Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of State and of Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of Delegation,
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to address this august assembly, as outgoing President of the Conference of Heads of State and of Government of our organization. I am particularly pleased to visit, for the first time as Head of State, the land of Norman Manley, the person whose efforts have led to the creation of a new society that guarantees universal suffrage.
I am also delighted to be among you, the Jamaican people, cradle of the talented Bob Marley, whose birthplace I had the opportunity of visiting, and his reggae, who have marked the Haitian culture and some of the youth of my country.
On behalf of the Haitian people and of myself, I wish to congratulate the Government of Jamaica for the excellent organisation of this Summit and the Jamaican people for the warm welcome extended to my delegation. Also, I would like to thank the Secretary General for the quality of the documentation submitted for our consideration and the contribution of the CARICOM Secretariat to the preparation of this Conference.
I especially welcome the arrival of the Right Honorable Andrew HOLNESS, Prime Minister of Jamaica, as President of our Community. I would like to say to you, Prime Minister, that I stand ready to work with you, so that your mandate is a success for the greater good of the region and our people.
I am especially pleased to address, in the name of the Government and the people of Haiti, and on my own behalf, my warmest congratulations to the Right Honorable Madame Mia MOTTLEY, the First Woman Prime Minister of Barbados, for her overwhelming victory in the elections of May 2018. I take this opportunity to wish her every success and progress for the Commonwealth of Barbados.
Excellencies, Honorable Colleagues Heads of State and of Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of Delegation,
We gather, again, five months after the Port-au-Prince Summit, where we discussed issues of great importance, including those related to disaster management and post-disaster insurance. It must be stressed that the international situation has unfortunately not been favorable to promote some of our key themes and to advance certain elements of the regional agenda in this area. Let me consider, for example, the issue of natural disaster management and post-disaster insurance, which have evolved rather positively. I have worked to promote, regionally and internationally, particularly through my participation at the last G7 Summit in Canada, the need to establish or strengthen existing mechanisms for risk financing and disaster mitigation in the region.
It is also in this context that, last June, Prime Minister Holness and I were invited by the Prime Minister of Canada to participate in a G7 awareness session on oceans. This invitation was therefore an opportunity for both my country and all CARICOM Member States to make our voices heard on a crucial issue: the situation of the oceans, seas and coasts, particularly that of the Caribbean Sea.
I find it particularly interesting to note that the G7 countries and the World Bank have pledged $ 3.8 billion to fund resilience-related responses, including gender-related considerations in areas affected by global warming. They also reaffirmed their commitment to contribute to building a safer and more peaceful world, while recognizing that respect for human rights, the rule of law and equal opportunities are necessary to ensure sustainable security and sustained growth that benefits everyone. We must join forces to realize these promises.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Natural disaster management requires country ownership at the national level, while contributing to a regional approach. It is in this sense that I have instructed the competent authorities of my country to pay the Haitian contribution to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Special Fund as soon as possible. I believe that the working capital of this important regional institution must, first and foremost, come from the contribution of the member countries. The contribution of the technical and financial partners should only complement and strengthen our efforts. In this hurricane period, which ends on November 30th, I urge my CARICOM friends to bring up to date their level of contribution to this fund and to take a more sustained look at the operation of this institution so that we can react together and more quickly in the event of a natural disaster.
For this reason, I hope that the CCRIF turnaround report will be presented and validated during the second half of 2018.
At the meeting held in Port-au-Prince last February, I proposed organizing an international conference on strengthening resilience mechanisms to the effects of climate change and natural disaster management in the Caribbean, the “ONE CARIBBEAN” approach. Timing issues and the international context have not been conducive to this important activity. This is an opportunity for me to reiterate my proposal to organise this conference in the not too distant future.
It’s clear that our organization confronts a difficult situation. It is important that we combine our efforts to find ways and means to strengthen the process of regional integration and also to define, in a concerted manner, the contours of post-Cotonou relations between the countries of the Asia, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) and the European Union.
The latest report prepared by a special commission on Jamaica's participation in the Community and CARIFORUM, the Legal Affairs Committee (LAC) recommendations on the need for a six-month automatic stay for visiting Haitian nationals a CARICOM country, the external financing of our activities and programs, and the repeated delays in implementing the provisions of the Revised Treaty, to name but a few, are tangible proof that our organization is at an important stage in his history. Each of us will have to take his share and make the necessary efforts to bind our Community even more, by drawing on our founding values and in that spirit of brotherhood and solidarity that inspired our precursors.
Existing and future challenges dictate that we strengthen our ranks to face them together. Each country working alone won’t get us where we need to be. What unites us is stronger than what could isolate and divide us.
I take this opportunity, in this spirit, to solemnly salute the decision of the Government of the Commonwealth of Barbados to lift all obstacles to the free movement of Haitian nationals on its territory, in accordance with the provisions of Articles 45 and 46 of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
While welcoming the efforts of the Secretary-General, the Republic of Haiti proposes that we redouble our efforts and devote the necessary time to the priority topics. These are political and security issues as well as economic integration, through the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
We are convinced that the implementation of this strategy will enable us to strengthen our integration into world trade and play a greater role in the international context. The increase in intra-CARICOM trade and the diversification of products exported by the region will have a positive impact on our trade balance and our capacity to ensure sustainable development in our countries.
With regard to regional transportation, enhancing the competitiveness of CARICOM countries involves improving infrastructure and interconnection, as well as updating the legal and regulatory framework for trade promotion. We have only one choice, to take this path that will lead to the strengthening of our relations by creating much more wealth, increasing trade and free movement of people for the greater well-being of our populations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The international context did not permit holding of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2017, when the Republic of Haiti was scheduled to represent CARICOM within the extended Troika. The conclusions of the 8th Summit of the Americas held in Lima, Peru, last April, especially regarding the crisis in Venezuela, illustrate the complexity of relations in the hemisphere. These two facts indicate to us that a deep malaise exists in our hemisphere. The Republic of Haiti encourages peoples and nations to focus on dialogue to bridge their differences. For its part, the Republic of Haiti believes that by strengthening unity within our Community we can play a positive role of balance and be a factor of harmony within the hemisphere.
I am convinced that CARICOM's participation in the international meetings, especially at the next G20 summit in Argentina, will be a success thanks to the Jamaican presidency. These international gatherings will help to deepen the dialogue and lead to the development of a wide cooperation in the interest of the region and of the international community.
Excellencies, Colleagues Heads of State and of Government,
We are going to discuss issues of great importance to our Community during this Summit. I have in mind:
· the issue of regional and hemispheric security,
· building resilience through disaster management and the reconstruction process,
· the functioning of the Caribbean Court of Justice,
· the report of the Commission on the use of Marijuana,
· intra-Community transport, the free movement of goods and persons,
· Not to mention the reform process within CARICOM.
I am sure that wise decisions will emerge from our exchanges in order to enhance the effectiveness of the Community in the quest for effective solutions to the problems facing our countries and peoples.
Thank you very much!