A study analysing the question of how the participation of the Caribbean in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) could be strengthened in order to boost CELAC and the bi-regional strategic partnership has identified several areas for collaboration.
The study, undertaken by the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-LAC) Foundation, also examined the relationship between the EU and the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) in light of how the Caribbean relates to the EU within the 79-member grouping.
The authors of the study, who are affiliated with the University of the West Indies (UWI), adopted the view that the Caribbean’s participation in CELAC could be enhanced and sustained on the basis of the challenges that it shares with Latin America, and they propose the following areas for collaboration: poverty and inequality, crime and security, food security, non-communicable diseases, financial vulnerability and governance and transparency.
The Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs In light of the impending expiration of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020 between the EU and the ACP, and the importance the EU places on regional configurations — including those outside the ACP framework — which are in the same region, the authors found that CELAC could play a relevant role in the post-Cotonou framework.
The study also identifies, as a basis for exploring how they could be overcome, the hindrances to the Caribbean’s participation in CELAC.
Key among them being resource constraints to attend and engage meaningfully in CELAC meetings which add to an already overburdened meeting schedule, arising out of the existing “spaghetti bowl” of regional integration efforts in which the Caribbean participates.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said several assets of the Caribbean are presented which can contribute to enhancing its participation in CELAC and the bi-regional strategic partnership, including its successful experiences with regional integration and cooperation, the legitimacy of its voice on issues such as small state development and climate change.
It added that the make-up of its membership, which provides openings to Latin America, and its access to other important groupings such as the ACP group, AOSIS and, in the case of the Anglophone Caribbean, the Commonwealth.
“It is argued that CELAC and the bi-regional strategic partnership provide several opportunities for LAC countries in general, and for the Caribbean, in particular, including: additional space for South-South cooperation; a forum to coordinate LAC positions; a window for increased leverage on the global stage.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it also provides an “ institutionalised entry point for the Caribbean to Latin America; the opportunity to overcome existing divisions between the LAC sub-regions; opportunities for the Caribbean to take advantage of Latin America’s high levels of per capita income and technological advancements; an additional space to advance special consideration for the Caribbean and to advance its development objectives; increased weight for relating with the EU; an avenue to broaden triangular cooperation; and a space for the Caribbean to engage with the EU alongside the ACP framework.”