Jamaica assumes presidency of OAS Permanent Council, says fight against COVID-19 is priority

Jamaica assumes presidency of OAS Permanent Council, says fight against COVID-19 is priority

Thursday, October 01, 2020

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WASHINGTON, United States — Jamaica assumed chair of the Organization of American States' (OAS) Permanent Council in Washington, DC, following a virtual handing over ceremony which saw Ambassador Audrey Marks assuming the position for the next three months.

Marks is being placed in the leadership of the hemispheric council for the second time.

In her remarks, Marks said that it is her desire during her chairmanship to work with the experts in the Secretariat and delegations, “to advance the dialogue on issues such as accelerating equitable access to vaccines against COVID-19; and also most importantly, while we await a vaccine, we must ensure affordable quality departure testing to minimise imported cases to our countries and surveillance testing to manage the community transmission ravishing so many families at this time…

“We must continue to explore increased access to concessional and non-concessional financing and greater cooperation leading to increased access to the internet,” she said.

The ambassador pointed out that she was “also keenly aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has served to magnify the inter-connectedness of our countries, big or small, rich or poor, and the need for us to work together, even more so now than ever, to overcome the challenges before us”.

Noting that this year Jamaica commemorates the 50th anniversary of its membership in the OAS, Marks said, “the symbolism of this achievement is not lost on us.”

She said she looked forward to working with all delegations over the next three months, “and especially as we prepare for the upcoming 50th regular session of the general assembly, to be held October 20 to 21, in a spirit of dialogue… as we seek to manage the threats posed by the pandemic and to emerge even stronger post COVID-19. This will only be achieved through our collective efforts, in a sustained and organised way.”

Marks thanked her predecessor Louis Cordero for his work steering the OAS Council during very challenging times.

She also thanked the team from the OAS secretariat, led by Assistant Secretary General Nestor Mendez, for their tremendous efforts “which has allowed us to utilise available technology, to meet virtually to continue the work of this organisation during the pandemic”.

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