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Delegation from Saint Kitts and Nevis Returns from 45th Annual Conference of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

A delegation representing the National Assembly of Saint Christopher and the Nevis Island Assembly attended the 45th Annual Conference of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the Turks and Caicos Islands from July 21st to 28th, 2023. The conference, which was held in Providenciales, was held under the theme “Building a Resilient Region in the Face of Global Challenges”.

L-R: Hon.Michelle Slack-Clarke; Hon. M. Jahnel Nisbett; Ms. Trevlyn Stapleton; Hon. Lanein Blanchette

The Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) was a blend of several related conferences and gatherings which includes: the 13th Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference, 45th Annual Conference of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region of the CPA, Meeting of the Clerks of the Region, 16th Regional Youth Parliament, and the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The delegation from the National Assembly of Saint Christopher and Nevis was led by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Lanein Blanchette. Other members of the delegation included the Attorney-General and Senator, Hon. Garth Wilkin, and the Clerk of the National Assembly, Ms. Trevlyn Stapleton. Leading the delegation from the Nevis Island Assembly was the President of the Nevis Island Assembly, Hon. Michelle Slack-Clarke. Other Members of the Nevis Island delegation included Senator Hon. M. Jahnel Nisbett and the Clerk of the Nevis Island Assembly, Ms. Myra Williams. Three youth parliamentarians from Nevis Island also attended, Mr. Patrice Nisbett II, M. Charlyn Myers, and Mr. Mikkel Meloney.

The annual conference brings Speakers, Clerks, and Legislators from the Caribbean, Americas, and Atlantic Region together to discuss pressing issues affecting their respective legislative branches of government and to hold the Annual General Meeting of the Regional arm of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

L-R: President of the Island Nevis Assembly Hon. Michelle Slack-Clarke; Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly Hon. Lanein Blanchette

Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Lanein Blanchette said that “the CPA Conference allowed me the opportunity to interact, in a meaningful way, with experienced Speakers from throughout the region. I’ve learned so much from them and plan to bring best practices back to the National Assembly. The effective and efficient operation of parliaments is of utmost importance in the functioning of democratic societies. We have to stay on our toes and be innovative. Conferences like this provide that opportunity to freshen our skills, expand our ideas, and learn from the mistakes and successes of our regional colleagues.”

Members of both delegations presented at the Conference on various topics of common regional interest and the youth parliamentarians held a mock debate, which was identified by the various delegates as being “thrilling” and “an example that the future of parliaments is in safe hands”.

“Senator Nisbett of the Nevis Island Assembly facilitated an engaging and memorable presentation at Session Two of the CWP roundtable discussions on the current experiences of women in parliament across the regions. During the exercises, the Senator skillfully influenced the CWP to look at their realities on the ground so areas of work could be identified” said the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Lanein Blanchette.

The Nevis Delegation

“Furthermore, I am delighted with the positive feedback received from the respective presentations made by the Clerk of the National Assembly of Saint Christopher and Nevis and the Clerk of Nevis Island Assembly at the Meeting of the Clerks of the Region. Clerk Trevlyn Stapleton spoke on the Importance of Experience and Training for Parliamentary Staff and Personnel: use of internal and external workshops and seminars; detailed succession planning; and mentorship programme for new and younger staff. While Clerk Myra Williams spoke on the Challenges of Clerking in Smaller Parliaments (Resources, staffing, professionalism, etc.). I am advised that both presentations concluded with fruitful discourse amongst the Clerks of the Region. Their shared expertise and understanding signify that our Clerks are in touch with the intricate procedures and administrative functioning of their respective Office of the Clerk.”

“The Speaker’s presentation on How can Parliaments in Small Jurisdictions Promote Democracy and Confidence within a Country i.e. the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, and the people was thought-provoking and sparked much discussion about the separation of powers in our Westminster-styled constitutions, and what that means from a practical perspective. These are not just talk-shops, conferences such as this provided us with ideas we can implement in the National Assembly and matters which can be discussed fulsomely during the upcoming constitutional reform discussions. I was also pleased that the Clerk of the National Assembly of Saint Christopher and Nevis, and the Clerk of the Nevis Island Assembly, were both separately elected to serve on the Executive Committee for the next 3 years” said the Attorney-General, the Hon. Garth Wilkin.

L-R: Clerk Ms. Trevlyn Stapleton; Speaker Hon. Lanein Blanchette; Senator Hon. M. Jahnel Nisbett; President Hon. Michelle Slack-Clarke

“The Conference was exceptional. It highlighted the fact that legislators, particularly in our region, experience similar issues and can share ideas for improving the efficiency of our respective law-making bodies” said the Attorney-General, the Hon. Garth Wilkin.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s mission is to promote knowledge of the constitutional, legislative, economic, social, and cultural aspects of parliamentary democracy, with particular reference to the countries of the Commonwealth. It is one of the oldest established organizations in the Commonwealth. Founded in 1911, it is a membership association that brings together Members, irrespective of gender, race, religion, or culture, who are united by a community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, and by the pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy.

The Association is made up of over 180 legislatures (or Branches) divided up between nine geographic regions of the Commonwealth. It offers a vast opportunity for Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to collaborate on issues of mutual interest and to share good practices.

The conference in the Turks and Caicos Islands is the first that Caribbean, Americas, and Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association held since 2019. The 2024 conference is scheduled to be held in Antigua and Barbuda.