PM Browne calls for greater South South Cooperation at MEDays Forum

TANGIERS, Kingdom of Morocco – 5th November 2022……Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne has called on African leaders and heads of international corporations attending the MEDays Forum here to foster greater south south cooperation in order to restore justice and equity.

The MEDays Forum is the only non-governmental event organized in Morocco and one of very few in Africa to be open to foreign Heads of State and Government.

With an average of nearly 30% of government representatives among the nearly 200 speakers, MEDays confirms its continued attractiveness to political decision-makers.

Addressing the audience, Prime Minister Browne called on them to continue to heighten their collaboration and further  integrate, as they pursue the path of global peace and international cooperation.

“We must persist in demanding a new order for a peaceful and equitable world.  No voice must be silent in proclaiming this message, and all should repeat it loudly and frequently until it is heard,” he said.

Prime Minister Browne also address the issue of COVID-19, Climate Change and COP27, and the war in the Ukraine and other conflicts.

We are pleased to present the full text of the Prime Minister’s presentation at the Closing ceremony of the forum:

Intervention by the Honourable Gaston Browne
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
 “From crises to crises: towards a new world order”
on Saturday, November 5th 2022
at the MEDays Forum in Morocco

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be invited to give closing remarks at this very important Meday’s forum here in Tangier, beautiful Morocco. 

I would like to congratulate, His Majesty, King Mohammed VI, for his leadership and the major diplomatic triumphs that Morocco has achieved in regard to the Sahara Issue. 

Antigua & Barbuda continues to stand firmly in support of the Moroccan Autonomy Plan. 

Today, we live in a world characterized by crises, which incidentally are virtually all man made.  They include but are not limited to global injustices & inequity, political instability, terrorism, financial crimes, the refugee crisis, climate change and the pandemics of wars and disease.

The resolution of these crises require a global commitment; an all of society approach to resolve them. 

Resolving these crises requires a form of creative destruction, to replace these perennial crises, (the old order), with new innovative approaches, (the new order), that will result in a more just, equitable, peaceful and sustainable global human civilization. 

A new world order would require greater global collaboration and cooperation among all states, with the institutionalization of socio-economic policies that are fair and equitable providing for a more equitable distribution of wealth and  to significantly reduce or eliminate injustices, to include poverty.  

There are sufficient resources on the planet to support the achievement of global sustainable development.  Instead, those resources are unevenly distributed to support profligacy and to fund senseless wars and conflicts.  

My articulations so far may sound utopic, perhaps misplaced, or even unimaginable.  I can assure you though, that I do not have my feet firmly planted in the clouds. 

However, I do not believe that we should limit our human ambition and endeavors for a better world. 

Our world is fast becoming a hell for many; why can’t we work collectively to make it a heaven for all ?  

This type of egalitarian approach is the only sustainable way of creating a new world order thereby replacing the rat race which we have created, of which the citizenry of the global south have been its greatest victims.

Unfortunately our global civilization has become uncivilized requiring urgent realignment. 

Evidently, the quest for a fairer, more equitable and just world, will have to be driven by a more unified global south, whose peoples have had to endure these inequities and injustices.       This unification should be lead by a more integrated Africa to include its Caribbean diaspora. 

The global south is endowed with all of the required mineral and people resources to make the necessary paradigm shift, to bring about a new equitable and just world order; but we clearly lack the focus, cooperation and bold leadership required to effect this change. 

A more integrated global south with increased trade and investments, could exert greater global influence and would be in a stronger position, to effect the global changes necessary to sustain human civilization and a good quality of life for all. 

I trust that the inspiring discussions emanating for this forum would result in a renewed focus and commitment for greater south south partnerships in resolving these global challenges. 

The most significant existential threats facing us at this time, are climate change,  the war on Ukraine and the lingering socio-economic effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.   

While I outlined several crises affecting humanity at the outset, in the interest of time, I will only elaborate on the latter existential threats.

If we could resolve these latter crises, the world would not become a utopia, but certainly a significantly better place for all to live. 

Climate change is the most significant existential threat facing all of humanity.  While some progress has been made in addressing climate change, insufficient advances have been made.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) Diplomacy has tinkered at the edges of the problem for several decades, agreeing that there is an enormous problem, but failing to grab the beast by the horns and wrestle it to submission.

Governments have been prepared to agree on rules, but, in the absence of legally binding deadlines and penalties, they have been unwilling to implement them.

Governments have also agreed on the measurement that will tip the world over the precipice to disaster – 1.5 degrees Celsius is the limit that all have agreed will signal the end of much of human existence and the land masses that we know today.

Yet, climate diplomacy has failed to halt the unrelenting march to that terrifying disaster.

Every year, the world creeps forward, polluting the atmosphere with emissions of greenhouse gases that gradually sink island nations and ancient civilizations, and that tear away at the coastlines of mainland states.

The global community is now on course to reach and exceed that cataclysmic barrier of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Extreme storms, droughts and floods are already occurring more rapidly and with greater intensity in every part of the world, threatening the survival of SIDS.

Undoubtedly, the rich countries will last longer.

They can buy the technology and build the walls and barriers to defend against the impact of Climate Change.

But, they will exist in a planet of countries stripped of their habitats and biological riches, a scorched and depleted world which will cause new tensions, new fears, new wars and new lawlessness.

That is what future generations will inherit – an unimaginable horror, a scene of what we used to consider to be science fiction.

It is only a question of time, unless every effort is made to stop climate change by the world’s polluters, whose own scientists are warning them continuously of the consequences of their persistent destruction.

Evidently, the reality that climate diplomacy has failed is inescapable and compelling. 

This requires the global south, especially small island states that have  been hapless victims of climate change, to up the ante in fighting for the protection of our planet and human civilization. 

To this end, collectively, as the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), at COP 27; SIDS will be strongly advocating for compensation for loss and damage.

In addition, several SIDS, including my own country Antigua & Barbuda, plan to hold the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters to account for their polluting torts, by taking our cause to the international courts and tribunals to seek justice.

Colleagues, these SIDS initiatives require the collaboration and support of all countries of the global south, to effectively fight this deadly climate war that has been launched against us.

Wars & Pandemics

On the issue of global  wars and pandemics, a close examination of their history would confirm that virtually all started in the global north.  

Yet, the global south, especially Small island states are the greatest victims of pandemics, whether they are diseases, economic recessions, or wars. 

COVID-19 has however, thought us that no one is safe until all are safe.

The current war in Europe between Russia and Ukraine is a telling example.  No nation will be safe as the war protracts. 

No nation has been spared the consequential high prices of oil, the shortages of fertilizers and commodities, as well as, the resultant high prices.

Of course, developed and rich nations are better able to ride the storm of these conditions because of their superior financial and technological resources. 

But the countries of the global south, because of their inherent vulnerabilities and lack of resilience are suffering disproportionately. This is compounded by the fact that they were already struggling economically because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are less able to cope.

Not only have their peoples faced the high costs of imported inflation, but they have also had to incur increased borrowings, to plug the hole of significantly reduced revenues, caused by the global lock downs and logistical disruptions, of both COVID-19 and the Ukraine war. 

A world, plagued by war, is no safer or secure than a world paralysed by disease.

Such a world creates the economic instability and reversal of economic growth that we have all endured in the past few years.

In turn, political stability is thrown into disorder within nations and between them. 

The struggle for scarce resources produces further tensions and conflicts, depriving nations of the peace and tranquillity that encourages socio-economic investments, tourism, and international cooperation.

Vital official assistance required for the development of poor and vulnerable states is directed at supplying expensive weapons and military support to one, or other protagonists in conflicts.

And, we all well know, that when these conflicts end, development assistance will again be sacrificed for the cause of rebuilding war-torn states.

The latter will happen, particularly because, the rebuilding will have to take place in Europe, the global north.

I do not make the latter statement as a racist observation; I make it simply because it is true.

There is a built-in position in the international financial and development institutions, and in the international money markets; that places a higher priority on safeguarding the well being of Europe, than is accorded to any developing region.

So, in terms of which Order is in chaos, it is certainly not the Order that has prevailed since 1947, that gives priority to the development of rich nations over poor and vulnerable ones.

Whatever the thinking that underlines that bias, it appears to remain alive and well.

This prevailing inequity calls for greater south south cooperation, in the creation of a new world order to restore justice and equity, peace & tranquility. 

Let us therefore, continue to heighten our collaboration and further  integrate, as we pursue the path of global peace and international cooperation.

We must persist in demanding a new order for a peaceful and equitable world. 

No voice must be silent in proclaiming this message, and all should repeat it loudly and frequently until it is heard.

Thank you.