BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 26, 2022
Today marks the last day of the 77th United National General Assembly (UNGA), and a high-level meeting for the International Day for the Total Termination of Nuclear Weapons took place this morning following the final addresses from world leaders. Late Friday evening, Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceño took the podium and delivered a scathing address decrying the failures of the global systems in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and the ongoing global conflicts.
PM Briceño, in his presentation, said that the war in Eastern Europe between Ukraine and Russia has “shaken the global multilateral system,” and he called the Russian attack on Ukraine unjustified, unprovoked, and illegal.
He further highlighted the increased inflation worldwide and how the lingering impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions have contributed to that current situation.
“These economic realities exacerbate an already acute social situation in Belize. Poverty is estimated to have risen by 10% between 2018 and 2021 – 45.5% of Belizeans are estimated to be moderate to severely food insecure,” PM Briceño said.
He declared that the post-pandemic recovery that was promised for the world has been delayed.
“And the chorus of promises and commitments to pivot toward building back better, to getting the recovery right, has yielded little; instead, global action and inaction have only resulted in deepening the many crises that we are facing,” PM Briceño further said.
PM Briceño spoke at length of the global environmental crisis, calling for international financial institutions to reshape their thinking in addressing the funding needs for developing states. The PM pointed out that the regime currently being utilized will place developing countries deeper in debt if significant steps are not taken.
“We need a full-scale, bold reimagining of the global financial architecture—no more tinkering at the edges to conceive of additional programs that are based on the same false logic. It just doesn’t work. Mr. President, the public sector on climate cost loss and damage cannot continue to be classified according to fiscal orthodoxy. The IMF is largely devoid of ways to quantify consequential climate impacts on public debt and countries’ capacity to pay,” PM Briceño noted.
He stated that a new global financial system responsive to today’s needs is pivotal, and suggested a two-pronged solution to the problem. “We need a two-prong response: (1) Debt relief is needed for all vulnerable countries and (2) We need to rapidly mainstream innovative policies which tackle debt repayment capacity and avoid excessive indebtedness,” Hon. Briceño said.
“The current, tentative and reactionary piecemeal approach to addressing the debt problem has proven hopelessly ineffective. We must break the pernicious cycle between debt, and climate and disaster risk,” the PM went on to say.
He suggested that there is compelling urgency to set up a multilateral sovereignty debt restructuring mechanism.
“Mr. President, history, a cruel history, is repeating itself, for centuries. Colonialism transported trillions in plundered wealth to the oppressors, reparations are overdue, and now I ask how much longer will this new climate colonialism punish the victims and spare the victimizers,” Hon. Briceño said.
He went on to highlight the unilateral US embargo ongoing for 7 decades on Cuba and its people, repeating a call for the lifting of the sanctions. PM Briceño also called for the creation of a comprehensive program of support for the Haitian people. The issue of Taiwan’s exclusion from the United Nations was also brought up by Hon. Briceño in his speech. He expressed disapproval of the body’s policy of excluding the East Asian country.
“I also reiterate Belize’s full support for the realization of an independent Palestinian state, within its 1967 borders with all attendant rights, including the recognition of East Jerusalem as its capital and the right of return. The people of Palestine continue to suffer the indignities of illegal occupation and apartheid, the disturbing prospect that the world’s sacred promise to deliver a two-state solution is slipping from their grasp,” Hon. Briceño said.
In speaking about the Belize-Guatemalan territorial dispute currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the PM called on international support for both countries.
“We continue to count on the support of the international community as the judicial process proceeds and when it concludes for the demarcation exercise to be carried out. In the meantime, we must redouble our efforts to manage the daily challenges which arise along the border areas in accordance with the 2005 confidence-building measures,” Hon. Briceño said.
Recently, the encounter between the Belize Territorial Volunteers and the Guatemalan Armed Forces has highlighted the need for a Sarstoon Protocol to be implemented between the two countries until the final determination of the matter at the ICJ.
“Now more than ever, we need to conclude a Sarstoon protocol, a cooperation mechanism to avoid unnecessary incidents in that area,” PM Briceño said.
In referring once more to the issue of the climate crisis, Hon. Briceño highlighted the unmet expectations of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland last year. He said that, instead, the inadequacy of the commitments made at COP26 may result in a global temperature increase of 2.7 degrees by 2100.
“This is utterly unacceptable, and morally unjust. Our people will continue to suffer for something we did not cause, rather than meeting their commitments to deliver 100 billion dollars annually. We left Glasgow with a financial roadmap, yet another paper promise,” Hon. Briceño remarked.
The PM called for less talk and more decisions at the next two COPs to be held later this year in Egypt and Canada.
“Our failure to act decisively and urgently on Covid, conflicts, and climate, condemns humanity and our planet irreversibly to disasters. History will not absolve us if we fail,” Hon. Briceño said.