I am very much delighted to meet again with the leaders of the Caribbean region.
It is a pleasure to see familiar faces and leaders who have been elected over the past year and leading your countries along, including the distinguished Chairman of CARICOM, His Excellency Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia.
I am honoured to welcome President Donald Ramotar of Guyana and Prime Minister Simpson Miller of Jamaica. Madam Prime Minister, your new role sends a strong and important message about women’s empowerment in the Caribbean.
The Caribbean region has a long democratic tradition, and vast expertise to offer the world.
I am particularly impressed by the progress you have made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals despite the region’s vulnerability to external shocks.
Of course, the financial crisis continues to have a negative impact on most of you. You also face challenges related to declining revenue, weakened growth and high levels of debt and barriers to trade. I will continue to call on members of the G8 and G20 about your concerns.
Climate change remains another urgent challenge, one that has a disproportionate impact on the Caribbean.
I thank the Government of Grenada for its contributions as recent Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States. I also congratulate the region for having again demonstrated its traditional leadership in the lead-up to the Rio+20 Conference. Your efforts helped to produce a far-reaching outcome document with concrete deliverables.
I will look to you to continue that dynamic engagement as we move toward establishing Sustainable Development Goals and outline a post-2015 development agenda.
Transnational organized crime is a growing threat, with a devastating impact on women and youth and with the potential to undermine development and stability. I commend your efforts to address this problem. I am pleased that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is working with you to implement a regional strategy, including the possibility of re-establishing a small permanent office in the Caribbean.
I attach great importance to regional cooperation among states and between regional organizations and the United Nations.
I congratulate the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States on the recent inauguration of the Assembly of Parliamentarians, and wish you great success in this new endeavour.
I have also learned that new proposals are being considered for restructuring the CARICOM Secretariat under the leadership of Secretary-General LaRocque.
I would be interested in hearing your views about the way forward for regional integration.
I remain grateful for CARICOM’s support to Haiti. The country is now set to assume the Chairmanship of CARICOM in January next year, for the first time since joining the organization. This is an important and encouraging illustration of the progress made toward the complete integration of Haiti into your ranks. Let us all maintain our commitment to Haiti’s recovery and well-being.
CARICOM and the United Nations are good partners. I am committed to ensuring that our cooperation – both with the CARICOM Secretariat and with Member States – is more targeted and more responsive to the needs of the region.
Again, thank you very much for your support at this challenging time for the region and the world. I look forward to working with you to achieve our common goals of peace and security, sustainable development and human rights for all.
Thank you very much.