Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has called on his Caribbean Community (CARICOM) colleagues to determine what needs to be retained, reclaimed or discarded in order for the regional grouping to fulfill its “immense” promise.
In his final address as Chairman of CARICOM, Stuart borrowed from his speech at the launch of the 50th anniversary of Independence at which he called on Barbadians to determine what the nation had lost that needed to be reclaimed; what had not been lost that needed to be retained; and what had not been lost that need to be discarded.
“I will take the liberty here of adapting them to the CARICOM context. In order for CARICOM to fulfil its immense promise, first, we should look at the strengths of our movement and seek to retain them at all costs; second, we must look backward at important elements that we have lost in the regional integration movement and seek to reclaim them; third, we must look inward at our movement to carefully identify those aspects that hinder us, which we can discard, and should do so with some urgency,” the outgoing Chairman said last night at the opening of the 27th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in Placencia, Belize.
He also advised the leaders to determine what new or different measures that ought to adopt urgently “to ensure that our movement remains both vibrant and relevant in this 21st century, but more importantly, that it remains a sustainable project that continues to meet the needs of the people of the Caribbean”.
Stuart added CARICOM’s decision-making needed to be “orderly and rigorous” in order to deliver “the regional public goods” that the people of the Caribbean expected.
“In this context, I was especially satisfied that at our last meeting we adopted some clear rules about how the conference takes and implements its decisions,” he told his fellow heads of government.
“To add to this welcome development, I am pleased to note that we will be considering, during this present session, the formal draft rules of procedure for our conference which we hope to adopt in July. I understand that this may have the outward appearance of a minor piece of procedural pettifogging. But the rigour of our decision-making is directly linked to the quality of implementation, and, of course, our decision-making must at all times be able to withstand the scrutiny of institutions like the Caribbean Court of Justice, that of the people of the region, and indeed, of the world.”
The February 16 and 17 summit examines a number of issues of concern to the region, including the threats posed by the ZIKA virus, regional security, the implementation of climate change measures coming out of the COP 21 Paris Climate Change Conference for Small Island Developing States and issues affecting the banking sector in the Caribbean.