EU-LAC conference pledges to address brain drain, remittance flow
By Miranda La Rose in Guadalajara, Mexico
Stabroek News
May 31, 2004

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The conference of Caribbean, Latin American and European leaders has pledged to address the impact of the brain drain and to aid the transfer of remittances and the reduction of associated costs.

The leaders have also welcomed Caricom┬┤s Regional Strategy for Drug Demand Reduction and the work by the Regional Task Force on Crime and Security.

Mention was made of this in a 14-page document titled `The Declaration of Guadala-jara┬┤. The declaration has 104 expressions covering multilateralism, social cohesion and regional integration - the theme of the Third Summit of the European Union-Latin American and Caribbean (EU-LAC) Summit in Guada-lajara, Mexico. The two-day conference ended on Saturday.

Noting the specific challenges posed by trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs to Caribbean societies, the heads also welcomed the conclusion of regional and bilateral agreements in the field of maritime cooperation, specifically the agreement on Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Aeronautical Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean Area. This agreement was opened for signature in San Jose, Costa Rica on April 10, 2003.

The heads reiterated their commitment to strengthening cooperation to address problems caused by illegal drugs and to make full use of the existing schemes for dialogue and cooperation between the two regions, mainly through the EU-Andean Community High Level Dialogue on Drugs and the EU-LAC Mechanism for Coordination and Cooperation on Drugs.

Noting the serious concerns expressed by the Caribbean and some LAC states regarding the potential risks from the transshipment of unprocessed nuclear and radioactive waste through the Caribbean Sea, the heads said they will work together to ensure that "potential risks are properly managed" and will support increased cooperation in this area in relevant international fora.

The Heads further noted the efforts of the Caribbean countries, through the UN General Assembly Resolution 54/225, to develop and seek further recognition of the Caribbean Sea as an Area of Special Importance in the context of sustainable development.

The heads, too, reiterated their commitment to the UN Convention on Climate Change and urge those countries which have not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol to do so without delay.

They noted the particular vulnerability of the Caribbean region arising from the increased intensity and frequency of hurricanes and flooding and the resulting damage. They supported the Hurricane Relief Fund within the framework of the Carib-bean Development Bank.

On the recent deadly floods in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the heads expressed their sympathy and called on the international community to provide emergency and humanitarian aid. The EU is currently working with the national authorities of both countries and its Latin American and Caribbean partners to put in place an effective response as a matter of urgency.

On the issue of migration, the Heads said that further steps will be taken to enhance cooperation and mutual knowledge on migratory realities in both regions.

They aim to address important issues such as the brain drain and its impact on the development of countries of origin and the need to strengthen the prevention of illegal migration and the fight against trafficking in, and smuggling of human beings.

The heads noted that remittances were a significant source of income in many developing countries and pledged to cooperate to facilitate the transfer and reduce the costs in accordance with relevant national legislations.

They welcomed the 30 million Euro social cohesion programme which aims to promote exchanges of experiences, know-how and good practice between the two regions in the social field, in particular in the education and health sectors which are key to increasing social cohesion.

The heads said they will spare no effort to ensure that the Doha Trade Round advances as much as possible in 2004 towards its rapid conclusion and that any free trade agreement should be built on the outcome of the Doha Development Agenda and the realisation of a sufficient level of regional economic integration.┬

Calling on all states to sign and ratify the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure its early entry into force, the Heads said this will reinforce international cooperation and promote a culture of democracy through effective administrative reform and governmental transparency at all levels.

They pledged to continue to strengthen democratic governance and institutions and encourage further participation by organised civil societies and political parties in accordance with relevant national legislation.

On issues of multilateralism, the heads expressed their support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an effective means to combat impunity from the most heinous crimes of concern to the international community. The State Parties called on all those countries which have not done so, to ratify or accede to, as applicable, to the Rome Statute.

Calling on all governments to enforce fully the prohibition of torture, cruel and degrading treatment, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, and to bring to justice those who violate those provisions, the heads expressed their abhorrence at recent evidence of the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraqi prisons. The abuse of the Iraqi prisoners they said was contrary to international law, including the Geneva Conventions.