Major focus is being placed on the turmoil in Haiti, at the 26th Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), currently under way in Kingston.
“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 fulfil its Good Offices role and explore options for technical and security assistance,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Johnson Smith, said.
The Minister was speaking at the opening ceremony, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston yesterday (May 16). The meeting will conclude today (May 17).
Senior regional officials, including CARICOM’s Secretary-General, Dr Carla Barnett, are participating.
Jamaica, represented by Senator Johnson Smith, has assumed Chairmanship of the Council for one year. This is the second time the country is hosting the Council since 2009.
Minister Johnson Smith said the meeting will discuss the ongoing political, security and humanitarian crises in Haiti.
The Minister further informed that COFCOR will also discuss the ongoing processes at the United Nations (UN), in relation to Security Council Reform, the development of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) and the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent.
“We will also consider preparations under way for the region’s engagement in several upcoming UN high-level meetings on issues such as financing for development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Health, and Climate Change,” Johnson Smith also pointed out.
Outgoing Chairman and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade, Antigua and Barbuda, Chet Greene, while noting the need for closer integration between member states, also recommended collaborative efforts to address the situation in 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 argued.
Meanwhile, the CARICOM Secretary-General said that in a world where multilateral rule-based systems are under strain, “CARICOM must rely more than ever on focused and coordinated diplomacy based on those principles on which we are founded”.
“The Caribbean Community has a complex and formidable task at hand; however, our integration movement and our intracommunity relations have already built a strong foundation on which we can continue to devise solutions to improve the lives and the livelihoods of the people of the region,” Dr Barnett said.
The COFCOR is entrusted to ensure, as far as is practicable, the adoption of Community positions on major hemispheric and international issues.