Choosing a Caricom national as new ACP Secretary General

Choosing a Caricom national as new ACP Secretary General


Saturday, November 08, 2014

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IF all goes well, and consistent with established norms and practices, then a Caribbean Community (Caricom) national is expected to be chosen next month as the new Secretary General of the 79-member African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states at a council meeting in Brussels a month from today.

The last time a Caricom national had the honour to serve in that capacity for this important bloc of states, which systematically monitors developments and responds to challenging regional and international economic, social and political issues, was almost a quarter-century ago.

Then, Trinidad and Tobago national Edwin Carrington was elected for a rotating five-year term (1985-1990). He subsequently became the longest-serving Secretary General of the 15-member Caricom.

This time around, the honour of being the ACP's Secretary General for the period 2015 - 2020 is widely expected to go to Guyana's Brussels-based ambassador to the European Union (EU) for the past nine years, Dr Patrick Gomes.

According to the evaluation of an 'open-ended' CARIFORUM Ministerial Committee that considered the suitability of three shortlisted candidates from an original group of six, Dr Gomes was judged to have "the best understanding of the functions of the Secretary General...". The two other Caricom nationals evaluated from the shortlist are nationals of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

The September 22 evaluation process by a ministerial group also included the Secretary General of CARIFORUM and director general of the CARIFORUM Directorate serving as facilitators. The evaluation in New York had coincided with a special session of Caricom foreign ministers, who were present for the opening session of the current United Nations General Assembly.

The evaluation committee comprised Cabinet ministers of Grenada, St Lucia, and the Dominica Republic (the latter by virtue of the DR's membership of CARIFORUM). This is the prevailing mechanism by which the region normally conducts business with the EU under the Economic Partnership Agreement signed in Barbados in October 2008.

Dr Gomes has been involved for some 35 years with Caribbean institutions and organisations in various capacities, including the University of the West Indies. He was executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD), a consultant project manager for CARICOM's Food Security Facility,and is currently a member of the board of governors of the European Centre for Development Policy Management.

Selection of the ACP SG

There are six regions within the ACP group of states that collectively represent some 800 million ethnically/culturally diverse peoples. The "Georgetown Accord" which, in 1975, laid the foundation for the ACP, provides for the affairs of the ACP to be supervised by an empowered Council of Ministers, whose responsibilities include the five-year appointment of the Secretary General on the basis of "merit, qualifications, professional competence, and integrity".

These requirements will guide the Council of Ministers, who are in possession of the report of the ministerial committee that evaluated the trio of candidates for the post of new Secretary General and recommended him as having "the best understanding of the functions of the position of the Secretary General..."

The ministerial bureau of the six ACP regions is scheduled to meet next month, on December 9, to offer their recommendation on the preferred candidate based on the report from the evaluation of the trio of nominees by the ministerial committee that credited Dr Gomes with "the best understanding of the functions of the position of the Secretary General..."

In this quite transparent process, the final decision should pose no surprise. We wait.

Rickey Singh is a Barbados-based noted Caribbean journalist.

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