His Excellency Cornelius A. Smith, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the Organisation of American States (OAS), centre, receiving an honour during his departure, on Wednesday, August 22, 2012. (Photo/Maria Patricia Leiva/OAS
NASSAU, The Bahamas - His Excellency
Cornelius A. Smith, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of
The Bahamas to the Organisation of American States (OAS) has officially
demitted office after five years of promoting the interests of this
country in the world’s oldest regional body.
In his departing address to
the Regular Session of the Permanent Council on Wednesday, August 22,
2012, Mr. Smith said he left with a deeper understanding and greater
respect for the OAS, of which The Bahamas became a member-state in 1982.
And as the OAS continues its
organising reforms in times of budgeting constraints, he suggested a
return to the core mandate of promoting democracy, defending human rights,
ensuring a multidimensional approach to security and fostering integral
development and prosperity.
“For those who question
the validity and relevancy of this organisation, take comfort in the
fact that so many member states turn to this organisation for guidance,
advice and dispute resolutions.
“I go away with the knowledge
that even with its shortcomings and its occasional missteps, the only
hope for maintaining, strengthening and promoting the democratic process
and for the peaceful resolution of disputes, the stability and
prosperity for the hemisphere lies with the OAS.
“If we allow the OAS to fail,
or worse, if we contribute to its failure, we do so at our own peril
and that of future generations,” he said.
Mr. Smith called on member
states to never forget that those who have been fortunate enough to
serve the people of the hemisphere in OAS have an “awesome”
responsibility to assist in shaping the kind of societies in which all
His Excellency Cornelius A. Smith, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the Organisation of American States (OAS), at the Regular Session of the Permanent Council on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, the date he demitted office after five years. (Photo/Maria Patricia Leiva/OAS)
He recalled some of the challenges
The Bahamas was involved in during his tenure, namely coup-d’
état, ardency and border disputes, violations of sovereign air and
land space, and a number of sensitive political issues.
Member-states also experienced
an unusual amount of natural disasters including floods, hurricanes,
earthquakes; but found ways to mitigate the consequences of these natural
“Today the hemisphere is
confronted with the issues of criminal gangs, drug trafficking, human
smuggling, terrorism, transnational criminality, HIV/AIDS, environmental
destruction, abject poverty and the list goes on but by adopting the
principle of shared responsibility we continue to search for acceptable
solutions to the vexing problems,” he said.
The Permanent Council also
paid tribute to Mr. Smith; the OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza
expressing appreciation for the contribution he made during his five-year
tenure. Other Caribbean representatives at the OAS from Dominica, Uruguay,
Nicaragua, United States, Venezuela, Canada, Paraguay, Belize, Grenada,
and Haiti, amongst others, also expressed such sentiments.
OAS pays Tribute to Ambassador of The Bahamas Cornelius Smith