UN: Barbados PM Calls on Global Community to Address Climate Change, Vaccine Inequality

Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly at United Nations headquarters on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. The General Assembly hall is equipped with a teleprompter, but few leaders used it Friday, with most opting for paper speeches. While reading speech texts from phones has become more common in general, the practice remains rare at the General Assembly. (UN WebTV via AP)
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Barbados has sought answers to a number of questions from the international community ranging from climate change to a new world order that would allow for the global community to shape its own future destiny.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), said that three ago when she delivered her maiden speech to the international community she warned then that the world appeared perilously similar to how it was 100 years ago and “we have not moved the needle.

“I am not here to say I told you so. But I will say that we must move the needle! We must lead and we must act. How many variants of COVID-19 must arrive, before a worldwide vaccination plan is implemented? How many deaths must it take, before 1.7 billion excess vaccines are shared?”

Mottley also questioned the unwillingness of states to deal effectively with fake news even as they continue to defend the public digital spaces.

“We have come together with alacrity to defend the right of states to tax across the digital space but we are not prepared to come together quickly to defend the right of our citizens not to be duped by fake news in that same space.”

She said the global community is awaiting “global moral strategic leadership” to these issues including climate change.

“How much must global temperatures rise, before we end the burning of fossil fuels? How much must sea levels climb, before those who profited from stockpiling greenhouse gases contribute to the loss and damage they caused?

“And yes, how much must hurricanes destroy, locusts devour, and islands submerge, before we recognize that US$100 billion is not enough? The answer Mr President is that we are waiting for urgent leadership”

She asked the international community to indicate how many crises and natural disasters need to hit before there is a change of the old conventions of aid in order to reach those most vulnerable.

Mottley also questioned how wealthier must technology firms get, before “we worry about how so few have access to data and knowledge.

“The answer Mr President is that we have the means to give every child a tablet, every adult a vaccine, and invest in protecting those most vulnerable from a changing climate, but we chose not to.

She said equally is the question as to how many more times must people of color as well as women be attacked disproportionately as they seek to lead international organizations and then only be met by goodwill and nice words, only, before nationalism and militarism return.

She said that this age dangerously resembles that similarly unequal world, on the eve of the Great Depression and world war, and that the world continues to gamble with the future.

“If we do not control this fire, it will burn us all down. As I said two years ago …now is the time for leadership,” she said, questioning who will sign the new charter for the 21st century that will bring hope and progress for “our people now”.

“Who will stand up in the name of all those who have died during this awful pandemic? Who will stand up in the name of all those who have died because of the climate crisis? Who will stand up a COP 26-foot small island developing states for 1.5 to survive? Who will stand up for all those who continue to suffer in the indignity of unemployment and underemployment? Who will stand up for our children who simply want to learn mad to live in a world without being forced into migration?”

She said as a result of these issues, Barbados is calling on the international community and people of the world to “indicate the direction that we must go in to save our planet and to save our people.”

Mottley invoked Bob Marley at one point, asking: “In the words of Robert Nesta Marley, who will get up and stand up?”

“If we can send people to the moon, and, as I’ve said over and over, solve male baldness,” she riffed, then other issues, too, can certainly be addressed.


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