Brussels, 21 September 2016/ ACP: The ACP Committee of Ambassadors, one of the most active decision-making organs of the ACP Group, will be chaired by the Ambassador of the Eastern Caribbean States (including St. Kitts and Nevis), H.E. Dr. Len Ishmael for the period 1 August 2016 – 31 January 2017.

Ambassador Ishmael made her inaugural address last Thursday 15 September as Chairperson of the body, which comprises of plenipotentiaries from 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Ambassador Ishmael, who jointly represents four Eastern Caribbean countries (namely St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines and the Commonwealth of Dominica) to Belgium and the EU, outlined three “challenges” she plans to prioritise during her term as Chair.

This includes improving the collective political commitment of member states to the ACP Group; working towards a post-2020 relationship with Europe; and dealing with the fallout from Brexit.

“The next twelve months will be defining ones in many ways and on multiple fronts as we seek to elaborate our thinking with respect of the future of our relations with Europe, and the future of the ACP – both in terms of the integrity of the group as a singly internally cohesive actor, and as a player on the global stage,” she told the Committee.

She drew attention to the key task for the Committee of Ambassadors in the coming months, which is to finalise a plan for the implementation of the report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on the future of the ACP Group.

The report, which was submitted by the Chairman of the EPG, former Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government in May 2016, includes key recommendations for reforms to the organisation in the effort to enhance its role as a global player.

“Such a plan must be put before our Ministerial Council for their review in November,” she said.

Negotiations for a follow up partnership agreement between the ACP Group and the European Union is scheduled to start no later than August 2018.

Ambassador Ishmael also chairs the Bureau of the Committee of Ambassadors, which coordinates the work of the main body, and includes one Ambassador from each of the six ACP regions.

For the term from 1 August 2016 – 31 January 2017, members of the Bureau include: H.E. Mr. Ibrahim Sorie of Sierra Leone (West Africa), H.E Mr. Daniel Emery Dede of the Central African Republic (Central Africa); H.E. Mr. Tadeous Tafirenyika Chifamba of Zimbabwe (Southern Africa); H.E. Mrs Vilma McNish of Jamaica (Caribbean); H.E. Mr. Tine Leuelu of Tuvalu (Pacific); and H.E. Dr. Mutrif Siddig Ali of Sudan (Eastern Africa).

The Troika will include the outgoing Chairman of the Committee, H.E Mr. Roger Menga of Congo (Brazzaville), the Ambassador of the Eastern Caribbean States H.E. Dr Len Ishmael as Chairperson-in-Office, and the Chairman to follow in the next term, H.E Mr. Teshome Toga of Ethiopia.

(Photos from top: Members of the Incoming and Outgoing Bureaus of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, including the new Chairperson Ambassador Dr. Len Ishmael (front, centre) shaking hands with outgoing Chair, the Ambassador of Congo Roger Menga; New Chairperson of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors H.E. Dr. Len Ishmael (right) delivering her inaugural address, pictured with ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomes)

– ACP Press