Days 3-4-5: UN General Debate | What did the LAC countries say?

September 26, 2020

The UN General Debate, held between September 22 and 29, is the international platform where world leaders participate to express their main concerns and ideas about the international situation.

This year’s main theme, proposed by the Assembly´s President-elect, Mr. Volkan Bozkir, is “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action.”

We gathered the speeches of the Latin America and the Caribbean countries, which participated in the third, fourth and fifth days of the UN General Debate: Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas. Their interventions focused on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, post-pandemic recovery measures, progress towards sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Find the recording and the PDF of the speeches here!

*Disclaimer: All quotes were translated by Cepei


“Today more than ever we need a more united and effective multilateral system. A strengthened system will allow the Member States to develop strategies to face the challenges and face the future with a holistic vision.”

“We call on donors and all countries to carry out a critical analysis of international aid to Haiti to assess its effectiveness from a sustainable development perspective.”

“I encourage all states to commit not only to promote a common vision and to lead collective actions in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, but also to accelerate the implementation of action programs that conform the three pillars of the United Nations: Development, peace and security, and human rights.”

Jovenal Moïse, President



Antigua and Barbuda

“Collectively, we as United Nations State Members are failing in our responsibility to our only planet and in our duty to the people of our only world.”

“Never before has the world had such extensive technical and financial resources to face humanity’s challenges (…) The problem is that those resources are concentrated in the capitals of a few nations, which have retired from the effort to contribute to these challenges and overcome them, for the benefit of humanity.”

“Unless there is a suspension of payments, forgiveness and rescheduling of debt [many countries like Antigua and Barbuda] will not achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Gaston Alphonso Browne, Prime Minister




“The pandemic has highlighted pre-existing vulnerabilities (…) and has clearly demonstrated the global and systemic risk. However, the big differences lie in our capacities to mitigate the setbacks in development results from the multifaceted impact of the pandemic, and to have a stronger recovery.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the interconnectedness and interdependence of our world. It has underlined the need for a strengthened and renewed multilateralism. As we strive to respond and recover stronger, we must reimagine cooperation paths between nations. Global problems require constant cooperation to achieve strategic and global solutions.”

“The Internet has become our public access and meeting place to critical information. However, approximately half of the world’s population is still not connected to the Internet. With schools, work, health care, commerce, and religious worship online, people without access to a reliable Internet connection can be left out and completely disconnected.”

Andrew Holness, Prime Minister



Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

“COVID-19 has exposed the indisputable fact that coordinated multilateral action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is the best path to world peace and security.”

“Human ingenuity and science will produce a vaccine in the next few months or a year and the rate of infection, hospitalization and deaths from COVID will decline worldwide. But the troubling questions remain: Will the vaccine be economically and universally available to every country in the world? Or its distribution would be so skewed within and between countries that a deafening roar is likely to emerge saying that only rich lives matter?”

“Our United Nations and its specialized agencies are the spaces from which we can build an ambitious and renewed global pact, not a world government, but a true nations community through genuine multilateralism, based on international law. It is not merely a technical exercise, but a deeply political one.”

Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister 



Saint Kitts and Nevis 

“As a CARICOM State, we reaffirm our support for the WHO framework ‘Access to the COVID-19 Tool Accelerator (ACT-A)’ [which] provides a robust global response to defeat the pandemic through rapid development, scale-up and fairness distribution of vaccines against COVID-19.”

“Advanced countries and international financial institutions must respond positively to the call for concessional resources if we want to reinforce our economies for the post-COVID-19 and return to the sustainable development path.”

“Global threats to the planet and people are multiplying. The United Nations, on its 75th anniversary, must be resilient and innovative to help overcome current and future crises.”

Timothy Harris, Prime Minister



Saint Lucia 

“Our aspirations to advance our work to continue implementing the Sustainable Development Goals are extremely dark in the current international context. For years we have presented our case: The financial crisis, climate change and the current pandemic have provided empirical evidence that reaffirmed the vulnerabilities of SIDS [Small Island Developing States] and the inadequacy of the solutions offered by the current global architecture.”

“In recent years, SIDS, backed by academic research, have advocated for the establishment and use of a vulnerability index, already developed by the Commonwealth in 1989, as a more appropriate determinant of eligibility for concessional development assistance. However, nothing has changed. Our wealth is still measured by GDP per capita, although we already know categorically that this is not a good measure.”

“The United Nations system support is essential for the effective implementation not only of the SDGs, but also of the Samoa Pathway.”

Michael Chastanet, Prime Minister



Trinidad and Tobago

“Throughout the 75 years of the United Nations existence, the common thread of our collective action has been the recognition that global challenges can best be overcome through the practice of multilateralism based on reciprocal respect and trust.”

“Our experience up to this point bears eloquent testimony that SIDS [Small Island Developing States] need  to be accompanied by an international economic environment, conducive to business activity and financing, international trade, as well as technical cooperation and, what is more important, multilateralism.”

“We remain committed to achieving sustainable development through a combination of collaborative approaches and better multi-stakeholder partnerships.”

Keith Rowley, Prime Minister




“Small Island Developing countries like Bahamas always seem to be caught in a vicious cycle of recovery, having to deal with successive exogenous shocks and climatic events.”

“Pandemics, hurricanes or weather events do not discriminate between low-, middle-income and developed economies. Therefore, the main question remains, why international financial institutions continue to assess middle-income countries using outdated methodologies that do not take into account a country’s level of risk, vulnerability, and ability to recover from exogenous shocks (…) We reiterate the call for the institutionalization of a vulnerability index for the decision-making processes of international financial institutions and the international donor community.”

“We take note of the collaborative efforts within the COVAX initiative to ensure the availability [of the COVID-19 vaccine] by developing countries. Developing countries should be able to access vaccines through a transparent procurement process and at affordable market prices”.

Hubert Alexander Minnis, Prime Minister



Check out the LAC speeches from other sessions


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