Media Center



June 4, 2018 - Washington, DC

His Excellency, Eladio Ramon Loizaga Lezcano President of the General Assembly
Colleague Ministers
Distinguished Heads of Delegation
Mr. Secretary General and Mr. Assistant Secretary General
Ladies and gentlemen
Mr. President

I bring greetings from the government and people of Saint Lucia to this 48th Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly and congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of this Assembly. 

We would also like to express my condolences to the Government and people of Guatemala.  We assure you that our thoughts and prayers are with you as you mourn such tragic loss of life. 

It is a pleasure to be here, at a time when we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Organization of American States (OAS) - an institution founded on the premise of respect for international law and order, human rights, good faith and solidarity, peace and security, and unity and justice.

As we celebrate this important milestone, we are also called upon to assess the significance of the OAS, and to determine its capacity to adapt and respond to the changes in our global system, while meeting the needs of member states.  Considering the work of this organization, we would like to focus on a few specific areas in my intervention.
Mr. President    

Since taking up office two years ago, security has been a major priority for our government.  We continue to see the huge influx of drugs and arms into our space and we are also extremely concerned about the number of people entering the Caribbean with criminal intent.  Migration in this regard and the systems that we have had to put in place to protect ourselves, need more attention than just mere mention in reports.

This is not some abstract matter – this is a serious threat to our youth and the socio-political future of our nations, and I daresay, will threaten our democracies.  In that regard, we fully endorse the resolution “Advancing Hemispheric Security: A Multidimensional Approach”, particularly the section on the Special Security Concerns of small island and low-lying coastal developing states of the Caribbean.  

We call on my distinguished CARICOM delegates as well as our partners to continue working to ensure the full implementation of the OAS/SMS Work Plan.

Mr. President 

As it relates to Climate Change, we believe that by now, anyone who was of the view that climate change is not real - would have come to the realization that the facts indicate otherwise.  And further, that we can all accept that climate change and its effects will continue to have devastating impacts on the economies of the Americas.  

With much of our public policy focused on climate change resilience and mitigation, allow me to take this opportunity to express on behalf of the Government and People of Saint Lucia - gratitude to the Government and People of Mexico for the collaboration with Saint Lucia and the wider CARICOM region on a comprehensive disaster risk management strategy.  

We also take this opportunity to highlight Saint Lucia’s proposal in the CIDI Omnibus Resolution - which calls for the necessary steps to be taken to strengthen the response to members affected by natural disasters. 

Mr. President

Tackling poverty is one of our most significant challenges in Saint Lucia and for that matter, the wider Caribbean region.  The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) reports that one-fifth of the population of its borrowing member countries remain poverty stricken, and one out of every ten persons is considered food poor or indigent.  These are horrible statistics and proof that the lack of access to financing remains a major stumbling block for our government as well as others, as we seek to develop our economies.  

The challenge of limited scope for debt finance is real but even more troubling, is declining development assistance from developed countries who we continue to reference as our traditional friends. 
While we applaud Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica for tabling the proposal “Incorporating Multidimensional Criteria in Measuring Poverty and Development”, which Saint Lucia co-sponsored, we note with some regret the fact that not all Member States embraced this effort to promote and ultimately see the implementation of a system that more appropriately defines a country’s level of development. 

Why can we not seek to adjust old and outdated metrics?  And perhaps more importantly, why must the narrative of those who disagree with us be threatening? 

Mr. President 

At the end of the day, this Organization has largely given a good account of itself even through there is much left to be done.  With no perfect democracy in our hemisphere, this particular issue will always remain at the forefront of our collective interests, as it should, and we must remain willing to be open to discussions on where we each fall short, and hold each other accountable.

As we pause to celebrate the gains made to date however, a reminder that the road to achieving full economic development for the peoples of the Americas is a never-ending one.  

It is not enough for this organization to continue to set aspirational goals while not taking stock of the core issues that impact our current development.  We must as members stop the urge to develop layer upon new layer of new and unfunded mandates. 

Mr. President

Today the financial reality of our Organization is testing its capacity to transform itself for the future of our hemisphere, which is vastly different than it was 5 years ago, much less 70.  With limited resources and competing priorities, member states collectively need to determine the role of the Organization for the future, and focus on what is important and deliverable.  I stress the word collectively – a reminder that while there are larger and smaller members amongst us, this is to be the place where we are all equal and we must not lose sight of that fact.

Saint Lucia is committed to be a partner as we navigate the future of this organization.  We are here to make our voices heard on issues of importance to the Hemisphere and to negotiate workable arrangements.  We are also here, willing to be a part of the discussions on democracy, quotas, efficiency and efficacy.  

Mr. President 

In conclusion, let us challenge ourselves to leave our mark in history for the next 70 years, being judged as being a true community of nations, where cooperation and collective action are the norm, where full respect for the founding principles of this Organization is exercised and where the needs of all member states are given due regard.

Thank you