NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Commonwealth of the Bahamas now has a new Permanent Representative at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington. Ambassador Cornelius Smith presented credentials to Secretary General José Miguel Insulza at the OAS headquarters Tuesday morning, pledging continued Bahamian support to ensure that “the fundamental principles and democratic values of this organization remain strong.”
Afterwards, in his maiden address to the Permanent Council of Member State ambassadors, chaired by Argentina’s Ambassador Rodolfo Gil, the new Bahamian Ambassador announced that his government has decided to continue its contribution to the various OAS-supported peace initiatives, including those in Colombia and Haiti. The Bahamas government encourages others to consider pledging to “these noteworthy activities aimed at securing peace in the region,” said the new Bahamian envoy.
Ambassador Smith lauded OAS leadership on “a myriad of important issues, from the promotion of democracy and human rights to hemispheric security, and sustainable development to health and gender issues.” He made special mention of the OAS’ Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), noting how, since its inception in 1986, it has “responded to the challenges of the increase in drug trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs which pose a threat to individual citizens and to the security of Member States.” OAS support has been instrumental in strengthening the Member States’ capabilities to reduce the production, trafficking and use and abuse of drugs in the Americas, Ambassador Smith observed.
The OAS Permanent Council’s newest member stressed that Bahamians appreciate their participation in the OAS as it “allows us opportunities to advance our national and international interests and to strengthen our engagement with the Americas.” His country believes as well that “the OAS is the foremost organization for addressing the concerns of the hemisphere,” he added.
When the Bahamas joined the OAS in 1982, as the 31st Member State, “we did so believing that it was through our engagement in this body that we could collectively and effectively address issues of common concern to us in the Hemisphere,” Ambassador Smith told the Permanent Council members. “We in the Bahamas recognized that increased hemispheric solidarity with countries with which we share history, culture and economic, social and political challenges was an undeniable benefit of membership.”
Permanent Council Chairman Rodolfo Gil and the Member State representatives welcomed the Bahamian envoy, offering their full support while indicating they look forward to the solid experience that Ambassador Smith brings to the work of the Permanent Council, the second highest decision-making body of the OAS.
Ambassador Cornelius Alvin Smith holds an MBA from the University of Miami. He has been a public school principal, a human resource expert, and a founding member of the Free National Movement. He has served as Minister of Education, Minister of Public Safety and Immigration, Minister of Tourism and Minister of Transport and Local Government.