Guyana’s president David Granger says the Caribbean needs a “stronger collective security system” in order to deal with new threats.
Addressing the graduation ceremony at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (WJPC) in Washington recently, Granger made a case for better security for small states like those in the region, arguing that unless small and weak states are secure, “the strong and large will also suffer”.
It was against that background hat he called for collective international and regional mechanisms that respect the sovereignty of small states.
He made reference to the threat his country is facing from Venezuela which is claiming ownership of a significant chunk of Guyana’s maritime space, including a large marine area where Exxon Mobil recently made a significant oil discovery.
President Granger said there are several issues at stake in the matter with Venezuela, including: the sovereign right of a country to exploit its own resources; the principles of the peaceful settlement of disputes and the avoidance of the resort to the use of force, threats and intimidation; and the inviolability of international agreements and adherence to international law.
The Guyanese leader said small states also face internal and international threats which can be politically motivated, as well as transnational threats such as the trade of illegal narcotics, illegal weapons and human trafficking.
“Small states, on their own, cannot hope to combat these transnational threats,” Granger said. “The small state has now become the central focus of international relations in the region. The end of bipolar international relations has allowed the spotlight to focus on the security of small states.”
He told the graduating class that that they, and the center, have a role to play in ensuring that the region is characterized by cooperation and not confrontation.
“You will appreciate the importance of national sovereignty and international cooperation and, more particularly, the need for the Caribbean to remain a zone of peace in this turbulent world,” Granger said.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs Dr. Rebecca Bill Chavez described Granger, a former student and adjunct faculty member at the William J. Perry Center, as a long-time friend of the institution and said she was “deeply inspired by his calls for unity and inclusion”.
“His passion for the entire Caribbean is infectious and will surely generate positive momentum for the defence and security of the region,” she added.
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