by Ambassador Odeen Ishmael of Guyana, on behalf of CARICOM, to the XIX Meeting
of the Summit Implementation Review Group, Santiago, Chile, June 9, 2003
Posted June 14th. 2003
On behalf of the CARICOM delegations, I wish to thank Canada, and particularly Ambassador Marc Lortie, for their Management of the Summit Process during their period as Chair. We now welcome Argentina as the Chair of the Summit Process and offer them our firm cooperation as they undertake their challenging role in the Summit Management Processes. Certainly, we all have to render our support to Argentina to ensure that we eventually achieve a successful Fourth Summit of the Americas in two-years' time.
We have listened very carefully to the remarks by the distinguished representative of the Foreign Minister of Mexico, as Coordinator and Representative of the host country of the Special Summit.
As you will recall, Mr. Chairman, the Heads of Government of CARICOM in February 2003 expressed support for the Special Summit. They see the Summit as an opportunity to advance regional issues and to re-engage the hemisphere at the highest level in a shared vision for the creation of a hemispheric community, which provides enhanced opportunities for the progressive economic and social development of its peoples.
This position was re-emphasized by the Foreign Ministers of CARICOM at the Sixth Meeting of the Council on Foreign and Community Relations, held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines early last month.
With regard to the agenda of the Special Summit, we in CARICOM believe that this Summit should do some stock-taking to see how much we have achieved in fulfilling the mandates since Quebec, also if more is needed to accelerate the process, and even if we have to adjust the direction we are taking.
You will recall that the Quebec Summit was touted as the "implementation Summit". This Special Summit will have to assess how such implementation has been achieved and how the process can pick up pace.
It is the feeling of CARICOM States that this Special Summit most place emphasis on the social agenda to include issues such as health and education, sustainable regional development and equitable growth with a view to fighting poverty. We note with appreciation that the proposal presented by Mexico gives consideration to these concerns.
The fight against poverty must be kept on the front-burner. We note that over the past decade while the GDP of States in our Hemisphere has grown, at the same time the number of people living below the poverty line has greatly increased. This gives the impression that our Summit action plans have not adequately addressed this critical issue of poverty.
This does not mean that we are not interested in issues of democracy and democratic governance. We indeed, support such issues, but we believe that by improving the welfare of our peoples we will be helping them to be more appreciative and supportive of democracy and democratic governance.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I want to refer to a synopsis circulated by Canada in April last, when they suggested that the Special Summit should issue a "Commitment of the Americas". That synopsis proposed that countries of the Hemisphere should work together to strengthen their democracies and governments, and to identify effective means of applying the Monterrey Consensus in the Americas.
While we support this specific proposal, we must bear in mind that so far what we have been hearing in international forums is how beneficial the Monterrey Consensus will be to the developing countries. The time for talk should come at the end. We need action. Implementation of the Consensus must now be uppermost in our minds, and positions on measures proposed by countries and regions should be addressed with renewed vigor and urgency.