‘Caricom strongly endorses the calls of the UN Secretary General for the situation to be resolved through dialogue and not through the recourse to the use of military force or any other action which would violate international law. The report of the UN investigative team should be awaited in order to determine beyond a shadow of doubt the veracity of the use of chemical weapons.’
Caricom has announced its opposition to the use of military force to address the conflict in Syria and is calling for a valiant effort by all sides for a negotiated political settlement.
While the intention by the United States and other countries to strike Syria over the suspected use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime was not mentioned, the statement will be seen as a rebuke for Washington’s ongoing plan to seek congressional authorisation for a military strike against Damascus outside of a United Nations mandate.
The statement said that Caricom is closely monitoring the evolving developments in the two-year civil war in Syria, including the recent alarming allegations about the use of chemical weapons in that country and the reported deaths of over 1000 persons.
“Caricom condemns unreservedly the use of chemical weapons which is a gross contravention of international law including the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention. It also expresses its abhorrence of any such atrocity which would add a horrific dimension to an already brutal and bloody civil war,” it said.
The statement added that Caricom deplores the rising toll on civilians as over 100,000 persons have been killed and some 2 million Syrians have become refugees and it is concerned that any escalation of the protracted conflict can lead to a conflagration in a volatile region as well as exacerbate an already grave humanitarian crisis and increase the loss of life. Consequently, Caricom said it believes that the time has come for the international community to make a valiant effort to help the Syrian parties reach a negotiated political settlement to what appears to have become a stalemated conflict.
“Caricom therefore strongly endorses the calls of the UN Secretary General for the situation to be resolved through dialogue and not through the recourse to the use of military force or any other action which would violate international law. The report of the UN investigative team should be awaited in order to determine beyond a shadow of doubt the veracity of the use of chemical weapons. Caricom calls on all parties involved to work together to bring an end to the conflict,” it added.
The statement came as the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Caricom and Cuba was underway at Calivigny Island, Grenada yesterday.
‘An active role’
At the opening on Thursday evening, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Caroline Rodrigues-Birkett emphasised the need for the Caribbean to take an active role at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) debate on the post-2015 Agenda.
A statement from the Secretariat reported Rodrigues-Birkett as saying that later this month, when the UNGA debates open, countries would be called upon to engage in healthy dialogue on the future beyond the global development compact represented by the Millennium Development Goals. “We are looking forward to this discussion and it is our hope that we all take an active role in the deliberations with a view to ensuring that our region’s interests are adequately and effectively addressed,” she is quoted as saying.
Rodrigues-Birkett also told her Cuban counterpart that Caricom was pleased to witness changes to his country’s agriculture, private sector, tax, and economic policies. These changes, she said, attested to Cuba’s resilience, its ability to adapt and its commitment to pursuing a development path that benefitted not only the people of Cuba, but also the wider Caribbean. “In this regard, we will continue to advocate for the removal of the US embargo on Cuba. It is wrong and unjust,” she added.
Meanwhile, Caricom Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in his remarks, also alluded to the embargo. He noted that the Community had stood steadfastly with Cuba in hemispheric and international arenas on matters of great concern to the region. “Paramount among these is the Community’s continuing demand for the lifting of the US embargo,” he stated.
Ambassador LaRocque said that Caricom would continue to engage with other actors in pursuit of Cuba’s full participation in hemispheric affairs and “looks forward to the day when Cuba will be invited to take part in the Summit of the Americas process.”