(PointXpress)Antigua and Barbuda’s recent joint chairmanship of the Association of Small Islands States (AOSIS) within the United Nations framework helped the organization ‘lift the profile,’ thereby giving it a bigger voice in international fora. That is the view of Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Dr. Aubrey Webson, whose comments came during an interview with the Morning Point radio programme.
Asked to identify the country’s greatest achievement during its co-chairmanship of AOSIS, Dr. Webson said, the level of advocacy brought to bear on the work of the organization, took a big leap forward during that period.
“I think Antigua and Barbuda in many ways has lifted the profile significantly of AOSIS, making it much stronger and powerful within the UN system. This was most noticeable with our advocacy, working along with our Cabinet ministers in St. John’s, in particular the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, on the issue of climate change to address the issue of Loss and Damage and to get that onto the agenda when no one thought we could,” he observed.
He explained that when Antigua and Barbuda assumed the organization’s co-chairman, no one thought it would happen. “In COP 26 in Scotland, we got some room and some movements, and by last year in Egypt, it got onto the agenda and was formalized with a working committee where Chief Environment Officer, Ambassador Diane Black-Layne is a member, has been a strong step forward,” he suggested.
Antigua and Barbuda continues to be seen as a leading voice on environmental issues especially in the area of plastic pollution and the oceans.
“We have become very prominent in the area of the ocean. Here, we are again working with the ministry back home, with my office here at the UN, as well as the AOSIS office. Working together, we have become quite strong in the discussion on plastics and the removal of plastics from the ocean floor that are infesting our waters and becoming a danger to us human beings,” he declared.
Ambassador Webson noted that Antigua and Barbuda’s advocacy extended beyond matters having to do with the environment and climate change, but also the system by which SIDS are assessed for aid. “In the area of finance and development, we started a push during the COVID years 2020-21, when we began to knock on the doors very loudly for opportunities for SIDS and in particular, middle-income SIDS who were being further pushed out, due to no fault of their own, and moving the multi-vulnerability discussion with the prime minister as the co-chair alongside the former prime minister of Norway. We have moved that to where we will now have an MVI that will be included in the Secretary General’s report and sent to the finance committee for finalization. We will now have an MVI that will be part of the economic assessment landscape,” he reported. The General Assembly of the UN starts on September 19. Antigua and Barbuda is expected to send a high-level delegation to attend.