This week February 16-17th the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) converged in Placencia, Belize for their 27th Inter-sessional Meeting. The meeting was chaired by current CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister, the Honourable Dean Barrow of Belize.
At the opening ceremony which was live streamed online, current CARICOM Chairman, the Honourable Dean Barrow and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and immediate Past Chairman, Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Honourable Freundel Stuart, gave addresses.
Security, correspondent banking, Zika and climate change were the major issues discussed by the Heads of Government over the two day meeting. The Heads of Government also discussed the Belize-Guatemala and Guyana-Venezuela border disputes, cricket governance, the future of ACP-EU relations, CARICOM-Dominican Republic relations and the application for Associate Membership of the Community by six territories.
According to the Communiqué released following the meeting, there were several outcomes. The following are excerpts from the communiqué:
- Re-appointment of Secretary-General and two-term limit: Current Secretary-General of CARICOM Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, was re-appointed for his second term by the Heads of Government as Secretary General of the Community. The Heads agreed that the post of Secretary General would have a maximum of two terms.
- Protocol to Incorporate CONSLE as an Organ of the Community: The Protocol Amending the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to Incorporate the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) as an Organ of the Community and the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) as an Institution of the Community was opened for signature. Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and Guyana have signed the Protocol so far.
- Appointment of a High-Level Group on Correspondent Banking: Heads of Government agreed to the appointment of a high-level advocacy group on Correspondent Banking, led by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, with the responsibility to represent the interest of the Region in addressing the issue.
- Climate Change: Heads of Government agreed to maintain the diplomatic demarche at international levels in support of the 1.5°C goal and that the Task Force on Sustainable Development should continue their work to facilitate the implementation of the Agreement.
- Zika: The Heads of Government mandated CARPHA and the CARICOM Secretariat to report to the Council for Human and Social Development on Health on the implementation and effectiveness of the course of action agreed to tackling Zika. Heads of Government endorsed the proposal for a Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week to be inaugurated in May 2016.
- Associate Membership of CARICOM: Heads of Government received a report from a Technical Working Group (TWG) on issues related to Associate Membership in CARICOM. Noting the on-going reforms in the Community and the resource challenges that would be faced by the Secretariat with respect to any future enlargement of the Community, Heads of Government recognised the need for the articulation of an enlargement policy which should be submitted for their consideration at the July meeting of the Conference.
- Relations with the Dominican Republic: Heads of Government agreed that the human rights situation of Dominicans of Haitian descent must form part of the Agenda of the CARIFORUM-EU policy or political dialogue.
- ACP-EU Relations: Heads of Government received a presentation on the Future of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). His Excellency Ambassador Patrick Gomes, Secretary-General of the African Caribbean Pacific Group of States (ACP) also attended the meeting.
- Cricket Governance: Heads of Government endorsed the recommendations of the Final Report of the Review Panel on the Governance of Cricket of October 2015 and affirmed that they must be implemented.
- Border Disputes: Heads of Government reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the maintenance and preservation of Belize and Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
These issues will likely be further discussed at the 37th Regular Meeting of the Conference which will be held July 4-6th. It will be co-hosted by the CARICOM Secretariat and the Government of Guyana and will be chaired by Prime Minister of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skeritt, who will assume chairmanship of the Community in July.
The full communiqué of the 27th Heads of Government Interessional Meeting may be viewed here.
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.