BELIZE PRESIDENCY PRO-TEMPORE OF THE CENTRAL AMERICAN INTEGRATION SYSTEM (SICA)
The Central American Integration System (SICA) is an integration process established under the Protocol of Tegucigalpa in 1991. It is comprised of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panamá. The Dominican Republic is an Associate Member of SICA, and the Republic of China on Taiwan, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Chile and Italy participate as Observers. Policy decisions are taken by the Heads of State and Government, and implemented by Ministerial and Technical Commissions from participating member states. There are fifteen (15) Ministerial Commissions. Specialized agencies and international cooperation partners also contribute in achieving the primary objective of SICA, i.e regional development through political, social and economic integration.
Belize became the seventh full member of the Central American Integration System (SICA) in December 2000, after subscribing to the Treaty of Tegucigalpa. As a full member Belize has the right to participate in all organs and institutions of the integration process. It must be noted, however, that of the three principal organs of SICA (General Secretariat, the Central American Parliament, and the Central American Court of Justice), Belize only participates in the Secretariat and Institutions of SICA. Moreover, Belize is yet to subscribe to the Treaty of Guatemala, which would allow its participation in the Central American Economic Integration System (SIECA), thereby forming part of the Council of Ministers of the Economy (COMIECO).
THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT:
The General Secretariat of SICA (SG-SICA) was created in December 1991, and its Headquarters was formally established in El Salvador in February 1993. It is the permanent organ of SICA whose function is to provide support to regional agencies and institutions to achieve a “Region of Peace, Liberty, Democracy and Development”, through political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental integration processes. It is headed by a Secretary General and includes the Cooperation, Juridical, Inter-institutional Relations, and Economic Integration Units. In an effort to satisfy the Heads of Government mandate for a Unified Secretariat, the following agencies are housed at SICA’s Secretariat Headquarters: Tourism, Social (Health/Education), and Environment, each headed by a Regional Director. The Republic of China in Taiwan has provided funds for the construction of a building to house SICA’s Secretariat Headquarters on a parcel of land provided by the Government of El Salvador. The present Secretary General is Ambassador Juan Daniel Aleman Gurdian of Guatemala.
The Presidency Pro-tempore (PPT) supported by the SG-SICA coordinates the SICA activities. The Presidency Pro-tempore rotates, every six months, amongst each SICA member country on a geographical basis, for the periods January 1st – June 30th, and July 1st – December 31st each year. Rotation occurs therefore in the following geographic order: Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
The PPT, with the support of the SG-SICA assumes various functions, including:
1. Coordinate and preside/chair meetings and activities of the principal organs of SICA including:
a. Ordinary and Extra-ordinary Summits of Heads of State and Government; Ministerial; and technical meetings.
i. In principle, it includes meetings of the Councils of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Economy, Trade and Commerce, Environment, Human Development, Education, Culture, Tourism, Agriculture and Fisheries, Health, and Labour; sectoral issues such as energy, ports, infrastructure, petroleum, sports, and civil aviation; the CA Security Commission; and the Ad-hoc Commission for Integral Reform (when in session).
2. Represent and/or speak on behalf of Central America at international meetings; forums on dialogue and cooperation; and other specific activities.
3. Serve as an intermediary with extra-regional bodies on regional issues.
4. Coordinate with SG-SICA the meetings to be convened, including the preparation of Agendas, and regional consultations needed to be carried out in relation to the Meetings.
5. Formulate a Draft Calendar of Activities and Objectives for the PPT period, in consultation with the SG-SICA and SICA member countries.
6. Ensure, where possible, in coordination with the General Secretariat, that the decisions taken are implemented.
7. Present a Report of Activities during at the end of the PPT.
Belize, since becoming a full member of SICA has assumed the PPT during the period July to December 2003 (first time) and January to June 2007 (for the second time), and once again took over the responsibilities of the PPT for the period 1st July 2010 - December 31st 2010. Benefits to be obtained are numerous, such as:
• Integration through Involvement: Belize became a full member of SICA ten years ago but is still not fully participating in all the SICA institutions. Assumption of the PPT will provide the opportunity to become more integrated into the Central American politics as Belize has the opportunity to become more familiar with SICA “from the inside” coordinating the work of SICA for the second semester of 2010.
• Heightened regional/international profile: For the six months that Belize will be PPT, it will be the international spokesperson for Central America. There will be several occasions of international and regional relevance where Belize will speak for all of Central America.
• Increase awareness locally, regionally and internationally of Belize as an equal partner in Central American integration.
• Promote Belize’s agenda in Central America: Belize will be in a position to significantly influence the direction and priorities of Central American integration process during this period.
Belize’s objectives as PPT include:
- Continue working towards full integration into SICA matters (image, statistics).
- Assert Belize’s participation throughout the Central American Integration Process.
- Enhance relations between SICA and CARICOM.
- Strengthen Belize’s participation in the regional cooperation programmes.
- Work towards a policy on unified candidatures
- Address issues relating to Climate Change, Security and Trade
- Work to enhance regional tourism integration.
Prior to taking over the Presidency Pro-tempore of SICA from the Republic of Panama, Belize established an institutional framework that would lead GOB’s efforts during the assumption of the PPT for July to December, 2010. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will take the leading role in the coordination of activities.
1. Establishment of PPT Task Force: To be led by Belize’s Principal Representative to SICA, The Hon Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and supported by:
• H.E. Alexis Rosado, Chief Executive Officer in the MFAT
• Director of International Affairs – Policy
• Director of International Affairs – Consular
• Chief of Protocol (protocol officers)
• Foreign Service Officer, with responsibility for SICA Desk
• Other FSOs as required
The Task Force will be responsible for:
Coordinating with other relevant GOB line Ministries, for the planning and organization of events
Coordinating, and consulting with sectoral Ministries regarding all PPT activities.
The Task Force will be accountable to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Chief Executive Officer.
2. Visit by the PPT Task Force to the SG-SICA Headquarters in El Salvador. It is customary for the task force to visit the Secretary General of SICA and meet with the Heads of the SCIA institutions at SICA Headquarters. The purpose is to establish direct contact and follow- up on the outstanding issues that will require follow – up under Belize’s PPT.
Some of the activities carried out during the official visit include:
• Receive information on activities related to each one of the various organs and commissions of the Secretariat.
• Follow up on relevant issues of the CA Agenda.
• Review the recent Protocols and Agreements adopted at the regional level.
• Identify those regional institutions with which Belize need to coordinate activities.
• Draft a Six-month Calendar of activities.
3. Inter-ministerial Coordination and Consultation:
The Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, principal representative to SICA, is responsible for communicating, consulting and coordinating, through the task force, with an appointed representative of each Government Ministry that is responsible to chair a sectoral activity. The purpose of close coordination is to ensure:
- Belize’s objectives during the PPT are adhered.
- Liaise with the relevant counterpart organization of SICA.
- Coordinate Belize’s position on SICA matters, and representation at SICA meetings, before, during, and after the PPT.
- Examine the feasibility/desirability of Belize’s full integration in the various Ministerial Councils and other regional bodies e.g. CEPREDENAC (Natural Disasters), SIECA (Economic Integration), and Council of Ministers of Women, among others.
- Prepare a Final Report at the end of the PPT.
Ministry/Department SICA Agency Contact Person/Focal Point
Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment Comisión Centroamericano de Ambiente y Desarrollo - CCAD CEO – Beverly Castillo/Mr. Martin Alegria
Ministry of Tourism/BTB Comisión Centroamericano de Turismo –CCT CEO Michael Singh
Ms. Seleni Matus
Ministry of Agriculture Consejo Agrícola Centroamericano -CAC and OIRSA CEO – Mr. Gabino Canto
Mr. Eugene Waight/Mr. Jose Castellanos
Attorney General Ministry
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Police and Public Safety
Ministry of Foreign Affairs CA Security Commission Mrs. Iran Tillett Domínguez
CEO Allen Whylie
CEO Col George Lovell
Director Int’l Affairs
Ministry of Health Reunión de Sector de Salud de Centroamérica – RESSCA/SIS, and Instituto de Nutrición de Centroamérica y Panamá – INCAP CEO Dr. Peter Allen/Dr. Michael Pitts/Dr. Jorge Polanco
Ministry of Education Comisión Educativa y Cultural de Centroamérica – CECC CEO - Mr. David Leacock
Ministry of Human Development and Labour Consejo de Ministros de Prevision Social CEO - Ms. Judith Alpuche
Civil Aviation Department Corporación Centroamericana de Servicios de Navegación Aeria – COCESNA Chief Civil Aviation Officer – Mr. Contreras
Transport Department Comisión Centroamericana de Transporte Marítimo Ports Commissioner –
University of Belize Consejo Superior Universitario Centroamericano – CSUCA President - Dr. Santos Mahung
Hydrology Department Secretaria Ejecutiva del Comité Regional de Recursos Hidráulicos – SE-CRRH Chief Hydrologist - Mr. Dennis Gongez
National Drug Abuse Control Council Comisión Centroamericana para la Erradicación de la Producción, Trafico, Consumo y Uso Ibicitos de Estupefactantes y Sustancias Psicotrópicas – CCP CEO- Dr. Peter Allen
Fisheries Department Unidad Coordinadora de la Organización del Sector Pesquero y Acuícola de Istmo Centroamericano – OSPESCA CEO Gabino Canto/Ms. Beverly Wade
Police Department Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Superiores de la Policía – ICESPO Com Pol Crispin Jeffries/Asst Commissioner Miguel Segura
NEMO Centro de Coordinación para la Prevención de Desastres Naturales en América Central – CEPREDENAC NEMO Nat’l Emergency Coordinator – Mrs. Noreen Fairweather
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Sistema Integracion Economica Centramericana – SIECA Director - Mrs. Orlene Kantun-Coleman
4. Official visit of the SICA Secretary General and heads of SICA institutions. It is customary that the SG – SICA and the Heads of the institutions of SICA to carry out an official visit to the country that assumes the PPT. This is useful to establish contact between the CEOs and the heads of the SICA institutions with whom they will be liaising closely during Belize’s PPT.
Activities carried out during the official visit by the SG – SICA include:
• Explain the functions of SICA and its various institutions to Chief Executive Officers and senior level officials of the Government in order to sensitize them on the following:
- Define the role that relevant Ministries will play during Belize’s PPT.
- Report on the state of Central America international relations.
- Explain the methodology and procedure for an effective PPT
Activities during PPT:
Belize, as Presidency Pro – Tempore of SICA, during the period July – December 20101, will be required to undertake the following responsibilities:
• Coordinate the Central American regional agenda, including the on-going dialogue and cooperation programmes, with CARICOM, EU, ROC in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Mexico, United States, Chile, Argentina, Russia, and India among others.
• Arrange the calendar of meetings that will be held during Belize’s tenure as PPT.
• Establish different modalities for summits and meetings that will occur during the PPT period (Presidential Summits, Ministerial Meetings, Commissions, Sub-commissions, etc.).
• Gain an understanding and knowledge of commitments agreed upon at the regional level, and the status of cooperation projects.
• Coordinate the activities that promote common positions to be taken at the international level.
• Coordinate with Central American Ambassadorial Groupings (GRUCAS) at Missions abroad, e.g Brussells, Washington, Mexico, Cuba, ROC, United Kingdom, Guatemala, El Salvador, Italy, and the United Nations, in order to ensure timely availability of information and proper direction.
• Ensure the effective implementation of summits and meetings, and in coordination with Directors of Foreign Policy of SICA member countries, the timely provision of programmes, agendas, and operational manuals.
Belize’s political will and commitment to fully integrate into the Central American System is bearing fruit. Belize continues to benefit from the various regional programmes. The assumption of the Presidency Pro-tempore of SICA highlights Belize’s full membership and equal partner in the Central American Integration System (SICA).
The effective implementation of Belize’s PPT will rely heavily on the cooperation and support provided by Government Ministries and Departments. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will take the lead role in coordinating activities (protocol and logistics) including the formulation and promotion of Belize’s positions prior to and during the PPT period. Close consultation, communication and coordination will assure success in this exercise.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will take the lead and convene meetings in the Political, Cooperation and Security areas. Each line Ministry, in coordination with the relevant Council of Minister/SICA institution will be responsible for convening its own meetings.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade