Media Center



June 4, 2018 - Washington, DC

Mr. President
Secretary General
Distinguished Foreign Ministers
Heads of Delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Barbados joins the membership of the OAS in expressing solidarity with the Government and people of Guatemala following the recent and tragic volcanic eruption.

Permit me at the outset to convey greetings on behalf of the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados Senator the Honourable Dr. Jerome Walcott. Minister Walcott was looking forward to attending his first session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) but had to remain in Barbados for today’s official opening of Parliament.

Less than two weeks ago, the people of Barbados elected a new Government led by the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, our first female Prime Minister. This historic election was free and fair with an immediate transfer of power that was seamless and peaceful. Democracy in Barbados is strong, stable and enduring. Prime Minister Mottley has committed to further strengthening our democracy by pursuing good and transparent governance and by adhering to the highest standards of accountability, discipline and fairness. The Prime Minister has also pledged to ensure that our international relations, like our domestic policy will be geared towards moving Barbados to the next level of economic and social development and helping to build the “Best Barbados”.

Barbados is equally committed to multilateralism and to building the “Best OAS”. We remain unwavering and steadfast in our commitment to the OAS, its Charter and other instruments including the Inter-American Democratic Charter. You can be assured of Barbados’ active support of, and participation in the work of the premier multilateral body in our hemisphere. The four pillars of this organization – democracy, security, development and human rights - are inter-related and mutually reinforcing. Unless all four pillars are advanced, none will succeed. Some 70 years ago, the framers of the charter of this Organization saw this clearly. In setting out to bring peace and security to a fractured hemisphere they understood that this ambitious enterprise could not succeed if it was narrowly focused.

More than ever our hemisphere needs a strong and effective OAS. No other organization has the legitimacy, credibility and broad mandate of the OAS to build hemispheric consensus, deliver action, develop hemispheric norms and provide a voice for the vulnerable and voiceless in the Americas. Barbados reaffirms its confidence in the OAS, as the hemisphere’s best hope in addressing the complex and multiple challenges facing our region, while supporting our efforts to create and seize new and exciting opportunities for the peoples of the region.

Mr. President,

Barbados strongly believes that the OAS can further assert its relevance, enhance its credibility and leverage its comparative advantage by prioritizing those issues that affect the daily lives, well-being and very survival of the peoples of this hemisphere.

During this session, and for the first time in its history, the General Assembly, will adopt a resolution on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. Barbados wishes to convey its gratitude to the more than 20 other delegations that joined us in placing this issue at the top of the agenda of our hemisphere. NCDs remain the leading cause of mortality and are now responsible for 40% of premature deaths in those under 70 years in the Caribbean. Diabetes prevalence in our region is twice the global prevalence and our amputation rates are astronomical. National health budgets are increasing under stress, as significant resources are being directed towards costly secondary and tertiary treatment.

We urge all OAS member states to be represented at the highest political level in New York at the Third UN High Level meeting on NCDs in September and we call on the OAS secretariat to follow-up on the new mandates assigned to it on elevating NCDs prevention and control in its future work.

Mr. President,

Barbados is pleased to place the issue of the security implications of climate change on the agenda of the OAS. As we meet today, five days into the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, members of our hemispheric family – in Puerto Rico, Dominica, Barbuda, St. Martin, US and British Virgin Islands, Cuba – continue to grapple with the difficult and daunting task of rebuilding lives and recovery following last year’s deadly and destructive hurricane season. In 2017 more lives in the hemisphere were lost to climate related disasters than terrorism. Climate change is real. It is already devastating our region. This crisis requires an urgent and ambitious response. Despite our negligible contribution to this problem Barbados has committed to pursuing a low carbon climate resilient development pathway. Prime Minister Mottley has placed on record her Administration’s commitment to achieving the goal of 100% carbon neutrality by 2030 and to elevate climate resilience to one of our nation’s most urgent priorities.

The Caribbean is recognized as the second-most climate vulnerable region in the world. Despite our extreme vulnerability to climate change, existing rules governing access to finance to support resilience building to the effects of climate change unfairly prevent us from securing much needed support from bilateral donors and the international financial institutions (IFIs) due to a narrow focus on per capita income. During this session of the Assembly a broad and diverse coalition of Caribbean and Latin American countries have tabled a resolution which at its core calls for a re-examination of the criteria used in accessing development finance to take into account climate vulnerability and other factors. We thank those friends that have stood with us, and we call on the IFIs and our bilateral development partners to address this issue with a much greater sense of urgency.

Mr. President,

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM). The CIM was the first inter-governmental organization in the world created to ensure recognition of women’s rights and to promote the development of policies and practices which elevate the role of women. Barbados congratulates the CIM on this momentous achievement which coincides with the historic election of the first female Prime Minister of Barbados, and the largest ever number of women appointed to a Cabinet in Barbados. Despite these achievements, the work of the CIM remains incomplete and its work requires our sustained collective effort and support.

Prime Minister Mottley has prioritized the development of new sectors for creating new opportunities and prosperity for current and future generations of Barbadians including the Blue Economy and the Creative Economy.

Later this year, Barbados will host the Eighth Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture. The theme of this meeting will focus on the Creative Economy. We invite all OAS Member States to join us in Bridgetown in November this year as we agree on an ambitious Inter-American agenda on advancing the Creative Economy.

Amid the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the OAS Barbados recognizes the need for a sober reflection on how we together can build a “Better OAS” - an OAS that makes a decisive difference in the lives of peoples of our hemisphere and achieves the promise made to the peoples of the America, and contained in our Charter, to create “a land of liberty and a favorable environment for the development of his personality and the realization of his just aspiration”.

Creating a “Better OAS” requires effort, sacrifice and commitment – both financial and political – from all OAS member states –big and small, rich and poor. The OAS is not an entity, separate and distinct from its membership. We equally share in its successes and failings. At this defining moment in the history of this organization let us commit to building a “Better OAS” in ways not previously imagined and with a boldness and urgency not previously shown. You can be assured of the continued support, leadership and commitment of Barbados to this endeavor.

I thank you.