On the eve of the launch of the inaugural Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Regional Assembly at the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda, over twenty media workers gathered to participate in an OECS Media Clinic.
Members of the OECS Secretariat engaged close to twenty (20) media representatives from the OECS sub-region with presentations and panel discussions.
Dr. Len Ishmael, Director General of the OECS led the charge with a concise history of the maturation of the OECS from its inception in 1981 with the Treaty of Basseterre.
While outlying the Organization’s successes, Dr. Ishmael admitted that one of the biggest challenges of the Organization is trying to, “break down the beliefs of any regional/national separation.” She says that, “this requires work at the national and regional level.
The OECS Director General encourages OECS citizens to adapt a “spirit of inclusiveness” for member states whether or not countries are independent or still territories.
Dr. Rosemarie Husbands-Mathurin, Coordinator of OECS Regional Integration Unit; Ms. Elma Gene Isaac and Director of OECS Economic Affairs Division Mr. Randolph Cato led discussions on the Role and Function of the OECS Assembly, OECS integration and a Common Market as well as the need for Economic Union.
The members of the OECS Secretariat imparted a lot of information to the Media workers so that they had a more relevant and in depth understanding of the nature of the OECS and the importance of the historic launching of the OECS Assembly. However all panelists encouraged the Media to participate in the discussions which became quite interactive and allowed for many questions to be asked and ideas posited by the regional Media representatives.
The OECS Assembly is a major stride for not only the organization but for the citizens of the member states as well. The Assembly is akin to a sub-regional parliament that according to Director General of the OECS Dr. Len Ishmael, will “adopt and ratify” rules and procedures that will govern how certain “elections” will occur.
The Assembly will not debate legislature however, member states will deliberate individually on their own rules for procedure for sittings of the Assembly. While Antigua and Barbuda will be the permanent seat of the OECS Assembly, member states may decide collectively to host a meeting in another territory.
Director General of the OECS Dr. Len Ishmael spoke of the pride that the Organization feels to have arrived at such a time in their history and says citizens of the OECS should also lay claim to that pride and adapt the “spirit of inclusiveness.” She opined that member states are all one family whether or not countries are independent or still territories.
With a greater appreciation for the role of the OECS and its accomplishments, the sub-region’s Media workers were charged by the Secretariat with ensuring that the idea of the OECS and its roles and functions do not remain as a foreign concept to many of its citizens.
The Media representatives have been challenged to ensure that “Our story” as a region is “written” and documented by “us” and to make sure that citizens are aware of their rights as members of the OECS as well encouraging our fellow nationals to know that they are directly impacted by the decisions and policies of the regional Organization.
With a general air of unity amongst the Media participants it bodes well for the future of regional integration.