Remarks by Christopher Sandrolini, Charge d’Affaires U.S. Embassy to Barbados & the Eastern Caribbean
- Director General Dr. Len Ishmael,
- Colleagues of the Diplomatic Corps,
- Members of the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a privilege for me to present a Letter of Introduction from the United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, designating me as the United States Special Representative to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. It is a particular honor to be the United States of America’s first envoy to the organization.
I am immensely proud to represent the United States of America here today to formalize our partnership. Today marks an important milestone in American engagement in the Eastern Caribbean, and underscores our commitment to addressing our common challenges together. From climate change to social development, from trade policy to citizen security, we look forward to a dynamic partnership that enhances our already strong bilateral relationships with the countries of the Eastern Caribbean.
Secretary Clinton, in her message to the Secretary General, congratulated the OECS on its accomplishments “in promoting economic integration and increased trade and investment within the region and with the rest of the world.” She went on to say that the United States looks “forward to working with you and the OECS member states to strengthen our trade and investment ties and to promote the region’s economic development.”
By our engagement with the OECS, the United States also reasserts its strong commitment to the individual nations of the Eastern Caribbean. The United States supports the progressive objectives of the OECS to promote regional integration and cooperation among its membership. We welcome the pragmatic vision of the OECS, and recognize the challenges faced by members with respect to international trade regimes and responding to global economic trends.
As you know, even before this formal recognition of our partnership, the United States and the OECS have been working together in many areas:
- Our Agency for International Development, USAID, recently signed an agreement for a US$900,000 project to strengthen juvenile justice systems in all six independent countries of the OECS. As part of our cooperative engagement through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, this three-year project will focus on legal reform, capacity building, introduction of modern detention/rehabilitation processes, and enhanced civil society involvement.
- On July 13, USAID joined with the OECS and St. Lucia to launch a new US$2.5 million climate change adaption project building the capacity of the six nations to respond to the effects of climate change through policy, institutional and legal reforms especially in coastal zone and freshwater management.
- The OECS is a signatory partner of the Partnership Framework for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The OECS HIV/AIDS Program Unit coordinates HIV/AIDS activities, and is the sub-recipient of Global Fund Round 9 funds that support HIV treatment in the region. This work is augmented by approximately US$6.8 million in technical assistance from our Centers for Disease Control in the twelve Caribbean Partnership Framework countries, including the six nations OECS nations.
And more broadly, the United States has been deeply engaged with the nations of the OECS. Earlier this year, the United States committed US$77 million to the nations of the Caribbean in 2012 as part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. The United States will continue to further develop its collaboration with the OECS and its members in addressing global and regional concerns which impact all of us – and regional security is a priority for all of us. We look forward to working closely with the OECS on all aspects of security policy, trade and investment, disaster management, migration, education and health.
With the United States now a formal partner of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, we look forward to increasing our cooperation on these and other issues of importance to the peoples of all of our countries. Relationships are important in our society, as in yours, and we are very encouraged by the regional cooperation and collaboration among the members and look forward to a long and productive relationship with the OECS.
May we have an enduring and dynamic partnership, strategic and proactive, founded on principles of mutual respect, common interests and shared values.