Communication by the Secretary-General of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), H. E. Mr. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti on his first year in Office

Brussels, 02 March 2021/OACPS: 02 March 2021 marks one year since I assumed the position of Secretary-General of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). By way of this communication, I would like to provide a brief reflection on the past year and a snapshot on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, with a focus on the OACPS’ strategic priorities, implementation modalities and actions to propel us to the “OACPS we want”.

The year 2020 was an extraordinary year that no one could have foreseen and planned for. The coronavirus pandemic has reached almost every country in the world, and it has affected, in one way or another, the lives of almost everyone.

This time last year, concepts such as “lockdowns,” “mask mandates”, “border closures” and “social distancing” were foreign concepts in our daily lives. I myself, am one of those very fortunate people who survived the virus, and I wish to thank all frontline workers for their unselfish efforts and commitment to fight this pandemic. My condolences to all who have lost their loved ones to this virus, and may I also wish a speedy and full recovery to those who have, and in some cases, still are suffering.

In less than a year, the Covid-19 pandemic has harmed the Members of the OACPS the most, and it is threatening to push millions more, especially the poor and most vulnerable, into poverty. According to projections of the World Bank, this year, after decades of steady progress in reducing the number of people living on less than $1.90/day, COVID-19 will usher in the first reversal in the fight against extreme poverty in a generation. As the OACPS, we need to unite, and show solidarity to fight the spread of the virus. Together, we can address the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in a sustainable manner so our citizens do not have to suffer the after-effects of this crisis for years to come.

The OACPS is in a phase of change and reform, and the year 2020 brought many challenges and opportunities to the OACPS. I started to implement the vision of our Leaders to transform the OACPS into an Organisation that is “fit for purpose”, one that is a valuable, reliable and an important role player on the international scene. Through the new OACPS-EU partnership agreement, we will seek to further strengthen our longstanding relationship with the European Union, and foster complementary and mutually beneficial partnerships with other countries and Organisations.

In developing partnerships, the OACPS will promote multilateralism and global solidarity, as we continue to build South-South, North-South and Triangular cooperation and contribute to the gradual restoration of a fair, just and equitable geopolitical landscape.

Despite the turbulent year, and despite the many challenges in addition to the known inadequacies of our global governance system, there is still a solid pathway to the sustainable and inclusive development of all countries: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.To this, I am committed to lead our Organisation in order to contribute meaningfully to the achievement and realisation of these key goals and undertakings.

As mentioned, 2020 was a year of change – planned and unplanned, and 2021 will be a year of continued change and reform, but with an emphasis on implementation. With the encouragement and unwavering support of Members of the OACPS and the staff of the Secretariat, some of our achievements during 2020 were the following:

  • Entering into force of the revised Georgetown Agreement, and the change of name from the Group of ACP States to the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS);
  • Convening of the first ever Inter-sessional Summit of the OACPS Heads of State and Government, and meeting with international partners;
  • Appointing a gender-balanced management team at the Secretariat of the OACPS;
  • Relocating to a temporary Headquarters to allow for crucial and important renovations to take place at ACP House;
  • Keeping focus and being able to continue the work of the OACPS at what was a critically important time, including facilitating the work of the various OACPS organs, from the Summit, to the Council of Ministers and the Committee of Ambassadors;
  • Reaching of a political agreement on the future OACPS-EU post-Cotonou dispensation;
  • Commencing with the restructuring of the Secretariat through the adoption of new Staff and Employment Regulations; and
  • Strengthening the unity and solidarity of the OACPS through pro-active and concerted efforts relating to the appointment of the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and objection to EU unilateral action on the blacklisting of Member of the OACPS on the account of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) matters and Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions for Tax Purposes.

In this coming year, my focus will be on the following priorities:

  • Completion of the restructuring of the OACPS Secretariat;
  • Development and finalisation of the Secretariat’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) covering the period 2021-2025;
  • Signing and implementation of the post-Cotonou Agreement;
  • Continuation of the operationalisation of the Revised Georgetown Agreement;
  • Promoting and ensuring greater visibility of the OACPS;
  • Addressing in a sustainable manner the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our countries and regions;
  • Improved service delivery to the organs of the OACPS, and the provision of greater value for membership to Members of the OACPS;
  • Resource mobilisation to ensure the financial stability of the OACPS Secretariat; and
  • Development of partnerships.

These priorities will be further developed and expanded in my first State of the Organisation (SOrg) address on 8 April 2021, when we will celebrate the first anniversary of the establishment of the OACPS at a special event that the Secretariat will organize with the participation of Members of the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors, Parliamentary Assembly, and Non-State Actors.

Together we are stronger, and when we are together, we can make a meaningful difference to the lives of our peoples. Thank you for all the support and commitment to the OACPS.

Communicado do Secretário-Geral sobre os resultados do primeiro ano do seu mandato