President David Granger has called for greater security cooperation in the Caribbean. The Head of State made this impassioned plea for greater security cooperation, while delivering the feature address at a dinner hosted by the Institute of International Relations (IIR) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The dinner was held last Friday at the St Augustine Campus of the UWI.
President Granger, in making a call for greater security cooperation, has allied himself with the position of Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who at the 27th Inter-sessional Meeting of the Heads of Government Conference of the Caribbean Community held in Belize in February 2016, had brought to the attention of regional leaders, the urgency of the security threats facing the Region and the necessity for urgent and timely action to be taken to improve security across the Region.
The Guyanese Head of State, an alumnus of the IIR and a historian, recalled a variety of security crises – the secession of Anguilla in 1967, the armed insurrection in Grenada in 1979 and the invasion of that island four years later; the security crises in Haiti since 1994 – and the challenges these have presented for regionalism.
President Granger observed that ‘old’ threats including invasion, insurrection, intervention, international and domestic terrorism, mutiny, maritime disputes, secession, territorial claims and coups d’état still persist, while new threats in the forms of transnational crimes: narcotics-trafficking, gun-running, money-laundering and illegal migration have emerged. The region, according to the Guyanese President, has also witnessed the emergence of organised crime and violent ‘posses’ and gangs.
The persistence of old security threats and the emergence of new ones suggest, according to the President, that the current arrangements for security cooperation in the Caribbean may be insufficient to meet the needs and member states. He called for these arrangements “to be evaluated and, if necessary, supplemented by additional systems and mechanisms in order to achieve the wider strategic objectives of the states.”
The Guyanese Head of State stressed that the security of the Caribbean will not improve on its own accord and that a Security System is needed to respond to the new security problems.
President Granger told the large gathering at the IIR’s dinner that individual countries of the Caribbean Community cannot, on their own, overcome threats posed by territorial claims, transnational criminal networks, epidemics and environmental jeopardy. He called for new security architecture to make the Caribbean safe, deter aggressors, combat illicit trafficking and create a zone of peace in the Caribbean.
The President also called for the Caribbean to be preserved as a zone of peace. “It must become, he urged, ” a zone in which the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Caribbean states are respected, where the new security threats are extinguished, where our children can play in parks without fear of innocent victims of gangland violence and where our young people are not seduced into drug trafficking and gun-running.” (MOTP)