Castries, Saint Lucia, September 26:– Saint Lucia’s new Prime Minister, Philip J. Pierre, yesterday delivered his inaugural address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly at its 76th Session in New York, revealing the island’s foreign policy has undertaken a radical shift — from one of uncertainty to one that combines Independence and Mutual Respect with Alignment and Non-alignment.
The island’s eighth prime minister, who took office July 28, delivered a wide-ranging address focusing mainly on his administration’s plans to realign the island’s foreign policy with the common needs and aspirations of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) — and not with policies that disrespect the sovereignty and independence of other nations, or interfere in their internal affairs.
In his 22-minute presentation – lengthy by UNGA standards – the new Saint Lucia Leader gave several indications of the new approaches being developed under his watch over the past six weeks.
Prime Minister Pierre, who is also the island’s new Minister for Finance, Economic Development and The Youth Economy, offered his global audience a panoramic view of the inherited and institutional challenges facing his new administration and opportunities at hand for the global community.
His address was entitled Building Resilience Through Hope to Recover from COVID-19, Rebuild Sustainably, Respond to the Needs of the Planet, Respect the Rights of People and Revitalize the United Nations.
Pierre said he was “honored” to have led his ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) to victory on July 26 and “to have witnessed the people of my country continue to uphold and nurture the deep democratic traditions of our Caribbean by giving my party an overwhelming mandate to govern Saint Lucia for the next five years.”
He also vowed that Saint Lucia, under his leadership, again wishes to be part of a united global movement between nations in the common interest of Humankind.
He pledged that, “…under my leadership, St. Lucia’s intention to uphold the highest traditions of universal brotherhood, the pursuit of mutually beneficial goals, respect for all peoples and cultures and recognition and respect of the sovereignty of all member states of the United Nations.”
‘A Vital Catalyst’
Reiterating his new administration’s confidence in the UN system, Pierre described the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as “a vital and crucial catalyst of global development.”
He also said it was Saint Lucia’s “sincere hope and profound expectation” that the current period (until the next UNGA) “will be marked by thoughtful and tangible action, given the global challenges that confront us as UN Member States, and given that our very lives and continued existence as peoples and as a planet are directly threatened by the issues now confronting us.”
Pointing to certain “principled” foreign policy principles observed by SLP administrations since Saint Lucia joined the United Nations in 1979, PM Pierre identified “non-interference” as one of the most important.
He said, “If there were any recent doubts about St. Lucia’s adherence to these basic principles”, he reassured that “Saint Lucia subscribes fully to and stands firmly on the principle of non-interference in the internal politics of nations.”
The new Saint Lucia PM further clarified that “In pursuit of our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we shall be — in the words of Barbados’ Independence pioneer and Prime Minister Errol Walton Barrow – ‘Friends of all and satellites of none.’
He also promised his administration would “as much as possible, engage in foreign policy coordination with our CARICOM and OECS partners and our Hemispheric relationships shall continue to be based on mutual respect.”
Prime Minister Pierre further promised that “St. Lucia will not sacrifice these principles on the altar of convenience, or short-term and temporary alliances with great powers whose shifting global stances may or may not coincide with St. Lucia’s permanent insistence on being a mutually-respected regional development partner.”
Prime Minister Pierre continued by assuring his colleague Heads of State and Government: “I continue to believe in dialogue, inclusion, fairness and a common humanity.”
He again reiterated that St. Lucia is “confident in the leadership of this august body” and he remained “assured, that under our joint effort, we can transform the words of the theme of our meeting into our lived reality and will successfully build resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19.”
But the prime minister also noted nations of the world “can only rebuild sustainably by responding appropriately to the needs of the Planet.”
Prime Minister Pierre ended by reassuring fellow world leaders and representatives of UN member-states that Saint Lucia “will respect the rights of all peoples.”
And he promised his administration will work steadfastly with other nations to “revitalize the United Nations, so that it can reflect the highest and most noble principles upon which it was founded.”
The new Saint Lucia Prime Minister’s inaugural UNGA address followed several quiet and early signals of foreign policy change, starting with re-engagement with Venezuela, ties with which had been frozen for over one year as the previous administration quietly but effectively implemented the isolationist policies of the so-called Lima Group of Latin American and Caribbean states that pursued the Trump Administration’s aggressive policy against Caracas, even after Venezuela withdrew from the Organization of American States (OAS).
Another sign was Saint Lucia’s participation in the historic inaugural September 7 African Union (AU)-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit and rapid re-engagement with its Latin American and Caribbean neighbors in the Community of Latin American and States (CELAC), the 6th Summit of which Pierre attended in Mexico on September 18.
The UNGA address also followed others at earlier summits – mainly online – including two special OECS and CARICOM summits to discuss COVID-19’s Caribbean effects and regional responses.
Pierre’s inaugural UN summit speech also revealed his new government’s policy approaches to battling COVID-19 and combating Climate Change, Reparations and Youth Economy, relations with Cuba and Venezuela, as well as ties with Taiwan.