The matter was first brought to attention on April 12 by Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Amanza Walton who pointed out that shortly after Guyana’s embarrassing no vote which it shared with 14 other countries including the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and France and the United Kingdom, the Guyana representative, attempted to change the vote.
On December 31, 2020, the United Nations called a vote on Draft Resolution II, which was 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.
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”.
According to Walton, “It was after the Plenary Meeting concluded its business in relation to Resolution IV, ( involving the Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar) 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, Mr. Volkan Bozkir, that an application to effect such a change would have to be made to the UN Secretariat.
Interestingly enough, the resolution which echoed a global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was put forward and sponsored by Guyana in 2017, under the last Government.
In the meantime, Opposition Leader Joe Harmon is seeking answers as to why, four months after, there has been no change to the country’s UN vote.
During a press conference on Friday, Harmon indicated that the Opposition has since written to the Foreign Minister seeking information on the issue and the actions that have been taken to address it.
“I write to be advised by you as to when you were made aware of this situation, and having been made aware, what actions were taken by you to address the same.
Further, I wish to be advised whether Guyana has commenced the administrative steps to have the vote reversed, when said application was made, and where the process stands as at April 12, 2020."
"I must also express my serious concern at the palpably misleading statement issued by Mrs. Caroline Rodrigues-Birkett, Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations on this matter. At a minimum, a retraction of the statement and an apology to the people of Guyana are appropriate steps for Mrs. Rodrigues-Birkett to take in the circumstances”, Harmon's letter stated."
The Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett in a statement earlier this week indicated that Guyana had in fact voted in favour of the resolution to end racism.
However, a video recording of the vote at the UN meeting proved that Guyana voted against the resolution. In official UN records posted online, Guyana’s vote was also recorded as a vote against the resolution and it was pointed out that the country would have to write to the UN Secretariat to register its desire to now change the vote. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has been tight lipped on the matter.
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