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|More needs to be done to reduce poverty, inequality|
|Tuesday, 15 May 2012 21:33|
- President Ramotar at OAS Protocolary Session
THE Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) yesterday convened a Protocolary Session in honour of President Donald Ramotar in Washington, United States of America, where he called for closer cooperation and joint activities to defeat the trade in narcotic drugs.
He said that notwithstanding the recent economic downturn, most countries have achieved substantial progress in managing their economies and in reducing poverty and inequality within the framework of general stability and democracy.
These factors have contributed to a stronger pursuit of political and economic integration among the nations, along with a growing self-confidence; however, developments in the spread of criminal violence, climate change and persistent poverty continue to be causes for deep concern.
“These factors are occurring alongside the emergence of several new regional organisations and these circumstances are affecting the way our nations relate to one another, as was evident at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena,” the Guyanese Head of State said.
He also called for full implementation of the mandates which were adopted at that summit, regarding the integration of infrastructure, citizen security, poverty, inequality, disaster risk reduction and management, and Information Communication Technology (ICT).
President Ramotar said that Guyana welcomes the climate of tolerance and respect for differences of opinion which was evident during the full and frank discussions that took place at the summit.
When Guyana joined the OAS in 1991, it did so seeking to advance its commitment to achieving peace, justice, solidarity, partnership for development, and regional security, and to defend the independence of its member states.
“The restitution of democracy to our nation and the strengthening of its democratic process were achieved after arduous political struggles spanning four decades…consequently for us, independence and democracy are committed goals and cherished ideals which we constantly strive to preserve, strengthen, protect and expand, in keeping with both our constitutional obligations, as well as our commitments to the charter to the OAS…and other regional and international instruments,” President Ramotar stated.
He posited that even the strongest detractors will admit that the OAS electoral observation mission has rendered valuable support to member states that wish to improve their electoral systems.
In this regard, Guyana can testify to the important role performed by these missions during the November 2011 polls; and he added that, “my presence here today is an acknowledgement of the role that the OAS has played in the re-establishment and strengthening of democracy in my country.”
The Head of State said that no other option can be considered at this advanced technology age than to rid the region of poverty and obtain decent standards of living for people, noting that poverty cannot be effectively combated without addressing inequality.
“Here at the OAS, we can and should do more to reduce poverty and inequality by influencing policies which would promote technological advances, respond more effectively to natural disasters, and orchestrate the transfer of resources to reduce disparities. The OAS can further bolster efforts to combat poverty and inequality by guiding practices aimed at conflict prevention, lifting environmental standards, and promoting sustainable development with social justice,” the Guyanese President said.
He said that job creation must be an essential aspect in the fight against poverty and crime in the region. With regard to Guyana, no priority is greater than to combat extreme poverty, inequality and social exclusion.
This, he said, can be done through policies that promote economic growth, access to education, healthcare and housing, in order to better achieve sustainable development with social justice.
He made reference to the Women of Worth (WoW) programme, which is an initiative aimed at promoting social protection and economic development among vulnerable groups with a gender perspective.
President Ramotar said that since poverty poses the most potent threat to democracy in the hemisphere, it can only be effectively addressed by means of hemispheric cooperation.
Evidence of this cooperation can be seen in Guyana’s commitment to supporting Haiti in its reconstruction and development process. In CARICOM, Guyana has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as a vehicle for strengthening its support to Haiti, particularly in the area of institutional strengthening and capacity building.
The multi-dimensional threats to security spawn a multitude of economic, political, social, health and environmental challenges to the region’s stability and security, he said, and for a region with a homicide rate of twice the global average, it must be acknowledged that certain aspects of insecurity, such as trans-national organized crimes, are posing ever more serious challenges.
“These threats should be a matter of serious concern to countries large and small, since the stability of Small Island states are integral to the security of the hemisphere as a whole,” he said.
National authorities and the scientific community have agreed that less developed countries and communities in the region are already suffering from the impacts of climate change, which are likely to reduce agricultural productivity and water availability, cause damage to bio-diversity, coastal erosion, coral bleaching, increase vulnerability to natural disasters, and destabilize the physical and socio-economic conditions of entire populations.
Guyana has placed the protection and sustainable management of its forests as an over-arching national priority and a major initiative to address climate change and initiated the avoided deforestation policy in 2008 and the Low Carbon Development Strategy in 2009.
“These strategies set out a new development path for Guyana based on developing our forests which constitute 80 percent of our country to mitigate global climate, in return for receiving payments for the carbon service it provides,” the Head of State explained.
Guyana’s role in the regional effort to combat climate change stands as a leading example to other developing nations in demonstrating that the creation of a low deforestation/low carbon, climate-resilient economy can be achieved without sacrificing development aspirations.
President Ramotar called for greater OAS involvement in supporting the efforts of the Caribbean in addressing sustainable development challenges, such as the changing climate, renewable energy, hazard risks management, and land and bio-diversity degradation, all of which fall under the remit of the OAS’s agenda for sustainable development.
“The best way to sustain the gains which have been made in the area of human rights democracy and peace is through sustainable development that keeps the human beings at the centre,” he said.
With regard to food security, the President said, “We must avoid, at all cost, the spectre of our citizens taking to the streets to protest hunger, by providing workable plans to improve food supply and reduce the effects of hunger and poor nutrition.”
He concluded that the OAS remains the principal forum for hemispheric dialogue for protecting and advancing democracy and human rights, and for promoting regional development and security.
The President departed Guyana on May 12 for several engagements in the U.S., including with the country’s State Department Officials. Among his delegation are Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper, and Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh. (GINA)
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 21:34|
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