Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Diplomatic Week 2023 has come and gone but one thing remains—St. Kitts and Nevis is punching way above its weight in the international arena. With a geographic size of just 104 square miles and a population of little over 50,000, the country has come a long way since its independence 40 years ago and has built enduring and mutually fruitful relationships with scores of countries around the world.
The messages and lessons communicated by the country’s corps of diplomats were impactful, visionary, nationalistic, and far-reaching during Diplomatic Week, which took place from 23rd to 28th April, 2023.
St. Kitts and Nevis’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in New York, Her Excellency Nerys Dockery said that although St. Kitts and Nevis is small “we are equal and even though the world we live in may be asymmetrical, it doesn’t negate who we are, our inalienable rights, our inalienable position as a sovereign state.”
“Is the world asymmetrical? Is there a balance of power issue? Are those who were the former colonizers and outposts of empires still in a very dominant position? Yes, but we should not allow ourselves to be discouraged by that. In fact, we are encouraged that over time, we seem and appear to be in a very defining moment and I think that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted some things in terms of how essential multilateralism is, how important it is for us to communicate, how important it is for us to help each other as fellow human beings as we all have a moral obligation to assist each other as human beings sharing one planet,” Her Excellency Dockery said.
As the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, she said: “The beauty about the UN is that with each member having one vote, there is always the possibility of you having as big a voice as you would like or as small a voice as you would like…and so I have a lot of confidence in terms of our own engagement in all of the major discussions that the UN is undertaking right now, and no matter how political, whether it is UN Security Council Reform, or whether it is on the issue of Palestine or Ukraine, or whether it might be in the more technical processes of financing for development or even in health matters, and so I do not see our small size as any limitation at all.”
St. Kitts and Nevis’ High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Dr. Kevin Isaac highlighted what it is to be an effective diplomat.
“For us to be effective diplomats, we need people from different sectors. Because I can speak French and Spanish doesn’t make me an effective diplomat. I have to be able to understand the imperatives for St. Kitts and Nevis, its foreign policy. How do I effectively translate that into a conversation with my partners that I am engaging with to get the kind of support for St. Kitts and Nevis? Diplomacy is about partnership,” Dr. Isaac said.
St. Kitts and Nevis’ High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Sherry Tross said diplomacy is evolving and that diplomats must evolve with it.
“We’ve had diplomacy for centuries but diplomacy also adapts…We are in an age where diplomacy is going through a process of transformation and adaptation and that is normal because nothing stays the same, everything evolves. And yes, we have new means of communication; we have more rapid means and instant means of communication, and all of these we are having to integrate into our strategic approach. They don’t take away from what we do, frankly, they add,” Her Excellency Tross said.
Diplomacy and bilateralism have brought about many fruits for St. Kitts and Nevis, from educational opportunities through scholarships, partnerships in agriculture and fisheries, healthcare, technology, renewable energy, visa waiver agreements, foreign direct investment, partnerships in public infrastructure and technical support.
“Fundamental to our work is the fact that all that we do must translate into tangible benefits on the ground. If everything we do doesn’t lead to the betterment and advancement of every man, woman and child in this country, we are doing something wrong,” said Her Excellency Dockery.
Her Excellency Dockery continued: “We are living in a time when we realize that no man is an island…As a small island state, as small as we are, we don’t exist in a vacuum. We have to trade. We have to interact. We have to travel. We have to become globally integrated as an economy in order to survive and thrive and all that comes to a screeching halt if we don’t engage our neighbours.”
St. Kitts and Nevis has visa-free waiver agreements with over 140 countries and diplomatic relations with at least 125 countries.