QUESTIONS have been raised about the identity and contribution to St Lucia of Gilbert RamezChagoury who was conferred with the nation’s second highest honour, The St Lucia Cross, in the recent Independence awards.
THE VOICE has obtained and publishes today the citation for the award prepared by Government-appointed Committee which made the award. It reads as follows:
The Saint Lucia Cross
His Excellency Mr. Gilbert RamezChagoury
(For distinguished and outstanding services of natural importance to
Ambassador Gilbert RamezChagoury was born in Nigeria to Lebanese parents. He was educated at the College des Freres in Lebanon and upon the completion of his studies returned to Nigeria where he distinguished himself as a businessman, a humanitarian and diplomat.
His many acts of philanthropy caught the attention of the Roman Catholic Church, leading to his award of the honour of Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 1990, and the award of the Grand Cross of the Order by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Through his links with the Church he was introduced to the Government of Saint Lucia and subsequently appointed, in 1995, as Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Saint Lucia to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) headquartered in Paris, and later as Ambassador at the Permanent Mission of Saint Lucia to the United Nations Office in Geneva. Ambassador Chagoury also serves as the Prime Minister’s Permanent Representative to the Francophonie International Organization, to which Saint Lucia was admitted in 1981. In 2005, he was appointed Ambassador of Saint Lucia to the Holy See, otherwise known as The Vatican, and presented his Letters of Credence to the Holy Father on December 1 of that year.
His commitment to Saint Lucian’s national economic growth and development has been demonstrated over the past twenty years by his untiring efforts as Permanent Delegate to ensure that we had full and active representation on UNESCO’s Executive Board and Committees. Indeed, he gave the country such a high profile that when Saint Lucia offered its candidacy for membership on the Executive Board it was elected with the highest individual score among the Caribbean and Latin American countries, and became the first Caribbean state to have a seat on that international organization.
His successful representation secured for Saint Lucia a number of UNESCO positions. For six years Saint Lucia has been a member of the Executive Board, serving as Vice-Chairman in 2000. For another four years Saint Lucia sat on the World Heritage Committee, serving as Chair of the 27th Session of the Committee in 2003, and as Vice-Chair at its 28th Session in Suzhou, China in 2004 when our Pitons were placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Saint Lucia has also served as Chair of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; as Chair of the Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts for the negotiation of the Recommendation on the “Historic Urban Landscape”, as Chair of the Drafting Group of the International Convention against Doping in Sport; and as Chair of the Group of Experts on Finance and Administrative Matters. In 2009-2010 Saint Lucia held the Presidency of the Ad Hoc Group on the Independent External Evaluation of UNESCO, and in 2014, the Presidency of the Extraordinary Session of the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. Currently, Saint Lucia is a member of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and a member of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Here at home the National Commission for UNESCO, which falls under the portfolio of the Ministry of Education, has been kept very active, in large measure due to the vibrant representation of the UNESCO Saint Lucia Office under Ambassador Chagoury’s leadership and guidance.
Within the Francophonie International Organisation, Saint Lucia’s contribution and participation has sometimes been described as being out of all proportion to its size.. Programmes aimed at the promotion of both the French language and the Creole language here in Saint Lucia including the increasingly popular “Francophonie Week” or “Semaine de la Francophonie” administered by the Saint Lucia National Commission for UNESCO, attest to the significant contribution that Ambassador Chagoury and the Mission continues to make towards the social, educational and cultural development of Saint Lucia.
For the past twenty years Ambassador Chagoury has served in our country’s diplomatic service, funding the entire operations and staffing of the Missions that he heads at no cost to the Government and People of Saint Lucia. For the distinguished and outstanding service he has rendered to Saint Lucia, he has been awarded, in the thirty-sixth year of our Independence, the Saint Lucia Cross of the Order or Saint Lucia, on an honorary basis, in accordance with the provisions of Section 9(5) of our National Honours and Awards Act.