On April 1st, 2022, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration for Belize, and Chair of the Caribbean Community Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) co-chaired the 2022 Canada-CARICOM Foreign Ministers’ Group meeting, which was held virtually.
Ministers reaffirmed the enduring value of the deep and dynamic partnership between Canada and CARICOM, and strengthened their commitment to sustainability, resilience, climate action, and shared values in advance of a Leaders Summit anticipated for later this year. Ministers underscored the need for the continued vigilance in mitigating the devastating impacts of COVID and climate change, while pursuing concrete action to re-build resilient and sustainable economies, to cooperate on regional security and promote stability, and to increase collaboration in multilateral fora, including defending the rules based international order, promoting sustainable development, democracy and shared values. In so doing, Ministers agreed to engage collaboratively to lay the groundwork for a successful Summit of the Americas, and to reinforce their collective commitment to hemispheric cooperation in support of shared objectives.
Regional security and stability
Ministers elaborated on their shared security interests, and confirmed the importance of joint action to bolster bilateral and regional security, including through capacity building partnerships, information and intelligence sharing and close collaboration on maritime and cyber threats, and continued defence cooperation. Ministers were frank and forthright in their discussions about hemispheric challenges to democracy, and peace and security, agreeing to cooperate on supporting democratic values and systems in the hemisphere, citing the Organization of American States as one of the primary fora to advance shared priorities. Ministers reiterated their offer to support Haiti as it advances Haitian solutions to re-establish constitutional order through an inclusive political dialogue process. They confirmed their collective willingness to work alongside Haiti to strengthen the security and governance sectors (including electoral institutions) and support socio-economic development leading to sustainable and inclusive democratic order in Haiti.
Global issues and multilateral cooperation
Ministers agreed to join their voices in advocating for the needs of Caribbean SIDS in multilateral fora, including at the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. They also agreed to jointly address development challenges, strengthen democracy and promote shared values, including gender equality. Within the context of the G7 and G20, where the Indonesian Presidency has invited CARICOM to participate as a guest regional organization, and at the United Nations, Canada and the Caribbean will lead global efforts on Financing for Development and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. Finally, ministers underscored the importance of promoting the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
On Ukraine, Ministers noted recent resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, reaffirmed support for the Charter of the United Nations, called for respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and expressed concern over civilian casualties and humanitarian conditions.
Building a resilient and sustainable economic recovery
Ministers acknowledged that the pandemic, climate change, and the evolving geopolitical landscape have magnified socio-economic challenges in the Caribbean and around the globe and stressed the urgent need to re-build resilient, inclusive, and sustainable economies through increased commercial engagement and partnership. Ministers discussed increased trade and investment between Canada and CARICOM to stimulate economic growth and development, with a focus on sustainability, including green infrastructure, agriculture, clean technology and energy, as reflected in the priority sectors of the upcoming Canada-CARICOM Trade Mission. Ministers reiterated that climate change remains the greatest threat facing humanity, and underscored the immediate needs for adequate climate financing to meet the Caribbean region’s requirements for climate resilience and adaptation. They agreed to deepen collaboration on climate change including by pursuing joint advocacy for enhancing access to climate finance for adaptation and mitigation, and in preparations for COP27. Recognizing the vulnerability of CARICOM members, Canada agreed to continue advocating through the International Financial Institutions for access to concessional financing, appropriate debt relief, Special Drawing Rights, including joint Caribbean Development Bank engagement in key sectors, and international assistance. CARICOM and Canada also agreed to partner in addressing food security and strengthening agri-food systems within the Community. Ministers committed to a continued comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including equitable vaccine distribution, access to new COVID-19 specific treatments, and future pandemic preparedness and disease prevention.
Ministers instructed their officials to define a joint commission to serve as a permanent mechanism that will formally deepen the partnership while advancing collaboration and cooperation. This will be launched by Leaders at the inaugural Canada-CARICOM Summit in the coming months.