Organization of American States ..............................News Release


January 5, 1998

Suriname's permanent representative to the hemispheric Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, became the chairman of the organization's Permanent Council on Monday, the fifth Caribbean country in succession to do so since the beginning of last year.

Ambassador Ramdin accepted the gavel from the St. Kitts and Nevis permanent representative, Ambassador Osbert Liburd, the out-going chairman, during a ceremony held in the office of the chairman this morning. The hand-over was witnessed by a number of ambassadors and OAS secretariat members.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Lionel Hurst of Antigua and Barbuda, became vice-chair of the Council, succeeding his Venezuelan counterpart, Ambassador Francisco Paparoni.

The newest leader of the high-ranking OAS body, whom Suriname appointed as permanent representative in October, declared how important he viewed the organization's work, pledging also to give priority to issues such as preparation for the Summit of the Americas that is set to take place in Chile next April.

"We have to be realistic," said ambassador Ramdin of the time constraint in preparing for the Summit. Much of the preparation will be done during the three-month period of his tenure at the helm of the Permanent Council. OAS reform and the fiftieth anniversary celebrations are, in the Surinamese envoy's words, other "very important issues"that should be taken up. He said he would be tackling these very early in his tenure.

On the matter of the budget, he said emphasis will have to be placed on time-efficiency and cost-effectiveness. "We will have to do what we have to do with the money available right now," said Ambassador Ramdin, indicating these will be key issues for his leadership.

For his part, the out-going Permanent Council leader hailed the OAS as a great organization that he had come to understand and appreciate even better: "My tenure in the last three months has been a great experience for me," said Dr. Liburd, who also thanked the Secretariat staff for assisting his work in the chair.

The St. Kitts and Nevis permanent representative had assumed the Council chairmanship on October 1, succeeding the permanent representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Chairmanship of the Council, the organization's second highest decision-making forum after its General Assembly, follows the alphabetic order of the countries in Spanish, whereas the vice-chairmanship follows the reverse alphabetical order.

The current term runs until the end of March, at which time Trinidad and Tobago will begin chairing the Permanent Council for a three-month term.

<--Press Releases