The Occasion of the Signing of the Host Country Agreement Regarding Arrangements for the Fifteenth Session of
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Your Excellency, Dr Kituyi, Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; Senator Dr the Honourable Jerome Walcott, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados; and the Honourable Sandra Husbands, Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Mr Didier Trebucq, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the OECS; Ambassador Chad Blackman, who is in Geneva listening to us, our Permanent Rep. in Geneva; and members of the National Organising Committee for UNCTAD 15 and counterparts in the UNCTAD Secretariat; Representatives of the Media; Ladies and Gentlemen, friends all:
I am delighted to be able to join with you, Secretary-General -in Nairobi- I wish I was there with you –and please extend my very best to my dear friends there. But I am sorry that we are unable to be together at this point in time. Nevertheless, we recognise, from all who are participating from multiple jurisdictions, that this is a historic event. And this historic event allows us to sign the Host Country Agreement between your Secretariat, Secretary-General, as well as the Government of Barbados on arrangements for the 15th Session of this Congress.
I use the word historic deliberately and, I believe, with some justification.
- This is the first time that my Government has put its signature on an agreement with another international or bilateral party without actually having the signatories together in the same room in the same country! I think it is also a first for the UNCTAD Secretariat, and you can correct me if I am wrong, S.G. We all know the circumstances that have prompted this creative solution, which may well prove not only to be precedent setting, but indeed a foretaste of the ‘new norm’.
- By signing this Agreement, Barbados confirms its intent to become the first Caribbean country and the first Small Island Developing State ever to host a session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. At no time in recent memory have those two words, trade and development, seemed more significant than now.
- It is also undoubtedly a first for us to attempt to plan and carry out a major international conference in the midst of such unprecedented global turbulence and uncertainty. Some may say we are mad.
We in the Caribbean have, regrettably, become all too accustomed to dealing with the onslaught of hurricanes, which track annually through our island chain with devastating economic and social consequences. Yet never in our history has one hurricane decimated all of our countries all at once in the way that this vicious virus called COVID-19 has managed to do to the community of nations.