Published On: Mon, Jul 22nd, 2013

CARICOM, UN discuss development issues in New York

SG MeetingCARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana - Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque is at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York, USA, articulating the Community’s position on a slate of developmental issues.

The discussions are being conducted within the framework of the two-day Seventh General Meeting of the Caribbean Community, Its Associated Institutions and the United Nations System, which began on Monday 22 July, 2013.

Speaking at the opening ceremony to an audience that included His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, the CARICOM Secretary-General said that CARICOM-UN interactions were not ritualistic, but involved “vital working sessions” that were “strategic, pragmatic, forward-looking and results oriented.”

He said that the two organizations were meeting at a time when the world was contemplating the future beyond the global development compact represented by the Millennium Development Goals, and fittingly when a Caribbean national, Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda was preparing to assume the presidency of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly. That session will consider the Post 2015 Development Agenda. Secretary-General LaRocque said the Community had great interest in developments in relation to the elaboration of the Development Agenda, and would take an “active role” in ensuring that the Region’s interests were adequately and effectively addressed.

“We seek an integrated, comprehensive and flexible Development Agenda building on the lessons learned from the MDGs and which is responsive to the diverse development realities with which individual countries and regions are confronted,” Ambassador LaRocque stated.

Secretary-General LaRocque said that CARICOM and the UN had been forging an “enduring and important partnership” on a number of critical issues including security. He said that CARICOM showed solidarity with the global community in adopting the landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) - a crucial intervention to stem the illegal trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.

However, he noted that CARICOM was “fully seized” that crime in the Caribbean could not be solved only by those interventions and had therefore acknowledged the necessity of doing its part in addressing the impact of crime on the Region. He advised that the Region had developed a targeted approach within the framework of the 2013 CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy which he described as an “important weapon” in the Caribbean’s arsenal to fight the war against crime. He said he looked forward to the UN’s full support in its implementation, including through the long awaited re-opening of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Barbados.

Even as CARICOM grappled with the threats posed by crime, the Secretariat-General said it was also dealing with the effects of a protracted global financial and economic crisis that had held many of its small developing economies in a near stranglehold.

He told his audience that economies like those of CARICOM had structural and institutional characteristics which increased their vulnerability to external events and limited their capacity for adjustment. This vulnerability was exacerbated by onerous debt, unwarranted restrictions on new growth sectors and graduation from access to concessionary development funding on criteria such as GDP per capita, which did not take due account of vulnerability, the Secretary-General explained.

He said that while the prognosis for CARICOM economic resilience was unfavourable, CARICOM Member States had placed confidence in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as the “best means for attaining sustainable development in the Region.”

With respect to climate change, the Secretary-General stated that the Community’s advocacy regarding the implications of the phenomenon was a fight for the Region’s very survival.

“Our call for reliable, accessible and sufficient climate financing through mechanisms such as the UNFCC Green Climate Fund to allow us to build capacity to adapt and mitigate, is a critical factor in our pursuit of sustainable development,” the Secretary-General said, while expressing the need for the Region to access to credible expertise, which the UN, through its relevant institutions, had been pivotal in providing.

Secretary-General LaRocque pointed out that CARICOM was anticipating engaging with the UN on the new coordination mechanism for the UN’s assistance to the Region, and a more effective CARICOM-UN partnership. He said that the Community was deeply appreciative of steps taken to ensure that the UN System gave priority to supporting the implementation of the Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which was adopted in 2011.

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