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— urges swift correction of record
The International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana has expressed concerns over reports that the Delegation of Guyana to the UN General Assembly, headed by Mrs. Caroline Rodrigues-Birkett, the Chair of the Group of 77 and China, is recorded as having voted against Draft Resolution II “A global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The resolution also speaks to the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action”, adopted by the General Assembly at the 48th Plenary Meeting of the United Nations on December 31st, 2020. In a statement IDPADA-G said the voting record obtained from the United Nation’s digital library is as follows: Yes: 106 | No: 14 | Abstentions: 44 | Non-Voting: 29 | Total voting membership: 193. Guyana was counted among the 14 “ No” votes, along with countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France and Israel. The full details of the vote can be obtained at: https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/3896183?ln=en.
“This matter is one of national concern, in this the International Decade for People of African Descent, given Guyana’s historical trials and unresolved issues of racial discrimination which have necessitated the funding of an entity such as the Ethnic Relations Commission to promote racial harmony and good relations among the various ethnic groups within Guyana,” the organization said. It added that it notes the release by Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett on 10th April 2021, indicating that Guyana voted in support of the resolution when it was adopted in the General Assembly on December 31st, 2020. Rodrigues-Birkett also posited that Guyana, as the proponent of the Resolution, would not have voted against its own resolution. “However, at the time of writing this Press Release, Guyana’s recorded “No” vote remained unchanged. IDPADA-G, therefore, urges the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Representative Mrs. Rodrigues-Birkett to amend this vote to reflect what has subsequently been articulated to be Guyana’s position-in favour of the resolution and to update the citizens of Guyana on the UN status of the matter. On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination commemorated on 21March 2021, IDPADA-G took the opportunity to call for a recommitment to the elimination of racial discrimination and racism in Guyana.”
Though not indicating that Guyana may have mistakenly voted ‘No,’ Rodrigues-Birkett was keen on pointing out that the “automatic generation of the vote as shown on the screen in the room at the time of voting is not the final official record of the meeting. But A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (AFC) Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amanza Walton-Desir said the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has brought shame upon the country.
In a statement last Monday, the Opposition Member of Parliament said Rodrigues-Birkett’s explanation “only adds to the muddle, and is another clear indication that the installed PPP/C Administration is yet to come to terms with the fact that in this information age, pedaling half-truths and attempts to insult the intelligence of Guyanese will no longer cut it.”
Walton-Desir, an Attorney-at-Law, said while Guyana, on November 19, 2020 introduced the Draft Resolution II during the third Committee of the UN (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), it did not support the resolution on December 31.
“𝗔𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝟰𝟴𝘁𝗵𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗮𝗿𝘆𝗠𝗲𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗼𝗳𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗚𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗹𝘆, 𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗵𝗲𝟯𝟭𝘀𝘁𝗱𝗮𝘆𝗼𝗳𝗗𝗲𝗰𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬, at about 10:20 am, Guyana locked in a vote of “Against” in relation to Draft Resolution II. Delegations were asked to confirm that their votes were accurately reflected and thereafter the voting was completed and voting machines locked. The result of the vote was entered into the Voting Records as follows – 106 “in favour”, 14 “against” and 42 “abstentions”,” Walton-Desir explained.
According to the Opposition MP, it was after the Plenary Meeting concluded its business that the Guyana Representative took to the floor and requested to make a correction to Guyana’s vote, asking that it be changed from “against” to “in favour”.
“The Guyana Representative was advised by the President of the Plenary Meeting, H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, that 𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗼𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲𝘁𝗼𝗯𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗱𝗲𝘁𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗨𝗡𝗦𝗲𝗰𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝘁. As at April 12, 2021 the Voting Record on the matter of Draft Resolution II- A global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action- shows Guyana as having voted 𝗡𝗢,” the Opposition MP said.
MP Walton-Desir said the voting record will remain as is until Guyana takes the necessary steps to have the record corrected. According to her, Rodrigues-Birkett’s statement is therefore misleading. “The fact is that Guyana voted no and must now take administrative steps to correct this embarrassment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation must advise Guyanese, forthwith on whether this process has been initiated and its state of advancement,” she said. MP Walton-Desir the PPP/C Government continues to “fail” Guyana in the area of international relations. Earlier this year, both the US and Guyanese Governments had announced plans to establish a Taiwan Office in Guyana, but weeks later, the PPP/C Government renounced and claimed that the Taiwanese had been misinformed on the agreement. The initial agreement had signaled a shift from the One-China Policy.