44th CPA Regional Conference of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic (CAA) Region on the theme of ‘Globalisation and Nationalism: Quo Vadis – Impacts on Commonwealth Parliaments’. The CPA Regional Conference saw over 60 delegates from across the Caribbean participate in the week-long conference from 15 to 19 July 2019 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The CPA Caribbean Regional Conference also focused on the pressing issues facing the region such as de-globalisation, climate change and population growth. The regional conference was attended by Speakers, Members of Parliament and guest delegates from across the region and wider CPA community.
Senator Hon. Christine Kangaloo, President of the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago and Hon. Bridgid Annisette-George, MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Trinidad and Tobago hosted the regional conference and they were joined at the opening ceremony by Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, ORTT, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; Hon. Dr Keith Rowley, MP, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago; and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Mr Akbar Khan. During their opening speeches, the Caribbean leaders underscored the challenges faced by developing states in the region and urged delegates to use the topics selected for discussion to take workable solutions and best practice back to their jurisdictions.
The President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes spoke about the key role of Parliamentarians in the national life of democracies in the region and how public distrust of Parliamentarians had increased, making it vital that Parliaments work to increase public trust and engagement. The President said: “As small sovereign developing states, our resources and capacities are limited. The challenges we face are manifold and best tackled together by countries with a shared heritage. We have to conceive, plan and innovate strategies to meet the challenges of the present and the future and we must, in the context of the climate of the 21st century, make use of available technology to communicate to the public what is being done and how it affects them. This is where the CPA finds its purpose, to advance parliamentary democracy and strengthen models of governance.”
Hon. Dr Keith Rowley, MP, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago spoke about the importance of parliamentary oversight in the democratic process and in holding the government to account. To read the Prime Minster of Trinidad and Tobago’s speech at the regional conference please click here.
Senator Hon. Christine Kangaloo, President of the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago said: “The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago is thrilled to host Commonwealth Parliamentarians at this year’s regional conference. This regional conference allows us to gather as Parliamentarians to undertake two critical exercises – the first to renew and review our relationships with each other as Parliamentarians and the second to re-address and redefine our relationship with the outside world, whom we serve.”
The CPA Secretary-General, Mr Akbar Khan said of the main topic of the regional conference: “Today we are witnessing the pervasive forces of nationalism, perhaps the most prevalent now globally than at any point in the post-war period. The most immediate impact on Commonwealth Parliaments from the tension between ‘nationalism and globalisation’ is the persistent feeding of citizen’s political distrust in the institution of Parliament to their daily lives. It is therefore vital for Parliament as an institution and Parliamentarians as elected representatives to sit up and consider how they are going to respond to the serious concerns posed by rising nationalism in opposition to globalisation. In fashioning their response, Parliamentarians of all political stripes need to listen carefully and constructively to each other and to citizen’s concerns and to take them into account in policy making.” To read the CPA Secretary-General’s speech at the opening of the CPA CAA Regional Conference please visit www.cpahq.org/cpahq/sgspeeches.
A large number of Caribbean nations and territories were represented at the regional conference, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, and Turks and Caicos. In addition, the regional conference also included observers from Wales and Suriname. The 44th CPA Regional Conference of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region saw several other important events take place alongside the main conference including the Annual General Meeting for the Regional Executive Committee, the 12th Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Caribbean, Americas and the Atlantic Region and the 15thCaribbean Regional Youth Parliament Debate.
The 12th CWP Caribbean Regional Conference was chaired by Hon. Jeannine Giraudy-McIntyre, MP, President of the Senate of St Lucia and Chair of the Regional CWP and saw updates on the activities of the CWP across the region. At the CWP Regional Conference, delegates heard from experts at two training sessions on gender-based budgeting and on gender-based harassment.
The 15th Caribbean Regional Youth Parliament in Trinidad and Tobago saw young people aged 18-29 years from across the region come together to debate and experience parliamentary democracy in action. Caribbean Youth Parliamentarians discussed the global topic of ‘Securing our borders to mitigate the effects of crime whilst observing our humanitarian obligations’. The Youth Parliament aims to foster an appreciation and understanding of the rules and procedures of parliament among the youth of the region.
For images of the 44th Regional Conference of the CPA Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region in Trinidad and Tobago visit www.cpahq.org/cpahq/flickr.