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JOINT DECLARATION ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST SUMMIT OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT OF CARICOM-SICA-DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, 5 FEBRUARY 2002, BELIZE CITY, BELIZE

Acting upon the invitation of the Prime Minister of Belize, Heads of States and/ or Governments of the States Members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and of the Central American Integration System (SICA) and the Dominican Republic as an Observer State, met in Belize City on Tuesday, 5 February 2002, in an historic First Summit between the Parties.

EMPHASIZING the commitment of the Parties to the principles of respect for human rights, democracy, peace, liberty, sustainable development, cooperation between States, dialogue, peaceful co-existence, and the peaceful solution of controversies.

AWARE that improving the quality of our people is the primary concern on which the efforts of the States should be focused.

CONSIDERING that democratic values, geographic proximity, strategic location and the levels of development of the Parties are factors that facilitate the formulation of common policies aimed at accomplishing their integration into the global economy on favourable terms.

ACKNOWLEDGING that the Ministerial Conferences between the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Central American Integration System (SICA), initiated nine years ago, have strengthened the friendly relations that unite them.

Conscious that recent global, political and economic developments and the challenges faced by the Parties clearly demonstrate the necessity for further strengthening of relations between them.

APPRECIATIVE of the efforts of the Prime Minister and Government of Belize in providing the opportunity for this historic engagement among leaders of Central America and the Caribbean.

WE EXPRESS the following:

 
The fight against poverty, and the improvement of the quality of life of our people, are the primary concerns of the Governments of the Parties;

The commitment to cooperate in our efforts to achieve recognition by the International Community of our need for special and differential treatment as States with small economies which are for the most part vulnerable;

Political dialogue as a mechanism of understanding, guarantees peaceful co-existence, strengthens democracy, and promotes development between our countries;

In this context, WE AGREE to consolidate the spirit of friendship, cooperation and solidarity and to promote excellent relations between the countries of the Caribbean and Central America participating in this summit and to this end we concur on the following:

 
1. To exchange information and share the experiences of our individual and collective efforts aimed at improving the quality of life of our people, promoting sustainable development, creating greater opportunities for education, public health, housing, the generation of employment and protecting the environment.

2. To develop coordinated actions that allow us to adequately meet the challenges of the global economic situation, and in particular its effects on the more sensitive areas of our economies.

3. To strengthen the ties of cooperation between the Parties, which will provide the guidelines for consideration of the negotiation of enhanced trade arrangements between the Parties consistent with the fundamental objective of the hemisphere to become the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by 2005.

4. To enhance dialogue in international fora and with third countries on matters of mutual interest including the consultation on positions in the negotiations for the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the Second European Union/ Latin America and the Caribbean Summit, and within the World Trade Organization WTO, particularly with a view to protecting and advancing the interests of States with small economies.

5. To maintain a favourable business environment in our respective countries, placing particular emphasis on promoting and stimulating Inter-regional and foreign direct investment.

6. To increase and strengthen foreign policy consultation at regional, hemispheric and international fora, including on candidatures for posts in international and regional organizations.

7. To increase the level of cooperation between the Parties in the fight against transnational organized crime, including the illicit traffic of small arms and illegal narcotics, through the exchange of information and the adoption and implementation of national legislation and regional, hemispheric and international agreements.

8. To reiterate their firm condemnation of acts of terrorism, in whatever form they are manifested, and coordinate actions to prevent and counteract such acts and related crimes.

9. To develop coordinated actions that allow us to adequately face the economic slowdown affecting our countries, which has been exacerbated by the terrorist acts of September 2001.

10.To reiterate that our Governments accord a high priority to the fight against corruption.

11.To redouble our efforts for the full realization of the objectives of the Association of Caribbean States, and particularly for the establishment of the Greater Caribbean as a Zone of Cooperation.

12.To reconfirm the interest of our countries in bilateral air transport agreements, which will strengthen commercial and political ties between the Parties.

13.To promote joint actions in the areas of Management, Prevention and Mitigation of Disasters, through cooperation and the systematic exchange of information.

14.To strengthen preventive measures and intensify the fight against HIV/AIDS and undertake sustained efforts of cooperation between the Parties to confront this pandemic.

15.To hold periodic meetings at the level of Heads of State and Government, preceded by Ministerial meetings.

16. To instruct the Ministers of Foreign Affairs to work jointly on the elaboration and adoption of a Plan of Action, in order to achieve the objectives and agreements of this Meeting.

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