CARICOM at 50
July 5, 2023
CARICOM turned 50 this week. In the five decades since the leaders of Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago signed the Treaty of Chaguaramas, the Caribbean Community has developed into “a regional political and economic grouping of 15 Caribbean countries that includes French-speaking Haiti and Dutch-speaking Suriname. All but one, Montserrat, a British dependent territory in the eastern Caribbean, are independent. The other five British dependent territories of the Caribbean region are associate members,” reports the Miami Herald.
At the opening of the 45th Regular meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in Port of Spain on Monday, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, said the integration movement “has not only survived but it has thrived, expanded and flourished”. (Loop News)
While CARICOM has “failed to deliver the deep and meaningful integration that was envisioned, leading to the often-repeated phrase, ‘CARICOM and CARI-GONE’ … the fact that CARICOM’s framework continues to exist is a testament to the enduring belief in the benefits of regional integration. No government dares to withdraw from it, fearing a popular backlash from within its own population”, writes Sir Ronald Sanders.
Limited integration has kept CARICOM countries from reaping substantial economic benefits, and contemporary challenges — including climate change, transnational crime, potential pandemics, and limited development funds “require more integration, not less”, argues Sanders.
The event was attended by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who hailed the group’s cooperation in economic and social development, fighting illegal drugs and arms trafficking, combatting non-communicable diseases and in advancing gender parity, which exemplify to him the “founding spirit of CARICOM”. (UN)
Also in attendance will be Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, China's Deputy Foreign Minister Hua Chunying, and South Korea's Prime Minister Han Duck-soo.
The Caribbean and the World
Jamaica is joining Barbados in the ranks of Caribbean “minisuperpowers,” reports the Miami Herald: “After years of being hobbled by crippling debt, double-digit deficits and negative growth, Jamaica, the largest island in the English-speaking Caribbean, is showing its ability to weather crises — and its hard-won economic stability is getting noticed along with the leadership of its prime minister.”
António Guterres visited Haiti for the first time as United Nations Secretary General and said he’s convinced that only a “robust” international force can help the police dismantle the country’s terrorizing armed gangs. “The gangs have created a terror situation in Haiti that doesn’t allow any meaningful economic activity, and undermines the humanitarian support and that is a serious obstacle to any political process,” Guterres said in an interview with the Miami Herald.
Twenty OAS nations, led by Antigua and Barbuda, issued a joint declaration, calling on international financial and development institutions “to prioritize the provision of funds and resources to support the efforts of Central America and the Caribbean in addressing climate change, recognizing the urgency and magnitude of the challenges faced by these regions”. (Nice FM)
The Trinidad and Tobago High Court ruled that 1951 Refugee Convention obligations do not apply and cannot be enforced in the twin-island republic.
This means that all migrant, refugees and asylum seekers can be deported — even if they have registered with United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. (CMC)
“Deporting asylum-seekers and refugees, which this ruling paves the way for the state to do, back to a situation from which they had fled in the first place, risks leaving them in situations where their safety and security may be threatened”, said executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights Denise Pitcher. (Newsday)
Dutch King Willem-Alexander apologized for the Netherlands’ historical involvement in slavery and the effects that it still has today. The king’s apology comes amid a wider reconsideration of the Netherlands’ colonial past, including involvement in the Atlantic slave trade, reports the Guardian. (See Just Caribbean Updates for Dec. 19, 2022)
The Caribbean Development Bank said that it is deepening its engagement with Indigenous Peoples across the Caribbean and strengthening its response to issues affecting them. (Stabroek News)
Climate and Environmental Justice
The Caribbean is the most exposed region to climate-related natural disasters, with estimated adaptation investment needs of more than $100 billion, equal to about one-third of its annual economic output. At the same time, energy prices in the Caribbean are among the highest in the world, and electricity is largely generated using fossil fuels, highlighting the need for investment in lower-cost and lower-carbon energy production, according to a new IMF blog post.
Voices from the Caribbean on Disaster Capitalism, the premier episode of Stronger Caribbean Together looks at the ways those people are confronting the challenges of disaster capitalism as people across the Caribbean. The first episode discusses the concept of disaster capitalism, and how we might rethink the language and meaning of development in the Caribbean.
The Escazú Agreement and the American Convention on Human Rights share the underlying goals of advancing sustainable development and democracy. Environmental Human Rights: New Thinking from Latin America and the Caribbean explores these treaties and the relevant regional jurisprudence, the first analysis of the ground-breaking environmental human rights law being developed in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Brill)
Black Sands “decodes” the Bridgetown Initiative and the key upgrades that could be clear win wins for all.
The small size of Caribbean nations makes them perfect spaces to test climate solutions, said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, speaking at the Caribbean Development Bank.
Windalco mining company released 4,000 Tilapia fingerlings into Jamaica’s Rio Cobre in St Catherine as part of efforts to replenish the stock of fish at the river following devastation to the fish population after a toxic spill last year. But the Jamaica Environment Trust said it was shocked by the manner in which the restocking is taking place. (Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Observer)
The Bahamas has been discussing the issue of gender-discriminatory nationality law for year — a recent ruling by the Privy Council resolved the issue for Bahamian men with children born out of wedlock, but women continue to be discriminated against, they are unable to confer citizenship on their children and spouses, writes Alicia Wallace in the Tribune.
The need for gender-responsive, inclusive approaches, laws and policies that address gaps in early childcare services, and a men and boys platform for peace and action, are some of the robust responses needed to address the worsening issue of gender inequality in the Caribbean according to a panel of experts who posited their views at a seminar entitled “Solutions on All Sides: Addressing Multiple Crises to End Gender Inequality”, hosted by the Caribbean Development Bank.
There is a greater need for public policy think tanks in the Caribbean to inform both the public and policymakers, Damien King, Executive Director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) said in On Think Tanks podcast.
More police won’t help Haiti, where gangs are part of how the state functions, writes Pierre Espérance, the executive director of the National Human Rights Defense Network in Haiti, in Foreign Policy.
Carlos Alberto Montaner, one of the most prominent voices in the Cuban diaspora and a fierce critic of Fidel Castro, died in Madrid, he was 80. (Washington Post)