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Every Voice Counts - defense of small island states is central to Seychelles UNSC bid

Every Voice Counts - defense of small island states is central to Seychelles UNSC bid ( The Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, addressed the Seychelles National Assembly yesterday morning in respect to the Republic of Seychelles’ candidature for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the 2017-2018 term, following President James Michel’s announcement early in August.

The Minister stated that the bid was inspired by a desire for Seychelles to make the most of the opportunities presented by globalization - and not simply be a victim of global processes.

During his remarks, Minister Adam reflected on the history of Seychelles, its developments and accomplishments throughout the years, as well as the importance of seizing new opportunities at hand.

He explained that by submitting this candidature, Seychelles will be in better position to defend and protect its sovereignty as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS). The Minister highlighted three specific issues that were central to Seychelles’ candidature:

-Maritime Security re-enforcement for the development of the “blue economy”
-To assure peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region
-To act more quickly and decisively against climate change

“Defending the interests of small island states is very important in the context of this candidature. Small island states are the guardians of what we have called the ‘blue economy,’ that is all the potential that exists in our ocean either for commerce or for the ocean’s resources,” said Minister Adam.

In his analysis of the piracy issue, the Minister said that there has been a reduction in the number of successful attacks, and that every Seychellois can be proud, as Seychelles has played a key role in the adoption of effective strategies that have been implemented to reduce piracy in the region.

The Minister recalled the appeal made by President James Michel to the international community, where several strategies were proposed to improve the fight against piracy. Three of these core strategies have been adopted as key parts of the international effort against piracy after the London Conference on Somalia which took place in United Kingdom:

1. The necessity to intensify support to stable regions within Somalia.
2. Intensify the capacity of regional coastal states including Seychelles to fight against piracy and to enhance the ability to prosecute those captured in piracy acts and ensure a proper mechanism for those that are convicted to be transferred back to Somalia to see out their sentence.
3. To target those that financing piracy in any shape of form

Minister Adam noted that President Michel’s efforts to put in place “a strong and prosperous circle of islands" in the Indian Ocean was also a key component of Seychelles’ UN Security Council bid. He noted that it is for the same reason that Seychelles is using its position as chairman of the Indian Ocean Commission to contribute towards finding a solution in Madagascar. The Minister said that it is important for the world to give more attention to the Indian Ocean.

Thirdly, Minister Adam explained that such candidature represents an opportunity for Seychelles to highlight the problem of climate change as a global security concern. He noted that it is also important that Seychelles keep working with all partners concerned accelerating action on this issue.

The Minister stated that the Seychelles campaign towards this UNSC candidature requires a regional approach in view that the election of non-permanent members is done on the basis of regional representation. On the continental level, therefore, Seychelles is actively seeking the support of the African Union.

“The Seychelles presents itself as a responsible country that works hard and with efficiency. The government also makes a lot of effort to build a world that is just and where all countries respective levels of development are taken into account. Our work in defending our sovereignty, maritime security, and fighting climate change, as well as creating peace and stability in the region have been recognized by all,” said Minister Adam.

He continued, “The government of Seychelles feels that the Seychellois people need a stronger platform at the global level, thus the decision for Seychelles to pursue its candidature to the UNSC. Every voice counts. Just because we are small, we should not hide ourselves. It is precisely because we are small, that we should stand tall and make our voice heard.”

In supplementary questions on the subject of the bid, the Minister reassured the Assembly that the bid would not bring about huge increases in the government’s budget to support the process. He explained that the initial campaign would simply be covered under the Ministry’s existing budget. Nearer to the election an increase in the travel budget was envisaged as envoys would have to be sent out. If the bid was successful, then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would need to increase the staff of the New York Permanent Mission by three persons, and this would involve increased costs - but in view of the increase in visibility for Seychelles - one which was fully justified according to the Minister.

The Minister also responded to further queries on the subject of costs from the Leader of the Opposition, as the concern was expressed that following the request of SCR 7.5 million additional funds for unforeseen visits in the supplementary budget, that the UNSC bid would increase Seychelles’ involvement in expensive mediations such as the mediation on Madagascar. In his response, the Minister explained, that during the debate on the supplementary budget, it appears that only the question of the Madagascar mediation was raised, when in fact the sum of 7.5 million was to cover the cost of all the visits of 2012, including the visit of President Patibha Patil of India where Seychelles benefited from a grant of US$25 million as well as the visit of the Mauritius Prime Minister and others. The Minister explained that while Seychelles had spent SCR 3 million on the 2 mediation attempts on Madagascar, that the holding of this conference brought many benefits to Seychelles, including through almost 100 additional people that also participated in the event and who were responsible for their own costs. The Minister explained that the Ministry of Finance was doing a study to indicate all the benefits that could be had in the Seychelles’ economy by hosting conferences in the longer term.

In concluding, on behalf of the government, Minister Adam called on all partners in society at large, Members of the National Assembly, all political parties, the private sector, and civil society to work together on this campaign which is “for Seychelles as a whole. It is not for a particular group or organization.” The Minister stated that he is convinced that the Seychellois people have a lot to share with the world - and this is what the Security council bid is all about.

PHOTO: Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Jean-Paul Adam


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