Published On: Thu, Jul 4th, 2013

Message from the secretary-general of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Irwin Larocque on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of The Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

LaroqueForty years ago, an air of expectation and spirit of hope filled the Caribbean air.  The Commonwealth Caribbean had made the move from the free trade area of Dickenson Bay to the Community and Common Market of Chaguaramas.  The Georgetown Accord had been transformed into the Treaty of Chaguaramas and a new era of deepened integration had begun.

Today we can boast of being the longest surviving integration grouping among developing countries and second only to the European Union in global terms.  The four pillars upon which our integration is built have withstood the test of time allowing us the latitude of expanding the edifice of our Community for the benefit of our people.  Economic Integration, Human and Social Development, Foreign Policy Co-ordination and Security Co-operation have enabled our Community to grow and provide benefits through the Single Market, Health, Disaster Management, Education, Technical Co-operation with third countries and ensuring a safe ICC Cricket World Cup to name a few.

We also can boast of our own Caribbean Court of Justice and our CARICOM Youth Ambassador programme is celebrating its Twentieth Anniversary and is more vibrant than ever.  That same spirit of co-operation and dedication to the regional cause is inspiring initiatives in Agriculture, Energy and the battle with Climate Change.

As we celebrate 40 Years of Integration under the theme, Celebration and Renewal, it is clear from what I have outlined above that we have a lot to celebrate as substantial progress has been made in our integration movement.  However we are also certain that more could have been done and we are all aware of the shortcomings that we must address.  In full recognition of this, the Community is involved in a reform process to ensure that our arrangements are relevant and can deliver even more tangible benefits going forward.

This enterprise to which we have channelled our energy over the last forty years is our engine for growth and development over the next forty and beyond.  For, where will we be as a people, where will our youth, if there is no Caribbean Community?  Integration of the Caribbean Community is no esoteric ideal but a hard headed reality. The same reality that drove the founding fathers to sign that Treaty forty years ago impels us now.  Let us recommit ourselves, each and every one of us, to ensuring the success of a Caribbean Community that provides a safe, secure, viable and prosperous society that is the envy of all.

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