Media Center



  September 19, 2008

Leading stakeholders of the Organization of American States (OAS) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, gathered in Kingstown this past Monday, September 15, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the OAS Charter.

The morning ceremony at the Peace Memorial Hall, was headlined by the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves and included addresses from several of the Organization’s principal partners in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In inaugurating the activity, OAS Country Representative, Ms. Melene Glynn, traced the historical background to the signing of the Charter in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1948 and the later accessions of the Caribbean nations and Canada. She highlighted the many accomplishments of the OAS throughout the hemisphere and pledged the Organization’s commitment to remain “permanently focused and resolutely engaged” on the social, political, economic and other concerns affecting the member states.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Patricia Martin, lauded the Organization’s work in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, noting that the partnership between the OAS and the Government had facilitated the successful execution of many projects throughout the country. She congratulated the Organization on the attainment of an important milestone and extended “best wishes for many more years of successful accomplishments, which [would] redound to the benefit of all Member States.”

Ambassador Ellsworth John, Director of the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit in the Prime Minister’s Office, and former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Permanent Representative to the OAS and Ambassador to the USA, highlighted the significant benefits derived by OAS member states from their collaboration within the hemispheric body. He praised in particular the OAS Partnership for Development programme, which, he noted, had made very important contributions to the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

IICA Representative for the Eastern Caribbean States, Ms. Una May Gordon, conveyed the IICA Director General’s warmest congratulations to the OAS Secretary General and his staff. She described, for the benefit of the audience, the nature of the relationship between IICA and the OAS and broadly reviewed the historic and ongoing collaboration between the two entities. She observed that no single organization “owned the tool to eliminate poverty” and asserted that the entities of the inter-American system must continue “to work together for the common good of the common man.”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, delivered the feature address. He applauded the “historic achievement” represented by the Charter’s 60th anniversary, and its “seminal manifestation of the vision of Pan-Americanism of Our America.” He noted the Organization’s many “impressive achievements,” particularly “as a standard-bearer for peace and good governance, an honest broker in the settlement of political disputes, a promoter and protector of human rights, and a facilitator or contributor to social development.” He also enumerated the many benefits accruing to St. Vincent & the Grenadines from its membership in the Organization, as well the country’s own contributions to the work and development of the OAS.

The Prime Minister called for “a mutually acceptable and productive conversation and engagement between member-states which have substantial differences with each other [which respected the Organization’s] foundation values and principles regarding the sovereignty and the right to self-determination of nations ....” In this regard he appealed to the Organization “to mend the fractured family of Our Americas” by welcoming Cuba back into the OAS fold.

Dr. Gonsalves noted the need for the elaboration and implementation of “more comprehensive partnerships for solidarity and genuine development,” particularly in light of “escalating oil prices and food prices internationally, economic dislocation, and the effects of climate change.” Transnational crime, drug trafficking, illegal trafficking in persons and small arms, money laundering, and terrorism, were all areas into which the Prime Minister exhorted the Organization to channel more concerted efforts.

The Prime Minister concluded his address with expressions of gratitude to the OAS officials and delegates who had guided the Organization over the 60 years of its existence. He wished the Organization “many more years of successful hemispheric cooperation.”

The 60th anniversary event concluded with a review by Director of Maritime Affairs, Commander David Robin, of the multi-faceted support provided to St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the OAS, in the area of national security.

Ms. Shermalon Kirby, a 2005 OAS Scholar in Communication Studies chaired the morning activity. Among the audience were the country’s Governor General, the Deputy Governor General, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of international and regional organizations, senior public servants, OAS project coordinators and partners and school students.

The OAS Office in St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues its recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Charter on Thursday, September 25th, 2008, when it will join with the University of the West Indies—which also celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year—to recognize the contributions that both institutions have made to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the field of education.

Reference: PR-02-08