Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, presents a gift to President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, during a working luncheon today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados aims to strengthen and continue its cordial relationship with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, emphasised Barbados’ intention to the 75th President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, during a working luncheon this afternoon.

During the event, Minister Walcott thanked President Bozkir for his leadership and support shown during his tenure on issues related to sustainable development; Small Island Developing States (SIDS); Middle Income Countries (MICs); and for hosting a High-level event organised on MICs on June 17, this year.

He also expressed his gratitude for the President’s support of a fair and equitable approach to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and his continued calls for all countries to support the COVAX Facility and multilateral efforts to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines.

His role was also acknowledged in establishing a Board of Advisors on Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing Countries in February 2021 to help ensure that the concerns of this group of countries are taken into account during the work of the 75th Session.

Senator Walcott used the historic occasion of a President of the United Nations General Assembly visiting Barbados during their presidency, to highlight a few areas of concern for Barbados.

Those areas included: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism-dependent countries; the impact of the volcanic ash fall on Barbados from the La Soufrière volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, noting that the damage assessment conducted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment revealed that the disaster cost Barbados at least $87.1 million; and the impact of climate change on SIDS. 

The two officials also discussed expanding the eligibility criteria to allow for easier and greater access to concessional financing by vulnerable SIDS which goes beyond GDP per capita; to consider the multidimensional nature of the vulnerability of SIDS; as well as a more accommodative debt limit policy stance by the multilateral organisations.  This, Minister Walcott noted, would improve Barbados’ ability to access financing at a reasonable cost.

The Foreign Minister requested the President’s support for a call by Barbados and the CARICOM member states for the provision of liquidity support through the establishment of a financing mechanism such as the Caribbean Resilience Fund, proposed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

He also urged President Bozkir to join CARICOM member states in calling for the further extension of the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative throughout 2022; expanding its beneficiaries to include vulnerable middle-income countries that request debt forbearance; and for the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatment to be broadened to include vulnerable MICs.

Senator Walcott also used the opportunity to thank the UN System in Barbados, particularly the UN Resident Representative, Valerie Cliff, and the UN Resident Coordinator, Didier Trebucq, for the tremendous support they, and their respective teams, have given and continue to give Barbados.

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