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CARICOM council for foreign and community relations (COFCOR) discusses regional developments

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Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2022. 8:52 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The foreign ministers of the territories of the Caribbean Community met in virtual session on May 18, chaired by Antigua Minister Chet Greene, who succeeded Belize’s Eamon Courtenay as chairman.

On border issues between its two continental American mainland members, Belize and Guyana, with neighbors Guatemala and Venezuela, CARICOM continues to support both countries. Guyana has submitted at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning its case; Belize plans to submit its memorial by the scheduled time of June 8.

CARICOM continues to advise Belize, Guatemala and the Organization of American States (OAS) to respect and fully implement the Confidence Building Measures agreed under their Framework Agreement of 2005, pending a resolution of the case before the ICJ. They further called on both countries and the OAS, to finally fulfill their commitment to design a mechanism of cooperation for the Sarstoon River.

In other regional news, ministers have planned a special meeting on a Discussion Paper aimed at evaluating the Community’s Hemispheric relations, with a view to identifying ways to strengthen and advance these relationships. They stated that the council needs to be more responsive, to address and assess the ever-changing landscape of global politics and the impact on hemispheric developments.

COFCOR have endorsed a number of CARICOM candidatures seeking positions in the United Nations (UN), the OAS and other international and regional organizations and considered candidates from other states.

On climate change, members are advised to continue their coordination at the national and Community levels, as well as wide-ranging consultation and increased advocacy with stakeholders. The COFCOR further agreed to ramp up advocacy on climate change within international fora in efforts to highlight the severity and to keep pressure on the major emitters.

Foreign Ministers have agreed on the need to provide the highest political support for the United Nations (UN) initiative on ‘Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond’. The COFCOR also agreed to advocate for measures aimed at enhancing policy space in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) middle-income developing countries, debt reduction to release fiscal space, as well as the expansion and redistribution of liquidity to undertake development expenditures in the current investment climate while advancing economic and climate resilience.

CARICOM has agreed to continue work on improving and strengthening relationships with key partners from Africa to Cuba to Central America to the United States, which hosts the ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. CARICOM will have a presence there but maintains that no regional member, including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, should be left out.

Foreign Ministers have emphasized the need for the reform of the United Nations Security Council. They instructed the CARICOM Permanent Representatives at the United Nations to continue to work on a broad strategy and modalities for the expansion of both categories of membership that will ensure representation of the interests of small island developing states (SIDS). In so doing, CARICOM will deepen its engagement with like-minded states and groups of states.

Finally, Foreign Ministers underscored the importance of the OAS and reiterated the Community’s active participation in and continued support for the work of the organization, noting in particular, CARICOM’s continuous Chairmanship of the OAS Permanent Council until 2023.

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