(L-R): Venezuela Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, Sir Ronald Sanders, OAS Secretary-General Luis Almargo Lemes, OAS Assistant Secretary-General Nestor Mendez
WASHINGTON, USA -- Antigua and Barbuda's Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders on Tuesday assumed office as the chairman of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
In a ceremony at the OAS headquarters in Washington DC, Sanders was welcomed to the office by Secretary-General Luis Almargo Lemes and ambassadors from the Organisation's 35 member states.
Sanders will preside over the activities of the OAS until April this year, with a packed agenda that includes issues involving general elections in Haiti as well as problem areas in some member countries. Under his stewardship, the Permanent Council will also advance preparations for the General Assembly, the highest decision-making organ of the OAS. The General Assembly will be held in the Dominican Republic in June.
Indicating the focus of his chairmanship, Sanders expressed concern about the financial health of the OAS, saying that its "financial state is dire and urgently needs to be addressed if the Organisation is to continue to fulfil its obligations to the development needs of the people of its member states".
Sanders is expected to elaborate on his concerns about the Organisation in his inaugural statement to the Permanent Council on January 20.
Sanders' first act as chairman of the OAS Permanent Council was to receive the deputy minister of foreign affairs of Bolivia, Juan Carlos Tejeda, to discuss climate change and initiatives that could be taken to ensure that undertakings given at the climate meeting in Paris last December actually deliver results.
Sanders has been an advocate of the interests of small states in the global warming debate. He is expected to advance discussion of this issue, as well as threats to the financial services sector of the Caribbean during his chairmanship.