NASSAU, The Bahamas – Believing that international cooperation plays a primary role in achieving international peace and sustainability, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration held its first Bahamas Diplomatic Week, October 19 – 25, 2014.
The week comprised a full schedule of business and social events that fostered a mingling of Bahamian and international diplomats.
During the special juncture, set to launch a new Foreign Affairs momentum, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon. Fred Mitchell on more than one occasion both highlighted to the diplomatic community the need for increased teamwork to meet the particular challenges of today’s world.
At the beginning of the week, Minister Mitchell set the tone of international cooperation at the official opening ceremony held Thursday, October 23, when he welcomed an estimated 50 Heads of Mission, Resident and Non-Resident Ambassadors, Consuls and Honorary Consuls and other members of the Diplomatic Corp in historic dialogue at Meliá Nassau Beach Hotel, Cable Beach.
Minister Mitchell said that the primary responsibility of the Government of The Bahamas is to create and maintain a social, political and economic order that would foster peace and prosperity for all its citizens. “In this regard, the dynamics of the new global political and economic order, that has developed in recent times, has obliged the Government in general and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in particular, to maintain a constant awareness of the outside world, and to engage in an active diplomacy, conducted for the most part, in a wide variety of bilateral and multilateral fora,” Mr. Mitchell said.
Generally speaking, he said foreign policy is the interaction with other governments and international organizations, focusing on issues as diverse as crime, social welfare, national security, human rights and illegal immigration.
In this vein, The Bahamas’ Heads of Mission were tasked with advancement of Bahamian foreign policy in the interest of the country.
“I have pointed out to them that, as officers of the state, they act as messengers, managers and negotiators among other roles. They are expected to manage and nurture relations with other countries, while at the same time, monitoring and guarding the interests of The Bahamas,” Mr. Mitchell said.
Celebration of United Nations Day on Friday, October 24 was also an important feature on the Diplomatic Week calendar; Mr. Mitchell called on the Diplomatic Corps at large, to reflect on the fact that modern foreign policy requires an international system that makes it possible for states to pursue their interests and contribute to global civil society.
“The Government of The Bahamas strongly believes that international cooperation plays a primary role in achieving international peace and sustainable global prosperity; and that in today’s world, governments and countries must maintain good relations with their neighbours and the global community at large,” he said.
The major concerns of The Bahamas expressed during Diplomatic Week were the upsurge in the illicit trafficking in small arms, light weapons and ammunition, “which not only threatens national security but also has implications for individual safety and the social and economic well-being of the country,” he said.
He explained that it was in reaction to this threat that The Bahamas deposited its Instrument of Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty in New York on September 25.
Also discussed during the week was the challenge of illegal immigration, which Minister Mitchell described as a daunting one for the country, as well as the international community.
“For this reason, again in September, in New York, The Bahamas signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Organization for Migration to assist us in controlling these illegal flows,” he said.
Minister Mitchell also shared The Bahamas’ concern regarding Climate Change, as the frequency of tropical storm systems could disrupt economic growth and development and raising sea levels could lead to the submergence of some 80 percent of the landmass of the country.
“We are pleased with the convening of the Climate Change Summit in September because it mobilized political will for an early and ambitious legal climate agreement, affecting the entire globe,” Mr. Mitchell said.
Bahamas Diplomatic Week also featured Church Service; Courtesy Calls; Economic and Investment talks; and a State Dinner at Government House.