CARICOM Council of Ministers meeting

Alicia Nicholls

The CARICOM Community Council of Ministers is currently having its 37th meeting in Georgetown, Guyana.  The Council is the second highest organ of the Community (after the Conference of the Heads of Government) and has primary responsibility for the development of Community strategic planning and coordination in the areas of economic integration, functional cooperation and external relations.

According to a news report by CARICOM Today, the items on the agenda are the Community Secretariat’s Work Programme and the budget for 2016. They are informed by the Community Strategic Plan 2015-2019 which seeks to reposition CARICOM. The Council, which consists of Ministers responsible for Community affairs or any other Minister designated by Member States, functions as a preparatory body for meetings of Heads of Government. The Council’s work at this session will inform the agenda at the upcoming Twenty-Seventh Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government in Belize next month.

In his address to the Council, CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque noted that the reform process was currently moving apace and that a planning, monitoring and evaluating system for the Strategic Plan is being developed with financing from the Caribbean Development Bank. He made reference to the development of a strategic business plan for the CARICOM Secretariat guided by the Change Management Office. Citing the historic Cop21 Paris Agreement, Ambassador LaRocque emphasised that “[CARICOM’s] achievements have been rooted in [its] united actions”and urged the need to carry this approach forward in the region’s efforts to provide a “safe, viable and sustainable Community for all citizens”.

This view was also reiterated by  the Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize and Chairman of the Community Council of Ministers of CARICOM.   Addressing the Council, Chairman Elrington emphasised the importance of building on the successes attained, stressing that the region’s challenges can only be overcome by “resolute collective action”. He noted the need to make governance arrangements more “flexible and dynamic”.

Chairman Elrington also took the opportunity to encourage all remaining member states which have not yet done so to make CARICOM’s Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) their appellate court. To date Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are the only member states which have accepted the CCJ as their final court of appeal. He expressed Belize’s pleasure with the “excellent results” it has received from the Court thus far.

Further information on the 37th Council Meeting may be obtained from CARICOM Today.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

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