Caricom heads commit to decision on new secretary general shortly

Caricom Heads of Government have agreed to interview the short-listed candidates for the post of Caricom Secretary General within the next two weeks and committed to making a decision on the matter shortly after.

The commitment was given in the communiqué issued yesterday at the conclusion of the 32nd Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Caricom Heads of Government (HoG), but there was no definite time for the Heads to make their announcement.  The HoG meeting was held in Frigate Bay, St Kitts and Nevis from June 30 to July 4.

At the meeting, the Heads also received an initial report and held discussions with the team of consultants on the ongoing review of the Caricom Secretariat.  “They looked forward to further interaction with the team during their in-country consultations and to receiving their final report before the end of the year,” the communiqué said.

St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister and Caricom Chairman Dr Denzil L Douglas (left) and Caricom Acting Secretary General Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite cut the St Kitts and Nevis cake as Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit; Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse; Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart; Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Dr Baldwin Spencer; President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo and St Vincent and the Grenadines, Foreign Minister Douglas Slater look on. (SKN Vibes photo)

The review of the secretariat is supposed to be the first in a series of initiatives mandated by the Heads of Government towards improving governance arrangements within Caricom. According to the communiqué, the review of the secretariat will be followed by a review of all organizations and institutions established within the community.

According to the communiqué, the Heads of Government welcomed the entry into force of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), establishing the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The headquarters for this will be established in Trinidad and Tobago.  CARPHA is intended to advance the realization, embodied in the Nassau Declaration signed ten years ago (2001): “the Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region”. In this regard, it is expected to highlight the opportunity costs of pursuing public health functions in a consolidated way, rather than as disparate entities, as existed until now, that duplicate efforts and dilute the public health objectives for which they were designed.

In relation to security, the Heads adopted the ‘Caricom Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons’ as the regional mechanism in the collective effort to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition.  It was agreed that they would “implement all necessary actions at the national and regional level to fully combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition”. They also agreed to empower national and regional security entities with the necessary capacities to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, as well as other elements of transnational organized crime, including in the areas of border control, intelligence gathering and forensics.

Meanwhile, at the meeting concerns were expressed that the USA continues to place several of the countries of the Caribbean Community on either Tier II or the Tier II Watchlist for Trafficking in Persons, noting that countries that are placed on the Tier II Watchlist for three successive years will be subject to sanctions by the USA. “This unilateral rating is likely to affect several Caricom countries,” the communiqué stated.

“The Heads of Government deplored that despite consultation with US authorities, the reports of Trafficking in Persons issued by the United States State Department continued to contain many allegations that could not be substantiated as the required evidence was not provided,” the communiqué said. It reiterated Caricom’s invitation to the US government to engage in meaningful dialogue on this issue with member states.

A strong commitment to combatting the crime of trafficking in persons was once again expressed by the Heads, who underlined that they have adopted and implemented policies of prevention, prosecution and victim protection in their respective member states.

At the meeting, preparations for the upcoming United Nations 17th Climate Change Conference (COP 17) – 28 November to 9 December 2011, in Durban, South Africa were also discussed. Caricom expressed the hope that this round of negotiations would result in a balanced outcome which adequately addresses the issues core to the interests of the community. “They agreed to the establishment of a team of experts to draft a regional plan of action to guide regional negotiators within the fora of the UNFCCC,” the communiqué said.

Meanwhile, the meeting saw a welcoming of the imminent establishment of C@ribnet by the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) in member states. This regional research and education network will provide social bandwidth to connect education and research institutions throughout the region, facilitating among other things, increased access to tertiary education and collaboration in providing health care. C@ribnet will also link to other similar networks throughout the world thus providing global reach to such collaboration.

It was also agreed that the prime ministerial sub-committee on cricket should engage the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) in an effort to resolve their ongoing dispute. This sub-committee comprises Heads of Government of Antigua and Barbuda (Chair), Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Chair of the Conference as an ex officio member (St Kitts and Nevis).

The meeting was presided over by St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas. Other attendees of the conference were: Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Baldwin Spencer;  Bahamas Prime Minister  Hubert  Ingraham; Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart; Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit; Prime Minister of Grenada Tillman Thomas; President Bharrat Jagdeo; President of the Republic of Haiti Michel Martelly; Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding; Chief Minister of Montserrat Reuben Meade; Saint Lucia Prime Minister  Stephenson King; President of Suriname Desiré Bouterse; and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Minister of Foreign Affair and Foreign Trade of Belize Wilfred Elrington represented that country, while St Vincent and the Grenadines was also represented by its Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Douglas Slater. Anguilla, an associate member of Caricom, was represented by its Chief Minister Hubert Benjamin.

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