People, Planet and Peace
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President David Granger in conversation with an official at the 20th Anniversary of the William J. Perry Center of Hemispheric Studies
President David Granger in conversation with an official at the 20th Anniversary of the William J. Perry Center of Hemispheric Studies

People: assets in developing the world
-President Granger lobbies for the protection of human rights

PRESIDENT David Granger has prioritised, as a matter of policy the improvement of the lives of all Guyanese, regardless of geographic, religious, social and ethnic diversity.

He believes that the great equaliser is education. This policy position falls in line with the

President David Granger and United States Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Perry Holloway ,shake hands at the William J. Perry Center of Hemispheric Studies

United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 4; Quality Education, which calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.

In 2017 alone, the Government of Guyana invested $43.1B in the education sector with focus on development in the areas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET) and teacher training and education and Early Childhood Development programmes.

Speaking at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), held in New York, the Head of State, President Granger said the adoption of the SDGs, which is a set of 17 “Global Goals” with 169 targets among them, has catalysed our aspirations for a better world into concrete and forward-looking actions and objectives. “The respective ‘Goals’ seek to promote respect for the inherent dignity of people and their rights as human beings,” he said.

A bilateral meeting is held between Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation, and H.E. David Granger, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana

On August 21, 2017 at the commissioning of three, 35-seater buses which convey school children in the North and South areas of Georgetown, under the President’s Five ‘Bs’ programme – Boats, Buses, Bicycles plus Breakfast and Books, Minister Ally reassured, “We will invest because we recognise that education is both a human right in itself and an essential means of realising other human rights. As an important empowerment right, education is the primary engine by which economically and socially marginalised adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities.”

Our President lobbied on the basis that the advancement of these ‘goals’ is not only being obstructed by the incidence of human rights violations, but also by the involuntary migration of people from their homelands, as a result of terrorism and warfare. The President said that the UNGA’s theme, ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet’, pushes nations to focus on all people.

“The theme is about the human condition – of people in states that are large and small; rich and poor; strong and weak. The theme is about humanity’s condition everywhere on earth,” he said. The people of the world yearn “to fulfill their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.” This, he noted,is an attainable objective of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is endorsed by the United Nations.

THE WORLD CANNOT IGNORE INCREASING CATASTROPHIC EVENTS
-PRESIDENT GRANGER
There is an average of about 90 tropical storms annually across the globe, and while there is still some level of controversy regarding the link between these storms and global warming, one thing that scientists and reputable international organisations such as NASA and the National Hurricane Centre are in agreement with, is that in recent times, tropical storms have higher wind speeds, last longer and make landfall more frequently.

This is directly linked to the rise in sea surface temperature. Over the past few weeks, the Western Hemisphere has faced nature’s wrath with back to back hurricanes, each, an intense force of destruction that has left millions of people homeless and reverse decades of economic development in countries.

It is for this reason that President David Granger did not mince words at the recently-concluded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), when he exhorted world leaders to create a broader platform to effectively provide protection and relief to countries, particularly Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean Region that are vulnerable to natural disasters. He noted that urgent efforts must be made to strengthen the capabilities of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the regional mechanism that deals with disaster preparedness and response.

“We are leaders in environmental security and we have to emphasise that all states of the world must try to preserve their biodiversity, protect their forests and mitigate or prevent the situation in which greenhouse gases tend to contribute to global warming. We have got to look at green technology and environmental measures… So that gradually, global warming could be brought under control and eventually the tendency for the earth to get warm will be slowed,” the President said.

The President also met with the Chairman of the Council of Delegates of one of the oldest organisations dealing with military and defence matters in the world, the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), Brigadier-General Luis Rodríguez Bucio in Washington, D.C. During his address to the Council of Delegates, the Head of State took the opportunity to emphasise the need for the global community to focus its efforts towards mitigating the effects of global warming through the protection of the environment, people, and the perpetuation of peace. The President expressed satisfaction with the changing mission of the IADB, which took into consideration the need to protect the environment and to respond to natural disasters.

While Guyanese are spared the anguish and devastation that follows tropical storms, the country is not without its challenges in terms of erratic weather patterns. Prolonged periods of drought and/or flooding are annual phenomena that citizens, particularly in the hinterland, grapple with. These challenges, however, are in no way, shape or form, as difficult as what the rest of the Region is facing at this time, which is why President Granger has reaffirmed Guyana’s commitment to supporting displaced citizens of the region.

More than that though, Guyana has demonstrated tangibly to the Caribbean and the rest of the world, the seriousness which it attaches to environmental protection by not only placing an additional two million hectares of its forests under conservation and being the most vocal on the issue of climate change in the international arena, but by also committing to a ‘green’ development trajectory.

“Guyana has committed itself to becoming a ‘green state’; Guyana has committed itself to contributing to the adaptation to measures to deal with global warming and climate change… Guyana is ideally suited because of its presence in the Guiana Shield, because of our commitment to the conservation of our forests and our commitment to introducing green measures… Our concern for the planet is real,” President Granger said during a recent interview at the United Nations headquarters.

Guyana’s Green State Development Policy will place emphasis on the protection of the environment, the preservation of biodiversity, the provision of eco-tourism and eco-educational services and the promotion of practical measures to ensure climate adaptation. This will also see the establishment of more protected areas across the 10 Administrative Regions of the country.

Speaking at the First Conference of parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Geneva, Switzerland, last week, the Guyanese Head of State said that the Convention, which the country signed on to in October 2013, is a means to achieve its ‘green’ development objectives. He said that phased reduction and eventual elimination of the use of mercury is part of its national mining policy and is consistent with its obligations under the Convention.

The President assured that Guyana is well on its way to eliminating mercury use in the mining sector through education, incorporation of mercury-free technologies, enforcement of regulations and the introduction of economically viable alternatives to mercury use to aid in the efficiency of gold production.

“The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an important instrument and its implementation must be intensified to avoid further harm by mercury emissions and for the protection of people and the preservation of the planet. Guyana reaffirms its commitment to the implementation of the Minamata Convention. My country set itself the goal of reducing mercury emissions by 55 percent within the next five years and to eliminate mercury use by 2027,” he said.

All in all, the country, despite its massive oil and gas potential, has aligned its development priorities to green, sustainable framework that will not only protect the environment but will bring economic prosperity to its citizens.

‘STRIVING FOR PEACE,’ RECONCEPTUALISING SECURITY MECHANISMS IN A CHANGING WORLD
-PRESIDENT GRANGER SAYS UN PARAMOUNT IN PROCESS

“A good life for the world’s peoples and the sustainable use of the planet’s resources are predicated on peace with justice, including justice within and between states.” These were the words of President Granger as he addressed his counterparts and those in the high ranking UN officials at the UNGA. The United Nations, the President said, is paramount to this peace.

“Striving for peace must aim at resolving long-standing inter-state conflicts. Guyana, in this regard, supports the call for the reform of the Security Council to give even greater voice to developing countries,” President Granger noted, while stressing that this influential international body has a vital role in ensuring respect for international law, using the mechanisms of the International Court of Justice and the Security Council.

The mandate of the United Nations, the President reminded, is to ensure peace for the world’s people. To achieve this peace, President Granger said the world’s humanitarian crises, must be addressed, long-standing conflicts must be resolved and justice promoted within and between nations.

Critically, the Head of State, while addressing the Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, on September 21, 2017, pointed to the fact that climate change has now emerged as a major international threat, which now, more than ever, requires a reconceptualisation of peoples’ understanding of security, which incorporates environmental hazards as a threat to both human safety and state security mechanisms. The faculty and staff were called upon to provide intellectual leadership to promote a new era of security relations in the Caribbean Basin, aimed at protecting the people, perpetuating peace and preserving the planet from disaster.

The Head of State also believes that the maintenance of peace and good relations among states are founded on mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, cooperation for mutual benefit, respect for treaties and international law and the maintenance of international peace and security.

The world is weary of war; therefore the ‘striving for peace’ must be humanity’s ceaseless quest, said President Granger. ‘Striving for peace’ and the right to development, he said, have been Guyana’s deepest concern since Independence in 1966. During his address to the Assembly in September 2016, President Granger reminded that he explained the danger Guyana has been facing on its borders as a consequence of the territorial claims of its western neighbor, Venezuela.

With this in mind, the Guyanese Leader took the opportunity to remind leaders that Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territory has not been diminished or even diverted, pointing to the fact that the disturbing developments within that country, have not only attracted the attention of the world but have aroused the concerns of many.

On September 25, 2017, the President met with the UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres, where he reinforced Guyana’s commitment to the Good Offices process and the intention to work towards the achievement of the highest expectations.

Speaking more recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, said that during the meeting with Mr. Guterres, the Guyana delegation expressed its firm expectation that the Good Officer, Mr. Dag Nylander will stick to the terms of reference, which stipulates that if significant progress is not made between the two sides in the matter, juridical settlement would be sought, through the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“We sought to get explanations for a number of things that are in those terms of reference or in the mandate, and the assurance that the United Nations, in particular, would adhere to them,” he said. Minister Greenidge expressed hope that Mr. Nylander will bear in mind that the core of the problem has to do with whether Venezuela’s position on the 1899 Arbitral Award, which they subscribed to, is that it is null and void.

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