There is nothing “harmonious” about NDP’s foreign policy/international relations. In fact, it is incongruous at best.
The NDP’s “one page” foreign policy agenda, appears to have reduce the complexities and complications surrounding foreign policy to mere platitudes. The NDP’s one-page international relations agenda, bespeaks the party’s lack of perspicacity and in-depth understanding of the multidisciplinary field of International Relations.
There’s no historiography, ontology and epistemological understanding of international relations and particularly the role of small island developing states (SIDS) in this anarchic international structure.
The NDP’s international relations agenda, well, has no agenda. For instance, they intimated that they’re committed to the “rule of law in international relations and the United Nations and fulfilling our role in the Security Council”. However, this is the same UN Security Council that NDP fought against, when they tried to sabotage our chances of being elected to the UN Security Council because of partisan politics. But, I digress.
The NDP’s “ganja” candidate Roland “Patel” Mathews promised to “lift ganja man higher”. Notwithstanding the attempt to creatively incorporate the ULP’s “Lift SVG Higher” slogan in his speech, he also obscure the fact that St Vincent and the Grenadines is a signatory member of certain international laws and regimes that prohibits the “recreational” use of marijuana: 1961, 1971 & 1988 Conventions on single narcotics, psychotropic substances and against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, respectively. Therefore, any violation of these international laws would result in severe consequences and penalisation in the form inhumane “economic sanctions”. Ironically, the NDP’s one-page international relations indicates that they’re guided by the principles of the “rule of law in international relations,” but the party’s domestic policy on marijuana, is already in contradiction to prevailing international laws and norms.
An important facet of international relations is “International Political Economy” (IPE), which can be defined as the reciprocal and dynamic interaction in international relations of the pursuit of economic benefits/wealth and the pursuit of power. The former is more relevant to us because we’re a small island developing state, who is more interested in “economic pursuits” through trade and foreign direct investments (FDIs), as opposed to “international power” by means of becoming a regional hegemonic power.
Most importantly, IPE is about the complex linkages between economic and political activity at the level of international affairs. The NDP’s one-page international relations, however, failed to deliver on this point, as the party’s political activities are not interwoven with its economic agendas. In fact, they’re almost nonexistent. For example, they offered meaningless statements about “actively support greater economic integration in CARICOM and the OECS”. Howbeit, they provided no information about how all this would be accomplished. There is also no mentioned of article 45 and 46 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which addresses the issue of “Movement of Community Nationals” and “Movement of Skilled Community Nationals,” respectively. The latter might be more relevant, as it addresses the intended goal of “economic integration”.
For instance, Article 46; 1 states: Without prejudice to the rights recognised and agreed to be accorded by Member States in Articles 32, 33, 37, 38 and 40 among themselves and to Community nationals, Member States have agreed, and undertake as a first step towards achieving the goal set out in Article 45, to accord to the following categories of Community nationals the right to seek employment in their jurisdictions: (a) university graduates; (b) media workers; (c) sportspersons; (d) artistes; and (e) musicians, recognised as such by the competent authorities of the receiving Member States.
Conversely, the OECS is more politically and economically integrated than CARICOM. For example, the Treaty of Basseterre speaks to the “Movement of Labour,” whereby citizens of any OECS member states can move to work and live freely in any member state of the union. There’s also the free movement of goods and trade in services, which allows for goods produced in the union to be without trade and other such restrictions. These restrictions – quantitative, etc – will be completely dismantled for goods originating from the union. Nationals of participating states will be able to process and receive services in any state.
There is also the “Harmonized Fiscal and Monetary Policy,” as there exist a common currency (EC dollar) and harmonized fiscal and monetary policies among the participating states of the OECS that strengthens our economic union. On the security front, there’s also the “RSS Treaty” (Regional Security System), which was established by OECS member states to tackle transnational criminal activities and allows for security personals in either member states to enter without permission, for the purpose of assisting with security matters.
Maybe, offer the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines some specifics on how you plan on achieving “economic integration,” within the CARICOM and the OECS realm, as well as how this translates into economic benefits at the macro, micro and meso-economic levels.
The NDP’s one-page international relations also talks about “diligently review and actively pursue the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union to secure the benefits of trade in goods and services”. This is a rather vague and opaque statement because it doesn’t provide any substantive information. Let’s be clear, St Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island developing state (SIDS) that has certain unique characteristic economic problems that typifies SIDS, such as limited to no natural resources, small economy, lack of competitiveness, and susceptibility to climate change. However, we’ve witnessed a “diversification” of our agricultural sector under the ULP government, thanks to our sagacious Minister of Agriculture Saboto S. Caesar.
However, if the NDP intends to take advantage of the “duty free” access into the European Union market, it would require more than simply stating “diligently review” and “actively pursue” the EPA. This is because we’re not “shareholders,” but are instead “stakeholders” in international relations/international political economy and our “distribution of power” doesn’t put us in any position to negotiate on our own terms. Thus, it requires a well-thought and strategic foreign policy if we are to “actively pursue” any sort of economic benefits under the European Partnership Agreement (EPA). Perhaps, you could’ve talk about the possibility of creating “value-added” commodities that are duty-free under the EPA?
The UN Security Council.
Notwithstanding the fact that the NDP fought against our UN Security Council seat, by sending a letter to the United Nations to stymie our chances of being elected to the most powerful international seat, their one-page international relations provided no guiding principles, international relations frameworks or themes.
The UN Security Council is the most powerful of the 6 organs of the United Nations, and this responsibility should not be taken lightly. The UN Security Council is critical to the maintenance of international peace and security, as there are laws/rules explicitly outlined in the UN Charter that prohibits the “use of force” (Article 2:4) and the “non-intervention” in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state (Article 2:7). Likewise, Chapter 7 of the UN Charter sets out the rules for the UN Security Council’s powers for the purpose of the “maintenance of peace” and international stability: articles 39 – 42. These decisions are usually “legally binding,” which also uniquely separates the Security Council organ from the rest. Therefore, it would’ve been extremely important for the NDP to, at the very least, address this under their “international relations” banner to give Vincentians and our allies some semblance of their foreign policy principles.
Lastly, the NDP did not even address a major existential threat: the ominous ubiquity of climate change. This is another pressing concern that marries domestic affairs with international relations. Furthermore, there was no mention of important regional bodies and instruments: OAS, FAFT, FIU, RSS, CARICOM IMPACS, CBI, etc. The manifesto is lustreless, disjointed, replete with banality and irresponsible fiscal giveaways and is devoid of a well-thought and focused foreign policy/international relations.
By: Emanuel Quashie