Jamaica Hosts COFCOR Meeting, Emphasizing International Relations and Community Relations


The Twenty-Sixth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was held in Kingston, Jamaica on 16-17 May 2023, under the Chairmanship of Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica.

The COFCOR was attended by the Honourable E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Trade and Barbuda Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda;

the Honourable Kerrie D. Symmonds, M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados;

the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize; the Honourable Dr. Vince Henderson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business, Trade and Energy of the Commonwealth of Dominica;

the Honourable Joseph Andall, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Export Development of Grenada; His Excellency Jean Victor Généus, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Haiti; Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica;

the Honourable Alva Baptiste, Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation of Saint Lucia; the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis; the Honourable Keisal M. Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of St. Vincent and the Grenadines;

His Excellency Albert Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation of the Republic of Suriname; and Senator the Honourable Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Jamahl Strachan, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and His Excellency George Talbot, Ambassador to CARICOM, represented the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.


Remarks were delivered by Dr. Carla Barnett, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); the Honourable E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Trade and Barbuda Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda and outgoing Chair of the COFCOR, and Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica and current Chair of the COFCOR.

All three speakers noted the Meeting’s significance as a vehicle to review and advance the COFCOR’s mandate in coordinating foreign policy, noting its particular relevance as CARICOM celebrates its Fiftieth Anniversary.

(The statements are available at www.caricom.org)


The COFCOR discussed the Bridgetown Initiative and acknowledged its critical importance for developing countries to advocate for restructuring of the global financial system to facilitate an effective response to the development and climate crises.


The COFCOR stressed the importance of a strategic approach and effective engagement in international fora, having regard to the vital importance of candidatures to CARICOM’s foreign policy and the need for coordination to ensure that CARICOM candidatures are successful.

In this regard, the Council endorsed CARICOM candidates campaigning for a number of positions in the United Nations (UN) and its specialized Agencies, the Organisation of American States (OAS), and other international and regional bodies.

Ministers established a Technical Working Group to undertake a comprehensive review of the Principles to Guide the Identification of CARICOM Candidates for International Positions.

The Group is to prepare a report for the Eighteenth Special Meeting of the COFCOR in September 2023.


The COFCOR received an update on the Community’s upcoming bilateral meetings at the Heads of Government and Ministerial levels scheduled for the remainder of 2023.

Foreign Ministers agreed that CARICOM should use the opportunity of these engagements to strengthen its relations with traditional and non-traditional partners and to promote and protect its interests on the global stage.


The COFCOR noted the progress made to strengthen relations with several Third States since its last Meeting.

In so doing, it reaffirmed the importance of CARICOM’s relations with its partners to promote an appreciation of the Community’s interests and catalyse new development platforms.

The COFCOR expressed satisfaction with the reset in CARICOM’s relationship with the United States of America, particularly the progress made following the engagement between CARICOM Heads of Government and the US President and Vice President in June 2022.

The Council also underscored the need for the Community to strategically consider its long-term engagement with the US.

The Council welcomed the US’ proposal for an engagement between the US Vice President and the Community.

The COFCOR noted the developments in CARICOM-Africa Relations, particularly, Guyana’s commitment to host the next African-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) and the imminent establishment of the Afreximbank regional office in Barbados.

They recognised the ongoing initiatives to bolster trade and investment between CARICOM and Africa, namely, the financial instruments on offer from Afreximbank for trade promotion.

They also urged Member States that had not yet signed the Partnership Agreement with Afreximbank to do so at the earliest opportunity.

The Council called for finalisation of the CARICOM-African Union Memorandum of Understanding to establish a mechanism for engagement and cooperation between the Community and the African Union that will deepen relations between the two regions.

Foreign Ministers reiterated the significance of strengthening the CARICOM diplomatic presence in Africa, urged Member States to utilise the office space provided by the Government of Kenya, and agreed that interested Member States should provide information on occupancy arrangements for the shared office space to the Government of Barbados.

In reviewing CARICOM-Dominican Republic relations, Foreign Ministers noted the interest of the Dominican Republic in restoring and strengthening political relations with the Community and considered recent developments that have taken place between several CARICOM Member States and that country.

In light of the outreach of the Government of Dominican Republic to a number of CARICOM Member States, and its apparent willingness to temper its approach to treat with the Denationalization of Persons of Haitian Descent and Haitian Migrants, Ministers agreed that it was timely to review CARICOM’s current policy towards the Dominican Republic.

They agreed to make that recommendation to Heads of Government, taking into account Haiti’s views.

In respect of the Central American Integration System (SICA), the COFCOR underscored the importance of sustained and meaningful cooperation with Central America.

They welcomed the approval by all parties of the revised CARICOM-SICA Plan of Action and agreed to allow for its systematic implementation.

Foreign Ministers reaffirmed support for the Pro-Tempore Presidency of Belize and encouraged collaboration on the multifaceted challenges faced by both sub-regions.

Community Relations – Haiti

Foreign Ministers discussed the situation in Haiti and CARICOM’s ongoing efforts to address the issues. They recognized the tragic circumstances and emphasized the importance of a long-term development plan for the country.

They reaffirmed the Region’s commitment to supporting Haiti and leveraging international support.

The COFCOR acknowledged the need for urgent action and emphasized the Community’s role in facilitating dialogue among Haitian stakeholders, promoting political stability, and ensuring free and democratic elections. They emphasized the need for outcome-oriented engagements.

Interactions with Representatives of Third States

Ministers received a presentation from Juan Fernández-Trigo, Secretary of State for Latin America, the Caribbean and Spanish Language in the World, representing the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain.

He highlighted Spain’s policy towards the wider Latin American and Caribbean Region.

Ministers recognized the strategic relevance of Spain’s assumption of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2023.

They emphasized the need for a more structured approach to the relationship. The COFCOR received an update on the preparations for the European Union-CELAC Summit in July 2023 and Spain’s candidature to host the World Expo 2027.

Foreign Ministers expressed deep concern over the challenges faced by small and vulnerable CARICOM states.

They urged the Special Envoy of Spain to advocate on behalf of the region on issues like climate change, access to financing, loss of correspondent banking relations, and blacklisting.

Ministers also welcomed His Excellency Takei Shunsuke, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Both sides expressed satisfaction with the CARICOM-Japan partnership and committed to strengthening cooperation.

They discussed the CARICOM-Japan Year of Friendship 2024 as an opportunity for cultural exchange. The COFCOR welcomed the presentation of the logo for the various events in 2024.

The Council also acknowledged Japan’s efforts in promoting sustainable development and addressing the vulnerabilities of small island countries.

Ministers appreciated Japan’s assistance in areas such as environment, climate change, disaster prevention, health, sanitation, and marine resource protection.

They extended best wishes to Japan for hosting the G7 Summit and highlighted the importance of conveying CARICOM’s concerns to the grouping.

Foreign Ministers received a presentation from Gorazd Renčelj, Special Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large for the United Nations Security Council of Slovenia.

They noted the friendly relations between Slovenia and CARICOM and expressed a desire to deepen engagement. Slovenia requested CARICOM’s support for its candidature for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2024-2025.

Multilateral and Hemispheric Relations

United Nations:
The COFCOR received updates on important matters within the United Nations, including Security Council Reform, the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI), and the International Legal Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Ministers emphasized the Community’s active participation in upcoming Summits and High-level Meetings to promote and protect CARICOM’s interests.

Organisation of American States (OAS):
The COFCOR received an update on OAS issues of interest to the Community. Ministers discussed the financial constraints facing the Organization and considered possible solutions.

They noted that The Bahamas would host the Fourth Inter-American Meeting of Ministers and High-Level Authorities on Sustainable Development and Climate Finance in the Americas and committed to active participation.

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC):
Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to support Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as President Pro-Tempore of CELAC.

They received an update on the CELAC Programme of Action for 2023 and plans for the forthcoming EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels.

Association of Caribbean States:
The Council welcomed Suriname’s Chairmanship of the Ministerial Council of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) for the period 2023-2024.

The COFCOR pledged its support for Suriname’s Chairmanship and expressed its commitment to more active and strategic engagement within the ACS.

Foreign Ministers were briefed on the Ninth Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the ACS, which took place in Guatemala under the theme “Innovating Integration through the Sustainable Development of the Greater Caribbean.”

Climate Change

The COFCOR received updates on recent Climate Summits, the First CARICOM Preparatory Meeting, and negotiations related to the Community’s positions on climate change.

Ministers agreed to enhance efforts in engaging with the COP28 chair on issues such as forests, forest carbon, and private sector involvement to support additional development finance for Loss and Damage.

They also expressed a commitment to pursue reform of the international financial architecture at COP28.

Update on the Preparations for Observing the 50th Anniversary of CARICOM

The COFCOR noted that Member States’ plans to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary were discussed during the Committee of Ambassadors meeting.

Activities were already underway, including the COFCOR’s participation in a tree-planting exercise in Jamaica to commemorate the Community’s 50th Anniversary.

Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Government and people of Jamaica for their hospitality and looked forward to convening the Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the COFCOR in Dominica in May 2024.

Border Issues


Ministers received an update on the claim brought by Guatemala against Belize at the International Court of Justice.

The claim seeks to resolve legal disputes over land, insular territories, maritime areas, and boundaries between the two countries. Ministers expressed concern over illegal Guatemalan activities near the Adjacency Zone and the deforestation of Belize’s national parks along the border due to unauthorized incursions by Guatemalan nationals.

They urged both countries to adhere to Confidence Building Measures and establish a protocol for the Sarstoon River and the Gulf of Honduras.

Ministers reiterated their support for the OAS in defusing tensions along the border and urged continued international support for the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone.

They emphasized unwavering support for Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


The COFCOR was briefed on the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela. Ministers noted the International Court of Justice’s decision rejecting Venezuela’s Preliminary Objection and affirming its jurisdiction to adjudicate on the merits of Guyana’s claim regarding the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.

They reiterated their steadfast support for the security, maintenance, and preservation of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


Foreign Ministers expressed deep appreciation to the Government and people of Jamaica for their warm hospitality and excellent arrangements during the Twenty-Sixth Meeting of the COFCOR.

They looked forward to the Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the COFCOR in Dominica in May 2024.

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