Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 22, 2022 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs): Foreign Minister Hon. Dr Denzil Douglas commenced his participation in the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York with several bilateral and regional engagements on the 21st of September, 2022.
Chief amongst these engagements was a brief ceremony signalling the establishment of diplomatic relations with Andorra, a small state in Southwestern Europe. Foreign Minister Dr. Douglas, and his Andorran counterpart, Foreign Minister Mrs Maria Ubach Font discussed the possibility of bilateral cooperation on climate action, and tourism, including indigenous approaches. The exchange highlighted the multiple similarities between the two small states. Andorra is a small mountainous country, with a population of approximately 80,000, with tourism as its main economic driver. Both Foreign Ministers exchanged invitations to visit each other’s jurisdiction.
On 21st September, Foreign Minister Dr Douglas also met with Mr Abdulla Shahid, Foreign Minister of the Maldives and President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. In a brief bilateral meeting, the Foreign Ministers discussed issues of mutual importance including the representation of small states in the international fora. The Maldives has been credited for introducing the issue of the nexus between human rights and climate change, an agenda item that Saint Kitts and Nevis has supported. The Marshall Islands and Cuba are current Members of the Human Rights Council (HRC), but whose terms are set to expire this year. The Maldives has therefore presented its candidature for the upcoming term. If it does not succeed, this will mean there will be no small island developing state to advance our interests on the Human Rights Council.
Therefore, the Maldives intends, if successful, to use its seat on the Council to further advance issues of human rights and climate change, especially for small island developing states.
Singapore, another small state in the international community, convened a meeting of Foreign Ministers of CARICOM, which the Right Honourable Dr Denzil Douglas attended. Singapore, a leader on small states in multilateralism, established the Forum of Small States (FOSS) in 1992 and has Chaired the Forum for the last 30 years. Saint Kitts and Nevis is a member of the FOSS, an informal group of 108 small states from all regions of the world. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, pledged to forge even greater cooperation with the CARICOM Member States.
Saint Kitts and Nevis enjoys a vibrant diplomatic relationship with Singapore, especially through technical cooperation and capacity building through training programmes.
This important schedule of meetings has reinforced the reality that we can use our small size to forge ties with countries with similar challenges and aspirations.