Media Center

Press Release


  May 8, 2008

Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin reiterated to Caribbean Community foreign ministers gathered in Antigua on Thursday that the Organization of American States (OAS) stands ready to assist in whatever way it can to ensure the success of the next Summit of the Americas that will be held in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2009.

Emphasizing the importance of that Summit, Ambassador Ramdin told the CARICOM foreign ministers at the 11th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), in Antigua and Barbuda, that the upcoming 38th OAS General Assembly session—to be held in Medellin, Colombia, June 1-3—will provide them and their other colleague foreign ministers of the Americas the only opportunity to engage in substantive discussions and exchange of views prior to the Trinidad and Tobago Summit of the hemisphere’s heads of state and government. The OAS General Assembly will feature a ministerial meeting of the Summit Implementation Group. “It is, in my view, of major importance at this point in the preparatory process, to move from the current, useful bilateral consultative process to a multilateral consultation to negotiate the outcome document.”

“The OAS stands ready to host any meeting; to provide technical assistance; to provide technical expertise for drafting language for the outcome document—a Declaration of Commitment,” Ramdin told the CARICOM foreign ministers at their COFCOR retreat, chaired by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer as his country’s Foreign Minister. Spencer opened the meeting Wednesday night, pledging to rally his colleagues “in a more active engagement of COFCOR with world events and to see COFCOR adopt a more proactive stance on matters that affect the interests of CARICOM.”

He briefed the CARICOM foreign ministers on the upcoming regular OAS General Assembly session, the theme of which is focused on youth and democratic values—“a topic which is becoming more and more relevant globally but also regionally.” He said the focus on youth relates not only to the social obligations but also to critical political and security implications: “If we do not take care of the future of the youth in our societies it has the potential of becoming a major challenge for our societies.” Ramdin noted also that the General Assembly in Medellin will also mark the organization’s 60th anniversary, and will for the first time feature a dialogue between the heads of delegation and the labor movement.

Ambassador Ramdin also briefed the Caribbean ministers on the Ecuador-Colombia situation and the OAS facilitation efforts to promote dialogue and confidence between both countries, noting the upcoming General Assembly will also feature of a meeting of consultation of foreign ministers on the issue.

In his address, Ambassador Ramdin urged increased collaboration and strategic alliances between CARICOM and especially other OAS member states that are considered vulnerable economies, so it can also play an influential role in OAS and hemispheric developments. Assistant Secretary General informed CARICOM Foreign Ministers on the OAS initiative for the establishment of a permanent committee on development, so as to “elevate” the political discussion on the vital issue of development and its specific elements, given that development is a “pillar” of the hemispheric organization, alongside democracy and security. Ramdin argued that it is in the interest of small and vulnerable economies to have a political platform in the Permanent Council to discuss matters of sustainable development, economy and social development.

He updated the COFCOR meeting on recent developments in the Haiti situation, noting progress towards the appointment of a new Prime Minister, welcoming the confirmation by the Senate of the Presidential nominee. Ramdin underscored the OAS’ concerns over the need for partial senatorial elections as soon as possible to prevent governance issues developing, and spoke about the OAS engagement in Haiti and food aid it mobilized in the wake of recent unrests there.

In response to questions regarding the OAS budget, Ramdin noted that the current level of quota contributions from member states is not sufficient to carry out the mandates approved by the General Assembly and in this context informed about and sought support of CARICOM Foreign Ministers for an automatic adjustment of 3% to cover cost of living adjustments as a necessary step in bridging part of the financial gap.

The OAS Assistant Secretary General arrived in Antigua and Barbuda Wednesday, and during the visit, he also held discussions with the CARICOM Secretary-General, Edwin Carrington, as well as a number of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of various CARICOM countries.

Reference: E-168/08