Greetings, to our Caribbean Community.
CARICOM 50TH Anniversary Achievements
This July, both The Bahamas and CARICOM will celebrate their golden jubilees, and it has been my distinct pleasure to serve as Chairman of CARICOM in the lead-up to these auspicious and momentous occasions.
Since 1973, we have made significant strides not only at the national level but also regionally, as our people work toward a more prosperous Caribbean community.
In this pursuit, crucial organs alongside the Secretariat have sustained the robust vision of CARICOM, such as the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security. Let me express my utmost gratitude to the region builders who steer these vital institutions, in tandem with the public servants who make up CARICOM.
As my chairmanship comes to a close, I have an even greater appreciation for the work and the passion being undertaken for the betterment and prosperity of our region. I look forward to another 50 years, and beyond, of Caribbean growth and progress.
Highlights of Chairmanship
It has been an eventful and fruitful 6 months. Over this period, we have made headway on a number of priority areas, chief among them: the situation in Haiti, climate change, global financial architecture, food security, and the ongoing crime epidemics in our nations.
A significant milestone of my term was the declaration of crime as a public health issue at the Regional Symposium to Address Crime and Violence. I thank Hon. Keith Rowley and The Government of Trinidad and Tobago for hosting the summit on this critical issue.
Crime has become an epidemic in many of our nations, impeding our growth and hampering the happiness and well-being of our people. In our declaration, we not only recognize the urgency and systemic nature of crime in our nations, but also lay the groundwork for the necessary frameworks to build cross-border cooperation, enhance capacity, and enact reforms to ensure the safety and security of our peoples.
At this very meeting, we banded together to declare a War on Guns. As a region, we proclaimed our intention to combat the illegal trade of weapons and, particularly, to call on The United States of America, the source of the overwhelming majority of illegal firearms in our region, to join us in urgent action to curb this epidemic.
I was proud to host the US-Caribbean Leaders Meeting here in The Bahamas, where the conversation on gun violence continued. At the meeting, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris reaffirmed her nation’s support in the announcement of additional resources to respond to the trafficking of firearms and gun crimes. The meeting was an opportunity to make progress on a number of mutual issues such as enhanced US-Caribbean cooperation on food security, global climate finance reform – a precursor conversation to the announcement of the US-Caribbean Partnership to Address Climate Change – and the socio-economic future of Haiti.
Earlier in June, CARICOM hosted a meeting with Haitian stakeholders to discuss the multifaceted issues that Haiti is facing and, more specifically, to ensure the government is able to deliver on its commitment to restore security and stability, host credible elections, and institute reform to preclude a repeat of the current crisis. I would like to thank The Hon. Andrew Holness and the people of Jamaica for graciously hosting this event.
We have charged the newly appointed Eminent Persons Group, consisting of The Rt. Hon. Perry Christie; The Hon. Bruce Golding; and Dr the Hon. Kenny D. Anthony, with overseeing CARICOM’s support to Haiti in key areas of security, governance, and long-term development planning. In these capable hands, I am confident that we will eventually find a resolution, and a Haitian-led solution, to the challenges our Haitian brothers and sisters currently face.
Handover to PM Skerrit
It is now my pleasure to hand over the reins to a willing and capable colleague, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, who will succeed me as Chair of CARICOM. I look forward to our continued partnership on matters tied to a changing climate, crime, food security, and other pressing issues affecting the Caribbean community. I have no doubt I leave the Chairmanship in the hands of one as passionate and determined as I am regarding the well-being of our region and people.
I thank the Caribbean Community for your faith in me and in this eminent institution. Let us endeavour toward an ever-closer union between our countries, and an ever-sunnier tomorrow for our citizens. Thank you.