Categorized | Opinions

Commentary Outside-the-box-thinking: CARICOM’s only hope for a safer region – Part I

Caribbean News Now

By Ryan Registe

Ten sovereign states, one single domestic space, one security strategy, pooled resources, pooled watchlists, collective management of shared security threats… that was the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which had built an inclusive structure, designed to encourage and facilitate multijurisdictional and multidisciplinary participation at all levels of government in order to manage the joint hosting of the world’s second premier sporting event (the International Cricket Council’s Cricket World Cup) in 2007.

The singleness of purpose and collective independence of thought in identifying culturally relevant solutions to its common concerns resulted in a Caribbean Community being justifiably proud of its accomplishments and genuinely surprised of its resourcefulness in mastering its destiny, at least on that occasion. Few incidents of concern were recorded, reduced crime rates during the period were reported, absolute control of its borders, air and sea spaces was realized… there was much achieved, with limited international support.

In several quarters, it was felt that the model created by CARICOM was to be emulated; in others, this new self-sufficiency and independence was less than welcome since it would probably mean a new dispensation or negotiating stance for CARICOM in impending international security cooperation dialogues. In short, the movement away from dependency was not necessarily a desired objective from the perspective of many of its traditional partners.

As time passes though, it all seems to be slipping through our fingers. Four short years later, at least eight member states have changed their political administrations. In nearly all the territories, the team leaders and key stakeholders that choreographed the successful 2007 security strategy (ministers, permanent secretaries, commissioners of police, immigration chiefs) have, in the main, moved on or out. Considerable institutional memory has been lost and we seem to have reverted to the mode of scratching our heads, standing in our shoes, and wondering what to do.

This even as the traditional and legacy institutions and mechanisms (maintained before and since the Tournament) continue to deliver yeoman service in their commitment to securing our region and nations, with woefully inadequate financial support from their membership, a membership which persists in demanding better and bigger performances.

The story is the same for the Regional Security System (RSS) of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as it if for CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and its sub-agencies. All these institutions are diligently and resolutely doing their best to secure CARICOM’s borders and territories, by implementing the affordable strategies. Interestingly though, some of these agencies are almost existing on a month-to-month basis trying to stave off creditors and keep their heads afloat.

One or two are better off than others in garnering support owing their very high profile and sexy mandates like disaster mitigation and health services. Ironically, the unfortunate crisis which befell sister state Haiti, in January 2010, has opened new doors for funding resources for agencies like the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

One thing we do well, and very regularly, is discuss. The talk shops abound: ambassadors, ministers, prime ministers and presidents meet; they discuss; they routinely dispense flagellation to the agencies for submitting annual budgets, for not doing enough, for not doing more with a whole lot less, and then they proceed to reject sound proposals for improving the lot of the Community’s agencies which they themselves affirm as critical and vital to the security of the region.

Little or no funding is available to implement the strategies that the political heads have mandated. Instead there exists a stubborn reliance on old formulas (quota contributions) that are not forthcoming now or in the foreseeable future, and which do not work. Do we really expect new results when the same old strategies are no longer relevant or practical?

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Caribbean News Now

By Ryan Registe

Ten sovereign states, one single domestic space, one security strategy, pooled resources, pooled watchlists, collective management of shared security threats… that was the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which had built an inclusive structure, designed to encourage and facilitate multijurisdictional and multidisciplinary participation at all levels of government in order to manage the joint hosting of the world’s second premier sporting event (the International Cricket Council’s Cricket World Cup) in 2007.

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The singleness of purpose and collective independence of thought in identifying culturally relevant solutions to its common concerns resulted in a Caribbean Community being justifiably proud of its accomplishments and genuinely surprised of its resourcefulness in mastering its destiny, at least on that occasion. Few incidents of concern were recorded, reduced crime rates during the period were reported, absolute control of its borders, air and sea spaces was realized… there was much achieved, with limited international support.

In several quarters, it was felt that the model created by CARICOM was to be emulated; in others, this new self-sufficiency and independence was less than welcome since it would probably mean a new dispensation or negotiating stance for CARICOM in impending international security cooperation dialogues. In short, the movement away from dependency was not necessarily a desired objective from the perspective of many of its traditional partners.

As time passes though, it all seems to be slipping through our fingers. Four short years later, at least eight member states have changed their political administrations. In nearly all the territories, the team leaders and key stakeholders that choreographed the successful 2007 security strategy (ministers, permanent secretaries, commissioners of police, immigration chiefs) have, in the main, moved on or out. Considerable institutional memory has been lost and we seem to have reverted to the mode of scratching our heads, standing in our shoes, and wondering what to do.

This even as the traditional and legacy institutions and mechanisms (maintained before and since the Tournament) continue to deliver yeoman service in their commitment to securing our region and nations, with woefully inadequate financial support from their membership, a membership which persists in demanding better and bigger performances.

The story is the same for the Regional Security System (RSS) of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as it if for CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and its sub-agencies. All these institutions are diligently and resolutely doing their best to secure CARICOM’s borders and territories, by implementing the affordable strategies. Interestingly though, some of these agencies are almost existing on a month-to-month basis trying to stave off creditors and keep their heads afloat.

One or two are better off than others in garnering support owing their very high profile and sexy mandates like disaster mitigation and health services. Ironically, the unfortunate crisis which befell sister state Haiti, in January 2010, has opened new doors for funding resources for agencies like the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

One thing we do well, and very regularly, is discuss. The talk shops abound: ambassadors, ministers, prime ministers and presidents meet; they discuss; they routinely dispense flagellation to the agencies for submitting annual budgets, for not doing enough, for not doing more with a whole lot less, and then they proceed to reject sound proposals for improving the lot of the Community’s agencies which they themselves affirm as critical and vital to the security of the region.

Little or no funding is available to implement the strategies that the political heads have mandated. Instead there exists a stubborn reliance on old formulas (quota contributions) that are not forthcoming now or in the foreseeable future, and which do not work. Do we really expect new results when the same old strategies are no longer relevant or practical?