Bridgetown – Dominica has called on the 54-member Commonwealth grouping to re-elect its General Secretary, Baroness Patricia Scotland, for a second consecutive term, saying that despite the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and climate change, she has “laid a solid foundation to look at solutions for our countries in the future”.
Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, in a letter to the Commonwealth governments, recalled that the Dominican-born Scotland, who was first appointed to the position in 2015, had a mandate “to reform the Commonwealth Secretariat and to advocate and to be a voice for those of our countries without a voice”.
“In her first term she delivered on reform and on change; she delivered on partnerships and innovation for the benefit of our countries; she delivered on good offices and democracy. She successfully braved the challenges of the climate crisis and of the COVID-19 pandemic and has laid a solid foundation to look at solutions for our countries in the future,” Skerrit said in his letter dated March 23, a copy of which has been obtained by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Scotland is the second Secretary-General from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.
Last Friday night, Jamaica announced that its Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith had been nominated to contest the position at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit to be held in Rwanda, June 20-25, with Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne describing Jamaica’s move as a “monumental error”.
In its statement announcing that Johnson-Smith would be seeking to replace Scotland, the Office of the Prime Minster in Jamaica described her as “eminently qualified for the post” and that she has “held several crucial leadership posts both regionally and internationally.
“Her qualifications for the post of Secretary-General, including her high moral character, diplomatic and political acumen, proven competence, and commitment to the work of the Commonwealth, make her an excellent candidate,” the statement added.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in supporting his senior minister for the position, said “she will bring a wealth of experience to the position, and is committed to international public service, with special regard for sustainable development, gender and the interests of small states”.
However, Browne warned that “those who seek to divide and rule, are encouraging Jamaica to present a candidate in opposition to the current Secretary General, who is serving on a CARICOM rotation”.
Browne told CMC that “Jamaica was party to a recent CARICOM consensus endorsing the re-election of Baroness Scotland” for the position.
“I think Jamaica’s proposed candidature for Commonwealth Secretary General, is a monumental error, which could only serve to divide the Caribbean”.
Browne said that “as an integration movement, the reliability of our decisions should be preserved to keep our region united and strong”.
“Our consensus decisions should never be broken without overwhelming cause; that will not undermine the unity of our integration movement, or violate the treaty provisions.”
“The issue of Baroness Scotland’s dominant nationality is a now moot point. The reality is, she was born in Dominica, with Antiguan & Barbudan lineage. She is a Caribbeaner, she is a member of our CARICOM family deserving of the respect, solidarity and protection against those who seek to vilify and emasculate her,” he added.
At the end of their March 1-2 Inter-sessional summit held in Belize, CARICOM leaders issued a communique in which they “expressed their overwhelming support for the re-election of Scotland foe the position”.
In his letter to the Commonwealth leaders, Skerrit said while he had hoped to discuss the re-election of Baroness Scotland in 2020 with them, the COVID-19 pandemic had occasioned the postponement of the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.
Skerrit said he was now attaching the Commonwealth Secretary’s report of 2021, entitled “A Commonwealth Working For All”, that “highlights the accomplishments in her first term and the period of her extension during the pandemic as well as the work that will be consolidated and undertaken in her second term.
“The Caribbean Community of which Dominica is part, has remained consistent in its support for Baroness Scotland. . . .
“I firmly believe it is in the interest of the Commonwealth to continue on this track record of achievement and, therefore, it remains my distinct pleasure to herby present the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland to be confirmed for a second term as Commonwealth Secretary General,” Skerrit wrote in his letter. (CMC)