His Excellency Sidney Collie, The Bahamas’ Ambassador to the USA and OAS, addressed the Dialogue of Heads of Delegation during the 50th Regular Session of the Organization of American States (OAS) on 20 October 2020. In addressing the Dialogue, the Ambassador Collie expressed The Bahamas’ solidarity with Member States and the people of the Americas in the battle against the economic and social impacts of the COVID‐19 pandemic. He noted that The Bahamas was preparing to welcome Member States to the country to celebrate the auspicious occasion, but the threat of the COVID‐19 pandemic compelled the Government to withdraw from hosting the 50th Regular Session of the General Assembly.
The Assembly is meeting under the theme “Facing the Challenges of COVID‐19 in the Hemisphere: A Collaborative Approach to Address Vulnerabilities and Build Resilience in Times of Crisis, Based on the Four Pillars of the OAS”.
Ambassador Collie stressed that The Bahamas was no stranger to exogenous shocks as evidenced by a number of major hurricanes during the period 2015 to 2019; highlighting the ravages of Hurricane Dorian, the largest Atlantic storm in recorded history. With respect to the current 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, the Ambassador noted that an additional three named storms will result in the most active hurricane season on record. The frequency and intensity of these storms are no doubt aggravated by climate change; an existential threat for our region. The current on-going COVID-19 pandemic he noted, has severely challenged The Bahamas and all countries of the region. He noted that the country’s economy relies heavily on tourism and the closure of The Bahamas’ border and restriction in the movement of people has resulted in a severe slowdown of economic activity.
Moreover, the growing challenges due to climate change together with the effects of the global pandemic have highlighted the importance of moving beyond antiquated methodologies including the use of GDP per capita in determining access to concessional financing. Such methodologies give no consideration to a country’s vulnerability to existential threats and ability to recover from external shocks. In this context, the Ambassador expressed gratitude for the Organization’s commitment to advocate for a review of the per capita income criterion.
Referring to development issues and the approach taken by the OAS for such matters; Ambassador Collie noted that The Bahamas was of the view that when compared with other multilateral bodies, the OAS maintains a comparative advantage and provides value-added in the areas of capacity building, technical cooperation and support for human development – which are more important now than ever before. The Ambassador encouraged Member States to fulfill their annual assessed contributions which sustains and advances the work of the Organization; stressing that the OAS cannot continue to move from one fiscal crisis to the next. He concluded by saying The Bahamas remains steadfast in its belief in the Organization’s capacity to assist Member States in building resilience as the hemisphere confront the reality of the many challenges that continue to evolve in the economic, social and environmental spheres in the lives of the citizens of the Americas.