Antigua and Barbuda calls for inclusion in discussions of global financial reforms

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Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has called for inclusion of all member-states of the United Nations in the discussions of global financial reforms.

Browne told the UN General Assembly on Friday that there can be no real comprehension of the grave vulnerability of small states to external shocks, high levels of poverty and high debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios without inclusion of all UN member-states.

“A few privileged nations are making decisions that impact the livelihood of billions,” he said.

“The exclusive clubs of the G7 (Group of 7 of the world’s industrialized powers) and G20 (Group of 20) cannot repair the fragmented international financial system, without taking full account of the circumstances and views of the majority of the world’s nations.

“Nor can the Commission of the European Union, which now seeks to impose its own anti-competition, high tax policies on developing countries around the world,” he added.

He told the international community that arbitrary rules, set by unrepresentative bodies, for their own narrow purposes, have no legitimacy in the world.

“Enforcement of those arbitrary rules by threat and sanctions of the mighty is not legitimate. It results only in grumbling and reluctant acquiescence that lacks enduring support.

“Might by enforcers does not make their actions right .That is why this United Nations General Assembly must be revitalized,” Browne said, noting that the UN’s revitalization “would serve to give this gathering relevance, and to address meaningfully the indifference of the peoples of the world.”

He said the special value of the General Assembly is its universality of membership and the fact that the voice of every member state can be raised.

But, he said, “it must be seen to be more than a place for talk; it must be a place for action and for results.”

For years, Browne said the General Assembly has been marginalized by the Security Council, and by the notion that a small group of powerful countries, should make decisions for the rest of the world.

Regrettably, he said that “erroneous thinking has crept into every multilateral organization.”

Browne said this is so in the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“This United Nations General Assembly must become the principal organ of the United Nations system – the only system which every nation of the world accepts and to which they all subscribe.

“That is what the United Nations Charter promised; it is what nations expect. The failure to deliver on that promise has undermined multilateralism, encouraged the abuse of power, and frustrated people all over the world.”

Browne warned that unless, the General Assembly is revitalized and made relevant, the actions of the Security Council, and of other organizations, will be “endured but not embraced.

“They will be accepted but not respected. They will be enforced but not legitimized. Despite the risk of my call falling on deaf ears, I hereby make the call once again for a reinvigorated and relevant UN General Assembly.

“I recognize that it would not serve the interests of the powerful, who fear the expression of dissent and the call for political rights that many of them demand in other countries.

“But, I would be neglectful of my duty of care and responsibility to the poor and vulnerable, and to the silenced and stifled, if I did not raise this clarion call for greater and fairer representation for all the world’s peoples,” Browne said.

In stating that no one nation, however powerful, can go it alone, he said Antigua and Barbuda supports denuclearization by North Korea and Iran, calling on all countries halt their nuclear arsenals.

“Global peace will not be won by a balance of terror and that is what pointing nuclear warheads at each other is all about – a balance of terror.

“It is a zero-sum game that is playing with the survival of our planet and all humanity. No one should be playing that game, no matter how rich or powerful.”

Browne said that, in the Caribbean, leaders strongly advocate a zone of peace noting that for too many centuries, the Caribbean has been “the location of other peoples’ conflicts and ambitions.

“We had no say in those conflicts, which have left our region with a long shadow of stunted growth, dispossession and underdevelopment. We want no more to be the theatre of proxy wars by others.

“We want the chance to grow and develop, to claim a place under the sun and to make our own unique contribution to human progress,” he added.

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