Diplomatic Relations Spark Up at the UN

Mr. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, met with the Secretary-General on Monday to discuss issues concerning climate change and sustainable development. This meeting came just days after he met with Mr António Guterres on Friday to discuss cooperation in the areas of health, renewable energy and education. These high-level meetings are indicative of the diplomatic relations that have been building up between St Kitts and Nevis over recent years as they engage more prominently at international bodies such as UN General Assembly sessions.

This year, the twin-island nation will assume its seat on the Security Council for two years after winning 181 votes in the ‘Group of Western European and Other States’ during elections last October. It marks an important milestone within their foreign policy after they were elected to serve on UN Human Rights Council for a four-year term which starts in 2016.

Foreign Minister Mark Brantley noted that the decision for St Kitts and Nevis to run for a seat on the UN Security Council was not one they took lightly as they have been involved in numerous multi-lateral bodies over the years, “successfully projecting our leader Dr Denzil Douglas’s slogan of ‘A peaceful, prosperous people, living in a secure, healthy and just society’.

This is not the first time that St Kitts and Nevis has been elected to serve on the Security Council. We have had our foot in this door before, but it was never our full intention to walk through it,” he told The Observer during an interview on Wednesday.

In his first interview with the local media, Mr Brantley confirmed that they have yet to appoint a permanent representative as their candidate was not successful in winning a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. However, he said this time around they are strongly considering” appointing Dr Douglas.

I can’t speak to that point at this time because we don’t have a permanent representative to the United Nations. There is a suggestion that our candidate was not successful in his bid, but it’s an ongoing process and I am sure that if Dr Douglas is selected, he will be a most welcome addition to the team, he said.

When asked about the significance of St Kitts and Nevis assuming the presidency of CARICOM, Mr Brantley said it presents them with an opportunity to showcase their strengths in the region.

As you are aware, St Kitts and Nevis is well respected throughout the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). We have been involved in CSME for over 20 years, we have been involved in CARICOM for over 35 years. The Prime Minister has the longest continuous service of any prime minister across the Caribbean Community. We are members of OECS, LAIA and Carifesta, he said.

Mr Brantley continued: We intend to use this opportunity to showcase our leadership abilities and also to showcase what we have been able to achieve in our twin island federation. We will be able to show the Caribbean Community that we are a dependable partner and as such, there is no reason why we can’t be given any task that might require us to give leadership within the region.

We intend for example to highlight among other things our education programmes, our health care programmes, renewable energy initiatives that are being undertaken by St Kitts and Nevis.

The Minister also said he will continue to work closely with UK’s High Commissioner to Barbados David Fitton following the visit of their delegation to St Kitts and Nevis last week. He said they both share a “mutual respect” and the partnership will continue to flourish.

The relationship between St Kitts and Nevis and Great Britain is a special relationship, it’s a unique relationship and we see ourselves as best friends with the UK, which has been true for well over 200 years. The fact that we were able to work together to win the election to the Human Rights Council is something that I believe can be seen as symbolic of our mutual friendship.

Similarly, the fact that they were able to give us that good news on Easter Sunday was obviously a milestone for St Kitts and Nevis. They have given us every reason to continue with this relationship and I do so and I will continue to do so not just for myself but for the people of St Kitts and Nevis, he said.

Mr Brantley also announced that the Government passed a resolution in Parliament recently to strengthen its ties with Iran, which would see them invest more in education, tourism and business.

We are at present seeking to establish an Iranian university on St Kitts and Nevis. We are also seeking to establish more of the very popular exchanges that we have had between our students of both countries.