Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell has taken over as Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), on completion of the term served by Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Rt. Hon. Percival Patterson.
His first major undertaking was the initiation of a CARICOM Mission of eminent persons to mediate in the dispute arising out of the December 15 elections in Guyana.
The CARICOM Chairman will host the Community’s 9th Inter-sessional Meeting scheduled for March 2-3.
Other important Meetings during Dr. Mitchell’s term, include the Second Summit of the Americas to be held in Santiago, Chile, in mid-April; and the first formal meeting between Foreign Affairs Ministers of the Region, and United States Secretary of State, Ms. Madeline Albright.
This Meeting, to be held in Trinidad and Tobago on March 20, 1998, was one of the decisions coming out of the Caribbean/United States Summit held on May 10, 1997 in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Prime Minister Mitchell, assumed the post as CARICOM Chairman from January 1, 1998, at a time when the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established the Caribbean Community in 1973, is being revised by a series of Protocols.
Protocol I which entered into force provisionally on July 4, 1997, restructures the Organs and Institutions of the Community and redefines their functional relationships to enhance participation in the integration movement. It provides for increased decision-making powers of the Organs and establishes a single voting regime for all Organs.
It also establishes new institutions led by the Community Council of Ministers, The Council, which is the second highest body of CARICOM after the Conference of Heads of Government, The Conference.
The following ‘Ministerial Councils’ assist The Conference and The Council in the performance of their functions :-
a. The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) promotes Trade and Economic Development of the Community and Overseas the Operations of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy
b. The Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) determines relations between between the Community and international Organisations and third States
c. The Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) promotes Human and Social Development, which includes the functional areas of Health, Education, Culture, Youth, etc.
d. The Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) coordinates Economic Policy and Financial and Monetary Integration of Member States.