Inaugural Statement by
H.E. Audrey Marks

Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the
Organisation of American States (OAS)
Permanent Council, Washington DC
13th October 2016

Distinguished Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Nestor Mendez
Distinguished Permanent Representatives and Interim Representatives
Alternate Representatives
Permanent Observers
Staff of the General Secretariat
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Afternoon,

It is truly an honour and great pleasure for me to address the Permanent Council at this my first Regular Session of the Permanent Council, since presenting Credentials on 29th September 2016. I am also honoured to be Chairing the Permanent Council at this time as we await the assumption of the Chair by the new Permanent Representative of Barbados.

I share the sentiments of the Ambassador of Chile, as I am also returning to the OAS. This is my second stint as the Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the Organization of American States, as I previously served from 2010 to 2012. I am therefore most keen to contribute to the further advancement of the organization in terms of its efficiency and effectiveness during my tenure.

On August 6th, Jamaica commemorated its 54th year of Independence. We are a small nation with 2.7 Million people but with a large Diaspora around the globe. Jamaica has enshrined in the Constitution the principles of democracy, freedom, justice and equality. Over the years, the country has pursued a challenging path of nation building, whilst influencing global political events and impacting the world with its outstanding achievements in sports and culture.

Jamaica is keen to continue to play a role in promoting the valuable work of the OAS, in our hemisphere and to partner with the organization to bring about meaningful development through programs and projects that can directly impact the people for better.

Jamaica became a member of the OAS in 1969, and since then, there have been tremendous global changes and unprecedented challenges. Challenges such as crime and insecurity; inequality and inequity; climate change and natural disasters. These challenges impact us all but we have to recognize that they have an even more debilitating and devastating effect on small states, such as those in the Caribbean, which also take longer to recover from these adversities.

The challenges we face are ones that the OAS can help Member States to address in collaboration with other international partners.  We therefore support plans by the OAS Secretariat to strengthen inter-organizational relationships and public-private partnerships.

Jamaica’s longstanding commitment to the OAS is reflected in its active participation in various Inter-American bodies of the institution.  Jamaica’s relationship with the OAS has been enhanced over the years by its participation at Ministerial and high-level meetings including on Security, Cyber-Security, Labour, Tourism, Science and Technology, Sustainable Development, Renewable Energy and Social Development; also hosting of OAS workshops in Jamaica on environmental law, juridical training, and competitiveness.

Jamaica highly values its relationship with the OAS in the area of security cooperation and has in recent years, benefited from a number of security-related projects and training programmes, including in the areas of counter-terrorism, trafficking in small arms, drug abuse; the illicit trafficking in persons and cyber-security.

Jamaica continues to attach great importance to the development agenda of the OAS and particularly to meeting the needs of small states such as in education, economic and human resource development and for this reason, I wish to underscore the importance of the OAS Scholarship Programme and Technical Cooperation programme, particularly through the Development Cooperation Fund (DCF).

I wish to reaffirm Jamaica’s support of the four pillars of the Organization and encourage constructive dialogue and proper planning by the Member States of the OAS in order to set its priorities and plan strategically to meet these priorities. We therefore welcome the four year strategic plan that is being developed. As the OAS Member States and the General Secretariat work together to implement this and other Management Modernization measures, we can ensure that the OAS remains strong and more importantly is beneficial to the peoples of the region.

I look forward to participating in future meetings of the Permanent Council and its Committees and in actively engaging in discussions on the hemispheric agenda.

In conclusion, as the provisional Chair of the Permanent Council, I seek the support of all the Permanent Representatives for a successful Chairmanship.

Thank You.