August 15, 2022
Sir Ronald Sanders
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THE upcoming Climate Change meeting in Dubai – COP28 – is enveloped in hype, yet expectations of transformational change are misplaced.
“THE Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is nothing less than a Club of the world’s wealthiest countries which is determined to bend powerless countries to its will”. I wrote that statement in 2002 after four years of negotiations with the OECD against its unilateral imposition of a regime to counter what it called the ‘Harmful Tax Competition Initiative (HTCI)”, launched in 1998.
IT was a prophesy foretold – the eruption of violence in the face of attempts to disqualify from office a President and his party who were elected by the overwhelming majority of the electorate in Guatemala.
THERE has been a surge in gang violence and gun violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, leading to a high level of murders and heightened fear in many countries.
FOR sixty years, from their entry into school, Venezuelans have been trained into believing that the Essequibo region of Guyana belongs to Venezuela. Consequently, regardless of the facts, this belief is ingrained in the Venezuelan psyche.
THE attack by Hamas on civilians in Southern Israel on 7 October 2023 was as stupid as it was cruel, brutal and inhuman.
RECENT intimidatory and aggressive statements issued from Venezuela in the name of President Nicolas Maduro, the Government of Venezuela and the National Assembly concerning Guyana, have raised alarms in the regional, hemispheric and international community.
ON September 11 in Hamburg, Germany, a significant legal proceeding began that could redefine the parameters of climate justice for small island states. This case, slated to run until September 25, will unfold at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
Autonomous weapons pose a clear and present danger to the Caribbean. Action to ban them should be seriously considered now.
Bahamas joins organisation of small island states who face an existential threat due to climate change
AFTER a call by small islands for climate justice, Sir Ronald Sanders, the ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organization of American States, has warned that the islands face “a real and present threat” to their existence – and The Bahamas has joined a commission to tackle the issue.
THE saying, coined by the Latin poet, Horace, that “you too are in danger when your neighbour’s house is on fire” is particularly relevant now in relation to Latin American countries which are the closest neighbours to the member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
NO one should yet be pouring champagne to celebrate the announcement by the US government that Kenya has agreed to lead a multinational police force to help subdue gangs and improve security in Haiti. This announcement is rightly far from a done deal.
Guatemala, the largest country in Central America, is undergoing a critical test of its commitment to democracy and the rule of law in its presidential elections. The outcome will shape the nation’s political and social stability, economic development, and international standing, particularly within the Organization of American States (OAS).
IN the face of unremitting climate change threats and unfulfilled promises from industrialized nations, leaders of small island states have courageously taken matters into their own hands. Their frustration with lacklustre funding and inadequate solutions to fortify their countries against climate change has led them to pursue the power of the international legal system. They are seeking justice against those nations whose excessive greenhouse gas emissions pose an existential threat to their peoples.
HAITI’S non-elected President, Dr. Ariel Henry has been identified as a significant part of the current crisis in Haiti. Henry and a small clique, who surround him, are hardly running the affairs of the state. Indeed, as armed gangs control more than 60 per cent of Port-au-Prince and the main corridors throughout Haiti, the disappearance of the state is obvious.
THE peoples of small island states and coastal communities have long relied on the ocean for a multitude of benefits, including recreation, the delivery of goods and tourists, and a vital source of food through fishing. However, all these benefits, and much more, are currently under grave threat due to climate change, global warming, and sea-level rise. The damage is already taking its toll, imperceptibly but steadily, and it is crucial that we take action to preserve and develop the economic opportunities that the sea around us holds.
JULY 4, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, the foundational document that brought the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) into existence. With high hopes and lofty ambitions, the heads of government of the four largest independent Caribbean countries at the time embarked on a journey towards regional integration. They were later joined, to varying degrees of commitment, by 10 other countries.
An historic “first” was recorded at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) when 20 countries, drawn from Central America and the Caribbean, issued a joint declaration, calling on international financial and development institutions “to prioritize the provision of funds and resources to support the efforts of Central America and the Caribbean in addressing climate change, recognizing the urgency and magnitude of the challenges faced by these regions”.
THE relationship between the United States of America (US) and the 14-member independent member states of CARICOM as well as the Dominican Republic has entered a new phase of cooperation after 7 years of neglect between 2015 and 2022.
On May 31, the Organization of American States (OAS) faced a prolonged and contentious debate that lasted from 2:30 in the afternoon until well past midnight. This episode, marked by acrimony and political undercurrents, which was webcast publicly and instantly to the world, is likely to be revisited during the upcoming OAS General Assembly from June 21 to 23 in Washington, D.C., the headquarters of the OAS.
AS if small states, with limited financial and human resources to safeguard their societies, do not confront enough grave challenges, along comes the phenomenon of “autonomous weapons” – probably the most frightening technological development that has yet been created.
THE report on May 17, from the World Meteorological Organization, (WMO) that global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next five years should have sent all Caribbean institutions, such as the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, into overdrive to explore further ways in which the region could accelerate efforts to avert this calamity.
WORLD VIEW: Decimation of vulnerable nations inevitable if global warming continues on present trend
JOHN Kerry, former US Secretary of State and current US Special Envoy on Climate Change matters, told the world’s Ambassadors at a meeting in Washington, on May 10, that “there is no way” of keeping the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius unless CO2 emissions are drastically reduced.
MEDIA freedom in the Americas, from Canada in the North to Argentina in the South, with the Caribbean in between, did not rank very well in the 2023 World Press Freedom (WPF) Index.
THE President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, hosted a Conference on Venezuela in his nation’s capital, Bogota, on April 25. The European Union (EU) and 19 countries from the Americas, including the Caribbean, attended, but it is doubtful that they all had the same goals in mind.
I was astonished recently to be told by one of the representatives of the Caribbean on the Board of the World Bank (WB) that Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, St Kitts-Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago, should not expect any change in the bank’s policy not to make concessional loans to them because, supposedly, they are “high income” countries.
EFFORTS by small states to seek justice for damage and existential threats to their countries, caused by the world’s major environmental polluters, moved a step further at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on March 29.
“THE world is facing a crisis of development.” Those are the first words of a paper from officials of the World Bank Group (WBG), setting out a proposed roadmap for “urgent action” to tackle the “growing crisis of poverty and economic distress, and global challenges, including climate change, pandemic risks, and rising fragility and conflict”.
AUTHORITATIVE international bodies – among them, the respected Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) – have concluded that “democracy is under both literal and figurative assault around the world.” The countries of the Caribbean have not been exempted from this judgement which is based on more than a decade of studies.
IF DEVELOPING countries, especially the small and vulnerable states, expected meaningful attention by the G20 to the myriad economic and financial challenges that confront them, their hopes were dashed by failed meetings of Finance and Foreign Ministers in February and March.
THE people of Ukraine are the principal victims of the unjustified and unprovoked war, launched against them by Russia on February 24, 2022. But in the year since then, it has become clear that other victims - on a different scale - have been all the nations of the world, particularly the small, poor and powerless.
RAPE, and other forms of sexual violence against women in war and conflict, represent one of the great silences and suppressed issues in modern-day history.
HAITI continues to occupy the concerns of nations around the world, especially its closest neighbouring states.
ALL the countries of ‘the Americas’ ie, those in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean are experiencing political, social and economic trials to some extent.
“BEING homosexual is not a crime. We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity.” Those words were spoken by Pope Francis, easily the most radical pontiff that the Roman Catholic Church has ever had.
MANY countries in South America are now in a state of troubling unease. Recent events in Peru have catapulted it to the forefront of security concerns in all its dimensions. But worry also exists about other countries which are tiptoeing through political minefields that could explode overnight.
IT HAS been interesting to read the responses in Editorials and Opinions in some regional media, concerning the decision by the two main political parties in Antigua and Barbuda to abolish work permits for nationals of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries and the Dominican Republic.
THE pretender, Juan Guaidó, is now finally gone. The myth that he was the President of Venezuela and had the capacity to act and speak for the country, has now evaporated.
GANG violence, particularly in schools, and directed at school children, is fast becoming a grave concern throughout the Caribbean.
THROUGHOUT the world, people and their governments and Central Banks are worrying about inflation, or the rate of increase in the cost of living. In many countries, this concern about the cost of living has become a prime consideration in general elections because electorates want competent governments in whose hands they commit their expectations.
CALL me a cynic, but years of participation in negotiations between developed and developing countries have schooled me to be cautious about grand announcements and promises. The devil is usually in the detail. Experience has taught me to remain hopeful, but to be vigilant in ensuring the commitments, pledges and promises are kept.
SHOWING all the frankness that he demonstrates in his domestic politics, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, marched fearlessly like Daniel in the Lion’s Den, when he made several demands in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt where COP 27 is being held.
IN my commentary last week entitled, US Mid-term elections: a defining moment for the World, I pointed out that no less a person than Joseph R Biden Jr, the President of the United States of America, proclaimed that democracy is at stake in his country.
DEMOCRACY is at stake in the country that proclaims itself as the world’s bastion of democracy.
THE present Conservative party in Britain has now established a remarkable list of records; none of them good.
AT the height of Donald Trump’s presidency of the United States (U.S.) when, on January 23, 2019, he anointed Juan Guaidó as the “Interim President” of Venezuela, as much as 50 countries joined him in a folly that persisted until October 6, 2022.
ON September 23, at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, made a clear and unequivocal statement, concerning the impact of Climate Change.
“EVERY bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits our pockets and our economies in Africa.” Those were the words of the President of Ghana, Akufo-Addo, at the UN General Assembly on September 21.
THERE are intermittent squabbles in the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), concerning the controversial general elections of October 20, 2019, in Bolivia.
THE most ominous sign of what the forthcoming COP-27 meeting on climate change portends for small states is that officials from a Group of 20 (G20) major economies, who met on August 31, failed to agree a joint statement at the conclusion of the meeting.
ONCE again, politicians in the US are entangling the internal politics of their country with US obligations to the international community.
HAITI has never been far from wide-scale human suffering, grave political instability, and grim economic underdevelopment. But its circumstances today are worse than they have been before.
SO FAR in this attempt to answer the question, “Has CARICOM reached its limits of regional integration”, it has been established that, after almost 50 years, the regional project has failed to deliver the commitments expected from the 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramas and its Revision in 2001.