CARICOM moves for unified stand on U.S.
--- leaders get legal brief on ICC
July 5, 2003
AS WE in the Caribbean draw closer and closer to the inevitability of a new globalized environment, every meeting of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) becomes more important to the future of our people.
What was once seen as merely a “trip for the boys” has now taken on tremendous value as critical decisions are being made at these meetings to ensure the survival of our people in the scheme of current and future dramatic international developments.
Prior to these meetings and prior to the more public plenary sessions at these summits, like the one taking place this week in Montego Bay, Jamaica, staff at the CARICOM Secretariat, as well as resource people in individual countries are hammering out the issues for heads to consider.
In our view, the citizens of the Caribbean are required to pay very close attention to the details of this decision-making body as we prepare our region for the onslaught of globalization and trade liberalization.
Two important decisions high on the agenda is the establishment of a Single Market and Economy, and the Caribbean Court of Justice, about which there has been a fair amount of discussion in public fora in Barbados, particularly on radio call-in programmes.
Much of the discussion was unfortunately based on fear, protectionism and ignorance.
There is a natural fear of change and this often sets the tone for public paranoia at times like these. But we must be bold in recognizing the inevitability of certain developments and seek to move on, drawing on our resources.
What do we as a region bring to the table at this important time?
The weaknesses are apparent.
By now we must come to certain realizations in the Caribbean. We are small countries and we are particularly vulnerable to the impact of globalization. Our limited geographical space and physical resources, our small markets and our unsophisticated lifestyle all lend to susceptibility.
Our economies are largely under developed, our manpower is short of highly-skilled people, and except for a few key, but tenuous export industries, we are at the mercies of tourism, and to a lesser extent offshore financial services.
We take some of our strengths for granted, but we need to emphasize them: A young, educated and trainable working population; a key geographic location vis-à-vis North and South America; physical beauty and fine weather which are the envy of two-thirds of the world’s population; and a relatively long history of stable, democratic government. We are therefore faced with opportunities and threats.
As we confront the oncoming of trade liberalization and globalization, we in this region of common history and interests, must leverage our strengths to ensure our survival.
And finally we are a people with a fine record of respect for human rights at a time when this tenet is critical to world powers. We must do nothing to spoil that reputation. (NATION)