The 14th Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean Community was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, Jamaica from the 21st to the 24th November 2011.
The Chairman of the Conference was His Excellency the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, ON, GCMG, CD, Governor-General of Jamaica. Two (2) Presidents and seven other (7) Governors-General were present at the Conference, Her Excellency Dame Louise Lake-Tack, GCMG, DGN. DSt.J of Antigua and Barbuda; His Excellency Honourable Sir Arthur Foulkes, GCMG of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas; His Excellency Sir Colville Young, GCMG, MBE, Ph.D, JP(S) of Belize; His Excellency Dr. Nicholas J.O. Liverpool, D.A.H, OCC of the Commonwealth of Dominica; His Excellency Carlyle Glean, GCMG ofGrenada; His Excellency Honourable Sir Cuthbert M. Sebastian, GCMG, OBE,MD,CM of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis; Her Excellency Dame Calliopa Pearlette Louisy, GCMG, GCSL, DSt.J, Ph.D, LL.D (Hon), FRSA of St. Lucia; His Excellency Sir Frederick Ballantyne, GCMG, MD of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and His Excellency Professor George Maxwell Richards, TC, MTC, Ph.D of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Conference officially commenced with an Opening Ceremony, attended by the Presidents and Governors-General, along with their spouses, and a wide cross section of distinguished Jamaican public and private sector leaders, educators and students. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade delivered the Opening Address which highlighted much of the progress made by the region in advancing the welfare of Caribbean nationals, through collective partnership, in spite of the multitude of daunting challenges at the global level. This was further underscored by Sir Patrick Allen as he officially declared the Conference open.
During the Conference sessions, their Excellencies had fruitful exchanges on several important issues, including – Engagement, Transformation and Empowerment of our Youth; Educational Development and Change in the Region; Matters of Protocol, as well as issues related to the role and function of the Presidents and Governors-General. At the final meeting on 24th November, Their Excellencies:
- Reaffirmed their commitment to the continuing existence and success of the Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean Community, recognizing that through this “community of interests” among the Heads of State of the Region, their effectiveness will be further enhanced.
- Supported the need for high-level dialogue and partnerships among the Heads of State which will help to provide timely interventions in the complex social challenges which face the Region.
- Agreed that although their functions are circumscribed by constitution and by the law, their capacity to influence, intercede and empower is broad in scope and rich in potential.
- Acknowledgedthe positive influence of the values-based IBelieve Initiative of The Governor-General of Jamaica to empower young people and supported and endorsed the Programme. The Heads agreed that similar initiatives could be useful in all territories as a means of helping young people and others to realize their full potentials.
- Recognised the severe effect which the global economic crisis has had on job creation in member States. Affirmed their support for the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) Programme spear-headed by the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, which aims at reducing unemployment among at-risk youth.
- Stressed the importance of having formal orientation and documented guidelines on their role. To this end, the Heads of State endorsed the preparation of a handbook, which could also have input from Buckingham Palace.
- Notedthe unstructured, informal Swearing-in Ceremonies which take place in some territories and proposed that a formal ceremony would be beneficial to endorse the appointment of the Head of State in all territories as well as the populace.
- Welcomed the gift of the two (2) Protocol Procedural Manuals which have been prepared for Jamaica by a Protocol Consultant Mr. Maurice Dalton, under the auspices of the Commonwealth Secretariat and accepted the offer to request assistance from the Secretariat in preparing similar manuals for their respective countries.
- Recognised the expanding and evolving role of the Presidents and Governors-General, and to this end, further agreed that while maintaining neutrality, by displaying a high level of integrity, transformational and visionary leadership, Heads of State can play critical roles in fostering national unity, maintaining stability, fostering political maturing, and having an impact on nation-building. They also noted the situation in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago where the Governor-General’s role includes the appointment of Commissions.
- Reaffirmed their commitment to upholding the democratic tradition, culture and values which have been the bedrock of Regional political heritage.
- Congratulated Her Majesty The Queen on her upcoming Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and discussed appropriate ways of recognizing this significant occasion especially in Realm Countries.
- CongratulatedJamaica and Trinidad and Tobago on their upcoming 50th Anniversary of Independence in 2012, and wished them success and prosperity.
Their Excellencies agreed on the following Framework for Action:
- Given the outstanding success of the I Believe Initiative in Jamaica, it was agreed that the model could be replicated in the Caribbean Region. In this regard, it was further agreed that consideration should be given to determine how the Presidents and Governors-General can endorse the IBI, and identify mechanisms to mobilize support for the concept behind the Initiative.
- Private sector organizations in the respective CARICOM countries should be encouraged to use the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) Programme in Jamaica as a model in developing programmes geared at helping to reduce the unemployment rate among at-risk young people.
- Examine the appropriateness and feasibility of creating an umbrella name for youth development across the Caribbean.
- Cognizant of the need to enhance the visibility and perception of The Presidents and Governors-General, the Heads of State agreed to increase their efforts to build constituencies by educating the population on the role and function of the office, identified projects … and developing closer relationships with the private sector.
- The Heads agreed to recommend to the CARICOM Heads of Government that a review of the Conditions of Service be carried out and more favourable terms and conditions of service, pension/retirement arrangements be implemented where applicable.
Protocol & Ceremonial
- The Commonwealth Secretariat will be asked to make the Protocol Consultant available to member countries in order to prepare Protocol Manuals similar to those prepared for Jamaica.
- The Governors-General of CARICOM will ask Buckingham Palace to assist in providing guidelines to be included in an orientation handbook/manual which will be prepared for newly-appointed Governors-General.
- Each country should ensure that there is a formal programme prepared for the Swearing-in Ceremonies for Heads of State.
- Consideration should be given to:
– Preparing written guidelines for the planning of the Conference of Presidents and Governors-General.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT & APPRECIATION
The Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean Community expressed profound gratitude to His Excellency the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, ON, GCMG, ON, and the Government of Jamaica for hosting the Conference. The Heads also expressed appreciation for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements provided which helped to make the Conference a success. This Conference has allowed the Heads of State to renew their commitment to continued cooperation for the future.
The Heads of State welcomed the offer by the Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, to host the 15th meeting of the Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean Community in first week of October 2012.