United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 4 July with his wife Ban Soon-taek, becoming the first Secretary-General to attend a meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Shortly after arrival, he attended the opening ceremony of the thirty-first General Meeting of CARICOM, presided over by Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica.
The Secretary-General told the gathered Heads of Government that he was profoundly honoured to be the first United Nations Secretary-General to address a CARICOM summit. And he took the occasion to thank the leaders for their support and commitment to Haiti, nearly six months after the devastating 12 January earthquake. (See Press Release SG/SM/12992)
He said that, over the past six months, the Government and people of Haiti had accomplished much, in collaboration with the international community, with emergency shelter being distributed to 1.5 million people, widespread hunger and illness being averted and children returning to school. But we nonetheless have an enormous task ahead, he warned, especially with the onset of the hurricane season.
He also told the CARICOM leaders that the region and the world need to move forward on three priority issues: economic and development concerns, including the Millennium Development Goals; security challenges, including drugs and crime; and climate change.
After the summit’s opening session, the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with President René Préval of Haiti, with whom he discussed the way ahead, six months after the earthquake. Among other things, they discussed how the pledges committed to Haiti’s reconstruction can be delivered, and how aid can be coordinated on the ground.
On Monday morning, the Secretary-General had a working breakfast with Prime Minister Golding, during which they discussed regional issues and the concerns facing CARICOM. After that, he met with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissesar of Trinidad and Tobago, and congratulated her on becoming the first woman elected to that position. They discussed the region’s common concerns, including crime and security, climate change and socio-economic development. The Secretary-General congratulated Trinidad and Tobago for its accomplishments in implementing the Millennium Development Goals.
He then met with Prime Minister Denzil Douglas of Saint Kitts and Nevis, who was representing the Eastern Caribbean States. The Secretary-General congratulated the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States for signing an agreement on economic union, which he felt could be a model for the region. They also talked about other challenges, including debt and non-communicable diseases.
The Secretary-General then attended an interactive session with the CARICOM Heads of Government, in which the gathered leaders discussed aid to Haiti, climate change and economic concerns.
Following lunch with the Heads of Government, the Secretary-General returned to New York later on 5 July.