Established in 1973, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is a grouping of 20 countries: 15 member States and five associated members, most of which are Small Island Developing States. The CARICOM Secretariat is located in Georgetown, Guyana, and the Secretary-General is Ms. Carla Barnett of Belize, who was appointed in 2021.
In July 2022, Secretary-General António Guterres attended the 43rd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, in Suriname, as a special guest. Heads of CARICOM welcomed his remarks and advocacy on issues of critical importance to member States, particularly climate change and the reform of the global financial system.
CARICOM was granted observer status before the UN General Assembly in 1991 (A/RES/46/8). In 1994, the General Assembly resolution on “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community” (A/RES/49/141) requested the Secretary-General to, in consultation with the Secretary-General of CARICOM, “promote meetings between their representatives for consultations on policies, projects, measures and procedures that will facilitate and broaden cooperation and coordination between them”.
In 1997, the Secretariats of CARICOM and the UN signed a Cooperation Agreement establishing that both entities should “act in close collaboration and hold consultations regularly on matters of common interest”. It also established that the Secretariats should “develop the appropriate framework for such consultations as and when necessary”.
The consultations between the Secretariats of the two organizations have since 2000 taken the form of biennial General Meetings, held alternatively at their respective Headquarters. This inter-institutional collaborative mechanism allows both organizations to enhance their analyses, strategies and programmes, as well as to explore how they can support the CARICOM Secretariat and Associated Institutions in carrying out their tasks. As eleven of those meetings have been held so far, they have become the major mechanism for operationalizing the Cooperation Agreement between the Secretariats of CARICOM and the UN.
Unlike other UN cooperation mechanisms in the region, the General Meetings have as their ultimate purpose promoting the institutional strengthening of CARICOM as a regional organization, rather than focusing on bilateral support to Member States or groups of countries. Hence, the mechanism does not involve any programmatic in-country implementation; rather, it encompasses discussions at the strategic regional level.
With DPPA being the UN focal point for cooperation with regional organizations, the Department’s Americas Division is in charge of coordinating UN participation in the General Meetings, in cooperation with the CARICOM Secretariat. General Meetings bring together representatives of UN entities that cooperate with CARICOM as well as representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat and Associated Institutions.
The 11th CARICOM-UN General Meeting, which had a virtual format, took place in July 2021 and was attended by about 130 participants from more than 30 UN entities and 17 CARICOM Associated Institutions. The meeting resulted in a Joint Statement outlining practical ways forward for the CARICOM-UN cooperation. The statement fed into General Assembly resolution 75/323 on “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community” (A/RES/75/323).
Further to the General Meetings, DPPA has provided the CARICOM Secretariat with electoral capacity-building, and helped facilitate UN support toward the finalization of CARICOM’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the review of its Crime and Security Strategy.