Secretary-General of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, urged unified positions by the 79-member grouping ahead of a number of international meetings, namely, the 77th United Nations General Assembly in September, the World Health Summit 2022 in Germany in October as well as the UN Climate Change Conference 2022 (UNFCCC COP 27) to be staged in Egypt in November and the Convention on biological diversity COP 15 in Montreal, Canada in December.
The OACPS Secretary-General made the comments during an in-person address at the 43rd Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit, in Paramaribo, Suriname.
Secretary-General Chikoti told the Caribbean leaders that the Brussels-based organisation exists and operates in a multi-polar and interconnected world, with its various elements closely linked to each other.
“We are witnessing and experiencing fundamental geopolitical changes and alignments, which will impact all countries, regions and continents. The test for our organisation is how do we, together, address challenges and opportunities stemming from this geopolitical change and alignment.”
According to the OACPS Secretary-General, “…as the world is still coming to terms with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, other challenges have mounted, including climate change, conflict, security, food security and economic/financial, to name but a few… The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that “no one is safe until we are all safe”.
“Geopolitical divisions will put globalisation at risk. Today, separate events are accelerating a shift that is transforming global politics,” Chikoti said, noting that the Ukraine-Russia conflict has exposed the deficiencies of the United Nations system and the entire post-World War II security architecture.
“This is mainly due to the persistent refusal by leaders to modernise international institutions in line with the vastly redrawn geopolitical landscape of today. Decades of demands for overhauling the UN Security Council have been impeded by the five permanent members of the Council, which could see their power diminished under new global rules.”
Secretary General Chikoti said that the impact of the conflict is substantial, due to the heightened external vulnerabilities of OACPS members.
“Countries are suffering from reduced tourism inflows, supply chain disruptions, higher food, petroleum and fertiliser prices, which will result in greater financing challenges. For people in the rich world, the coming food shock will put further upward pressure on grocery bills already affected by the high inflation.
“For poorer countries, still suffering from the economic impact of COVID-19, higher food prices may spell catastrophe. I would like to appeal to all involved parties in the conflict to work towards a negotiated settlement that would prevent any further loss of life and limit the humanitarian disaster.”
Secretary General Chikoti said the OACPS-European Union (EU) relationship, like any long-standing partnership, has had its ups and downs, and continues to change “to meet the demands of our constituents and the ever-changing global environment in which we operate.
“It is our duty to continue to work together with the EU for the benefit of our citizens, to face together the many challenges, and together gain from opportunities,” he said, adding “our partnership has the potential to be a driving force in global politics.
“Our combined membership accounts for more than half of the seats of the United Nations, and we represent more than 1.5 billion people. Our numeric strength and critical mass need to be deployed in the best interests of our peoples,” Chikoti said, adding that the OACPS need to also demonstrate to the world that it is united, “and that we are a force to be reckon with”.
He said that the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and more so the new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement, provide for that dynamic. The Post-Cotonou Agreement is a legally binding treaty which, is expected to shape political, social and economic relations between 106 countries across four continents.
“We all state that the OACPS-EU relationship is unique, it is special and an example of meaningful cooperation and understanding between the North and the South.
“As we enter the new era of our relationship, it is incumbent on us, together, to ensure that our partnership lives up to its full potential. In an ever-changing global environment with our own respective internal changes, it is our duty to further build this partnership in accordance with the aspirations, dreams and expectations of the peoples that we represent.”
Chikoti said the new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement was initialled on 15 April 2021 and despite the time lapse of more than one year, “many informal exchanges and various extensions of the provisions of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, there is still no progress with the signing of the Agreement.
“Last month, we have agreed to extend the Cotonou provisions until the 30th of June 2023, and we can only hope that the EU-side will reach unanimity amongst the 27 Members States that would allow for the signing of the Agreement,” he told the CARICOM leaders.