Outgoing CARICOM Secretary-General, Sir Edwin Carrington was hailed for his accomplishments during his 18-year stint heading the regional body at an Evening of Appreciation held at the Pegasus Hotel on Friday.
Carrington demits office on December 31. Leading the tributes at the event, Chair-man of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding hailed Carrington’s service to the Region, a press release from the CARICOM Secretariat, said. Golding, in a recorded message, pointed out that Carrington had focused his energies on bringing the benefits of integration to the people of the Region, a point to which Secretary-General Carrington himself alluded in his response to the tributes.
Guyana’s Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said that the Secretary-General performed very well the arduous task of promoting Caribbean interests for almost four decades in the various offices he held. He also pointed to the disappointments that Carrington referred to which included the lack of implementation of some of the decisions taken at the Community level. “I would hope, as he also does, that our search for more successful forms of governance will lead to new arrangements and structures which will overcome the present difficulties and provide better service to Member States,” Hinds said, according to the release.
The Prime Minister also spoke of the challenging role of the Secretary-General, as laid out in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, and pointed out that the Secretary-General had to represent the Community in various fora, see to the implementation of its decisions, monitor and report on its progress, initiate or develop proposals for the consideration of the membership, undertake relevant studies and reports, mobilise resources for the Community and, “as specified in the customary catch-all clause, fulfill such other functions as assigned by the Conference or other competent organs”.
In her tribute to Carrington, Deputy Secretary-General Lolita Applewhaite said that during his time at the Secretariat, he was the “embodiment of selfless commitment and dedication to the cause of building a Caribbean Community in which our citizens, their children and their children’s children can aspire to a better quality of life.”
She referred to the dedication to duty, the enthusiasm, perseverance and stamina, vision and diplomatic finesse that he brought to “the arduous and sometimes seemingly thankless task of Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community”, the release said.
“As leader and Chief Executive Officer of the CARICOM Secretariat, Sir Edwin’s dedication to duty has been second to none. He led by example and was meticulous in carrying out his responsibilities to the Region. The enthusiasm, perseverance and stamina which he displayed were inspirational to staff at all levels. The anecdotes are legion about working for several hours along with the SG to ensure that every aspect of a paper, a speech, a tribute, preparation for negotiations and meetings, was just right. He pushed himself to the limit – even beyond the limit, in the estimation of most of us – in the pursuit of perfection,” she was quoted as saying.
Jennifer Britton, President of the CARICOM Secretariat Staff Association, in her remarks, spoke of Carrington’s politeness, his inspiration, quiet power “which kept us all in check even when he was absent from the building”, his love for his family, sports and reading. “There are many more insights that could be shared – suffice to say – he was a visionary, a risk-taker, a problem-solver, a change agent, a decision-makers, comrade, and to some, a friend,” she said
Responding to the tributes, Carrington expressed gratitude for the kind sentiments. “Whatever I have done or is said that I have done, has been with one objective in mind – to improve the quality of life of the people of this Region,” he told the gathering of diplomats, special invitees, staff members, and friends. He said that he will always treasure the tremendous hospitality of the government and people of Guyana.
“To the many Heads of Government whom I have served during my tenure, I can only hope that the service rendered was of the quality desired and in so saying I want to thank you for the honour and privilege that you granted me to serve four terms as Secretary-General. Your support has been crucial to whatever I have been able to achieve in these 18 years,” Sir Edwin said.
For “greatest thanks” he singled out his wife Lady Patricia Carrington “whose quiet, (and at times not so quiet!), forbearance has enabled me to survive these grueling years of public service away from home and family”. The support of his children has also been crucial, he added.
He also extended gratitude to the staff members of the CARICOM Secretariat. “We have shared joy, sorrow, heartbreak and all in between because of your commitment to the regional integration project. The hours are long, the rewards may not be what it should be materially but the dedication in ensuring that the Member States and Associate Members get the best service that we can provide has been a source of pride for me as head of the Organisation. You have been asked to perform miracles many times and as the British army says the difficult you do now, the impossible you do later. From the bottom of my heart a deep and sincere thank you to all of you who have served and continue to serve the Governments and Peoples of the Caribbean Community,” he said.
Musical renditions by staff members of the CARICOM Secretariat, and Dave Martins, a reading and the presentation of a gift to the Secretary-General were also part of the evening’s programme.