Media Center

Press Release


  November 17, 2006

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, speaking at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington today, renewed the call for the establishment of a natural disaster fund and a special renewable energy resources fund. The Prime Minister argued that the Caribbean region’s vulnerability to natural disasters—especially hurricanes—and the rising cost of petroleum-based energy, pose a tremendous challenge and therefore merit priority attention within the inter-American system.

“The Organization cannot and should not be all things to all people,” Douglas told a protocolary session of the OAS Permanent Council, convened in his honor. “But when a significant number of its constituents suffer a common problem, the Organization has an obligation to demonstrate its relevance and to show that its reforms are quite essential to making it more responsive to its membership.”

During the OAS Permanent Council session—chaired by Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador Marina Valere, with member state ambassadors, Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin on hand—Prime Minister Douglas touched on a wide range of issues, highlighting his government’s electoral reform initiative and the ending of sugar exports, which he said were no longer feasible because of the impact of trade liberalization.

While lauding the OAS for its invaluable work in the member states, the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister cautioned against a “top-down” approach to projects, urging genuine partnerships. He called for providing small, vulnerable member states with help for human resource development, and explained that this encompasses not only education and training, but also issues of health, poverty alleviation, housing and the overall enhancement of human dignity. “Addressing these areas of vulnerability is pertinent to long-term success in sustainable development,” he stressed, adding that the OAS “can be a viable partner in, and a forum for, exchange of relevant ideas, best practices and expertise on issues of trade negotiation.”

Prime Minister Douglas reiterated the need for special preferences for Caribbean trade, arguing that it “is definitely no threat to global trade liberalization” and that granting trade concessions to small island developing states is in no way “inimical to the interests of larger states.” He also touched on the deportee problem, which he described as a considerable threat to Caribbean societies. “The deportee phenomenon contributes to a new security reality,” he said, noting the related problem of violence, gangs, and domestic and transnational crime. He lauded the work of the OAS Special Committee on Transnational Organized Crime.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic is also a serious security threat to the region, according to Dr. Douglas , who is a physician and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leader assigned special regional responsibility for health. He urged the OAS, with its multi-dimensional security framework, to partner with inter-American and other international agencies, to tackle what he termed “this mammoth and manifold threat to human security.”

In welcoming the Prime Minister to the OAS, Secretary General Insulza praised Douglas’ international contributions, notably in the area of health and the promotion of democracy, and as a passionate advocate for social justice and economic empowerment, especially for small island developing states. He observed that “through his work with the Pan-Caribbean Partnership (PANCAP), where he is the current Chair, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas has helped to negotiate significant reductions in the cost of treatment for HIV and AIDS sufferers.”

As Permanent Council Chair, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador Valere introduced the Prime Minister, underscoring important international accolades he has received for his significant contributions to his nation but also as a medical doctor and for his longstanding leadership in CARICOM and in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Ambassador Valere also noted that such institutions as the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have benefited from Prime Minister Douglas’ leadership.

Reference: E-247/06