New CARICOM boss on integration mission
Irwin LaRocque pledges to fuel hope in regional integration as he takes up the post of new CARICOM Secretary General.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday August 17, 2011 – Under “no illusions” about the task ahead of him, new Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has assumed office pledging to fuel hope, encouraging the entire Community to journey with him, and underlining the need for the improvement of efficiency and effectiveness of the CARICOM Secretariat.
Secretary-General LaRocque took over the mantle of leadership on Monday with a “mix of excitement and awe given the challenges of the moment”, and with a charge by CARICOM Chairman Dr. Denzil Douglas to be bold, creative, visionary, and provide astute supervision for the work of the Community.
He said that since his selection on July 21, he had received numerous messages of congratulations as well as opinions on the progress of regional integration and issues affecting the populace.
While acknowledging that there was a measure of cynicism in some cases, a common thread in almost all of the messages and encounters was “a commitment and belief in our integration movement, as well as hope for change.”
“This in itself has been a most sobering but encouraging experience. It is that hope which, as Secretary-General, I will strive to fuel,” LaRocque said.
Rallying the Community to the cause of integration, the Secretary-General also signalled that he intended to prioritise public education and communication to ensure the people of the region were more informed of the benefits that could be derived from integration.
With regard to the implementation of decisions taken at the regional level, into which the CARICOM Chairman urged the new Secretary-General to inject some momentum, Ambassador LaRocque said it would be his duty to create the dialogue that would seek to find solutions to constraints which were inhibiting the advancement of integration in a timely manner. He said this against the background of acknowledgement of technical and political constraints that could not be easily ignored or overcome.
“We ought not to take a purely technical or theoretical approach to integration, or think that the solution lies simply with political will. We must consider the politics of integration; and as one politician said to me that all politics is national, the politics of integration must be put squarely on the national agenda,” he said.
As he saluted staff members of the CARICOM Secretariat “who have displayed an unwavering commitment to improving our Community,” the Secretary-General called for the improvement of efficiency and effectiveness, and the delivery of mandates with the primary goal of positively impacting the lives of the people of the Community.
But he cautioned that a critical element in going forward had to be a clear understanding that under the current conditions, “the Secretariat can no longer be all things to all persons if we are to be more effective”.
“We must be focused and adequately resourced, if we are to play the role envisaged by our Heads of Government,” LaRocque said.
Referred to the ongoing review of the CARICOM Secretariat and the mandated review of the regional institutions, the Secretary-General said that the architecture and governance of out integration arrangements had to be reformed if the Secretariat were to more effective and accountable in the discharge of duties and functions.
It could not be business as usual, he said, referring to the general view that all things CARICOM were the purview of the Secretariat.
“This is not necessarily the case; but if it is determined that this is how it should be, then the requisite reforms must be undertaken. There cannot be responsibility without authority,” he pointed out.
LaRocque’s message to members of the media, as a key stakeholder in integration, was that they use their communication skills to strengthen and build confidence amongst the people of the region.