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Reinforcement of the ACS

The Association of Caribbean States (ACS) gets stronger by the day. This association, whose Caribbean visionaries undertook to develop, on the one hand, functional co-operation, and on the other, to consolidate economic, political, scientific, and cultural relations in the Caribbean, moves relentlessly towards these objectives.

The central idea that led to the formation of the ACS, that co-operation between the countries, states and territories of the Greater Caribbean will benefit above all the peoples of the region—notwithstanding the respective linguistic differences and level of development of each of them—is producing satisfactory results.

The association, founded to develop dialogue and concerted political action among the various regions that constitute it, continues to respond to this fundamental aim. Dialogue and concerted action happen regularly: during the various scheduled activities within the institutional mechanisms of participation and on the secretariat level.

It is thus that successively, the Group of Three, Caricom and the non-group countries have been represented by a secretary general to conduct the fate of the association. Now it comes down to a representative from Central America to take up the mantle. This representative was elected at the last meeting of the Ministerial Council and took up his post on March 3. In this sense, the alternation is rigorously respected in the ACS.

Apart from the alternation, what is important is the political vision that each secretary general brings to the association during his mandate, which contributes to the strengthening of the Greater Caribbean. Today, the ACS enjoys high visibility on the regional and international scene and its relations with its partners are growing.

A number of its founding observers (Caricom, Sica, Eclac, Sela), the observer countries (from Latin America, Europe and Asia) and social actors (universities, research centres, various organisations and institutions) participate regularly in its activities and meetings. And there are many countries and other international institutions that wish to join this project of the Greater Caribbean. Also on this level, the reinforcement of the ACS is ensured.

The last meeting of the Ministerial Council raised the issue of co-operation among member states. In this respect, certain delegations, in the session of the ministerial political dialogue, indicated the fields in which their countries can offer co-operation and assistance. These areas are as diverse as technical and distance training, production of biofuels, the fight against drug trafficking and disaster prevention.

Also, certain delegations made themselves available to contribute to the rapprochement between nationals of member states, breaking language barriers, through continued training in the three working languages of the ACS, and implementing programmes for exchange and cultural immersion.

Thus, this ministerial meeting allowed the member states to make proposals relating to regional co-operation and international business relations.

For example, a member state mentioned some priority projects, including the establishment of an integrated information system of the Greater Caribbean, the facilitation of Customs initiatives, the special and differential treatment of small economies in international business agreements, the programme to reduce and eliminate progressively obstacles to business and investment, and a framework agreement for reciprocal promotion and protection of investments.

Considering the points mentioned above, there is no doubt that the role of the ACS is strengthening. As one of the delegations says, the ACS remains the privileged forum of the Greater Caribbean which allows advances in the defence and consolidation of democracy, and at the same time it helps in the fight against poverty and in research on sustainable development.

The ACS is finally strengthening through the question of the Caribbean Sea, this common heritage of all the peoples of the region. Through the initiative of the ACS, in 2006 the UN passed a resolution moving towards declaring the Caribbean Sea as a special zone in the context of sustainable development.

And the ACS works tirelessly through the Caribbean Sea Commission towards achieving the aims defined in the Declaration of Panama (2005) on this question and in responding to the recommendations contained in this resolution.

The commission now has a joint working plan approved by the Ministerial Council and its internal regulations are also becoming ever more shaped around joint action. The reinforcement of the ACS will continue. The ideals that led to its formation are strong, yesterday and today.

n Dr Watson Denis is the political adviser of

the Secretariat of the Association of Caribbean

States. The opinions expressed are not

necessarily the official opinions of the ACS.

Please send your comments to [email protected]

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