Following is the full text of the address delivered by His Excellency President David Granger, at the Fourth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Quito, Ecuador yesterday
REGIONALISM AND SMALL STATE SECURITY
The delegation of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana expresses its appreciation to the President, government and people of the Republic of Ecuador for the excellent arrangements and for their gracious hospitality accorded us since our arrival. We also thank His Excellency Rafael Correa Delgado, for shepherding the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States over the past year. We extend best wishes to the incoming Pro-Tempore President His Excellency Danilo Medina, of the Dominican Republic.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is unique. It brings together the large states of mainland South and Central America with the mainly small-island states of the Caribbean, with Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Guyana, my own country and a small state, fortunately, a bridge between the two Communities, hosts the headquarters of the Caribbean Community and is also a part of this Continental system.
Small states constitute almost half of the membership of CELAC. They have special concerns arising from the differences of their historical experiences, geographical vulnerabilities, demographic and social composition and political systems.
The Heads of State and Government of the Latin America and the Caribbean States gathered in Havana, Cuba, on the occasion of the Second Summit of CELAC held on 28 and 29 January 2014, issued the Special Declaration on Small-Island Developing States which recognized the particular vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean. It pledged to “consider the importance of giving priority to SIDS in CELAC’s cooperation plans and programs.”
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana looks forward to the outcome of this Summit manifesting the spirit of that commitment with regard to the Community’s small states.
The small, geographically scattered, economically vulnerable and environmentally-fragile islands and low-lying coastal states of this community are susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and security threats including transnational crime, territorial threats and trafficking in narcotics, persons and illegal migration.
Natural disasters and climate-induced risks have inflicted widespread destruction, loss of life and economic calamity on the small states of the Caribbean. Rising sea levels, flood and drought have spread misery. Transnational crime and epidemic diseases have added to the burdens of small states. The small states of the Caribbean are now on alert for the Zika virus. Even mosquitoes have no borders.
Exogenous shocks have resulted in economic distress. Small states have only limited capacity to independently, individually and decisively respond to these shocks and threats. The European Union has also unjustly blacklisted certain small Caribbean states on account of their international financial transactions.
This hemisphere is known, historically, as the ‘New World.’ We cannot be citizens of a new era if we permit ‘Old World’ conflicts to persist. We have created a new vehicle – CELAC – to combine our energies, to contribute to the construction of a community of nations committed to peace among our states, and to ensure the happiness of our people. Our relations are based on mutual respect regardless of ,ower, size, or wealth.
The solutions to the challenges facing us are beyond the individual capabilities even of the strongest states amongst us. Common problems demand a common approach. Present-day transnational challenges demand coordinated multi-national action. It is only through collective action that we can uphold the principles embraced in our founding charter.
The Caracas Declaration of 3rd December, 2011 obliges this community to take account of “respect for International Law, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the prohibition of the use of and threat of use of force, the respect for self- determination, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity…”
CELAC pledged to “promote the development of instruments to ensure compliance with those values and principles.”
This commitment envisages an end to provocations and use of force. It precludes gunboat diplomacy. Any violation of this commitment by members of CELAC to resolve territorial conflicts in a peaceful manner can throw our hemispheric solidarity into jeopardy. The 21st century must be a century of peace for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Guyana, a small state, seeks only international peace and national economic growth. We propose, therefore, that we establish a permanent mechanism to translate our intentions into implementation and action. We have talked for more than two decades. We have passed several resolutions such as the:
• Promotion of Security in the Small Island States adopted by the Organisation of American States on 7th June 1996, twenty years ago.,,
• Declaration on Security in the Americas, adopted by the 3rd plenary of the Organization of American States in Mexico City on October 28, 2003; and the
• Declaration of Kingstown, Second High-Level Meeting on Special Security of Small-island States, St Vincent and the Grenadines, January 15, 2003.
It is time for action. It is time to look to the future. Guyana is confident that CELAC is the vehicle to translate our intentions into action.
• CELAC can play a role in promoting reconciliation and preserving this hemisphere as a ‘zone of peace.’
• CELAC has demonstrated its continental peace-making capability in the Colombian conflict. CELAC must be commended on this achievement.
• CELAC is urged to remain engaged in encouraging the pursuit of peaceful settlements of international controversies and to discourage the use or threat of force everywhere in this hemisphere.
• CELAC must:
– Add to the experiences of older organizations,
– Avoid the errors of older organizations,
– Advance the efforts of older hemispheric organizations.
We urge this Summit to give effect to its pledge to ensure compliance with the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes enunciated in the Caracas Declaration of December 2011.
CELAC is a unique community of states. It must remain faithful to its founding principles. It must remain a community of diversity.
It must remain a community that provides and promotes security for its small state members.
I thank you.