Saint Lucia hosts OECS Ministers of Human and Social Development

The Ministry of Social Transformation, Local Government and Community Empowerment in collaboration with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) hosted the second Council of Ministers Meeting for Human and Social Development on March 23-24, 2015.

The meeting’s agenda centered on the protection of children and vulnerable families in the OECS region. A delegation from sister territory Martinique sat in on the discussions, giving positive feedback on the opportunity to forge development partnerships in advancing the cause
of the youth and the less fortunate.

Participants at this week’s meeting.

Participants at this week’s meeting.

OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules asserted that “our challenge in the OECS is to move from protective measures to the proactive, strategic actions. There is no question about the necessity of acting now to protect the most vulnerable, but there is also no doubt of the long-term imperative of eradicating vulnerability. If economic growth and prosperity matter, they must mean something for the poorest. This meeting comes at a time when we are shaping a growth and development agenda in the OECS, and so its deliberations will be an invaluable contribution to the finalization of this strategy.”

The council conducted a review of the terms of reference for the launch of a technical body-the OECS Social Protection Technical Committee- as a standing working group to the Ministerial Council to facilitate increased harmonization of social initiatives within member states.

Saint Lucia’s Minister for Social Transformation, and chair of the meeting, the Honourable Harold Dalsan remarked: “It is a primary responsibility of governments to make the necessary investment in, and ensure the protection of all its citizens. It is our responsibility to provide an enabling environment that facilitates a broad range of social protection actions and programmes within society to address the challenges of inequality.”

UNICEF Representative Ms. Khin-Sandi Lwin noted “as UNICEF’s primary role in partnering with the OECS Commission and with all 12 countries and territories of our multi-country programme is to help build robust institutions that will prioritize and systematically address children’s issues- we count on this institution being sustained by the member states beyond the initial start-up support that we have provided.”

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