WASHINGTON, DC – The New Year has ushered in new leadership at the Organization of American States’ Permanent Council, with Bahamian Ambassador Cornelius A. Smith today (Wed. Jan 2) assuming the three-month rotating chairmanship.
Ambassador Smith was installed after his predecessor, Argentina’s Ambassador Rodolfo Gil, handed him the gavel during a brief handing over ceremony at OAS headquarters, with Member State ambassadors and representatives as well as Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, among others, in attendance.
Using the occasion to reaffirm his country’s “steadfast commitment to the Organization’s vital role in the preservation and strengthening of democracy in the Caribbean and the Americas,” Ambassador Smith said that during its leadership of the Permanent Council The Bahamas would further emphasize the core OAS principles of “supporting and promoting good governance, democratic values, respect for law and order and the protection of human rights.”
The Bahamian envoy went on to underline the “unequivocal pledge” of the Bahamas to help promote the principles of democracy and human rights, multidimensional security and integral development as the pillars of the OAS. He declared that during the forthcoming three months, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas would do its best to advance the goals of the Western Hemisphere organization.
Ambassador Smith also took the opportunity to salute the people and government of the Republic of Haiti on their attainment of 204 years of independence on January 1.
For his part, Argentina’s Permanent Representative, Ambassador Gil, expressed appreciation for the support he received during his tenure at the helm of the Permanent Council, the OAS’ second highest decision-making body after the General Assembly.
Welcoming the new Permanent Council chairman, Assistant Secretary General Ramdin—who is also Secretary to the Permanent Council—said the OAS Secretariat is very pleased and looks forward to a “strong, productive relationship.” Ramdin cited the keen interest demonstrated by The Bahamas in the affairs of the hemisphere, beyond its immediate national agenda, as very important. “We look forward to The Bahamas’ leadership in discussing budgetary methods as well as leadership in terms of strengthening the development agenda of the OAS,” stated Ramdin.