CARICOM addresses HIV/AIDS issues
Kaieteur News
June 21, 2004

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CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington brought up some of the pressing issues on the agenda of the 14th meeting of the Council, including the situation in Haiti, resource mobilisation to combat HIV/AIDS in the Region, and the establishment by August 2004 of the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for medical and other professionals, when the Council of Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the second highest Organ of the Community, held its 14th meeting recently, in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Secretary-General drew attention to the provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that confers on the Community Council the statutory responsibility to function as a preparatory body for the meetings of the conference. He noted that charged as it was with the responsibility of converting policy into action, the quality of the deliberations of the Council would have a direct bearing on the outcome of meetings of Heads of Government.

The issues of HIV/AIDS and the Accreditation Authority, he said, must be viewed in the context of the United Nations Millennium Goals and the Nassau Declaration that, “The Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region”.

The Chairman of the meeting, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tourism, International Trade and Transport, Harold Lovell, in his opening remarks, observed that the agenda issues that constituted the programme of work of the 14th meeting embraced virtually all aspects of national and regional life in the Caribbean.

He expressed the view that such a programme brings home the point that success in building a strong and coherent Caribbean Community is dependent not just on the technical work of the committees of CARICOM, but on mobilising the creative energies of the people across all fields of human endeavour.

“We are here today to see about the region’s business that calls on us more and more not to resist globalisation, but to build the kind of global community that is in our people’s interest,” he said. Minister Lovell noted, however, that the task of building what he described as the “big tent of regional consensus” was not a matter for governments alone. The Community Council began its deliberations by reviewing preparations for the twenty-fifth meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, to be held at Grand Anse, Grenada from July 4, and approved arrangements for that meeting.

In considering the situation in Haiti, the Council reiterated the commitment of Heads of Government that CARICOM would contribute to the humanitarian effort in Haiti and to its social and economic development.

In this regard, the Ministers took note of the interim report of the Chief Coordinator of the CARICOM Task Force on Haiti and mandated that an updated report be submitted to the Twenty-Fifth Meeting of the Conference.

The Ministers underscored the need for a speedy resolution of the issues currently inhibiting Haiti’s participation in CARICOM institutions, without compromising the guiding principles of the Community. To this end, they suggested a number of steps that could be taken with a view to advance this matter at the Twenty Fifth Meeting. The Council received a report of the recently concluded 17th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) recommending a number of issues to be considered for transmission to the Heads of Government.

After consideration, it was agreed to transmit several of these issues, including matters related to the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), bananas, sugar, rice, the new International Ship and Port (ISP) Code and ongoing negotiations for the ten-year review of the Barbados programme of action for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

A similar report was received from the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) regarding issues concerning the implementation of the Nassau Declaration: “The Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region”. These included programmes related to the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS, and the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development chaired by Sir George Alleyne, Special UN Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.

The COHSOD report also placed before the Council, the critical issues regarding the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for medical and other health professionals which will be inaugurated in Jamaica on July 14, next, and the migration of nurses and other health professionals.

In this latter regard, the Ministers noted the collaboration between the CARICOM and Commonwealth Secretariats on a strategy to identify options for managed migration of nurses and other health professionals.

Emerging from a special meeting of COHSOD was a report on re-inventing the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA), which places emphasis on professionalising and regularising the Festival.

The Council approved the vision that CARIFESTA becomes, “a world renowned, hallmark festival of Caribbean culture and artistic excellence that generates economic benefits, unites the region and excites the peoples.” It also endorsed and agreed to recommend to Heads of Government the strategic plan for reinventing CARIFESTA.

Matters pertaining to the CARICOM Secretariat were considered by the Community Council of Ministers including a status report of the Secretariat on proposals for it’s restructuring.

A decision was taken to convene a special meeting in Grenada on July 3, on the restructuring of the Secretariat. The Community Council received an update on the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice arising from consultations chaired by the Head of Government with Lead Responsibility for Justice and Governance, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia.

The Ministers underscored the need for those member states that have not yet done so, to put in place the necessary domestic legislation as a matter of urgency, recognising that the delay in the enactment of legislation, at least for the original jurisdiction of the Court, now constitutes the major constraint on the progress towards its inauguration.