Local invitees to regional civil society encounter not yet named By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
June 27, 2002

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Even though Guyana is hosting the Regional Encounter of Civil Society scheduled to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday it was still unclear up to yesterday who would be representing this country at the forum.

Concern over Guyana’s representatives has heightened since a consultation organised in February this year by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was deemed not satisfactory by a number of persons who attended. The consultation was required of all countries participating in the encounter which precedes the summit of CARICOM Heads.

Guyana has not yet submitted to the CARICOM Secretariat the names of its delegates for the meeting billed to take place at the Ocean View Hotel and Convention Centre on July 2 to July 3.

The Heads of Government are due to meet representatives of the regional civil society on the morning of July 3. However, asked to name Guyana’s representatives, Human Development Director attached to CARICOM, Jacqulyn Joseph, yesterday told Stabroek News that she had no information about Guyana’s representation.

Inspite of attempts yesterday to find out from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who would represent Guyana, no information was forthcoming. Stabroek News understands that a few officials of some organisations had been told verbally that they would be invited. hey are awaiting their invitations. They include the Private Sector Commission.

Up to press time yesterday, several non-governmental organisations, including the NGO Forum, had not been informed of the encounter nor invited. NGO Forum Chairman, David Yhann, Jnr, told Stabroek News that he knew of the upcoming encounter, but could not say who was invited to represent the local civil society. However, attempts are underway to hold a last-minute consultation, to which several non-governmental organisations have been invited. A one-day ‘Consultation on the Role of Civil Society’, organised by the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) Guyana Chapter and the Barbados-based Caribbean Policy Development Council (CPDC) will be held at the Cara Inn, Pere Street, Kitty on Saturday.

The objectives of the consultation, CAFRA’s invitation said, were to brief participants and analyse the contents of the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society; further sensitise the women in Guyana on trade issues and the negative effects on their daily lives; and to arrive at suggestions/recommendations for inclusion in a position paper to be sent to the CARICOM Heads of Government summit.

Each member state has been mandated to send five representatives who will present their country’s position, but Yhann said he was not aware that Guyana’s NGOs had a joint policy paper to present. He expressed concern at this recalling that a consultation, which was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February this year was not successful. He had chaired that session.

According to Yhann, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent out invitations but key umbrella organisations representing the trades union movement and the private sector were not represented even though they had been invited.

There was no rapporteur, and according to Yhann and others who attended, the meeting ended in disarray in spite of a good turnout.

He felt that the discussions were not productive as more focus should have been placed on issues of governance, which participants felt were of more relevance to Guyana.

They also wanted to know where NGOs were going to be placed in the scheme of things.

The theme of that Consultation was ‘the Role of Civil Society in the Caribbean’ and the areas of focus were on human resource development, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy and issues of governance.

He felt that the consultation lacked government’s expert advice and was bereft of the participation of other important organisations from outside the city.

Funds were not available for them to travel and to engage in meaningful consultations.