By Orville Williams
The twin island nation can look forward to improved service from the United Nations (UN), with the recent appointment of the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Dr Walton “Aubrey” Webson, as president of a joint committee.
The Ambassador was named the 2020 President of the joint Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) late last year, and he has voiced his commitment to ensure Antigua and Barbuda benefits from proper advocacy.
“Antigua and Barbuda stands to benefit in terms of – there are some things that we want to strengthen with the way the system delivers its work. One of the things that is going on at this time is the re-organisation of the multi-country offices.
“We are going to be working with them to have Antigua and Barbuda be one of the outposts and one of the offices within the system, where – it’s already been recommended as we pushed hard for that last year – we would have a little more direct relationship, direct communication, direct contact with the system,” Ambassador Webson explained.
He spoke on the rehabilitation project that the UNDP has been executing post-Hurricane Irma, saying that public concern about the slow speed of the work has not fallen on deaf ears.
“We also want to, of course, stand on the work and services that we are getting as a nation – Antigua and Barbuda. The UNDP has worked in response to Hurricane Irma, but we as a nation, have complained how slow that work is. We intend to pay some more attention to that and see.
“The Prime Minister himself, last September, we organised a meeting and he was able to address that with them. We are going to have UNDP respond more positively,” Webson said.
The Ambassador also shared a few of the other projects that will be undertaken by the UN in Antigua and Barbuda.
“There are a number of programmes that are afoot. There is an agricultural programme that Antigua should benefit from; there are programmes with youth that we hope that Antigua will benefit from; the UNOPS innovation center programme – we intend to make this year, 2020, a takeoff year,” he added.
“I think from each of those three agencies, we will benefit. There is a housing project that UNOPS is going to be doing within the OECS and Antigua and Barbuda will be benefiting from that as well.”
Ambassador Webson previously served as Vice-President of the joint boards of the UNDP, UNFPA and the UNOPS in 2019, and was the President of UNICEF in 2017.