Brussels 27 March 2014/ACP: The new ambassador for the Eastern Caribbean States to the EU has urged the ACP Group to make ambitious and innovative moves to reshape the organisation, in order to ensure its relevance in a multi-polar world.

In her first address to the Committee of Ambassadors since her appointment, H.E Dr Len Monica Ishmael laid out the context of a “world in flux”, and offered lessons from her decade-long turn at the helm of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) on exploiting current global shifts to strengthen the institution. Read her full speech

“…Times of fluidity and change can also mean opportunities. But seizing these requires doing away with stale debates and dogma which were right for a different time and place. Bold ideas, innovative thinking and new vision are required today,” she said.

Dr Ishmael pointed to the mutating roles of the so-called First and Third World, accentuated by the global financial crisis, and the broad scope of action needed to tackle development challenges in an inter-connected world.

“Today we witness intensified international cooperation unmatched since the efforts of the post Second World War in designing a global governance order through specific programs and institutions, except that today, the actors are more numerous, asymmetric and cooperation spans the globe….

“Different actors are playing new roles on the geopolitical main stage and south-south and more recently, south-south and triangular cooperation are rapidly becoming the vital 'new normal' of the development agenda,” she told fellow ambassadors.

As the former Director General of the OECS and former Director of the Regional Headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC), Dr Ishmael shared how the region responded to volatile conditions by forging new partnerships and managing regional integration. The OECS includes nine member states with a combined population of around 600,000.

Dr Ishmael oversaw the launch of the OECS Economic Union (2011) and OECS Assembly (2012) as vital elements in the OECS Model of Integration, which entails setting up an array of regional institutional architecture to provide services such as joint foreign service, security and law and order.

“This is the homegrown model that we have designed and refined over the last three decades in a bid to decrease our vulnerabilities and increase our resilience as micro-states, as one group,” she said.

As the newest Ambassador in the Brussels-based ACP family, she gave a special greeting to Pacific ACP members, who are fellow participants of the Small Island Developing States group.

She replaces Mrs. Shirley Skerritt-Andrew who completed her tour of duty last year.

In addition to her leadership roles in OECS and UN-ECLAC, Dr Ishmael was previously also Director of Lead International (Rockefeller Foundation), an Associate Professor at the University of West Indies, and an international consultant in development planning. She holds a PhD in Development Planning & Economics and is widely published on development issues, especially in relation to Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Download full address by Ambassador Ishmael

– ACP Press