Monday, June 15, 2015
Monday, June 15, 2015
Here follows remarks by Prime Minister Perry Christie at the official opening of The Bahamas Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland 12 June, 2015:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am extremely happy to be here today, to mark this auspicious occasion in the life of The Bahamas as a country. My presence here today, with 3 of my Cabinet colleagues, the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Hon. Shane Gibson, the Minister of Labour and National Insurance and the Hon. Hope Strachan, my most recent Cabinet appointment, the Minister of Financial Services is testimony to the commitment of The Bahamas to be an active players in the international arena.
Each of us as representatives of The Bahamas by design, are here in Geneva for the official opening of our Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva. Our mandates make it imperative for us to interface with the many UN agencies and Funds here in this international city. My Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration was here in March to address the High Level Segment of the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council. The Minister of Labour is today here to advance the rights of workers and employees in The Bahamas and the Minister of Financial Services heads the lead agency to accelerate efforts towards The Bahamas’ membership in the World Trade Organization. All of these are areas of importance to our country.
In 2001, the Government of The Bahamas applied for membership in the WTO. As a premier destination which offers opportunities for a range of financial services, The Bahamas is poised to become even more competitive in the global economy by further strengthening its financial sector. Only recently, The Bahamas has established its Bureau of Standards and Quality with a view to promoting and implementing quality services in everything we do. In January of this year, the Value Added Taxation system came on stream bringing us closer toward our quest for membership in the WTO which is recognized as the global body tasked with administering multilateral trade rules for international trade in goods, services and intellectual property. In doing so, The Bahamas too can be present at the table to promote its own trade interests which reflect its unique developmental concerns while pursing trade, and ultimately it’s development objectives.
The Permanent Mission of The Bahamas to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva opened in May, 2013 and was the first overseas mission established by The Bahamas on the European continent.
The Mission has the unique opportunity to advance the interests of The Bahamas in Geneva. With the many United Nations specialized agencies and funds, the plethora of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in Geneva, The Bahamas is seeking to position itself to benefit through its interaction with the many stakeholders in Geneva.
Our participation in such fora as the International Labour Organization (ILO) World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) The Human Rights Council (HRC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) provide us the platform to enunciate domestic policies which are in line with our international obligations as a member of the global community. As we grapple with the challenges of a small country, vulnerability to climate change, the need to ensure citizen security, that of food security and the greater need of peace and security of our people through our continued efforts to fight crime, we see our presence here in Geneva as a means to partner with the international community in addressing these issues.
The presence in Geneva allows, a country the size of The Bahamas , not only to learn of activities undertaken by other countries to mitigate the impact of smallness, but also to articulate its own position in a multilateral environment.
Our involvement in the work of the IOM is particularly important for us, as we work together to strengthen migration management and identifying appropriate measures to assist and protect vulnerable migrants. We thank the IOM for its continued support in this critical area.
As we interface with agencies like UNCTAD we reiterate the need for greater investment, access to concessionary finance and appropriate technology as a means of further delivering stable and sustainable development to our peoples. This form of advocacy for our developmental needs will be bolstered when The Bahamas accedes to the WTO.
It is indeed a pleasure and an honour for me to be here today and to pledge the support of the Government of The Bahamas to you as you continue the excellent work that you are undertaking collectively to make the world a better place, all for the good of mankind.
As Minister Mitchell has said, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of Ambassador Jackson and her team.
I now declare the Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva, officially open.