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Date: 15 Jan, 2020
Source: Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Elizabeth Thompson (Barbados Government Information Service)

In its continuing effort to broaden its diplomatic footprint, Barbados has, in the last three weeks, established diplomatic relations with Cambodia and Belarus.

The Government has taken the view that it must enter into new relationships with like-minded countries, seek increased opportunities for trade and business, and consider where tourism markets can be opened or existing markets expanded.

This effort is regarded as of particular importance in a global climate in which traditional friendships can no longer be taken for granted and there is a clearly shifting geopolitical landscape characterised by greater national insularity amongst large developed countries.

The Government is also keen to reinforce its commitment to multilateralism. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last year, Prime Minister Mottley emphasised that “Barbados is not only committed to multilateralism, we also understand that it is the one thing that protects our sovereignty and our ability to navigate in this world”.

This further explains Barbados’ thrust to raise its profile in the multilateral system, forge strong, new alliances, and to uphold the principles of multilateralism.

The signing ceremonies took place in New York on different days, at the respective embassies of Cambodia and Belarus, with Her Excellency Ambassador H. Elizabeth Thompson signing on behalf of Barbados, His Excellency Sovann Ke, signing for Cambodia and His Excellency Valentin Rybakov, signing on behalf of Belarus. Ambassador Rybakov has previously visited Barbados in his personal capacity and is very impressed with the country.

The signing ceremonies were witnessed by the diplomats of the three countries. Barbados’ former Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Christopher Hackett was also invited to attend the signing ceremony with Cambodia and the exchange of documents between Ambassadors Sovann Ke and Thompson.

Dr. Hackett was in New York for the launch of his book, “The Life of A Diplomat Representing A Small Island At The United Nations”. Ambassador Thompson hosted the book launch at the Barbados Embassy.

At the signing ceremonies, the Ambassadors discussed ways in which the bilateral relationship could be fleshed out between their countries as well as areas for strategic cooperation going forward.

Agriculture, technology, industrial goods, tourism and services featured in these discussions. The importance of Barbados’ hosting of UNCTAD XV was also recognised.

Since taking office, the Barbados Labour Party government has strengthened ties with Africa, which will yield economic benefits. The Prime Minister was present for the recent opening of a CARICOM office in Kenya.

The Caucus of CARICOM ambassadors at the United Nations in New York, has also started improving relations and working more collaboratively with the countries of Africa.

Following the appointment of Ambassador Thompson, eighteen months ago, the Barbados embassy at New York has been very proactive in the country’s new diplomatic outreach.

The Ambassador led Barbados’ offer to host the meeting of the Ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean, which will take place in Barbados in November, negotiated for the State Visit to Barbados of President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and established diplomatic relations with some 10 countries, including the Principality of Monaco, Mongolia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the Republic of San Marino, the Republic of Tajikistan, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Belarus.

Barbados does not currently have formal diplomatic relations with all 193 member-states of the United Nations, but its current efforts are expanding the country’s global reach and network.