CARICOM will continue to offer solutions to the world – Sen. Johnson Smith

COFCOR Chair, Senator the Hon Kamina Johnson Smith, addresses the opening ceremony. At left is outgoing COFCOR Chair, the Hon Chet Greene

(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will continue to offer Caribbean-grown solutions to the world, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith said on 16 May in Kingston, Jamaica.

Premising that view against the myriad global challenges which impact CARICOM countries, she said that it is incumbent on CARICOM Foreign Ministers to work with development partners and like-minded states, “to achieve equitable meaningful solutions from which the benefits can redound to our people throughout the region.”

Minister Johnson Smith was at the time addressing the 26th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) in her capacity as Chair of the two-day meeting which concluded on 17 May.

She said that while CARICOM welcomes the recent World Health Organisation’s announcement that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, the war in Ukraine has passed the one-year mark, and CARICOM continues to feel the effects of geo-political tension including food and energy insecurity.

“The pernicious impacts of climate change as well as other issues such as transnational crime, continue to threaten communities and daily lives. Together with the developmental losses incurred by the pandemic, these interlocking crises underscore the vulnerability of developing countries, and especially Small Island Developing States (SIDS),” she said.

The Jamaican Foreign Minister reminded her colleagues that CARICOM’s strength in working with extra-regional partners lies in its cohesion.

“The COFCOR’s role in defining the Region’s place in the world through strategic engagement of bilateral partners and hemispheric and multilateral institutions, is key to the elevation of the Caribbean voice and world view on the international stage. And with that voice, we will continue to offer the world Caribbean-grown solutions, while championing the interests of the sixteen million citizens who make up our Community, across the fifteen Members and five Associate Members,” Senator Johnson Smith stated.

She also underscored the need for COFCOR’s decisions “to benefit from active Community engagement.”

With full participation and active engagement of CARICOM stakeholders in decision-making, she said the Council for CARICOM Foreign Ministers “can better equip” itself to realise the vision enunciated in Article 16 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

In his address to the meeting, outgoing Chair of the Council, the Hon. E.P Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, expressed similar sentiments highlighting the need for “strong community engagement” through which people can “express their talents and innovative capabilities to further lend to Regional development.”

He called on the Community to “continue the work of the signatories of the original Treaty of Chaguaramas, in advancing the Caribbean region’s economies, uplifting the standard of living for citizens, while strengthening the process of integration.”

Noting the importance of telling the CARICOM story, he said it is especially important for the excellent work of the Community to be echoed across the Region and throughout the globe, “given that we are about to celebrate 50 years as an organisation.”

Minister Greene lauded the role the CARICOM Secretariat has played, noting,

“… we must once again thank the CARICOM Secretariat for the tremendous work it has done over the years in growing this institution, which is the oldest surviving institution in this hemisphere and the developing world,” the Minister said.

Both Minister Johnson Smith and Minister Greene highlighted the need for the solutions to the crisis in Haiti to be driven by the people of Haiti.

“Ultimately, the decision on the direction of Haiti depends primarily upon the citizens; therefore, there must be national consensus within Haiti while those of us in the wider region are called upon to demonstrate patience and parallel support to allow for the self-determination of the Haitian people,” Minister Greene stated.

“We are agreed that CARICOM will not allow Haiti to be forgotten in its time of greatest need. The COFCOR will discuss next steps as the Community continues to fulfill its Good Offices role and explore options for technical and security assistance,” Minister Johnson Smith said.

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