75 year history that intergovernmental negotiations had ever been conducted and completed using a virtual format. 

Barbados’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Liz Thompson and Latvia’s Ambassador, Andrejs Pildegovics, were the co-facilitators of the process which delivered the historic agreement aimed at supporting the Financing for Development process.

The ambassadors observed that “the multilateral system is doing tremendous work on framing and financing response and recovery to #COVID19” and noted that they were humbled and proud to be part of this important work.”

The Barbadian ambassador further drew attention to the fact that the result was important in 2 other  ways. First, at a time when multilateralism was under threat, the UN member-states were able to reach consensus, despite sharp fractures on issues that were very divisive such as debt, migration, the SDGs, climate change, and support for countries in need and other critical issues.

She described the outcome as a success for multilateralism, explaining that the failure to reach consensus on such a critical  issue would have been a major blow. 

It was the first time in the United Nation’s 75 year history that intergovernmental negotiations had ever been conducted and completed using a virtual format. 

The Outcome Document which was announced at a UN meeting today (April 23), focuses on the serious global impacts of COVID-19 and the threat it poses. In the negotiated text, the UN member-states noted that “the global health crisis has triggered economic and financial shocks, exposing and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and inequalities.”

The UN member-states indicated that they “commit to create an enabling environment and incentivize and greater sustainable investment in developing countries, particularly in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.”

This successful and historic outcome also proved the continuing rise of the role played in the UN system, by small states such as Latvia and Barbados. The ambassador stressed that this further emphasised and reinforced the justification for Barbados’ continuation of its efforts to extend its diplomatic footprint beyond its traditional friends.

Barbados is actively pursuing the establishment of diplomatic relations with like-minded countries, irrespective of their geographic locations. She added that the Caribbean was also making its mark in other roles at the UN, such as St Vincent sitting on the Security Council and being the smallest country ever to do so. 

Barbados’ ambassador observed of the Outcome Document, “this is the first step, now the even harder work of taking timely and appropriate action on the agreement begins.”

She made the point that Caribbean society and economy would be very hard hit by COVID-19, both at home and in its diaspora. This will also impact remittances which are a substantial source of revenue for some Caribbean countries. 

Barbados’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Elizabeth Thompson, and Latvia’s Ambassador to the UN, Andrejs Pildegovics, chairing virtual negotiations with the United Nations. (Photo: Barbados’ Mission at the UN)

Moreover, the countries of the region, with the exception of Haiti, are classified as middle income which precludes them from access to grants and concessionary finances.

She pointed out that with the hurricane season just weeks away, the situation in relation to COVID exacerbates the threat of climate change and other existing problems such as high debt and the withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships, all serious issues with which CARICOM is already grappling. 

Reflecting on the Outcome Document, Ambassador Thompson praised her Latvian co-facilitator, informed that her colleague had been “wonderful to work with in negotiations that were so tense and difficult the deadline for completion had to be extended three times in the 48 hours immediately before the date set for the meeting at which the announcement of the outcome was to be made. 

The ambassador noted that she was also “immensely proud of the exceptional quality of the work of Barbados’ technical, foreign service expert Kereeta Whyte who, along with a Latvian expert, Alise Zalite, played pivotal roles in achieving the historic  result.”

The Barbados ambassador saluted the leadership of the President of ECOSOC, Ambassador Mona Juul of Norway and President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Tijani Muhammad Bande of Nigeria.

She expressed gratitude to Ambassador Michael Ten-Pow, of Guyana, the current Chair of G77 & China, the largest negotiating group in the UN, for the role he and his team played in achieving the final outcome. 

In lauding the result, she recognised the contribution of “all other negotiators, regional groups and particularly thanked the staff of the UN Secretariat, led by Dr. Navid Hanif, for “their constant professionalism, efficiency and support.”

Barbados’ Mission at the United Nations

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