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Members of the Committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor of the University of London to Inquire into the Future of Commonwealth Studies at the University. The report was submitted at the end of July 2021 and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies was given a renewed and expanded mandate.
Left to Right: Sir Ronald Sanders, Nabeel Goheer, Dr Conor Wyer, Professor Wendy Thomson - Vice Chancellor - Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Chairman) Lord (Paul) Boateng, Jo Fox - Dean of the School of Advanced Studies. Photo at Senate House. London, November 3rd 2021.

Latest Commentary

 

Deeper integration of CARICOM countries cannot wait

By Sir Ronald Sanders

 

The destruction by tornadoes of Kentucky, a south-eastern State of the United States of America (US), on December 12, has lessons for the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as 2022 dawns amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and weakened economies.

One of the lessons is that those member states of CARICOM that continue to insist on CARICOM remaining “a community of sovereign states”, each pursuing separate policies – sometimes to the detriment of each other – are marching down the road to perdition, as the facts of their situation substantiate.

Many of the sovereign states of CARICOM would not be solvent if it weren’t for the official development assistance they receive.  Their sovereignty is constrained by the extent of their financial and economic dependence for which they pay a price. Curiously, some of them prefer to pay a price to external powers, than to pool their individual sovereignty into a common autonomous authority with their CARICOM partners in order to build greater strength and resilience.

Why should people in other US States, such as Texas or New York, care about the devastation of Kentucky? After all, Kentucky’s representatives in the US Senate, Mitch McConnel and Rand Paul, fiercely resist the US federal government. They want to maintain power in Kentucky’s governor and legislature, just like some governments of CARICOM countries insist on their “sovereignty”.

Kentucky is a state within the Union of 50 states that comprise the US. If the US federal government does not use national resources to aid Kentucky to rebuild, the State will fall into unemployment, poverty and crime. It would eventually become a failed state. People would flee to find livelihoods elsewhere and investors would shift their money to functioning economies. The Federal government could not allow Kentucky to fail, not even with the likes of Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul favouring state power over federal authority. If Kentucky were left to fend for itself, it would become a weak link in the US chain, making the country vulnerable and exposing it to security threats.

The Federal government rallied to provide immediate relief to Kentucky, and to committing huge sums of money to its rebuilding and recovery, because the United States is one nation. It is not a group of sovereign states. If the US were just a community of independent states, as are the members of CARICOM, it would not be the world’s greatest economic and military power.   Instead, 50 states would exist – some stronger and better resourced than others, but each of them much weaker individually than they are as a single nation, and certainly none of them a force in the world.

In fashioning their independence, the original 13 countries (then British colonies) debated a union with a strong federal government or a collection of independent and disparate States.  They settled on a strong Federal government precisely because they recognised that only by joining their collective resources would they be sufficiently strong to resist England, France, Spain and other European powers that would have kept them dependent and in thrall.

From the beginnings of CARICOM, governments, haunted by the collapse of the West Indies Federation caused by ambitious and manipulative local politicians determined to be big fish in small bowls resisted the Union that would have reduced their vulnerabilities, enhanced their resilience, and made them economically stronger.

What is striking about the years 2020 and 2021 is that the greatest success of the ‘sovereign’ states of the Caribbean Community came from joint institutions and collective action. No country in CARICOM would have battled COVID-19 without the Caribbean Public Health Agency; none would have responded quickly enough to natural disasters without the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, and none would have mobilized insurance relief without the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility or the emergency resources of the Caribbean Development Bank. As it is, despite the help of regional agencies, almost all of them now have large debt burdens and recovery will be long and hard, except for Guyana with the addition of considerable oil and gas wealth to its traditional resources of agriculture and precious metals.

Recently, Guyana’s president Irfaan Ali, talking to the private sector in his country, declared that “Regional integration and other ‘fancy talk’ cannot be taken seriously unless the current (trade) barriers are removed”. He is right about that. CARICOM claims to be a Common Market, yet the countries have erected trade barriers against themselves, while opening their markets to the European Union and the United Kingdom with little trade benefits in return. After almost 50 years of existence, CARICOM is still not a Common Market and is far away from a Customs Union. The much-vaunted ‘single market and economy’ has become a fading aspiration.

But, it is not only trade barriers that should be torn down. CARICOM and its purposes need to be reconsidered, reworked and redirected. No one should be satisfied with its current condition; all should be ready to revamp it.

It is most likely the case that CARICOM governments are still not ready for the more perfect union that could help to insulate each CARICOM country from the severe challenges that lie ahead in 2022 and beyond. However, if the last two decades have proven anything, it is that individual sovereignty is not the answer to the economic progress or resilience of the member states of CARICOM. Like Kentucky, they lack the financial and resource capacity for effective resilience.

In this connection, the CARICOM Treaty needs revision now. The mistakes of its last revision should not be repeated. Implementation machinery must be established to oversee the completion of a Common Market, including freedom of movement of all people just as there is freedom of movement of capital. There should also be clear compensatory mechanisms for those states that dismantle protectionist policies. Countries that cannot sign up to these necessary actions should not delay the integration of others; they should step aside and consider joining later.

IF CARICOM is to be meaningful to the lives of its member countries, deeper integration cannot wait.

Latest statements at the OAS on Human Rights and on Nicaragua

 

Statement for International Human Rights Day

at the Permanent Council of December 15th 2021

by Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda

on behalf of the CARICOM Group

 

Mr. President

Many of the human rights violations and abuses witnessed in this Hemisphere do not occur in the CARICOM region.

That is not cause for CARICOM self-praise; rather, it is incentive for continued commitment within CARICOM to upholding the worth and dignity of the individual and for depriving no person of their liberty, or of their right to freedoms of expression, or of political and religious choice.

It is also reason, for deploring the incidents of human rights violations and abuses where and when they occur in our region and in the Hemisphere, and for calling to account any government, under whose stewardship, human rights are infringed.

We note that human rights abuses, rooted in institutional racism, continues to exist in member states of the OAS, and that inequities based on racial prejudice and the gains of exploitation, continue to thrive 73 years after the UN Declaration on Human Rights, that we celebrate today.

Some might wonder, how we could celebrate in the Declaration in such circumstances.

One might also posit that, instead of celebrating, we should be lamenting the failure to enable all peoples, in all societies, to enjoy their inalienable rights and freedoms; and the failure to create equitable and inclusive societies.

Mr President, the countries of CARICOM are not perfect, but, beyond question, the principal reason for the social peace and tranquility of the majority of our countries, and for their economic advancement despite the challenges they face, is respect for human rights, including the right to education, to health services and to equality of opportunity.

Were it not for the larger freedom enjoyed by the people of the majority of CARICOM countries, they could not have risen from the general backwardness and neglect that were the conditions they inherited at independence as the legacy of colonialism.

Similarly, they could not have drawn on their innate creative and intellectual capacity to contribute to the social and economic advancement of both their own countries and of the global community. 

That is why the Charter of Civil Society, which governs the member states of CARICOM, demands that its member countries “shall promote and encourage the effective exercise of civil and political rights and, within the limits of their resources, economic, social and cultural rights all of which derive from the inherent dignity of the human person, and which are essential for the free and full development of the person”.

Of great importance to the CARICOM region now is the connection between human rights and environmental rights.

We recall Principle 1 of The Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment which states that “man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being.”

The conditions of life of the people of CARICOM, whose members are either island states or continental countries with low lying coastlands, are now significantly threatened by global environmental degradation and pollution caused by CO2 emissions.

In the last 10 years alone, our region has suffered loss and damage totaling more than $100 billion dollars – a significant sum for small economies.

There has been no attention to compensation for the loss and damage that our countries have endured, even though people have been displaced and dislocated; lives and livelihood have been lost; and economies have been crushed.

This retardation of our economic growth is enlarging poverty and snatching away the fruits of human endeavor.

Mr. President, our commemoration of Human Rights Day and our celebration of the Declaration of Human Rights begin to seem insincere, when the actions of one group of humanity result in the deprivation of the human rights of another.

The majority of OAS member states in Central America, the Caribbean and countries of South America, as well as more than 100 other countries, are the victims of 10 major polluting countries, eight of which are either Permanent Members or Permanent Observers of this Organization.  

Suppressing political action, arbitrary arrests of political opponents, jailing journalists, and inventing laws for partisan political ends are all egregious human rights violations that deserve the strongest condemnation and the swiftest action to stop tyranny and autocracy.

But so too are the neglect of other factors necessary for the enjoyment of human rights.

Crucial to such factors are economic and social development without which human rights can never flourish.

Human rights will not be attained in conditions of persistent poverty, of inequity, and of injustice.

That is why, today, we will not simply make a trite and ritual statement, praising Human Rights Day and the Human Rights Declaration.

Instead, we call on this OAS to broaden its work in upholding human rights to include the woeful conditions that we know exist, but that it is more convenient to ignore.

The work of the OAS must not be limited to the mantra of “more rights for more people”.  

It must be broadened and strengthened to deliver all rights for all people.

If not, human rights might exist, but it will be the preserve of the rich, the privileged and the elite.

In other words, rights would be for some humans, not all.

And, all the words, declaring the rights of man that have been inscribed in Charters for over for eight decades, will not be worth the faded paper on which they were written.

 

Thank you.

 

STATEMENT BY SIR RONALD SANDERS

AMBASSADOR OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

AT THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE OAS

 ON 8TH DECEMBER 2021

“OUTCOME OF THE PERMANENT COUNCIL’S DELIBERATIONS OF NOVEMBER 29, 2021, ON THE SITUATION IN NICARAGUA PURSUANT TO THE RESOLUTION ADOPTED AT THE FIFTY-FIRST REGULAR SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY”

 

Mr. Chairman,

Let me join others who have spoken to thank those delegations that have supported this Resolution of which my country is a co-sponsor.

I want to make it clear that, in fulfilment of the mandate given to this Permanent Council, this meeting is continuing to undertake a collective assessment of the situation in Nicaragua, notwithstanding remarks made by one speaker here today.

My delegation wishes to emphasise that “collective assessment” is a process, not an event, and it is not a ‘rushed’ activity as the same speaker suggested today.

Unfortunately, that speaker also accused some countries of determining the outcome of the collective assessment even before it was concluded.

Let me be clear: that collective assessment has been continuous for more than 2 years at several meetings of this Permanent Council and at two General Assemblies of the OAS.

As an important part of the  process of collective assessment, we met and heard authoritative reports from highly credible organisations on the situation in Nicaragua on November 29th.

That process of collective assessment includes other steps which are set out in the Articles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, particularly Articles 18, 19 and 20.

It is important for the credibility of the OAS that we not only adhere to the steps, set out in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, but that we are seen by all to respect our own rules.

My delegation emphasizes that we are not interfering or intervening in the internal affairs of Nicaragua.

We are responding to breaches of our Charters by a member state and of violations of human and political rights and of international law.

I remind this Permanent Council that when we first put the situation in Nicaragua on its agenda, my delegation supported the Nicaraguan government by voting with it.

But even as we were voting with Nicaragua, we cautioned the government, through its visiting Ministers and its diplomatic representatives, that we were concerned about the deteriorating situation concerning human and political rights, and we urged them to remedy it.

We moved, over time, from voting with the Nicaraguan government, to abstaining, and finally to co-sponsorship of the Resolution which we have adopted today.

It is only after more than two  years of urging Nicaragua to address the clear violations of the OAS Charters – with no action to do so – that the delegation of Antigua and Barbuda changed its position, giving fair warning at a Permanent Council meeting.

The truth of what I have said is reflected in the records of the meetings of this body.

The peoples of our countries expect all our Governments, including the Government of Nicaragua, to uphold the principles of democracy and representative democracy, and to safeguard their fundamental freedoms, which our governments in their peoples’ name, resolved to defend in the binding charters of this Organization.

In the Resolution before us, we continue the process of collective assessment.  It is not yet over.

The new dimension to that collective assessment, is our urging to the Government of Nicaragua to accept a high-level good offices mission, authorized by this Permanent Council, to try to secure agreement on a process that would help the Government to bring itself in conformity with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and international law.

In other words, we are opening the door to the Nicaragua government to dialogue; to talk; with the hope that the offer will be accepted and that the mandate that we give to a high-level good offices group will be meaningfully and seriously discussed.

I know there may be some delegations that take the view that the good offices mission should have no mandate, except to engage the Nicaraguan government.

But no good offices group would undertake such a mission without terms of reference.

And without such terms of reference, the group would have no guidance from this Permanent Council, nor would there be any benchmarks by which this Council, or the Secretary-General, could measure the group’s work.

Mr. Chairman, by the offer of a high-level good offices group, a hand has been extended to the Nicaraguan government.

It is up to the Nicaraguan government to decide if it wishes to accept this Permanent Council’s offer, supported by 25 member states, which is proposed in good faith.

Thank you.  

10th Anniversary of the Report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on Urgent Reform of the Commonwealth

 

October 2021 is the 10th anniversary of the Report of the 2011 Eminent Persons Group (EPG) entitled:  A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform

The report can be read on this website.  The link is:

EPG Report FINALprintedVersion.pdf (sirronaldsanders.com)

Latest News in Pictures

Members of the Committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor of the University of London to Inquire into the Future of Commonwealth Studies at the University. The report was submitted at the end of July 2021 and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies was given a renewed and expanded mandate.
Left to Right: Sir Ronald Sanders, Nabeel Goheer, Dr Conor Wyer, Professor Wendy Thomson - Vice Chancellor - Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Chairman) Lord (Paul) Boateng, Jo Fox - Dean of the School of Advanced Studies. Photo at Senate House. London, November 3rd 2021.

Participating as a delegate from Antigua and Barbuda in the Summit of 40 Leaders on Climate, organised by us President, Joseph Biden, on 22 and 23 April 2021.  Sir Ronald second from left at top.

 

With the late Right Honourable Professor Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados at his office at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in January 2020, talking Caribbean integration

 

Meeting between US Congressional Representatives, Global Banks and Caribbean government representative.  Congresswoman Maxin Waters (centre in red), Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne to her right, Sir Ronald Sanders to Prime Minister Browne's right.  Capitol Hill on November 14, 2019

 

Signing agreements for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Antigua and Barbuda in Washington, DC on 24 July 2019.  The agreemenst were signed by the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Ronald Sanders (sitting right) and the Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo, Vlora Citaku (sitting left). Frymezin Isufaj and Joy-Dee Davis. Ministers Coundellor (standing left to right)

 

 Speaking at US Capitol Hill in behalf of CARICOM during Caribbean Legislative Week on 5 June 2019

 

Meeting Wesley Kirton Co-Chair Caribbean Studies Associaton, US, and Captain Gerry Gouveia of the Guyana Privat Sector at Antigua and Barbuda Embassy, Washington, DC on 4 June 2019

 

On 15 May, 2019 with the formidable US Congresswoman Maxine Waters who is Chair of the Financail Services Committee of the US House of Representatives.  I had presentred the case against de-risking, withdrawal of correspondent banking relations and blacklisting alone with CARICOM Ministers of National Security. 

 

 Testifying on 14th May, 2019 before the US International Trade Commission on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda and Caribbaean States on the perennial US trade surplus with the region which reached $7 Billion in 2018. 

 

Sir Ronald at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking trade and other relations between the US and CARICOM countries, especially Antigua and Barbuda, with Cingressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) on  27 February 2019.

 

Caribbean Ambassadors in Washington with US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Kim Breier, at the US State Department. Sir Ronald third from right in January 2019. 

 

In July 2018, while in Ottawa for Antigua and Barbuda bilateral talks with Canadian government officials, Sir Ron ran into old and repected friend, Joe Clarke - former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Canada and a great warrior in the anti-apartheid struggle.

 

With Ambassador Jesus Silvera of Panama, receiving a donation to the rebuilding of Barbuda, June 2018

 

With OAS Secretary-General, Luis Almagro, on 6 June 2018, signing the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and  Related Forms of Intolerance.  Antigua and Barbuda was the first signatory to the Convention and the second country to ratify the Convention. 
 

 Signing ceremony in Washington, DC of Abolition of Visa Requirements between Ukraine and Antigua and Barbuda in May 2018.  Ukraine Amnbasador (left) and Joy-Dee Davis, Minister Counsellor, Antigua and Barbuda Embassy (right) 

 

 With Governor-General of Canada,Her Excellency Julie Payette, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 30th 2018.  In addition to beeing accredited to Canada as High Commissioner, I have the honour of sharing the distinction with this amazing former Astronaut of being a Senior Fellow at Massey College in the University of Toronto.

 

In Tobago after delivering feature address at The Tobago Finance week on 13 November 2017.  Photo shows, Economist Terrence Farrell, Sir Ronald, Tobago Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack, and Anthony Pierre, Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Chartered Accountants

 

 In Port-of-Spain, Trinidad speaking at the annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago on 9 November 2017

 

 Speaking at a meeting in Geneva, prior to appearnace at the World Trade Organisation on Antigua and Barbuda's contention with the US government on the WTO award to Antigua over Internet Gaming, September 2017 

 

 Speaking on Refugees resulting from Climate Change and the growing danger to small island states at an event organised by OXFAM in Washington, DC on 30 October 2017. (Heather Coleman, OXFAM; Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda; Selwyn Hart (Barbados), Lisa Friedman, New York Times)

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC on 12 October 2017.  He was talking about the devastation of Barbuda by Hurricane Irma and the remedies for Climate Change and Global Warming.  To his left are:  The Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin la Rocque and St Lucia Prime Minister Alan Chastanet

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the security and other threats posed to the Caribbean and the Hemisphere of Climate Change and Global Warming on 13 September 2017

 

 Sir Ronald (third right) with senior officers of the Inter-American Defense Board in Washington, DC after discussing what assistance could be given in the clean up and rebuilding of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma (Friday, 15 September 2017)

 

With US Congressman, Ranking member of Committee on Foreign Affairs at Capitol Hill on 14 September, discussiing secutty matters, Hurricane Irma and Barbuda and the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues.  Very helpful.

 

 With US Congressman Mark Meadows on Capitol Hill talking the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues, and the effets of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda on 12 September, 2017.  Good man. 

 

 Talking to the Emergency Agencies of the OAS about the impact of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda and seeking assistance on 14 September 2017

 

Sir Ronald with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on 28 August 2017 discussing Canada-Antigua and Barbuda bilateral matters.

 

Sir Ronald with the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, at the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States in Cancun, in June 2017

 

Heads of Delegations to the OAS General Assembly in Cancun.  Mexican Presdident, sixth from right, front row.  Sir Ronald fourth from right, front row.

 

Meeting of Consulation on the situation in Venezuela at the Organisation of American States on 31 May 2017 Sir Ronald (far right).

 

With Texas Congressman Randy Weber at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking energy, water and US-Antigua and Barbuda relations on Wednesday 5 April, 2017 

 

 

With my colleague Argentine Ambassador to the OAS, Juan Jose Acuri (right) and the Argentina candidate for election to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rigjts Dr Carlos de Casas on 29 March 2016

 

 At the International Monetary Fund with Exceutive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, Nancy Horsman, to discuss Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

At the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy receiving Antonia Urrejola, the candidate of Chile for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, on 23 March 2017 

 

 With the Mexican Candidate for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Joel Hernadez Garcia, on 21 March 2017

 

 At the World Bank on20 March 2017 meeting Christine Hogan, the Executive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, to talk about Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

With Joe Barton, US Congressman from the State of Texas in his Office on Capitol Hill on Thursday, 16 March 2017 discussing US-Antigua and Barbuda relations

 

Hosting a meeting at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy in Washington, DC of diplomatic representatives of St Lucia (Ambassador Anton Edmunds, St Kitts-Nevis Ambassador Thelma Phillip-Browne and St Vincent Deputy Chief of Mission Omari Williams)

 

Meeting the Cuban Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cabanas Rodriguez at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017

 

With the Ambassador of Ecudaor to the United States, Francisco Borja Cevallos, talking Ecuador-Antigua and Barbuda relations on 13 February 2017

 

 With US Congressman Gus Bilikakis (Dem,Fl) for talls on Caiptol Hill in Washington

 

With Charlie Crist, US Congressman (Dem, Fl) for discussions on US-Antigua and Barbuda matters

 

 With US Senator Jeff Duncan, Chair Foreign Relations Committee talking energy and Citizenship by Investement Programmes in the Caribbean

 

 With Professor Louis Gates Jr at the Smithsonian National Musuem of African American History in Washington, DC after an evening of enlightening presentations on the neglected story of the building of the US 


All posts...

Election for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General

Sir Ronald was a candidate for election to the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General In November 2015 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. View further details here.

Portrait of Sir Ronald Sanders

Sir Ronald Sanders is currently Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States.

Welcome

Welcome to this website. I created it in 2009 in response to many requests for access to commentaries I have written, lectures I have given and interviews that have been broadcast or printed in the media on matters related to the political economy of the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.  They are all avaialble here for free.

These requests have come from university students, publications, academics, government officials and business people in many parts of the world. In the course of responding to these requests, I have been pleased to build up a network of global contacts who now receive my commentaries weekly.

From a career that encompassed broadcast and print journalism, development and commercial banking, diplomacy and international negotiations in both the public and private sectors, I am privileged to draw on wide and varied experiences to write, lecture and undertake consultancies.  The latter activity was susended while I carry out my present functions as Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda. 

I have taken the greatest pleasure in receiving comments and criticism from people all over the world that the Internet has made a “village”. I have learned from many of the comments I received. They have caused me to reflect on my own thinking. Through this website, I hope to communicate regularly with all who write to me.

The website is now a permanent repository of the weekly commentaries and lectures going back several years. Anyone is free to access them here, and to cite them provided my permission is sought in advance through the “Contact me” mechanism. A few of the lectures I have given in Britain and in the Caribbean are also posted on the site in a PDF format which can be easily downloaded. Again, I would make the same request to seek my permission before citing the material.

I invite responses to my writings, and inquiries about the experience and knowledge I can bring to achieving the objectives of companies and organizations that do business related to the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.

Kind regards

Ronald Sanders