During his recent short visit to Grenada, the OAS Secretary-General, HE Luis Almagro, accompanied by Paul Spence, Political Advisor, met with a delegation of representatives of civil society organisations, led by Judy Williams, at the OAS Grenada Office on 20 September 2017.
The Secretary-General advised the CSO representatives that the OAS accorded great importance to the work of civil society, noting that it was important to hear the voice of civil society. Williams observed that there was work to be done in respect of the organisation of the civil society sector in Grenada but that individually and collectively, the sector was making a significant contribution to national development.
The delegation updated the Secretary-General on the significant collective initiatives in which the Inter Agency Group of Development Organisations and the wider Grouping of Civil Society Organisations had engaged over the last 5 years. Of particular note were:
- the Alternative Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy: (a non-state actors response and recommendations re the Grenada Country Poverty Assessment Report of 2009);
- Participation in the assessment of Grenada’s performance vis-a-vis measures to implement the Inter American Convention against Corruption: a key concern was the issue of conflict of interests as it related to the membership of some of the key oversight institutions like the Integrity Commission and the Financial Intelligence Unit;
- Public education on Constitution Reform: a review of the 7 proposed bills, production of information brochures, media programmes and community fora
Representatives also advised the OAS Secretary-General of the current initiative, in collaboration with other Social Partners, to promote the signing of a Code of Conduct to Govern the Election Campaign of 2017/2018 and sought clarification as to how the OAS monitors Grenada’s implementation of the recommendations of the election observer missions prior to the next due election.
Among the issues and concerns raised by the delegation were the high rate of unemployment, particularly among youth, the rise in the incidences of sexual violence against women and children; the vulnerability of the Caribbean region as just evidenced by the ravage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and civil society’s own capacity to adequately play its part to galvanize the participation of citizens to influence policy making and partake in other national development processes.
The meeting concluded with the Secretary-General re-iterating his organisation’s interest in and support of the ‘important work’ of civil society organisations in the OAS. He assured the delegation that ‘civil society concerns were our concerns’ reminding them that ‘the citizen was sovereign.’ The CSO representatives in attendance were Judy Williams, Gloria Payne Banfield, Sandra Ferguson, Milton Coy, JK Roberts and Davidson Nedd.