COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE THIRTEENTH MEETING OF THE COUNCIL FOR HUMAN AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT (COHSOD), 26-28 OCTOBER, 2005, GEORGETOWN, GUYANA
Posted in: Communiques | 28 October 2005 | Release Ref #: 182/2005 | 778
The Thirteenth Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which focussed on Youth, Sports and Drugs, was convened at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana on 26-28 October 2005 under the theme, “Youth in the CSME: Perspectives, Prospects and Challenges.”
Hon. Reginald Farley, Minister of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports, Barbados chaired the Meeting due to the unavoidable absence of the Hon. Neville Watson, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, The Bahamas and Chairman of the COHSOD in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma.
In attendance were: Hon. Gail Texeira, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports/ Home Affairs, Guyana; Hon. Dr. Donald Rhodd, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Jamaica; Hon. Roger Boynes, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago; and Hon. Evans Rogers, Minister of Social Development, Anguilla. The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands were also represented.
Dr. Edward Greene, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, chaired the Opening Ceremony. He welcomed Delegates to the Meeting and noted the achievements of the Community during the Year, which had been designated “Year of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)”, in the face of diverse global challenges and natural disasters, which had impacted negatively on several Member States. He noted that Incumbent Chairman of the COHSOD had himself been unable to travel to this Meeting due to the ravages of Hurricane Wilma.
Reference was made to the importance attached to: Information and Communication Technology development in the Region, in recognition of its vital importance to the progress of the Community and its people; health problems associated with development; the positive impact of activities undertaken to confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic under the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP), which had been hailed as a best practice; the contributions being made by the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors; the first CARICOM 10K Run, which had taken place in Saint Lucia in July 2005, at the beginning of the meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government and was anticipated to become an annual event; the proactive and collaborative approach being taken to address issues of gender, sports, youth development, and crime and violence in the Region.
Dr. Greene expressed thanks to donor countries and agencies, and particularly the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), whose contributions had facilitated the work of the Directorate of Human and Social Development of the Secretariat and the youth programme in particular.
Hon. Gail Texeira, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports/ Home Affairs, Guyana expressed a warm welcome to the representatives of Member States, Associate Members, regional and international organisations/institutions, who had attended the Meeting despite the hurricane. She adverted to the issues being confronted by young people which differed from those of previous generations, and included terrorism, global warming, poverty, transnational crime, local crime and political instability.
She noted that most young people were fundamentally coping with these challenges and that this generation of youth was exposed to good educational opportunities but nevertheless suffered from high levels of unemployment. She asserted that efforts should be made to increase capabilities and opportunities for youth development. In this context, she cited various programmes undertaken by the Government of Guyana for the benefit of the country’s young people.
Hon. Reginald Farley, Minister of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports, Barbados observed that issues of youth and sports – which were on the Agenda of this Meeting of the COHSOD - were of fundamental importance to the people of the Region, given the fact that they comprise a significant portion of its population. In this regard, Ministries responsible for Youth should create programmes and schemes to engender the successful transition of children to adulthood. It was observed that young people fell into three categories: those seeking higher education; those who were employed; and the unattached. While cognisant that the majority of young people were not engaged in high risk activities, he posited that it was still incumbent upon Member States to be engaged in recovery and redemption.
He recognised three distinct aspects of youth development: youth in the global environment and society (of which the CSME is a microcosm which must be a principal point of insertion; quality education, facilitating lifelong skills and development; and employment (decent work and wages). Minister Farley also urged that youth be given a chance to shape programmes which would create an environment for true youth participation and that a two-way flow of information and perspectives be developed and maintained. Noting that Information and Communication Technology had expanded the range of influences on young people and regional societies, he stated that emphasis should be placed on developing and disseminating programmes on issues of importance to the Region and its peoples.
He referred to sports as an intervention strategy for youth and recognised the seminal importance of Cricket World Cup 2007 to the Region. He added that the recently signed UNESCO Convention against Doping in Sports would facilitate fair competition and give Caribbean athletes a fair chance for success on the field.
Youth In The CSME: Perspectives, Prospects, Challenges
The COHSOD considered the challenges and opportunities before youth in the context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, which is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2006, and provided a context for the discussion on issues relating to youth development.
The COHSOD recognised the potential of the CSME for creating employment opportunities for CARICOM nationals, as well as the need for a series of measures to stimulate the urge for self-employment and entrepreneurship. It noted that in the final analysis, the assessment of the CSME would be based on its contribution to increased productivity, competitiveness, investment and increased employment opportunities.
Baseline Data Study on Gender Differentials in Education
The COHSOD received the Report of the Baseline Data Study on Gender Differentials in Education conducted in three phases, which aimed at establishing a regional database on selected quantitative indicators; identifying gender differences in selected indicators; and selecting countries where points of interest in relation to gender differences exist. It noted the trends determined through the Study that at both the regional and international levels and 17 countries overall entry and achievement gaps in CXC subjects between boys and girls favour the girls, except for Mathematics. As a result, the COHSOD agreed that CARICOM in collaboration with UWi Centre for Gender Studies, which carried out the research for the original research should follow-up with a policy study on actions for redressing the balance in both participation of boys in the educational process and enhancing their performance.
Youth, Risks and Vulnerability: Implications for Development
The COHSOD, in considering a model for Caribbean Youth Development, recognised that youth were engaged in risk-taking behaviour, including early initiation in sexual activities and aggressive behaviour. The COHSOD noted that there was a high incidence of crime and violence among and towards youths; and that the age of first drug user was also declining. The COHSOD agreed that emphasis should be placed on the “asset behaviour model” which seeks to identify the positive trends and values in youth behaviour and how to create an enabling environment for their development. The COHSOD proposed that efforts be made by the CARICOM Secretariat to extend the World Bank Study on Youth Risk and Protective Factors taking into consideration the strengthening of programmatic interventions and the emergence of gang cultures should be examined in greater detail.
Cognisant that the main socialisation issues are being seriously challenged by other and stronger influencing factors such as the globalised media and culture, and that some of the music to which young people are listening promotes aggressive and violent behaviour, the COHSOD agreed that a regional agenda needed to be developed and implemented to reduce risks and vulnerabilities among the Region’s young people. It was of the view that one method of socialising youth positively, would be the establishment of a National Youth Service Programme with a focus on community services.
Regional Drug Demand Strategy
The COHSOD observed that the Region lacked the human and financial resources to adequately confront the scourge of drug use in its member countries. Apart from the insufficiency of its data collection, storage and management, the Region was perceived to be placing insufficient emphasis on the reduction in drug supply, as opposed to drug demand. It was noted that cultural practice and perceptions support the use of some drugs and that there was a link between HIV/AIDS and substance abuse, a trend which needed to be arrested.
The COHSOD urged that the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with Inter American Drug Abuse Central Communication (CICAD) accelerate the implementation of the Regional Strategy for reduction in demand for drugs.
Regional Strategy for Youth Development (RSYD)
The COHSOD noted that the Community’s Youth Agenda is anchored in the Regional Strategy for Youth Development (RSYD), which is expected to assist Member States in planning and adopting integrated multi-sectoral approaches to youth development; agencies and institutions in forming integrated planning and service delivery networks; and donors in programming the allocation of resources. The agreed thematic priorities of the RSYD are: social and economic empowerment opportunities for youth development; adolescent and youth protection; adolescent and youth leadership, governance and participation; and adolescents and youth health and reproductive rights. It was anticipated that the RSYD would be implemented at the national level by a mix of private and public sector agencies and youth organisations/non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations. It was recommended that the CARICOM Secretariat and partner agencies implement the RSYD, which had been developed by CARICOM Directors of Youth Affairs at their Meeting held on 24-25 October 2005 in Georgetown, Guyana for the biennium 2006-2007.
PANCAP/CARICOM Youth Ambassador Mini-Grant Programme
In considering a report on the PANCAP/CARICOM Youth Ambassador Mini-Grant Programme (MGP), the COHSOD noted that the MGP had fostered capacity-building, youth participation and networking in the context of coordination of multi-agency inter-sectoral programmes; the translation of regional youth and AIDS policy into national action. It was recognised there was both need to seriously invest in human resources to facilitate the successful implementation of the mini-grants at the national level.
CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Programme
The COHSOD received a report from the Dean of the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors on the achievements of the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Programme (CYAP) in the areas of capacity-building, advocacy, education and the integration of perspectives, and the challenges being confronted at the community and national levels.
The COHSOD agreed that CYAs and other voluntary youth leaders should be supported by their national Youth Ministries to ensure the sustainability of the CYAP. In this context, they commended the Government of Suriname for its systematic and structural support of the CYAP and of its integration in the National Youth Parliament.
The COHSOD agreed in principle that stipends should be paid to CYAs and that national youth development plans should be reviewed to ensure the institutionalisation of mechanics and strategies to support the work of youth governance structures and build leadership capacity.
It was also agreed that the scope of National Youth Councils should be expanded to include the pursuit of regional networks.
Youth Crime and Violence
The COHSOD recognised that there were several initiatives being undertaken to reduce youth, crime and violence. It was noted that there was lack of a needs assessment for target groups; need for the rationalisation of existing national youth programmes; enhance rural programmes which would assist the development of services in rural areas; focus on employability training in order to assist youth at risk to secure and sustain employment.
The COHSOD also recommended a multi-sectoral approach that embraces and strengthens the tripartite network involving government, private sector and civil society and endorsed the new management structure of crime and security with the strengthening of the intelligence network especially with the advent of the CSME.
Crime and Security
Having deliberated on the challenges of crime and security the COHSOD recognised the need for creating national and regional consensus on crime control issues; greater policy coordination; more coherent strategies for a comprehensive response to crime and security and reduce corruption; and the implementation of the criminal justice system.
Caribbean Commission on Health and Development (CCHD)
The COHSOD received the report of the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development (CCHD) which sets out the findings of the Commission in selected areas, viz, infant mortality; life expectancy; main causes of death; human resources and the migration of health professionals, set against the pivotal role which health plays in psychological well-being and social and economic development and growth. The COHSOD noted with concern the new threats to health in the Region, specifically, obesity and its co-morbidities; HIV/AIDS; and the health sequelae of injuries and violence. The COHSOD agreed that the public health infrastructure urgently needed to be strengthened; a regional approach should be taken to address the problem of obesity; a policy on the export of human resources, particularly nurses, needed to be developed. The COHSOD also agreed that social statistics needed to be strengthened to support policy-making.
Free Movement of Sports Persons
In relation to the free intra-regional movement of sports persons, the COHSOD noted the work done by G.C. Foster College of Jamaica on standards and criteria for coaches within the context of the CSME. It emphasised the importance of establishing National Accreditation Bodies involving sports organisations, universities, colleges and training institutions.
Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO)
In light of recent revelations relating to doping in sports and the signing of the UNESCO Convention against Doping in Sports, the COHSOD agreed that there was need to consolidate resources for the establishment of a Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) which will be located in Barbados.
Caribbean Invitational Games, Trinidad and Tobago 2009
Having considered a presentation of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) which proposed a Caribbean Games, the COHSOD supported the work of CANOC, which included the quadrennial scheduling of the Games, with the first Games being set for 2009 in Trinidad and Tobago. The Games would include as core sports, athletics, aquatics and netball, and a maximum of seven other sports to be chosen by the country hosting the Games.
Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007
The COHSOD received a report on the status of preparations for CWC 2007 which set out the state of security for CWC 2007, as well as the implications and challenges for the Region. It was recognised the rules and regulations governing all aspects of the series were laid down by the International Cricket Council. It was also noted that 11 March 2007 was the date set for the Opening Session in Jamaica and the final match would be held in Barbados on 28 April 2007. Issues relating to health, disaster management, anti-doping and security were of direct interest to the COHSOD.
The COHSOD agreed that there should be closer collaboration between the Local Organising Committees and special focal points established by CARICOM to liaise with ICC/CWC 2007 in providing relevant information and status reports to Member States, and that the CARICOM Secretariat should assist in the coordination of the relevant activities. It was also agreed that the focal points from CARICOM would include regional Chief Medical Officers, coordinated by the Programme Manager, Health Sector Development of the CARICOM Secretariat, and representatives of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), Caribbean Regional Epidemiological Centre (CAREC) and other regional organisations.
It was further agreed that attention should be paid to the provision of adequate accommodation as well as other public health services, such as water quality, food safety, vector control, port health, waste disposal, and disease surveillance and mass casualty management systems.
In respect of anti-doping, the COHSOD agreed that a system should be put in place under the guidance of the Medical, Health Services and Anti-Doping (MHA) Directorate, in collaboration with CARICOM Health Institutions, in order to ensure adherence to international world anti-doping requirements.
Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP)
The COHSOD commended the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) for its initiatives which contributed to its being declared an international best practice. Among others the significant achievements includes its contribution to the strengthening of several institutional partners including CAREC, CNR+, CHRC and UWI. In this regard, PANCAP has funded a series of training programmes from which over 50 CARICOM nationals received higher degree training on HIV/AIDS related subjects and the introduction of over 100 new or modified courses on HIV/AIDS related issues in the US+WI curricula.
With special reference to Youth, PANCAP is supporting a series of activities involving prevention and behaviour change, particularly a flagship mini-grant programme, funded by resources from the Global Fund and the World bank and coordinated and managed by the CYAP.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago announced the dates of CARIFESTA IX which have been set for 22nd September 2006 – 1st October 2006 for a 10-day period. Trinidad and Tobago also committed to ensuring that CARIFESTA IX will exhibit elements of the new CARIFESTA model detailed in the Strategic Plan (2004) for the festival, which was adopted by COHSOD X in June 2004. The preparations for CARIFESTA IX will be made through a collaborative effort of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the CARICOM Secretariat, the Regional Cultural Committee and the CARICOM Task Force on CARIFESTA.
Having deliberated on issues relating to local government the COHSOD agreed that local government should be included on future agendas of the Council.
The COHSOD endorsed the work of Caribbean Vizion, a group of young artists and educators from several Caribbean countries that uses the performing arts to sensitise and convey positive messages to Caribbean youth on a number of important issues, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, HIV/AIDS, violence, teenage pregnancy, drugs and piracy.
The Meeting recommended that efforts be made by Member States to facilitate Caribbean Vizion’s Edu-culture School Tour Programme within CARICOM, and their general involvement in appropriate youth and culture programmes in the Region.
United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
The COHSOD noted that the MDG process is linked to financing for development and the rate of achievement is linked to overseas development assistance.
The centralising of goal No. 8 – Develop a Global Partnership for Development – to other goals was recognised and it was agreed that MDGs should be approached as an opportunity for the enhancement of social development.
The Role of Regional and International Partners in Supporting Youth Development, Sport and Drug Demand Reduction
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) renewed its commitment to working with CARICOM Member States and the CARICOM Secretariat in expanding regional programmes in population and reproductive health in the context of a new South-South Cooperation Plan.
The COHSOD noted that the plan focuses on developing a roster of regional experts, capacity-building and developing services in the areas of focus across the Region. The renewed effort at South-South Cooperation within the Region will include the establishment of a Trust Fund with seed capital from UNFPA.
The COHSOD noted that the Secretariat’s Technical Action Services Unit (TASU) will coordinate and manage the programme.
The COHSOD expressed its thanks to the Secretariat and its staff for the arrangements which had been put in place which had facilitated a productive Meeting.