Mia Mottley’s name is being bandied about in discussions about the next potential secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) at the end of Antonio Guterres’ second term, which is not expected to arrive before 2026. The prime minister of Barbados may still be little known to the general public, but her voice carries significant weight in international forums. In 2021, this leader of a Caribbean micro-state threatened by climate change loudly denounced the lack of solidarity from the richest countries in the distribution of vaccines against Covid-19 at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Mottley has advocated for a reform of international financial institutions, such as the World Bank. According to her, they are unsuited to the multiple crises that are hitting the planet: geopolitical, climatic, digital and health. “There are still poor countries and, yes, we must eliminate poverty. But the dynamics have also changed because 70% of the poor people in the world no longer live in poor countries. How do you stop them from being poor when you refuse to acknowledge that middle-income countries can also be vulnerable?” the Barbados Labor leader observed in an interview with The worldconducted during a visit to Paris on Friday, March 10.
Mottley met with French President Emmanuel Macron, who wants to involve her closely in the organization of a June summit that is intended to lead to the development of a “new global financial pact.” Macron hopes this will provide a way for French diplomacy to reduce the North-South divide, which the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has deepened, to the great displeasure of the Western allies of Kyiv.
‘Disparity too strong’
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According to Mottley, the return of war to Europe is just one more element in the global disruption that is hitting the most fragile states particularly hard. “We’re not in Europe, but our spending on oil and gas has also exploded, just as we were trying to recover from the pandemic,” she noted, echoing the observation made by many of the so-called Global South countries. Mottley has become one of the key spokespeople for this group in the North. “The last few years look a little too much like a century ago. The world between 1914 and 1945 endured three decades of instability. It is difficult to imagine that we could again be living through protracted global instability. The major difference is the consequences to the planet,” warned Mottley.
For her, the Covid-19 pandemic left its mark and fueled resentment in the South, as rich countries were better able to protect themselves and vaccinate their populations, while at the same time dragging their feet in terms of writing off the debts of less developed states, who were deprived of the means to revive their economies. “The disparity between what happened in a handful of countries and the rest of the world is just too shocking,” said Mottley. “The world is not a fair place and maybe it never will be. But for those of us who are accused of fighting for it, we can’t stop until we at least see some level of fairness and justice.”
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