MESSAGE BY SENATOR THE HONOURABLE KAMINA JOHNSON SMITH
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND FOREIGN TRADE AND CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS ON THE OCCASION OF THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY
CARICOM DAY | 4th July 2023
“50 Years Strong: A Solid Foundation to Build on”
It is an honour and a pleasure to extend warm greetings on the occasion of CARICOM Day which this year takes on added significance as it marks the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
This milestone celebration, which is being fittingly commemorated under the theme “50 Years Strong: A Solid Foundation to Build on”, provides an opportunity for reflection on the progress made on the path towards regional integration and development, while providing an opportunity for assessment on the way forward.
Jamaica, together with Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago were the four founding Member States which signed the historic Treaty of Chaguaramas on 4th July 1973. In 2001, Jamaica also signed the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which established a framework for deeper integration through the Free Movement of Skills, Goods and Services under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) regime. These ground breaking decisions have shaped the course of our region’s integration history.
CARICOM prides itself as the institutional vehicle through which the region best pursues the objectives for a united, integrated community. This is pursued through acting together to take advantage of the opportunities for development and progress so as to improve the lives and livelihoods of the people of the Caribbean region.
Jamaica has geographical, historical and cultural ties to CARICOM and its participation in this regional project, is a core tenet of its Foreign Policy and External Trade Policy. Over the past 50 years, we have worked assiduously together with other Member States, on important national and regional priorities. While challenges remain in the quest to integrate, our community remains one of the most highly developed integration movements in the world and has had numerous successes, with steady gains made in functional cooperation, regional security, and the movement of goods and people. This has included steady progress in the fields of health, the arts, disaster management, security and ICT, among others.
Our regional institutions and mechanisms continue to play a key role in the implementation of the policies and programmes agreed to by our Heads of Government and the Ministerial Councils. The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) is a well-known example of what regional cooperation can achieve. The successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is a sterling example of regional collaboration. In terms of security, the contribution of the Caribbean Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) is worthy of note. In addition, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), has played a valuable role in disaster recovery and management in support of building resilience.
Taking into account, the rapidly changing geo-political environment, it has become even more relevant to strengthen cooperation with our Caribbean neighbours. Consequently, through the coordination of our foreign policy, we have been able to project a unified voice in international fora on issues of collective interest and concern. As the current Chair of the Community of Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), Jamaica will continue to ensure a global voice for CARICOM in addition to advocating on matters of community relevance and concern such as the dire situation in our sister CARICOM nation of Haiti.
As we strategically prepare for the next fifty years, the many lessons learnt and experience gained over the years should prove useful as the region seeks to navigate the various challenges in a post-COVID-19 pandemic era. These include addressing issues such as the impact of climate change, climate financing, natural disasters, food and energy insecurity, graduation based on GDP per capita, transnational organised crime and the region’s inherent vulnerabilities to external shocks. Through coordinated action and commitment to regional integration objectives we will be able to ensure that the region is able to deal with these challenges while consolidating gains.
Jamaica will continue to work within CARICOM as we constructively strive to ensure that regional integration functions in the best interest of our blessed region and people.
Happy 50th anniversary CARICOM!
Happy CARICOM Day!