October 1, 2001
DOMINICA ASSUMES OAS PERMANENT COUNCIL CHAIR
Dominica on Monday assumed the helm of the Permanent Council, the second highest decision-making body of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The Caribbean nation's Ambassador to the OAS, Swinburne Lestrade, accepted the gavel from the outgoing chairman, Costa Rica's Ambassador Hernán R. Castro, during a brief ceremony.
Lestrade said he would use "every sinew in my body" to ensure success as he steers the Organization's work around priority issues on the hemispheric agenda, such as the Inter-American Democratic Charter approved last month; the commitment to fighting terrorism; and hemispheric Summit mandate follow-up.
He urged the Organization, meanwhile, not to lose sight of its "special responsibility" to the smaller, more economically vulnerable among its member states.
The Ambassador said it was a special honor for the Commonwealth of Dominica to chair the hemispheric Council of the member states' representatives at this important moment in the Organization's history.
The outgoing Council chair reviewed the three months during which he presided, highlighting the approval of the Democracy Charter by the OAS General Assembly and the recent Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs to discuss a hemispheric response to the terrorist attacks on the United States, under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance.
Leadership of the rotating OAS Permanent Council follows the alphabetical order of the member states. Guatemala will be Vice Chair for the next three months, succeeding Guyana.