HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 22 May 2024


HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 22 May 2024

As is the custom at the start of each Cabinet meeting, prayers were rendered by a Minister of Religion.

1. The Cabinet held a discussion of the success of the judgment rendered by the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), as reported in Monday’s newspapers and all across the globe on websites and social media platforms.  Eight island-countries, led by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Honourable Gaston Browne, sought a declaratory judgment from the Court of the Law of the Sea. They sought to have the Court determine that the dumping of billions of tons of unwanted greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by developed countries, for many decades, could be deemed adding harmful substances to the oceans and could cause liability to arise among the polluting states under the Law of the Sea Treaty.  The Prime Minister argued that their dumping resulted in the warming of the seas, the melting of ice in the mountainous regions at both poles, and damage to coral reefs, spurring global climate change, and inflicting natural disasters and significant harm on small island-developing states (SIDS). The ITLOS found in favour of the SIDS. The Cabinet gave consideration to seeking similar judgments in other world courts, in order to strengthen the charge of liability, and to compel finding solutions to replace the burning of fossil fuels in such great amounts.

2.  The Cabinet invited the Antigua and Barbuda Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the Director of Culture to address: i. the readiness of the UN (Small Island Developing States) SIDS4 venue; and, ii. the program put in place to provide entertainment at the opening ceremony and in the evenings following. The Cabinet was advised that the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights are the best for hosting cultural events; the Conference ends on Thursday afternoon. The United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will also add to the variety of the cultural offerings which will be made available to all. Thus far, 3,200 delegates are registered; 300 delegates who are not yet registered are expected to join, plus at least 500 Antigua and Barbuda nationals will be present. Accommodations of a high standard have been arranged for all visiting delegates. 800 delegates have chosen AirBnB accommodation. The Conference will hold an opening ceremony on Monday morning 27 May 2024 at 9:00 am. Each country, including Antigua and Barbuda, is allowed 4 seats in the Conference Hall. Antigua and Barbuda has identified its 4, who will be relieved from time-to-time by alternates. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Information, the Minister of Works, Ambassador Webson and Ambassador Karen-Mae Hill, will comprise the national delegation. The Prime Minister is deemed the President of the Conference and not a member of the delegation. 25 international media are already present in Antigua. Security will also be tightly controlled at the venue, and on the sea, land and air. Sniffer dogs, drones, motorbikes, marked and unmarked Police cars will ensure the safety of the delegates. The Cabinet will travel to the venue to make its own assessment.

3. Three of six professionals who were selected by the Cabinet to carry out research on the impact of marijuana use on youth, were invited to give an interim report on the structuring of their methodology and presentation of their findings. The research which the team will conduct is to take into account the change in the law, three years ago, which decriminalized possession of 15 grams of the substance, and allowed for four trees to be grown at homes. The anecdotal findings that more youth are experimenting with the substance will be determined by scientific approaches and guarantees of confidentiality. The university professor, who is one of the three professionals appearing on Wednesday, will play a major role in designing the methodology.

4. The Minister of Health reported to Cabinet that he visited the St. Paul’s Clinic with a senior employee of the Ministry of Works. A costing of the repairs required will be undertaken and the necessary monies secured immediately afterwards to complete the uplift of the building. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is also the representative of St. Paul, noted that the Clinic in Liberta requires major repairs. It was agreed that repairs will be carried out to the satisfaction of the representative following the SIDS4 Conference.

5. The Minister of Sports reported that the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is in excellent shape following rehabilitation by repairmen who fixed toilets, replaced broken lights, painted the walls, replaced electrical fixtures, repaired the electronic boards/t.v. screens, and cleaned the property. Antigua and Barbuda now enjoys having three professional cricket fields. The Antigua Recreation Grounds and the Coolidge Cricket Stadium are also to be used for practice matches. This places Antigua ahead of its other Caribbean island-nations. The T20 World Cup is scheduled to commence in June and several matches are to be played in Antigua.

6. The Cabinet commended the many officials and artistes who made CARIBANA 2024 in Barbuda a tremendous success. The functions were well attended and the support of the Codrington community was very evident. Hundreds of Antiguans and others traveled by air and sea to the sister isle for the celebrations. They enjoyed themselves, the Cabinet was informed.

7. The Cabinet expresses its condolences to the family of Sergeant of Police Fitzroy Atlee, who died days ago following a prolonged illness. Special sympathies to his wife, Mrs. Muff Atlee, who faithfully served him up until the very end. May his soul rest in peace.

8. The Cabinet has learned that 93 year old former Police Commissioner Sir Wright George has been hospitalized for a week. Get well wishes were expressed by the Cabinet to his family, to the Police fraternity and others.

9. Cabinet will meet again next Friday, 31 May 2024, following the end of the SIDS4 Conference.

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