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CARICOM can be a force for change, says Barbados PM
Published on February 17, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

CARICOM heads of government meeting in Placencia, Belize

By Cathy Lashley

PLACENCIA, Belize (BGIS) -- Prime minister of Barbados Freundel Stuart wants the people of the region to know that, when the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) speaks with one voice, it can be a powerful force in facilitating change, both in the region and in the international community.

His comments came as he delivered remarks on Monday at the opening ceremony of the 27th inter-sessional conference of heads of government of CARICOM in Placencia, Belize.

Referring to the vital role CARICOM played in the preparation, conduct and outcome of the landmark agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris last year, Stuart said that it was an example of what could be achieved if countries continued to find common ground.

He added: “No agreement involving in excess of 190 countries can possibly satisfy all. On balance, we in CARICOM were able to get the major breakthroughs that we wanted. I am of the view that the agreement, implemented with seriousness and determination by the international community, will allow us to address the multi-faceted challenges which climate change poses for our countries.”

The prime minister, therefore, urged fellow leaders to ensure that going forward all decisions made by CARICOM were both “orderly and rigorous”, so that the region’s people could fully benefit.

“Only in this way can we deliver to our peoples the regional public goods they expect as the fruits of our deliberations,” he noted.

Pointing out that leaders had adopted some clear rules to better guide the decision-making process at last year’s regular meeting in Barbados, Stuart disclosed that, while in Belize, leaders would also be considering draft rules of procedure, which should be adopted at the next CARICOM summit in July.

Saying he understood why some persons might consider such a development as “a minor piece of procedural pettifogging”, he pointed out that decisions made by CARICOM “must, at all times, be able to withstand the scrutiny of institutions like the Caribbean Court of Justice, that of the people of the region, and indeed, of the world.”

CARICOM leaders will not only examine procedural matters over the two-day summit, but will try to hammer out a comprehensive strategy to cope with such issues as the zika virus, regional security, correspondent banking, citizenship by investment, cricket governance, the future of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of countries and relations with the Dominican Republic, among others.
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