- Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, and Chairman of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR);
- Honourable Ministers and Other Representatives of Member States;
It is with great pleasure that I join you at this Fourteenth Special Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations, being held virtually in the margins of the Seventy-Sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Chair, since I assumed the Office of Secretary-General exactly a month ago today, I have been responding positively to requests to meet with representatives of Third Countries and International Organisations with which, for the most part, the Community has had long-standing relations. I approach these encounters with a willingness to listen and to share, and to advance the interests of the Community. I, therefore, welcome the opportunity to participate in the Meeting of this Council, which is “responsible for determining relations between the Community and International Organisations and Third States.”
The Agenda for today’s Meeting will for the most part, as is traditionally the case, focus on issues engaging our attention on the agenda of the United Nations. These include, Security Council Reform, the development of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index, preparations for the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, COVID-19, and Financing for Development.
Climate Change and the COVID-19 pandemic are two of the issues that are having a severe negative impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people of our Community. Even as our Community seeks to build resilience against the existential threat of climate change, our attempts to construct an economic recovery from the adverse effects of the pandemic are stymied by the series of surges in infections. The current rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus is pushing the Community’s health systems to the limit requiring urgent and concerted actions on the part of all stakeholders, governments, development partners, civil society and, most of all, the citizenry of the Region. Two days ago, our Heads of Government met in a Special Emergency Session to fashion a regional response to this crisis.
On the international relations front, we made a huge step forward in our relations with Africa with the recent historic First CARICOM-Africa Summit. Implementation of the many commitments and proposals put forward will imprint a new dimension on this relationship. Closer to home, the coming Sixth CELAC Summit will be seeking to continue to inject new life into the grouping.
This Council will also be considering the renewal of the post of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, a critically important and supportive organisation for our small states.
I look forward to the insights and exchange of views as Foreign Ministers and Permanent Representatives deliberate on the Agenda items. As I continue to engage with the Community’s bilateral, regional, hemispheric and international partners, I look forward to other opportunities to engage you individually and collectively on the many issues that face our Community.
I thank you.