CARICOM ambassadors to influence the strategic direction of the reform process
CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque delivered the welcome remarks at the Inaugural Meeting of the CARICOM Committee of Ambassadors, at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, on Saturday 30 May 2015. Below, Caribbean Times brings to you the full text of Ambassador La Rocque’s address:
Mr Chairman, Ambassadors, Colleagues: I bid you all a very special welcome to this historic Inaugural Meeting of the CARICOM Committee of Ambassadors. I have anticipated this day for some time now, since from the time the Committee was proposed in 2009, I saw merit in the concept, since I am of the view it is an important addition to the governance structure of our Community. This body is living proof of the dynamism of our integration process and the progress being made institutionally in our reform agenda. As the old saying goes “ nothing happens before its time!”. And this Committee is certainly an idea whose time has come. Therefore today is as much about the event, the Inaugural Meeting, as it is about the Agenda we will discuss. When our Heads first considered the proposal for a Committee of
Ambassadors, they agreed at that time that the principal focus would be the advancement of the integration process. From where I sit, given what has transpired since, I see the Committee of Ambassadors as having two broad overarching roles, almost a dual personality. On the one hand, as Ambassadors, you represent the interests of your countries ,and the Terms of Reference of the Committee point to specific functions you will undertake. But of equal importance ,or probably of even greater
importance, I also see this body as a cohesive whole acting, as it were, as a think tank as we shape the future course of Caribbean integration. I see this body operating almost like a board of directors ,so to speak, of Caribbean integration ,providing strategic guidance. You will also operate as the preparatory body for the Community Council, whose key function is the development of Community strategic planning and co-ordination. This body will have a major role to play in the Reform Process of the entire integration architecture and its governance arrangements which we must reshape for greater efficiency and delivery of the services that must be provided for the development of our people and our Region.
The timing is propitious, as it gives this Body an opportunity to influence the strategic direction of the Reform Process from a reasonably early stage. As the link between the national and the regional, you are in a position to fit the two pieces together and see the big picture. You are the vital connection in making the national regional, and the regional national. It is clear therefore, that you have great responsibility on your shoulders. Your role will be immediately brought to the fore as we seek to operationalise the Strategic Plan and restructure the Secretariat. As Secretary-General, I look forward to working very closely with you, not only in the restructuring exercise but also in devising strategies to drive the course of the reform of the Community .The restructuring of the Secretariat to become more efficient and relevant to the needs of our Member States is a major plank of effecting change in the Community. We have already begun to embrace that change through initial improvements to some of our corporate functions. Colleagues, fulfilling your mandate will advance the integration process, particularly through facilitating the implementation of decisions taken. Your consultations with stakeholders at the national level will help to streamline proposals to the Organs and Bodies of the Community. It will also help to identify the challenges in implementing decisions arising from those proposals. This Committee is covering new ground. We will have to determine how best to carry out the mandate which we have received from our leaders. I look forward to your support and advice which you will provide in the reforms to be undertaken in the Secretariat and the wider Community. I am confident that you possess the ingenuity, creativity and energy that would justify the confidence reposed in you by your Heads of Government. In so doing, you will be playing your part in creating the viable, secure and prosperous Community that we all desire. I thank you.
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