February 7, 2014
Gonsalves chairs his first CARICOM Council meeting

Foreign Minister Camillo Gonsalves has taken up Chairmanship of the CARICOM Community Council of Ministers and last week chaired his first council meeting at the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana.{{more}}

The Community Council is one of CARICOM’s highest decision making bodies, and the Chair follows the six-month rotating chairmanship of the Conference of Heads of Government. St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves assumed the role of Chairman of the Conference from January 1 this year.

“As is often the case, a major item in (the) meeting will be our consideration and delineation of the agenda for the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of State and Governments, which will take place (later this month) in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,” Foreign Minister Gonsalves told the gathering of his regional colleagues who were present at the Georgetown Secretariat or joined the meeting via video link.

“As you are aware, Dr the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, assumed the Chair of CARICOM for the first six months of 2014. Prime Minister Gonsalves has communicated to Secretary-General LaRocque his desire to move forward on an ambitious and packed agenda of important issues that build upon the outstanding leadership of the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who recently concluded her own very successful tenure as CARICOM Chair.

“The cross-cutting ambitions of Prime Minister Gonsalves, and indeed, all Heads of State and Governments of CARICOM, are reflected in the crowded and complex agenda before us. Our programme of work reflects the challenges and opportunities facing our region and our integration movement today, as we strive to strengthen the many ties that bind us together, and confront with solidarity the myriad exogenous shocks and crises currently besetting our vulnerable societies, as well as the home-grown obstacles that we can and must overcome together.

Issues facing the council include the ongoing reform processes within the community, free movement and contingent rights of CARICOM citizens, particularly in the wake of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s seminal Myrie judgment, and the most regrettable recent decision of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic, which retroactively denationalized a broad group of people born in the Dominican Republic, and which arbitrarily violates people’s rights to nationality, identity, and equal protection without discrimination, Minister Gonsalves said.