It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the CARICOM Secretariat for the presentation of your credentials as the Plenipotentiary Representative of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
In your new post, you are replacing a much loved and respected figure in the Community, the late Charles Maynard, whose contribution to the integration movement is well chronicled. I am certain, Your Excellency, that you will chart your own path in the knowledge that the foundation laid and the goodwill engendered by Ambassador Maynard will make it easier.
May I also take this opportunity to once again congratulate the Government and People of Dominica on the achievement of 35 years as an independent nation, which you celebrated on 3 November 2013.
Excellency, as you are aware, this year marks the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty establishing the Caribbean Community, and your appointment today is indeed testimony to your country’s strong commitment to regional integration. It is a commitment that goes back to the last century, as it was in Dominica that the first stirrings for Caribbean integration were aired by regional labour leaders in 1932.
It is not surprising therefore that your country is continuing to strengthen its participation in the process. In that regard, I welcome the steps being taken by Dominica to accept the CCJ as its final Court of Appeal, thereby completing the full circle of Dominica’s sovereignty. I look forward to the end of that process that would enable your country to join Barbados, Belize and Guyana which have already done so.
Dominica’s contributions in advancing the work of the Community, particularly in relation to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) cannot be disputed. The Prime Minister of Dominica who is charged with the responsibility for labour and free movement of skills within the Community, in the Quasi Cabinet of the Conference, has advanced his portfolio agenda significantly. And, only recently, on the occasion of his Independence message to the country, His Excellency Charles Savarin, the President of Dominica, reiterated his strong support for the freedom of movement within our Community.
Ambassador, as you take your place among a number of your colleagues who have been accredited to the Caribbean Community, it is my hope that you would be at the forefront of endeavours towards the advancement of regional integration.
Based on your distinguished career, as well as my own personal experience in working with you, I am convinced that you will be an excellent representative of your country on issues of national and regional importance. Your extensive experience in the Public Service, which includes an appointment to its highest post, that of Cabinet Secretary, augurs well for your performance in this new role. Your well-known expertise in environmental issues is an added bonus at this time, as the Community’s priorities include adaptation to, and mitigation of, the effects of climate change.
As CARICOM continues to address several other grave challenges, including those caused by external economic shocks, natural disasters, transnational crime and external debt, our ability as a Region to speak with one voice in hemispheric and international processes, such as the discussion on the upcoming Post 2015 Development Agenda, should never be under estimated.
These challenges do not occur sequentially. Rather, we encounter them all simultaneously and our capacity to respond to them and to also exploit opportunities that may arise, depend in significant measure, on the extent to which our procedures and functioning as a Community can be strengthened. As I have mentioned before, in other fora, it will require, firstly, consistent and positive engagement in the areas selected for priority action; secondly, effective decision-making machinery; and thirdly, the capacity to change in order to deliver.
I am aware that instituting such change will not be easy. That notwithstanding, the Community is engaged in a process of reform that encompasses every facet of its operations and institutions, that must result in a change in the way we function. The Heads of Government agreed in March 2012 that it was necessary to re-examine the future direction of the Community and the arrangements for carrying this forward. This includes the role and function of the CARICOM Secretariat and the Institutions of the Community.
This change process is well underway and a key role is being played by the Change Drivers designated by Heads of Government in each Member State. Ambassador, we look to you as Dominica’s Change Driver to facilitate the change process at the national level. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your assistance in ensuring the success of the recent consultations in Dominica on the Community’s Five-Year Strategic Plan, one of the key elements of the reform process. The Plan will set out a common vision and identify our priority areas of focus over the next five years.
Importantly however, we will be looking to you as Change Driver to continue “as the voice, advocate, enabler and mobilizer for the Community change process at the country level” as well as to be engaged in the process within the Secretariat and the Community Organs. I have no doubt, Ambassador, that you personally, and your country will continue to participate in re-shaping our Community through your active engagement and support.
Excellency, it is evident that there is much work to be done within the Community, and that there will be many opportunities for you to serve as the bridge between Dominica and the Community. Your knowledge and experience make you well equipped to contribute to the Community's deliberations on matters both internally and in our engagements with third parties.
Your Excellency, I congratulate you on your accreditation as the Plenipotentiary Representative of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the Caribbean Community and I wish you every success in the execution of your new responsibilities.