The Prime Minister’s Lecture Series is one of the highlights of events to mark the 30th anniversary of Independence, which is being celebrated under the theme “Stability, Creativity and Prosperity.”
Mr. Isaac made history in 2012 when he became the first career diplomat to be appointed High Commissioner for St Kitts and Nevis to London.
A rising star at the foreign ministry, Isaac is no run-of-the-mill envoy. A published poet, he has written two volumes of verse – a talent he discovered thanks to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after he won an FCO-sponsored a poetry competition while on a Chevening Scholarship.
Describing his poems as “verbal snapshots” he is inspired by the many people he has met and places he has visited as a student and during his 20-year diplomatic career. Calling himself a “professional student” the High Commissioner has studied in England, Trinidad, Barbados and France.
Yet one place figures larger than most: the island of Haiti. As strategic political advisor to the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS in Washington, Isaac visited the Caribbean island at least six times as part of the organization’s efforts to promote good governance in Haiti.
“We were making great progress, but the devastating earthquake in 2010 has set the island back in development terms by many years,” he explains.
Not long after the disaster, the High Commissioner published his second volume of poetry, Memories in Serenade. “I had a book signing at the OAS and I donated all the proceeds of the sales of the book to underprivileged children in Haiti,” he says.
During his career, the High Commissioner has developed an expertise in multilateral diplomacy. He spent a total of 11 years in Washington, first as deputy head of mission, with responsibility for consular affairs, relations with the White House and the OAS, and later he moved to work at the OAS, where he had responsibility as an advisor and coordinator for the OAS country offices in 28 member states.
Prior to his Washington posting, he was the DPR at the United Nations where he deputized for a non-resident Ambassador and was forced to learn the ropes of top-level diplomacy very quickly.
“In a globalised world, multilateralism is a necessity for a small state if you want to make your voice heard,” says the High Commissioner.
Now in London, he works closely with the Commonwealth, which is a supporter of small states. He is particularly keen on exploring areas of cooperation such as preventative public health care and skills training for young people.
Lobbying Britain and the EU together with his CARICOM colleagues on areas such as trade and economic resilience is also be a crucial aspect of his work in London, he adds.
“We have to be proactive in our diplomacy and in our strategic development plans. We cannot afford react to global trends; we must anticipate things and prepare for them. It is difficult when you are a small country with limited resources to take on the behemoths of the world, but if we work together, it becomes easier to address these challenges.”
And the challenges are becoming increasingly difficult for small Caribbean states, he says.
The withdrawal of preferential access to EU markets led St Kitts and Nevis to “bite the bullet” and abandon its sugar industry several years ago and focus on the services industry.
Previous speakers included Kittitian Scientist, Dr. Allan Somersall; University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Professor, Kittitian Dr. Frank Mills; prominent Kittitan and Caribbean Jurist and former High Court Judge, Dr. J. S. Archibald; UVI Professor Kittitian Dr. Vincent Cooper; Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Colombia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Kittitian Dr. Spencer Amory; Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Nevisian Dr. Jessica Byron and the Nevisian-born then Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, His Lordship, the Hon. Mr. Justice Hugh Rawlins.
Press Release from Erasmus Williams (CUOPM)