Photo: Heads of Delegation – 47th OAS General Assembly
47th REGULAR SESSION OF THE OAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HIS EXCELLENCY CARL GREENIDGE,
VICE-PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF GUYANA
CANCUN, MEXICO JUNE, 19-21, 2017
Distinguished Colleague Foreign Ministers,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Please accept Guyana’s congratulations upon your election to preside over these proceedings. I am confident that your leadership will ensure a successful outcome for us all.
The theme for this General Assembly “strengthening dialogue and concerted action for prosperity” could not be more apt in these challenging times for our hemisphere.
The 2017 World Bank overview identifies Latin America and the Caribbean, as the hardest-hit developing region during the global deceleration, the region’s GDP is expected to grow by 1.2% in 2017, followed by 2.1% in 2018. We are all too painfully aware that the years of economic stagnation have halted social progress. Obviously, our region needs to spur economic recovery and find new engines of growth to reduce poverty and boost development and prosperity.
Guyana believes that concerted action by member states within the framework of the OAS and the Inter-American System can target specific SDGs and help to boost growth and provide for sustained economic development. Such collaboration would appear quite logical, for example, in the area of SDG 5, Education (Human Resource Development) and Goal 15, Life on Land.
In this respect, we are particularly grateful to our sister CARICOM state, The Bahamas, for its leadership in hosting in February, the 9th Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Education, which resulted in the adoption of the Inter-American Education Agenda, a strategic Inter-American milestone. We are pleased, moreover, to note that the OAS Development Cooperation Fund (DCF) Programme Cycle 2017-2021 has education as its primary focus for cooperation with member states.
The Government of Guyana given its human development priorities welcomes the opportunities created by the 2017-2021 DCF Programme Cycle and has confirmed its interest in participating in the specific education programme area of “quality, inclusive and equitable education”. We underline the importance of education as a catalyst for fulfilling potential, creating opportunities, social mobility and more equitable economic prosperity.
In addition, SDG Goal 15, Life on Land, which, inter alia, aims to protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and sustainably manage forests, is of particular interest to Guyana.
Moreover, Guyana is committed to the global fight against climate change. We, along with our CARICOM colleagues, played a leading role in the successful negotiation of the Paris Agreement and we appeal to all OAS member states to do everything possible to ensure that progress made to date is not rolled back.
Guyana is also committed to becoming a green state. Our Green Economy Strategy lays the foundations for inclusive green economic growth, for achieving sustainable development targets and for providing a long-term vision for a prosperous and equitable future. The Strategy, moreover, aims to reorient and diversify Guyana’s economy to reduce reliance on traditional sectors and open up new income and investment opportunities in value-added production and higher growth sectors.
Furthermore, at the same time that we are seeking to promote the sustainable use of our terrestrial ecosystems, halt biodiversity loss and sustainably manage our forest, we are working to develop, in a sustainable way, our wonderful ecotourism product.
In this respect, I am pleased to highlight the fact that the very first OAS ministerial level meeting that Guyana will ever host will be the 24th Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism, on March 21-22, 2018. Apart from providing us with opportunities to showcase our natural attractions and engage in exchanges of experience and best practices with our hemispheric partners, this event will also help us to jointly develop more sustainable and inclusive approaches to tourism. I invite and encourage all OAS member states to attend this Congress.
Our region will only continue to grow and be prosperous if we are able to make progress towards attaining the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. But our Small Island and Low-Lying Coastal States, in particular, are facing a plethora of existential challenges, especially in the context of the multidimensional nature of security.
These challenges include, of course, climate change, transnational organized crime, narcotrafficking, cyber-attacks, terrorism, violent crime and, more recently, the withdrawal of correspondent banking relations, all of which pose serious threats to our stability and development.
In this regard, I take the opportunity to thank the sister Government of Chile for their announcement this morning of a contribution of $250,000 to mitigate the consequences of climate change in the Caribbean.
The growing recognition that the withdrawal of Correspondent Banking Relations from the Caribbean region is especially noteworthy and urgent action is needed to address the devastating impacts this action is having on the economies of the Caribbean region.
Guyana, therefore, joins the call on this hemispheric community to promote collaboration and cooperation in order to find solutions to this problem.
Mr Chairman, I believe that it is appropriate here to stress the importance of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace in the best interests of development and prosperity in our Hemisphere. In this respect, it would be remiss of me not to comment on the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Treaty of Tlateloco, held in Mexico City, in February, in which Guyana was honoured to participate and on which we congratulate the Government of Mexico for its leadership. That we have established our region as a model for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the world should be a salutary reminder to us all of what we can achieve once we commit ourselves to working together for peace and security.
Guyana wishes to stress its commitment to the OAS, a most valued regional institution.
I take this opportunity to reiterate Guyana’s pledge to upholding our joint focus on the four interdependent pillars of the OAS. Guyana attaches great value to democracy, human rights, multidimensional security and integral development, and we are well aware of the fact that to weaken anyone unduly is to weaken the whole structure which they support.
Guyana also attaches great value to multilateralism and regionalism within both the United Nations and the OAS. We are mindful that the Charters of both organizations pay heed to the overarching principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the sanctity of nation-states. Guyana firmly believes that international law should govern relations between states and that the peaceful settlement of disputes is indispensable in maintaining mutual respect and resolving the conflict. In this regard, Guyana strongly rejects all aggressive and illegal actions which affect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, or which threaten the peaceful resolution of disputes or the maintenance of peace and security. And, we remain committed to supporting processes of dialogue whenever they are needed.
If the OAS is to fulfil its mandates, it will need to be provided with the relevant tools and human resources the better to serve the peoples of the Americas.
The resolution on the institutional framework of the OAS before this General Assembly is an important attempt to strengthen the OAS in key areas such as transparency in its operations, enhancement of the organization’s management, and coordination and implementation of the comprehensive and inclusive agenda that responds to the current needs and challenges of the hemisphere. Hence a viable framework needs to emerge after this process which sees a receptive OAS and Secretary General working in an efficient and effective manner for the region’s benefit.
Mr Chairman, colleagues: we should take heart from our efforts to build consensus in certain critical areas. Clearly, we need to strengthen our dialogue processes in some respects. While we may not agree on every subject broached, I am confident especially as we look forward to next year’s 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, that we can continue to advance on the basis of strengthened dialogue, concerted action, and, most importantly, a growing consensus on what needs to be done individually and collectively.
Allow me to express my delegation’s deepest appreciation to the Government and people of Mexico for the warm hospitality, excellent arrangements and kind courtesies extended, all of which have contributed to the tenor of our exchanges and the desire to forge closer bonds of friendship and collaboration in this stunning setting in the city of Cancun.
I thank you.
Time code: Cue in: 2:01:36 Cue out: 2:13:00