I have the honour to speak on behalf of the 14 Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
First, we would like to express appreciation to the EU for taking the initiative to commence discussion in the General Assembly on an enhanced observer status for regional groups that develop common external policies. This is indeed a very interesting proposal.
We note that in the case of our region, the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), provides for foreign policy coordination, functional cooperation, and economic integration. In this context, we take pride in the fact that we have made advancements with implementation of a single market and economy. Already we have harmonised our passport system, and where possible, we seek a common approach to foreign policy, among other agreed common approaches.
It should be noted that CARICOM as a regional organization which enjoys Observer status in the General Assembly could conceivably request a similar enhanced observer status in line with the draft resolution before us.
In view of our own internal harmonization processes we are able to see merit in some elements of the EU draft.
However, it is our collective view that the General Assembly would err on the side of procedure if we discuss merit before procedure. From a purely procedural point of view, we submit that the draft text before us has not yet had the benefit of full consultations. In fact, we understand that other regional groups were approached concerning the draft resolution but CARICOM was not consulted.
Having noted the statement made by the EU in introducing their proposal, we respectfully request more time to analyze the text and its implications. We feel that the proposal would alter the working methods of the organization, and the interaction among Member States.
Consequently, this is an issue of fundamental importance to the membership of the organisation. In addition to more time to study the EU proposal, we support the convening of the usual open, transparent consultations, given the importance of the proposal.
There are a number of issues in the text which require clarification and these could be resolved through broad consultation.
This is an unprecedented request by the EU and it is challenging because a change in the status of any delegation to the United Nations requires careful consideration leading to a decision that is in line with existing rules, traditions and practices relating to the work of the organization. To take a hurried decision on the eve of the next session of the General Assembly places us in an unfortunate position.
We recall that when the issue of the rights and privileges to be granted to Palestine as an observer was debated in the General Assembly, in 1997, the European Union requested more time for negotiations to take place so that there would be no ambiguities in respect of the rights and privileges to be accorded to Palestine. At that time, the EU suggested, that the General Assembly, and I quote,: “must be properly prepared so that we may all take a well-considered decision in full awareness of all the facts and after an in-depth exchange of views.” In addition, the Secretariat was requested to prepare a paper on the specific rights and privileges to be accorded to Palestine which was adopted in resolution A/RES/52/250.
We share the European view on this issue. In the spirit of friendship and cooperation, we feel that the EU, having taken that position in 1997, would similarly wish to ensure clear formulations in the text so that no ambiguities exist in their own proposal.
Our principled approach is that a resolution of such importance ought to be adopted by consensus, with sufficient time for careful consideration by the membership of the organization and in keeping with the usual in-depth exchange of views. Let me underscore, Mr President, CARICOM’s willingness to become engaged in the process leading to a consensus on the draft resolution before us.
It may well be that as a result of consultations, Member States would be able to build consensus and express solidarity with the EU leading to the adoption of the draft resolution.