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Madam Speaker, I would like to update this Honourable House on relations between the Virgin Islands and United Nations (UN).
Madam Speaker, the relationship between the UN and Virgin Islands is stronger than ever. The UN is the Territory’s main development partner as we pursue sustainable development in the hopes of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The Virgin Islands relationship with the UN is a legal one. We are one of the Territories on the UN’s list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, to whom the UN has legal obligations under the UN Charter and other UN conventions and resolutions. These obligations are in relation to supporting our development as a society and achieving a full measure of self-government in the process of decolonization. Importantly, every year, the UN General Assembly adopts a resolution during its session to reaffirm these legal obligations and other commitments.
Madam Speaker I am pleased to inform this Honourable House that the 77th UN General Assembly adopted its resolution on the Virgin Islands on 12th December 2022. The resolution, among other things, reflects the international community’s views on the political turbulence we experienced last year and calls for continued assistance to the Territory from the UN system to support sustainable development and hurricane recovery.
In terms of the UN’s follow-up on its commitments, I am very pleased that the UN development system and the Government of the Virgin Islands have agreed to extend the UN-VI Country Implementation Plan throughout 2023 with revised priorities. The Country Implementation Plan is the official agreement that guides the UN’s cooperation with the Virgin Islands. The seven priorities agreed include:
Madam Speaker, it is also important to note that in recent years the Virgin Islands has benefited from the UN relationship, including participation in:
Madam Speaker, the Government also remains engaged with the UN within the framework of the UN’s Multi-Country Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (MSDCF) 2022-2026. We are a member of the MSDCF Joint Steering Committee and recently made representation on interests at the inaugural meeting held last month that is coordinated by UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Mr. Didier Trebucq.
Madam Speaker, it is also important to note that we have relationships with several UN agencies including the Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO), UNDP, ECLAC, UN Women, World Food Programme, International Labour Organisation, UNICEF, UNESCO and PAHO. Each are doing work of some kind with our various Ministries and departments.
To coordinate our engagement with these UN agencies and the UN development system as a whole, particularly in the context of sustainable development, we have established the Sustainable Development National Coordinating Committee (SDGNCC), Chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs. Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe. We anticipate receiving more assistance from the UN in the future, particularly for the implementation of our National Sustainable Development Plan officially approved last week.
Notably Madam Speaker, last month I received the Resident Representative of the UNDP Barbados Office Ms. Limya Eltayeb with whom I had very good discussions about technical assistance regarding the economy and public sector during her visit to the Territory. UNDP has an office here on the ground headed by Ms. Patlian Johnson who serves as the National Coordinator. She is doing an excellent job and is in close contact with the Government on how UNDP can assist us. Already they are providing support with an e-government audit and helping small business adjust to the digital economy post-covid.
Finally, Madam Speaker, every year the UN holds important international meetings and conferences. Where valuable, the Government will attend and make representation, including the sessions of the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24) and UN Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization). We have attended these particular meetings every year for the past four years. My Special Envoy Mr. Benito Wheatley will keep me informed on any developments as the Government’s Representative to the UN.
Madam Speaker, this Honourable House and the public can be assured we will remain engaged with the UN and periodically update this Honourable House on UN engagement.
I thank you Madam Speaker.