It is more than four decades since Carifta, the forerunner of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) was established, but despite the length of time it seems that the regional body cannot get their act together in many areas. First there are varying views about the freedom of movement and employment of Caribbean nationals in states other than their country of birth. Some governments ignore the Treaty of Chaguaramas – a Jamaican woman who was harrassed and denied entry to Barbados moved to the Caribbean Court of Justice which ruled in her favour and awarded substantial damages.
Now Caricom has failed to identify a single candidate as its nominee for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General. Guyana-born diplomat/academic/journalist, Sir Ronald Sanders, who is currently Antigua’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom has been nominated by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, and his candidature has been approved by most heads of government, but it is reported that Caricom is contemplating naming more than one person for that high and distinguished position.
Sir Ron who has had a distinguished career as a diplomat since 1982, is now serving his third term as Antigua and Barbuda High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. He was invited by US President Jimmy Carter to be a member of the Friends of Democratic Charter, and in 2010 was named as one of the ten members of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) which was requested by the Commonwealth Heads of Government to recommend options for reform that would sharpen the impact of the 53 nation grouping. Sir Ron was rapporteur and the report was submitted to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth, Australia in 2011. He is also a member of the Board of The Round Table of the Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs.
His vast experience would make him an excellent Commonwealth Secretary General, following in the footsteps of his father-in-law, Sir Shridath Ramphal, who served two consecutive terms in that distinguished office.
Since Caricom is unable to identify a single person Sanders has written to the Gaston Browne administration to withdraw his name as a candidate. In his letter Sir Ron said, “There is nothing I hold more strongly than the desire to advance the interests of the Caricom region and those of the Commonwealth… [my] working life in several Caribbean and Commonwealth capacities and my published writings bear testimony of that.” Sanders added that to be successful, “the region must have a single candidate and should not delay any longer its entry into a campaign which has already started by others. He concluded by saying, “I have no wish to be a part of a fragmented process in the Commonwealth Caribbean at a time when our need for unity is so urgent…”
It is regrettable that Sir Ron was not the region’s lone candidate because he is known in the Commonwealth for his outstanding work and had an excellent chance of being chosen for that prestigious office.