Press release 303/2011
(29 July 2011)

JOINT STATEMENT OF THE SIXTH GENERAL MEETING BETWEEN REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY AND THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM, 28-29 JULY 2011, GEORGETOWN, GUYANA
 

  1. The Sixth General Meeting between the United Nations (UN) System and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and its associated institutions was convened at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana, on 28 and 29 July 2011. Opening Remarks were given by the Acting Secretary-General of CARICOM, Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. BAN Ki-moon, sent a message that was delivered by the Head of the UN Delegation, Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. The meeting, which enjoyed wide participation from representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat and its associated institutions as well as from representatives of the UN System, was co-chaired by Ambassador Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary General, Foreign and Community Relations of the CARICOM Secretariat, and Mr. Fernandez-Taranco.

2. The Acting Secretary-General of CARICOM underlined the usefulness of the Sixth General Meeting, lauding the biennial encounters as invaluable for the review of CARICOM-UN cooperation as the General Meetings permitted the frank exchange between the partners and facilitated strategic planning for the enhancement of future collaboration. She expressed appreciation for the continued support and collaboration that CARICOM has received from the UN system in the Region’s efforts towards sustained social and economic development. She informed of the recent decisions of the CARICOM Heads of Government regarding the matter of Prioritising the Focus and Direction of the Community and underscored the need to identify concrete projects in specific areas of priority which will yield impact on the ground, ensuring maximum, measurable and concrete benefits to the citizens of the CARICOM Region. In this regard, she acknowledged the discussions regarding the utility of the Regional Strategic Framework (RSF), as reflected in the Interim and Final Reports, and reiterated CARICOM’s support for follow-up with a view to ensuring that it is the appropriate mechanism to deepen CARICOM-UN collaboration. She also reiterated CARICOM’s concern regarding the decrease in UN representation in the Region in certain critical areas such as security and regional development. She deplored the closures of the UNODC and UNDP Offices and the protracted absence of a Chief of the UN ECLAC Sub-Regional Headquarters.

3. The Secretary-General of the United Nations welcomed the opportunity to deepen cooperation between the United Nations system and CARICOM. He thanked CARICOM countries for their commitment to multilateralism and regional cooperation, as well as their leadership on climate change and on the issue of non-communicable diseases. He also commended the progress made by the Caribbean region towards the Millennium Development Goals, yet expressed concern at the negative effects that the global financial crisis, climate change and organized crime were having in the region. The Secretary-General reiterated the strong commitment of the United Nations to strengthening its partnership with CARICOM. In particular, he welcomed the recommendations on the UN-CARICOM Regional Strategic Framework (RSF) and expressed the hope that a dialogue would proceed on how best to enhance the coherence of the United Nations’ engagement in the region.

4. The meeting received a report on progress achieved in the implementation of commitments made at the Fifth UN-CARICOM General Meeting held in New York in February 2009. The main outcome of the Fifth General Meeting was the decision to implement the UN-CARICOM Regional Strategic Framework (RSF) to provide for enhanced coordination between the two organizations. Accordingly, an interim report was jointly completed in 2010 by the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and the Foreign and Community Relations (FCR) Directorate of the CARICOM Secretariat and a final report was produced in 2011. Both reports reflected extensive consultations with participating UN agencies, departments, funds and programmes, as well as with the CARICOM Secretariat and Community Institutions. The Sixth General Meeting considered these two reports on the implementation of the UN-CARICOM Regional Strategic Framework (RSF). The reports showed that CARICOM and the UN are working together in many areas that had been agreed to be of critical importance to the region’s development and security objectives. Indeed, on-going UN programmes cover a broad spectrum of activity, and contribute to the four strategic objectives of the RSF, namely (a) Maintain momentum towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; (b) Support regional economic integration, growth and development; (c) Create a safe and secure environment for citizens and respect for the rights of all; and (d) Enhance governance, transparency and accountability in CARICOM.

5. Through the consultation processes that underpinned the two reports, it was recognized that the RSF had served a useful purpose in raising awareness about the need for a more coherent UN approach to cooperation in the Caribbean region. The RSF was also helpful in identifying the areas where cooperation was aligned with CARICOM’s priorities and areas where UN involvement could be strengthened. The above notwithstanding, there was broad consensus that the current RSF mechanism, as managed by DPA and FCR, was no longer the most appropriate instrument to coordinate UN activities in the region. Indeed, since the RSF was first proposed in 2007, the UN System had established and enhanced other frameworks and mechanisms for cooperating with CARICOM and CARICOM Member States.

6. As a result, the final report on the RSF recommended that (i) DPA and FCR focus their follow-up on the specific commitments for UN-CARICOM cooperation made during the General Meetings, with the result that the RSF in its current form was no longer required; and (ii) that a discussion be initiated on how the UN system could achieve greater coherence in the Caribbean region, in partnership with the CARICOM Secretariat and in support of CARICOM Member States. Both recommendations were adopted at the Sixth UN-CARICOM General Meeting. Participating UN agencies, department, funds and programmes committed themselves to initiating a dialogue on the nature of a more appropriate coordination mechanism to enhance coherence and effectiveness within the UN system’s engagement in the Caribbean, in partnership with the CARICOM Secretariat and Community Institutions.

7. The meeting was apprised of CARICOM’s regional priorities and of the new thrust identified by CARICOM Heads of Government in May 2011. An overview of this regional agenda was provided and indications were given as to how the CARICOM Secretariat and its associated institutions envisaged carrying it out.

8. Of these regional priorities, seven broad thematic areas were identified as crucial areas for collaboration between the UN and CARICOM, including the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and institutional development matters. Other priorities were climate change, sustainable development and disaster management, energy, regional security, food security and food safety, human development, including health, education, gender and youth, as well as the role of Information and Communication Technology for Development. CARICOM reiterated the need to identify concrete projects in specific areas of priority which will yield impact on the ground, ensuring maximum, measurable and concrete benefits to the citizens of the CARICOM Region.

9. It was recognized that the UN system was engaged in significant work in these areas at either global or national level; the challenge was to identify – within the framework of UN-CARICOM cooperation – areas where a regional approach would offer value-added to these ongoing national partnerships. CARICOM and UN participants thus engaged in discussions on how to strategically focus their cooperation to maximize progress in these priority areas. In view of the transnational scope of these challenges, CARICOM and UN participants emphasized information-sharing, capacity-building and institutional strengthening as key tools to implement their respective mandates. In this regard they agreed that there was need for early engagement to develop modalities for moving forward. Overall, the meeting provided a useful opportunity to move towards more coherent engagement in the organisations’ long-standing partnership.

10. The meeting agreed that the Seventh UN-CARICOM General Meeting would take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2013.

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