CARICOM records productive engagements at UNGA
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers took full advantage of the just-concluded 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly to strengthen diplomatic relations with members the global community.
They had a fruitful engagement with United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon on the Community’s priorities and developments in the UN, in a final exchange of views and ideas prior to him demitting office in December 2016. The UN SG lauded CARICOM’s strong partnership and thanked CARICOM Member States for their continued leadership in climate change and for their efforts to implement the 2030 sustainable development agenda. CARICOM noted the resource and capacity constraints in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Community had successful meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and Morocco in an effort to forge new relations and deepen existing ties to support regional development. In this regard, discussions were held with a representative from the Italian Ministry of the Environment regarding the implementation of an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CARICOM Member States, and with senior UN officials to discuss ongoing cooperation in security and elections.
CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Assistant Secretary-General of the Directorate of Foreign and Community Relations, Ambassador Colin Granderson and other representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat held productive discussions with the President of Costa Rica, His Excellency Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera.
A meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden culminated with the signing of a technical assistance MOU, as did discussions between Secretary-General LaRocque and the Commissioner of the International Exhibition EXPO-2017, Mr. Rapil Zhoshybayev. The parties signed an Agreement for Participation of CARICOM. The Exposition opens on 10 June 2017 for three months in Kazakhstan under the theme ‘Future Energy’.
CARICOM Heads and Foreign Ministers also carried out a number of bilateral meetings to pursue their particular national interests, complementary to those led by CARICOM collectively.
The Special session of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) on the margins of the UNGA, coordinated the Regions’ positions and strategies in the debate. Member States spoke in unison on the existential threat of climate change to Small Island Developing and low-lying coastal States (SIDS), and the barriers of access to funds for adaptation and mitigation.
As CARICOM continued to maximise the opportunity to articulate its positions on a range of global issues, it noted the danger of transnational threats to the Community’s security, and the need to promote the international fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – an initiative which the Community integrated into the global agenda.
On the economic front, they made sure the international community was aware that blacklisting the financial services sector of CARICOM, and the “de-risking” strategy initiated by some international banks, posed significant threats to the financial health of Member States. They also reiterated that barriers to concessionary financing for development created by “graduation” and “differentiation” instituted by developed countries, impeded development in CARICOM Member States.
The Community rallied behind Haiti in emphasising the human rights plight of Dominicans of Haitian descent who were rendered stateless by a Dominican Republican constitutional court ruling. It was also strong in its call for the UN to honour its moral responsibility to address cholera into Haiti, reparations for native genocide and slavery, and support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize and Guyana in their border issues with Guatemala and Venezuela respectively.