The Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the Organization of American States (OAS), Sonia Merlyn Johnny, today assumed the Chair of the Permanent Council of the hemispheric Organization, held during the previous period by Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Upon receiving the gavel that represents the Council's authority from her predecessor, the Ambassador of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Jacinth Lorna Henry-Martin, Ambassador Johnny noted that chairing the Council for the next three months represents a "high honor and great responsibility" for her and her country, and highlighted the importance having a woman lead the body once again. "For us, females in the Caribbean, in some places the ceiling of leadership is sometimes pushed very high.”
The Caribbean diplomat noted that during her period as Chair the Council will engage in the preparatory work for the Special General Assembly to be held next September in Guatemala as well as the new budget of the hemispheric Organization.
On the occasion Ambassador Johnny called on member countries to show that "in this Organization we can work together and we can reach consensus."
For her part, the outgoing Chair said it had been a great honor both personally and on behalf of her country, having led the Permanent Council the past three months, since it was "a very important responsibility to have directed the body that brings together the countries of the Hemisphere."
The handover ceremony, held at OAS headquarters in Washington DC, was attended by the Secretary General of the Organization, José Miguel Insulza, and the Permanent Representatives of several member countries.
The Permanent Council’s statutes establish that the Chair be held by each of the Permanent Representatives in turn, following the alphabetic order in Spanish of the names of their respective countries, and the office of Vice Chair, by identical standards, following reverse alphabetical order. The Vice Chair of the Council will be the Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago, Ambassador Neil Parsan.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.