Sunday, December 17, 2017

New UN representative ready to work


committed: Rodney Charles

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Newly-appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Rodney Charles said he is looking forward to assuming his position in New York, USA.

However the 61-year-old who was born and bred in this country has no intention of permanently migrating to the Big Apple, which he has visited on numerous occasions.

"I am however looking forward to my temporary relocation for a period as determined by our Government, serving at all times the interests of the people of Trinidad and Tobago," he said in an interview yesterday.

Charles received his letter of appointment from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar prior to the post Cabinet press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair on Thursday.

Charles, who has been married for the past 32 years, will be accompanied by his wife to New York. The couple has four children, a systems engineer in Houston, USA, an attorney, a medical student and another who graduated with a degree in computing, none of whom will be accompanying them.

The former communications director of the United National Congress (UNC) said he is honoured and humbled to be called upon by Persad-Bissessar to serve this country in this new capacity.

"I am committed to serve with honour, integrity and dignity. I see this appointment as an opportunity to advance our national interests on the international stage," he said.

"I am advised that the UN Headquarters in New York produces in excess of 250 pages of resolutions annually. Given the enormous scope and complexity of issues considered, it is important for me, in collaboration with the Ministry, to prioritise and focus on those relevant to Trinidad and Tobago.

"The Prime Minister in her recent address to the UN General Assembly Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York articulated very succinctly Trinidad and Tobago's official position on these UN goals and these perspectives together with policies emanating from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will provide a framework for articulating our position at the UN."

Charles who has been with the College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) 2001 is at present the Senior Policy Adviser to the president of COSTAATT, Emmanuel Gonsalves.

Prior to that, he served as the Marketing and Public Relations Consultant to the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP in 2007), and to the United Workers Party in St Lucia from 2004 to 2005.

From 1986-2000 he served in various fields at the National Petroleum (NP) Company including Manager Retail Marketing, Head of Public Relations and Advertising, Head of Property Management, Head of Public Relations and Management and Public Relations Officer. He started his public relations career at Trintoc from 1980 to 1986 where he served as public relations assistant. His first job however was a Research Officer at the Ministry of Education from 1976-1980.

The public relations specialist admitted to not having extensive experience in an international relations capacity, but he said he is abreast and informed on a range of contemporary issues like climate change, sustainable development, the illicit use and trafficking of drugs, the convention on the rights of the child, and the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights.

"Thirty five years ago while completing my post graduate degree in Canada I did internships at the White House, the US State Department and twice at the UN," he said.

"That's a long time ago, but there are some things you never forget and I am a very fast learner. I have changed more than seven careers in my lifetime…teaching geography at Cowen Hamilton, researching at the Ministry of Education, public relations in the energy sector, retail marketing at NP, political consulting locally and in the Caribbean and up to quite recently chairing an academic department and subsequently advising on policy initiatives at the tertiary level.

"For example in the 90s while in NP's employ I was a member of the National Organisation Committee for OLADE. These meetings included Energy Ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean. I was the chairman of the Social Events Committee. Prior to that, in the late 1970s I was a member of the Trinidad and Tobago delegation to UNESCO held in Paris where topics including the new world information order were discussed.

"I have been spending the last few days getting up to speed on the issues at the UN and Trinidad and Tobago's position on these challenges."

Before taking up his new assignment in New York Charles will spend time at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, especially in the Multilateral Relations Division.