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CARICOM's new plan: Council of Ambassadors

Published:Friday | August 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Bruce Golding, prime minister of Jamaica and current chair of Caricom. - File

CARICOM LEADERS have agreed to the establishment of a Council of Ambassadors as a new mechanism they hope will lead to the effective implementation of decisions taken in the efforts to deepen the regional integration movement.

CARICOM Chairman and Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding told reporters he hoped the new mechanism would be approved when the regional leaders meet later this year.

"The concept would be that the ambassadors would be based in their respective countries. They would head what we have termed the regional integration unit, which is to be established in a few months," said Golding, who chaired a one-day meeting of the CARICOM Sub-committee on Governance in Grenada.

"Some countries already have it, like St Vincent and the Grenadines; other countries have a unit which is for the implementation of the CSME obligation," he said, referring to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

"The concept is that we won't have to create new institutions where these exist already. What we would need to do is ensure that they are calibrated with the new mandate of the ambassadors," Golding said.

The job of the ambassadors would be "to follow up, make sure that domestic action is taken to give effect to the decisions of the heads," he said.

Move to improve governance

The meeting here followed concerns raised at the Jamaica meeting of regional leaders in July that there was a need to improve the governance of CARICOM and to advance plans for the review of the organisation of the CARICOM institutions and secretariat.

Golding said he hopes that by July 2011, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established CARICOM, would be further adjusted to recognise the Council of Ambassadors as an independent organ.

He told reporters that in the interim, the Council of Ambassadors could be set up as a subcommittee to the heads.

The meeting here was attended by the prime ministers of Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who is a member of the CARICOM Subcommittee on Governance did not attend the meeting, because she is on a 10-day trip to the United States.

Port-of-Spain was represented by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan.

The meeting also agreed to the establishment of a nine-member committee to begin the process of pre-selecting candidates to replace CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington, who announced his intention to step down by year end after 18 years in the job.

Golding said the committee would be chaired by Barbados Foreign Minister Maxine McLean and that he hopes the committee could come up with a preliminary report and a list of candidates by September when the leaders gather in New York.

The Caricom chairman said he hopes the new secretary general would be in place by January 2011.