Photo Description: Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley speaking at the opening session of the 2022 Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) at Hilton Barbados, today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)
Author: Julie Carrington/BGIS
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has underscored the importance of working together as a region to withstand the climate crisis, the use of illegal weapons, and the consequences of war, among other ills.
Ms. Mottley told her audience that the consequences of war resulted in countries facing issues regarding access to commodities and warned the region to brace for higher food prices from the fallout of the ongoing war in Ukraine, now in its fifth week.
“The truth is that with the war in Ukraine going into its fifth or so week, we are now going to start to see regrettably some of the consequences of that war, which has been spoken about. That is going to lead to discomfort in many of our countries with respect to prices and with respect to access to those commodities,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley continued: “It is going to be therefore to the potential risk of us having to settle our populations and to get them to understand that the world is going through a difficult moment. But, it’s not the first time that it has gone through and it will, regrettably, not be the last because of…our natural environment.”
The Prime Minister recalled the major international and regional events, such as the two World Wars, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, continuous uprisings and revolutions in the Caribbean in the 1930s, to emphasise the point that we all should be conscious of our history, and avoid repeating past mistakes.
She proffered the view that in the Caribbean “too much of our modern existence in the last five centuries has been a zone of conflict and not a zone for peace”.
Ms. Mottley added: “For those who watch on, you may perhaps, better understand why then, we insist that there be that commitment to us being a zone of peace.”
Meanwhile, Commander of the United States Southern Command, General Laura Richardson, also zeroed in on the region being a zone of peace and the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine. She pointed out that the Caribbean was a “vitally important region to SOUTHCOM, the US Government and to the American people”.
“With authoritarianism on the rise, protecting human rights and helping our democracies deliver for our people is more important than ever before. We gathered here at a critical time in our world history…. The world witnessed and is still witnessing Vladimir Putin and the unprovoked horrific invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. It was the most flagrant violation of the most fundamental principles the international community – self-determination and national sovereignty – established after World War II…,” Commander Richardson underlined.
She continued: “For decades, Caribbean countries have long been champions of these sacred principles. A threat to democracy anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. CARICOM lent their voice to the chorus of peace loving democracies around the world condemning Russia’s invasion and calling for immediate ceasefire. This region truly is a zone of peace as all CARICOM members have eloquently stated last month.”
General Richardson said the conference afforded the opportunity for greater collaboration to maintain the peace in the Caribbean, while acknowledging the impact of the crisis on nations.
The top military official also spoke to the climate crisis and the risks to vulnerable countries as stronger hurricanes and rising sea levels have destroyed homes, lives, livelihoods and decades of growth. She noted that there is also the social fallout from poverty, human trafficking and crime and violence.
General Richardson said the imminent threat from transnational criminal organisations was an emerging danger not to be ignored and pointed out that the CANSEC conference was a “chance for all democratic partners inside and outside the region to share best practices, lessons learned, and enhance inter-operability….”
The conference, co-hosted by the Barbados Defence Force, concludes tomorrow, Thursday, April 7.