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Barbados now at the helm of Hemispheric OAS Permanent Council

WASHINGTON, DC – Barbados’ Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) has assumed the chairmanship of the OAS Permanent Council, the second highest decision-making body of the 34 member hemispheric organization.

Ambassador Michael King accepted the gavel from his predecessor, Ambassador Cornelius Smith, of the Bahamas, during a brief ceremony today in the office of chairman of the Permanent Council, over which Smith had preceded for the past three months. For the next three months, Ambassador King will steer the work of the Council, including its preparations for the upcoming OAS General Assembly to be held in Medellin, Colombia, in early June.

The leadership baton having been passed to him, the Barbadian envoy proceeded to chair his first regular session of the Permanent Council, calling for equality and justice to be more entrenched in the Americas, and reiterating the importance of the viewing hemispheric security in multidimensional terms. He also spoke about the need to promote a culture of peace in this hemisphere.

“It is clearly understood that individuals who are prevented from participating in the economic, social and political affairs of their countries, will eventually participate in eroding the existing political, economic and social framework,” Ambassador King declared to his colleague ambassadors in the Permanent Council.

“The best way to see to the health of this hemisphere’s political and democratic system is to deepen the emphasis on social justice,” he added, pointing to the need for large segments of the hemisphere’s citizenry to be treated with respect and decency. “The need for equality is apparent, when the condition of Afro descendants, indigenous people, women, youth and the disabled is observed.”

The Council members considered a report concerning the upcoming First Meeting of High-Level National Authorities on Natural Disaster Reduction and Rick Management, which will be hosted by the Venezuelan government.

During the Permanent Council meeting as well, the previous Permanent Council Chairman, Ambassador Smith, reflected on his three-month stint at the helm, noting the very active period that included his leading a mission to Haiti and to Colombia and Ecuador. He noted that the situation in Haiti represents a daunting challenge the country itself and the hemispheric community at large must come to terms with in the march to democracy and to reduce poverty for all.

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