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Secretary-General’s Remarks at Accreditation of Kenya’s Ambassador to CARICOM

Remarks

BY

Ambassador Irwin LaRocque,

SECRETARY-GENERAL of

The CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM)

on the occasion of

THE PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIALS BY

HIS EXCELLENCY ANTHONY MWANIKI MUCHIRI, PLENIPOTENTIARY REPRESENTATIVE DESIGNATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA

TO THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA

Wednesday, 17 MARCH 2021

  • Your Excellency Anthony Mwaniki Muchiri, Plenipotentiary Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM);
  • Minister Counsellor and First Secretary, and other Staff of the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya;
  • Ambassador Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations, and other Members of Staff of the CARICOM Secretariat.

Excellency, it is with the greatest pleasure that I welcome the presentation of your Credentials accrediting you as the First Plenipotentiary Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Today’s historic ceremony marks another chapter in the Community’s growing familial relations with Kenya. These relations are concrete and progressive, and our countries embrace them fully.

2019 was a milestone year in our relations with the visits to Jamaica and Barbados by His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, and the reciprocal visit to Kenya by the Honourable Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.

During the President’s visit to Barbados, he also had discussions with the then Chair of the Community, the Honourable Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia.  The Foreign Minister of Kenya and CARICOM Foreign Ministers also met and had fruitful discussions.

One of the positive outcomes of the visit and those discussions is the provision by Kenya of office space in Nairobi to accommodate CARICOM representation. Prime Minister Mottley accepted the generous offer during her visit and arrangements are being finalised so that the office could be occupied in the near future. I look forward to signing the tenancy agreement in the coming weeks.

To further strengthen the bonds between us, our Member States are actively considering the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Establishment of a Consultation and Cooperation Mechanism between CARICOM and Kenya.

The Community has recognised that there is much scope for stronger collaboration and cooperation between us, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, people-to-people exchanges, and sustainable development. 

Kenya is also at the forefront of promoting relations between CARICOM and Africa, as demonstrated by the initiative to host a Summit between our two Regions. Indeed, the Caribbean is recognised as a constituent part of the Sixth Region of the African Union (AU).   

Plans for the Summit were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is still very much an engagement that we aspire to stage as soon as possible.

CARICOM Heads of Government have also agreed to seek collaboration with the AU, to co-sponsor a proposed Summit with European Heads of Government on the issue of Reparations. This issue is a major undertaking of the Caribbean Community.  Heads of Government have established a CARICOM Reparations Commission in our efforts to seek reparatory justice from European countries for slavery and native genocide.

Excellency, our ceremony today is taking place at a time of great global challenges. The prolonged, multifaceted health and economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus has caused massive disruption and hardship in most aspects of our lives. 

The pandemic has resulted in our Region suffering an average economic contraction in 2020 of 12.8%. This is largely due to the fact that several Member States are predominantly tourism-dependent, export-oriented small economies. The pandemic disrupted the travel and tourism industries leading to unemployment and significantly reduced revenues.

The matter of availability and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is therefore of the utmost importance for CARICOM countries. 

In this connection, CARICOM appreciates the offer of the African Union to participate in the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), which would give us access to vaccines at affordable prices. 

Our Member States are putting in place the arrangements to benefit from this gesture of African-CARICOM solidarity.

CARICOM Member States are also participating in the World Health Organization (WHO) COVAX Facility, which will provide 20% of our vaccine needs.

However, beyond those two facilities, the Community is deeply concerned at the inequitable access to vaccines by developing countries.  Given the high potential for rapid transmissibility of the virus, all countries are vulnerable and should work together.

CARICOM has called on the WHO to convene a Global Summit to address the inequity in vaccine access and distribution. According to the WHO, rich countries while comprising only 16% of the world’s population have already purchased 60% of available vaccine supplies. We would welcome the support of partners like Kenya in our call for the Global Summit.

CARICOM looks forward to working together with Kenya towards advancing our common interests at the bilateral, regional and global levels. This can be pursued through shared membership of groupings, such as the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), the Commonwealth, and the United Nations (UN).

Kenya is host to the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), one of four major UN office sites and is the UN’s Headquarters in Africa.

That Office also hosts the global headquarters for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). UNEP is playing an important role in the battle against climate change, a phenomenon which poses an existential threat to our Region. 

The CARICOM Representation Office in Nairobi, thanks to the generosity of President Kenyatta, would greatly facilitate our Member States’ ability to actively participate in discussions at these important UN Agencies.

CARICOM Member States are among the smallest emitters of greenhouse gases, but are among the most adversely affected by climate change.  This has manifested itself, for example, through more frequent storms which strike our Region with greater ferocity.

We look forward to Kenya’s continuing support in advocating for the concerns of Small Island and Low-Lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS) in international fora.

Ambassador Muchiri, there is no doubting the potential of this new relationship for both Kenya and the Caribbean Community.  I wish you a most successful tenure, and assure you of my support and that of the staff of the Secretariat, as we work together to build strong and lasting ties between CARICOM and the Republic of Kenya.

Thank you.

Watch Video of the Presentation Ceremony:

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