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The Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Ambassador Irwin Larocque has called for multilateralism and concerted action in tackling global issues.

​Speaking at the official opening of the 21st session of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) yesterday, Mr. Larocque said, “the multitude of external challenges faces by the community, including blacklisting, the withdrawal of correspondent banking services, transnational rime, and the threat of violent extremism, must also be addressed by the multilateral system, rather than by individual action by countries or groups of countries in for a in which we have no voice.”
​The two day event is being held at the British Colonial Hilton, where climate change is high on the agenda of issues to be discussed.

​COFCOR Chair and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Darren Henfield noted the importance of climate change to the discussions.

​“With just 24 days before we enter the next hurricane season, which experts suggest will be more active than the last one and with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and others in the region, all yet in recovery mode, any such dialogue must include the peculiar vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) relative to sustainability, resilience, and access to development financing at concessionary rates and which consider vulnerability over GDP and GNP,” Henfield said.

​Minister Henfield also expressed his pleasure in hosting this meeting and said he looks forward to a successful outcome.

​“Over the next two days, we will engage in fruitful and productive discussions on how we can solidify our engagement, whilst simultaneously strengthening our very important relations with a number of third states.

​“As a council, we must dissect the outcomes of the recent Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings, held in Lima, Peru and London, England, respectively. By doing so, we will position ourselves to derive collectively the best benefits for our region,” said Mr. Henfield.

​Mr. Larocque said, “In addressing how best to position the Community on the hemispheric and global stages, you will be seeking to advance a coordinated strategic approach to strengthen our external relations, with the consequent benefits to our people.

​“This meeting is taking place at a time when the region is still recovering from the climatic disasters of September 2017. What was destroyed in a matter of hours will take years and more than $5 billion to rebuild.
​“The reality of the effects of climate change as evidenced by the intensity and frequency of those mega storms, demonstrates the urgency of addressing this existential threat to our community. Our charge, therefore, is to reduce vulnerability to these disasters and the effects of climate change by building a climate-resilient community,” he said.

​COFCOR which determines relations between the Caribbean Community and international organizations and third states, also promotes the development of friendly and mutually beneficial relations among Member States.

​It aims to promote the development of friendly and mutually beneficial relations among Member States, establish measures to coordinate the foreign policies of the Member States of the Community, including proposals for joint representation, and seek to ensure, as far as practicable, the adoption of Community positions on major hemispheric and international issues.

​COFCOR’s goals also include coordinating the positions of the Member States in inter- governmental organizations in whose activities such states participate; collaborating with COTED in promoting and developing coordinating policies for the enhancement of external economic and trade relations of the Community, and coordinating in close consultation with the Member States, Community policy on international issues with the policies of States in the wider Caribbean Region, in order to arrive at common positions in relation to Third States, groups of States and relevant inter-governmental organizations.

​It is also responsible for undertaking any additional functions remitted to it by the Conference arising under [the] Treaty.

​Representatives from 19 countries along with CARICOM Foreign Affairs Ministers and their Senior Officials, Senior Officials of CARICOM and Senior Officials of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), as well as guests and representatives from Germany, Belgium, Norway, Romania and the United Nations are attending the meeting, which ends on May 9.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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