EMBASSY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS AND PERMANENT MISSION TO THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
In 1973, following the attainment of independence, The Bahamas embarked on a journey of increased international engagement, establishing formal diplomatic relations with the United States of America. The forging of diplomatic ties between the two countries served as impetus for the future development of US/Bahamas bilateral relations, and paved the way for the reciprocal establishment of the United States and Bahamas Embassies in Nassau, Bahamas and Washington, D.C., respectively.
The Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, first located in the Watergate Complex, was founded in December, 1973, under the ambassadorship of H.E. Livingstone B. Johnson. Ambassador Johnson was bestowed the high honour of becoming the first Bahamian Ambassador to the United States, having been accredited to the post by former US President, Richard Nixon, on 9th November, 1973. He was subsequently joined in 1974 by a cadre of diplomatic officers from The Bahamas Foreign Service. During the Embassy’s first years of operation, Ambassador Johnson and members of the diplomatic staff dedicated much time planning, organizing and developing The Bahamas’ presence in Washington, D.C. These years were also characterized as a critical period of training, learning and familiarization, as the Embassy sought to achieve greater understanding of the United States and the intricacies of international diplomacy.
In pursuit of strengthening its hemispheric association, and congruent with the principles and purposes of the Organization of American States (OAS), The Bahamas obtained membership to the premier regional body in 1982. Accession to the OAS was achieved during the diplomatic tenure of H.E. Reginald Wood, who succeeded Ambassador Johnson in 1980. Consequently, the Embassy assumed a dual functional role as Permanent Mission of The Bahamas to the OAS, which enabled Ambassador Wood and future Ambassadors to assume the title of Permanent Representative. It was in April, 1982, that Ambassador Wood became the first Bahamian to chair the Permanent Council of the OAS.
During the years 1986 to 1992, Margaret McDonald served as the first female Ambassador of The Bahamas to the United States. During Her Excellency’s ambassadorial stint, the Embassy re-located to the famous “Embassy Row”, where The Bahamas Government acquired property at 2220 Massachusetts Avenue in 1990. Since its establishment, the Embassy has housed 8 Ambassadors: Timothy B. Donaldson (1992-1995), Sir Arlington Butler (1996-2000), Joshua Sears (2000-2006), Cornelius A. Smith (2007-2012), Eugene G. Newry (September, 2013 to the present).
In August, 2013, the Government of The Bahams appointed H.E. Dr. Eugene G. Newry, who on 3rd December, 2013, following the presentation of his credentials to President Barack Obama, became the eighth Ambassador of The Bahamas to the United States. Currently serving as Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the OAS is H.E. Dr. Elliston Rahming. Dr. Rahming presented his credentials to OAS Secretary General H.E. José Miguel Insulza on 6th May, 2013. Ambassador Newry is joined in Washington, D.C. by Mrs. Paulette Zonicle, Consul General of the Embassy Consular Annex.
The Embassy has actively pursued The Bahamas’ bilateral relationship with the United States in an effort to uphold the country’s long standing political, economic, social and cultural partnership with its closest neighbour. The Embassy has also played an instrumental role in promoting and advancing The Bahamas’ national interests in Washington, D.C., and has made significant contribution to the OAS on issues of hemispheric importance. Moreover, throughout its forty one years of existence, the Embassy has provided ongoing consular assistance to Bahamian nationals within its jurisdiction.