Press Release


OAS Permanent Council Receives Foreign Minister of Guyana

  February 21, 2013

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today received, in a special meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, at the headquarters of the organization in Washington, DC.

In the opening of her address, Minister Rodrigues-Birkett focused on the history of her country, recalling that this week marks the anniversary of the Berbice slave rebellion 250 years ago, “an event of historic importance” for Guyanese society. Upon similar lines, she highlighted that today, “just 20 years since Guyana achieved democratic rule, the country has undergone a transformation” with important achievements in its economy, social development and integration with the region, among other feats. “None of these developments would have transpired had Guyana not received support and solidarity from Member States from the hemisphere and benefited from the work of the OAS in the promotion of democracy,” said the Minister, making special mention of “the work of the OAS electoral observation missions which have been fielded in my county and which have played a role in ensuring free, fair and democratic elections.”

With respect to the role of the OAS and the adaptation of its strategic goals to the changes in the region, the Guyanese Foreign Minister praised the initiative and the ideas of the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, in presenting to the Member States his Strategic Vision of the OAS and expressed her conviction that the document “can serve as a useful point of departure in the ensuing deliberations concerning the future of the OAS.”

Minister Rodrigues-Birkett highlighted the importance that her country places on multilateralism, and mentioned the role played by Guyana in several regional organizations, “all of which have important agendas,” she said. Nevertheless, she added, “the most outstanding accomplishments over the years in strengthening and upholding democracy, human rights, integral development and security have been achieved by this organization.” For that reason, she added, “the OAS is and will remain the hemisphere’s indispensable platform for dialogue, the promotion of cooperation, sharing best practices, confidence building and problem solving.”

In her conclusion, the Minister said “the imperatives of our time are the legitimate needs of our peoples for security and prosperity. Nations, whether small and vulnerable or large and strong, must be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and count on the solidarity of each other to confront the challenges of today. We, the guardians of our peoples’ interests, must summon the commitment, flexibility and solidarity that is needed to achieve their just aspirations.”

The Chief of Staff of the Secretary General of the OAS, Hugo de Zela, representing Secretary General Insulza, highlighted the “unique role” of Guyana “as a bridge between the Caribbean and South America,” given that it is the only English-speaking country in South America. Ambassador de Zela said that “building citizenship, giving citizens more opportunities and creating a safe environment for the full development of the people are goals we all share, and are core values of this organization.”

Ambassador de Zela noted that Minister Rodrigues-Birkett has made constant efforts to achieve “meaningful integration, one that promotes sustainable development and social inclusion for the benefit of our citizens.” “The OAS stands ready,” he said, “to support the efforts of our Member States in furthering their commitments to the promotion and consolidation of democracy and development for the citizens of the Americas.”

The Chair of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the OAS, Denis Moncada, opened the meeting and welcomed the Minister, saying her time as the Foreign Minister of Guyana “has been marked by the strengthening of relations with its neighbors, which has allowed the development of major joint undertakings in areas such as maritime security and climate change, food security, and financial stability.”

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

The B-roll of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

Reference: E-057/13