Media Center



January 3, 2020 - Washington, DC

Thank you all for being here today for this simple handing-over ceremony. I recognise that many Permanent Representatives are still enjoying a well-earned break from the OAS but I thought it best, in consultation with my distinguished predecessor and our beloved Chief of Protocol, to assume the chairmanship formally, as early as possible, as we embark on what promises to be another challenging period for our Organization and the hemisphere.

Allow me, at the outset, to place on record my sincere appreciation for the work of the outgoing Chair, Ambassador Rita Claverie de Sciolli, Permanent Representative of Guatemala, and the outgoing Vice Chair, Ambassador Fernando Simas, Permanent Representative of Brazil. I am sure that I can speak for the incoming Vice Chair, Ambassador Daniel Gutierez of Belize, when I say that we are honoured to follow in their footsteps and we shall do our utmost to uphold the institutional integrity of the Permanent Council.

Many of you will recall that I had the honour of chairing the Working Group to Prepare an Institutional Strengthening Proposal for the OAS, over a period of 13 months, in 2017-2018. I am therefore well aware of the importance of the role of the Permanent Council and the necessity of strengthening its capacity to enhance the Organization's ability to respond to all its members’ needs. In this respect, I hope that progress will be made, during my term in office, towards having the General Committee address the various recommendations made by the Working Group, with a view to achieving institutional coherence, greater coordination and better internal and external communication, across the Organization.

I also wish to assure you all that I have every intention of being guided by the OAS Charter and the Rules of Procedure of the Permanent Council, with full respect for the normative framework of our Organization.

It is my wish, moreover, that in our deliberations, a spirit of engagement will prevail and dialogue and consultation, as befits a forum for multilateral diplomacy, will be the preferred path, even or rather, especially when there are deep differences of opinion.

I shall therefore endeavour to foster an inclusive approach to the challenges before us and for this, I will, obviously, need your support. I look forward to working closely with you all over the next three months and I wish you and your families a happy, healthy and successful New Year.

This is a great honour for Guyana, especially as we will be celebrating 50 years as a Republic on February 23, 2020. We intend to fulfil our obligations as a responsible member of the Hemispheric Family of Nations.

Thank you for your kind attention and for your presence here this morning.