Highlights key regional and global issues

Washington, DC (September 16, 2023) —His Excellency President Dr Irfaan Ali delivered a significant address at the Organization of American States (OAS), touching on a range of crucial issues, including unity, climate responsibility, and the importance of democracy.

His speech on Friday highlighted Guyana’s commitment to addressing these challenges both regionally and globally. It emphasised the importance of democratic values, citing Guyana’s experience during the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

The President praised Electoral Observer Missions from various organisations for ensuring transparency and accountability in the electoral process and stressed their role as “guardians of democracy”.

“In these challenging times, the international community stood steadfast with the people of Guyana. We remain deeply grateful for the vigilance and oversight of the Electoral Observer Missions from the Organization of American States, the European Union, the Commonwealth and the Caribbean Community. Their unwavering commitment and meticulous observation ensured eventual transparency, fairness, and accountability. Without their presence and relentless pursuit of truth, our democracy might have been derailed, the will of the people sidetracked, and an unlawful regime could have taken root.”

The President also lauded the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and commended the organisation for its dedication to human rights.

He said that Guyana, for the first time, nominated a candidate to be a member of the commission, which, according to the Head of State, reflects the country’s commitment to the ideals of the Inter-American human rights system and belief in collective action to uphold those ideals.

“Guyana and the Guyana Government were both humbled and honoured by the overwhelming support that our nomination of Christopher Arif Bulkan received from fellow member states.”

He said, too, that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights serves as a beacon of hope in the Americas and that its “steadfast dedication to human rights combined with rigorous oversight ensures that our hemisphere remains committed to upholding the dignity and freedom for every individual.”

On the matter of climate responsibility, President Ali highlighted Guyana’s commitment to carbon neutrality and the balanced use of fossil fuels in the transition to net-zero emissions. He called for honest and frank discussions on climate change and emphasised the need for a structured carbon market.

“Let me point out that there needs to be a balance in this conversation on climate change. We cannot have this conversation derailed by locking people out from the table of discussion. For us to achieve net zero, it requires action by every stakeholder; the producers of oil and gas, and the companies who have invested in oil… the conversation is becoming very confusing because those who are calling for an immediate stop to the production of oil and gas will have accelerated their production this year.”

Economic integration, growth, and social welfare were also key points as President Ali urged member states to harness the region’s economic potential and create equitable integration frameworks. He underscored Guyana’s remarkable economic growth and commitment to ensuring that the benefits of the oil and gas industry reach all citizens through social welfare programmes and infrastructure development.

In his address, food security also emerged as another critical concern, with the President emphasising the need for collaboration to enhance distribution systems and ensure food security in the Americas.

He said that “This isn’t just a matter of food production, although that is important…It is also about access and affordability. The paradox lies not in our inability to jointly produce but in our inadequate systems of distribution and internal trade barriers between Latin America and the Caribbean.”

He said that CARICOM nations spend an astonishing annual budget on food imports, even as some of our countries are net producers of food and could feed the rest of the region.

“Why does this disconnect persist? The core issue isn’t scarcity, but the challenge that our most vulnerable face is accessing available food. High import bills, trade barriers, and a lack of affordable transport links within our region compound the problem.”

Meanwhile, President Ali also used the occasion to reaffirm Guyana’s commitment to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, pledging to champion the UN Charter’s principles and the perspectives of developing nations.

His address to the OAS also underscored Guyana’s dedication to regional cooperation, democracy, climate responsibility, and economic development, offering a vision for a brighter future in the Americas.