The CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) held a Special Meeting on 16-17 2021, hosted by the Consul General of Jamaica in Miami, Florida, USA. It was the first in person meeting of the COFCOR since the onset of the COVID 19 Pandemic in January 2020, bringing together Ministers who had assumed office over the past eighteen months and their colleagues.
The Meeting was strategic in intent and provided the opportunity to define common positions and to thereby strengthen the coordination of approaches on foreign policy matters. Views were expressed on a CARICOM Vision 2050 and Strategic Positioning of the Community in that regard. Threats and opportunities were outlined and discussions centred on the web of relations with international partners, Third States, as well as regional and international organisations which would help to shape a strategic foreign policy agenda for the Community.
The Meeting’s agenda also included the multifaceted effects of COVID 19 including inequitable access to vaccines and the emerging two-tiered system of vaccine approval related to international travel, as well as the barriers to access to concessional financing and other obstacles to economic recovery. Attention was paid to bilateral and multilateral relations within the Western Hemisphere, as well as to concerns arising from areas of political instability in the wider Caribbean region. Discussions on the Community’s relations with regional and hemispheric organisations was also undertaken with a view to strengthening that interface.
The situation in Haiti was discussed and possible modes of intervention by CARICOM to assist a Haiti-driven solution were explored.
Deliberations also took place with regard to extra-regional partnerships with focus being placed on the recent strengthening of relations with Africa and the required follow-up to the first Summit last month. Relations with the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the Commonwealth were also discussed. With regard to the latter where the issue of the renewal of the term of office of the Secretary-General remains pending, the Council reiterated its stance that the incumbent, Baroness Scotland, enjoys the broad support of the Community.