by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – Diplomatic Week 2023, which runs from April 23-28, is being celebrated under the theme: “Driving Change: Advancing a Vision for a Sustainable Island State.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior government officials and diplomats in St. Kitts and Nevis opened Diplomatic Week on Sunday, April 23, with a church service where Foreign Affairs Minister, the Rt. Hon. Dr Denzil Douglas declared the week open.
Diplomatic Week provides an avenue to help St. Kitts and Nevis transition into a sustainable island state and is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #17 – Partnership for the Goals, which speaks to “strengthening the means of implementation and revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development.”
The Opening Ceremony was held on Tuesday, April 25, at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, said the theme for Diplomatic Week captures the goals of the government in making the Federation sustainable.
“Succinctly captures the aspirations of government as we forge a different path for our people, one that is apace with evolving demands of our global community and can meaningfully address our socio-economic challenges while creating the enabling environment to achieve the sustainable development agenda. Since our government’s assumption of office over the last eight months, we have made considerable steps in laying the solid foundation necessary to build the transformational change required to attain a sustainable island state. This has included significant legislative and constitutional reforms to ensure transparency and accountability in our actions, as well as to remain compliant with international standards as part of our overall mandate to bring effective and long-lasting good governance to our Federation.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Douglas said this week represents an opportunity for the Federation to make its mark on the global stage, especially during the current geopolitical tensions driving unrest in several parts of the globe.
“This week, we will consider our place in a changing world order and how we can not only help drive that change but leverage it to maximise opportunity for our beloved Federation. Amid the global reordering taking place owing to great power competition, we are hearing the voice of the Global South. The voice is calling for a different narrative. One that rejects all forms of neocolonialism, exclusion and unilateral action.”
Amid the geopolitical tensions between countries considered superpowers on the international stage, SKN’s Minister of Foreign Affairs says what is needed now is collected leadership focusing on shared interests and prosperity, putting people before profit.
“The new era must be anchored on equity, peace, justice, sustainability, resilience and yes, of course, independence. For much too long, the global order has ignored small island states, and those in the global south who have championed a more democratic and inclusive United Nations and the more effective multilateralism, and so, gone are the days when our focus should be on wielding good power in international politics. Today’s global crises necessitate collective leadership. Leadership that looks to our common interest and our prosperity.”
Douglas, in his remarks for the opening ceremony of Diplomatic Week, shared the mandate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Economic Development and Investment.
“We will consolidate our democracy and expand opportunity by ensuring upward mobility through investment, innovation, and of course, economic empowerment. The administration’s vision for a sustained island state is how we deliver on this particular promise. And so, to this end, our ministry must reform, and it must reimagine. It must not react. Our diplomats must be tactful, not timid. And all interventions must have impact, especially where they are to impact. As your minister, I will demonstrate how change will be driven from within and without by empowering our own diplomatic corps with training and capacity building, with the support of our international friends.”
He continued, “We will privilege boldness, we will privilege experience and expertise, and we will reward outside-of-the-box thinking that prioritises results. For in the end, foreign policy begins at home; whether we are building a resilient health system, whether we are securing safe drinking water, whether we are sustaining a social safety net or whether we are assuming our coastal infrastructure from encroaching seas, our diplomatic engagement must be downed to the men in Mansion and St. Peter’s, to the women in St. Paul’s and Hamilton and the boys and girls in Charlestown, Basseterre and Old Road.”
The week of activities continues with a tour of Nevis with ambassadors on April 26; on April 27, the first Diplomatic Boulevard will be hosted, where the general public will have an opportunity to meet and interact with the diplomats. The week ends on April 28 with a staff retreat.