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Media 050514 Merida Declaration

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mexico and Caribbean States meet to Advance Partnerships

Presidency of Mexico's Editorial Staff

(Transcript)

Mérida Declaration

In Celebration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Association of Caribbean States ACS 20/20: Present and Future

We, the Heads of State and/or Government of the Member States and Territories of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), gathered together in the city of Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, on April 30, 2014, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our partnership and continue advancing its strengthening in the face of future challenges;

1. Underscore the importance of the Greater Caribbean region, comprising nearly half the population of Latin America and the Caribbean and accounting for fifty-five percent of its total trade, and reiterate the permanence of the Association of Caribbean States as a privileged space for advancing dialogue and cooperation in Latin American and Caribbean integration.

2. Are aware of the challenges facing the Greater Caribbean and in particular, the Small Developing Island States in order to achieve sustainable development. These challenges are exacerbated by a particularly complex global context and a palpable, growing vulnerability to the adverse impacts of global warming, exacerbated by the behavior of human beings.

3. Confirm our commitment to integrated, inclusive, equitable regional development, taking into account the importance of ensuring favorable treatment for small, vulnerable economies.

4. Welcome the progress achieved in the 20 years since the establishment of our Association, including the creation of the world’s first Sustainable Tourism Zone. We underline our willingness to strengthen and consolidate it, so as to increase its contribution to the sustainable development and well-being of Member States and Associate Members.

5. Reaffirm our commitment to the Declaration of Pétion Ville, derived from the V Summit of Heads of State and/or Government of the ACS held in Haiti on April 26, 2013 and its implementation.

6. Reiterate our commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter, essential to ensuring an environment of effective cooperation, including the right of all peoples to define their own political system in peace, stability and justice.

7. Reiterate our appeal to the United States government to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade against our sister nation of Cuba, repeal the Helms-Burton Act and cease its extraterritorial application in Member States of the Association, in accordance with the 22 Resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

8. Reaffirm our condemnation of all acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomsoever they are committed. We undertake to cooperate to effectively prevent and combat this threat. We firmly reject all unilateral assessments, checklists and certifications.

9. Stress the priority of our work in comprehensive disaster risk management in order to reduce the adverse impacts of the phenomena of natural and/or anthropogenic origin; transport and improved connectivity in the region; the development of trade and external economic relations; and sustainable tourism, and pledge to deepen cooperation in the same.

10. Emphasize our intention to cooperate in the areas prioritized by the mandates of the previous Summits regarding cultural heritage, education, science and technology in the Greater Caribbean, to achieve and consolidate the inclusion and sustainable development of our peoples.

11. Reiterate our commitment to the protection of the Caribbean Sea and stress the importance of the Caribbean Sea Commission mandate to promote its conservation and sustainable use. We urge the Commission to conclude a work program with specific goals and objectives for the development of the concept of the Caribbean Sea as a “Special Area in the Context of Sustainable Development,” as adopted in Resolution A/RES/67/205 of the United Nations General Assembly.

12. Welcome the significant progress recorded by the implementation of the Pétion Ville Action Plan, despite the short period since its adoption, particularly as regards the following:

The entry into force on November 6, 2013 of the Convention establishing the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the Caribbean;

The entry into force on March 31, 2014 of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Natural Disasters;

The organization of the International Workshop on Integrated Disaster Risk Management Associated with Natural Phenomena, held on November 25 and 26 2013 in Mexico City;

The implementation of the Unit for the Management and Monitoring of Cooperation Projects of the ACS Special Fund, which will contribute to the administrative strengthening of the Association, the timely monitoring of the implementation of the projects agreed by Member States and Associate Members and the management of new and additional resources from the international community to support projects in priority sectors of the ACS. This will positively reinforce the work of the Council of National Representatives of the Special Fund;

The implementation of the second phase of the project for Strengthening Hydrometeorological Operations and Services in Small Developing Island States of the Caribbean (SHOCS)-Early Warning System;

The formation of the Trade Facilitation Working Group to exchange information and promote the integration of customs systems in the Greater Caribbean;

The establishment of the Working Group on Business Visas to highlight the best practices that may result from the creation of an applicable model for the Greater Caribbean region;

The organization of a Workshop on the Role of the International Court in the Resolution of Disputes relating to the Law of the Sea in the Caribbean Region, in Mexico City on June 5 and 6, 2013;

The establishment of the subcommittees of the Caribbean Sea Commission; and hiring an expert to contribute to the drafting of a proposal that will serve as the basis for the Caribbean Sea Commission discussions;

The Working Group comprising the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Latin American Air Transport Association (ALTA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the ACS to work towards improving air connectivity in the region.

13. These advances and our confidence in the strength of our Association oblige us to continue providing the tools that will enable it to respond effectively to the needs of its Member States and Associate Members. In this regard:

We will continue the process of consolidation of the Association to which we provide our full support.

We will advance the implementation of the Plan of Action of Pétion Ville and the implementation of the decisions contained in this Declaration. We will promote a vision that permits disaster risk management through an integrated approach in line with the policies of the countries of the region, which will reduce risk while turning us into sustainable countries and territories, as outlined in the Action Plan of Saint Marc, as reflected in the workshop on the subject held in November 2013 in Mexico City.

14. Hail and welcome the four initiatives put forward by Mexico, which form part of the Association’s agenda for strengthening cooperation and we instruct our appropriate national organizations to work on their implementation, in accordance with our respective legal frameworks and the internal policies of each country.

a) Will exchange experiences for the integration of systems that will enable us to move towards the implementation of a Platform of Territorial Information on the Greater Caribbean for disaster prevention, which will contribute to our efforts to achieve comprehensive risk management.

b) Will participate in the implementation of an Information and Geospatial Infrastructure System that will meet the needs of our region and allow us to maximize the use of geospatial information for the benefit of our peoples. The Greater Caribbean region would thereby join the efforts of the Initiative of the United Nations Expert Committee on Geospatial Information Management.

c) Will work with the main ports in the region according to their classification (hubs, transshipment and small ports), with the aim of ensuring the development of short sea shipping, particularly by addressing logistical and infrastructure issues in small ports. This will require the presentation of a technical project profile.

d) Will cooperate to ensure that customs offices in the region adopt mechanisms that promote Trade Facilitation, through the standardization of the procedures undertaken by the supervisory authorities of international transit of goods in the region, while linking the customs information systems of the Greater Caribbean.

In this regard, we support the extension of the international transit of goods procedure (TIM).

15. Welcome the entry into force of the Convention for the Establishment of the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the Caribbean and urge Member States and Associate Members to respect and implement the cooperation framework covered by this Convention, the implementation of which will benefit the sustainability of our Caribbean Sea.

16. Ask the ACS Secretariat to convene a meeting to agree a joint strategy and methodology by Member States for the purpose of advancing, in a coordinated manner, the measurement of the various sustainability indicators established under our Convention as an evaluation parameter.

17. Confirm the desire to strengthen and support the implementation of the actions recommended by the Working Group composed of ACS, IATA, ALTA and CTO, established in Cancún in November 2013 with the aim of contributing to the development of air connectivity.

18. Recognize the importance of cooperation oriented towards the identification and production of studies on the regulation and control of multimodal traffic in the Greater Caribbean region, to contribute to the connectivity of the region and the strengthening of international trade.

19. Celebrate the Centenary, on August 15, of the Panama Canal, a waterway that contributes to the economic and sustainable development of the region and whose expansion project will allow greater openness and facilitate maritime trade in the Greater Caribbean.

20. Instruct the Council of National Representatives of the Special Fund, in conjunction with the General Secretariat, to organize the “Forum for the Exchange of Ideas and Planning,” to develop recommendations for strengthening international cooperation in the field of the ACS, including the identification of mechanisms to modernize the management and implementation of projects administered through the Management and Monitoring of Cooperation Projects Unit.

21. Welcome the entry of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Sint Maarten as Associate Members of the ACS on their own behalf, an action that strengthens the project to incorporate all the countries and territories of the Greater Caribbean within our Organization. We also highlight the existence of the Interregional Cooperation Program (INTERREG) to finance operational projects for the benefit of the Greater Caribbean.

22. Urge all Member States and Associate Members to meet their financial obligations to the Association and to keep up with payment of their annual member contributions.

23. Welcome the consolidation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and underline the important contribution made by the Association of Caribbean States to further integration between the Caribbean and Latin America.

24. Also reaffirm our will to continue to promote the strengthening of ties of cooperation with other regional organizations and mechanisms, in order to make more efficient use of resources and deepen regional cooperation and integration.

25. Express our solidarity with the people and government of Venezuela due to the acts of violence in that sister country, with unfortunate casualties. We repeat our uncompromising commitment to the preservation of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and in this respect, we support the broad, inclusive dialogue promoted by the constitutional government with political actors and sectors of society with the accompaniment of UNASUR and the Vatican.

26. Thank Secretary General the Hon. Alfonso Múnera Cavadía and all the staff of the Secretariat for the dedication with which they have built a working team in a short time to implement the mandates to meet our goals and objectives.

27. Express our deepest gratitude to President of Mexico, the Hon. Enrique Peña Nieto, the government and people of Mexico, especially Merida, for their warm welcome and generous hospitality during the VI Summit of Heads State and/or Government of the Association of Caribbean States.

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Presidency of the Republic, Mexico, DF, May 1, 2014

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