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CANSEC 2022 Being Held in Barbados

Military personnel from across twenty-five countries, including the Caribbean, North America, and Europe, are currently in Barbados for the Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) 2022. The event is sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command and is being co-hosted this year by Barbados Defence Force. Key areas of focus for the conference include enhancing regional security, strengthening coordination for humanitarian assistance in light of natural disasters, and countering transnational crime in the region. At the opening ceremony, Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley spoke about the importance of keeping the Caribbean a basin of peace.

Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados: “Our role is not only cooperation, and you get that better than anyone else. Our role is also to be able to give confidence to our populations that we have this, or as we would say in Barbados and the Caribbean “We got this.” And that is perhaps the most important thing now and I’m glad that the common mission of keeping the Caribbean as a zone of peace is the foundation from which we all start today because Caribbean people know only too well what it is to be a theatre of war. For the majority of our modern existence, we were a theatre of war for people playing out their determinations to want to vanquish, to conquer and want to literally control other regions and other people. In the post-independence region, we determined that that is not what we want for ourselves and that is why we have very simple themes that guide us. In our own case in Barbados, it has been that which was announced at the first session of the United Nations when we became an independent nation, that we shall be friends of all and satellites of none. That is the first premise of friendship and that is the first premise of being able to secure your own long term civilisation. And why? There are times when we will agree and disagree but there are equally times when principles are the only thing that matter. Our region has been that place, whether during the Cold War, or now again, persons are seeking to be able to bring back shades of what transpired in our history. Our determination as independent nations is that that must be forever our history and not our future. It is against that backdrop, therefore, that we come together to work as one within the Caribbean community and the wider Caribbean region to ensure that in so doing, we can remove those clear and patent threats, whether those threats are, as articulated this morning, relate to the climate crisis, whether they relate to the question of narcotics, or illegal weapons or whether they relate to our ability to be able to fob off the consequences of fake news and social unrest, whether they relate to the consequences of war elsewhere in a globally interdependent world that effectively leaves us subject to price and commodity access changes.”

Prime Minister Mottley also spoke about the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region and the difficulties it has brought on the people of the Caribbean.

Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados: “The truth is that with the war in Ukraine now going into its 5th or so week, we are now going to start to see, regrettably, some of the consequences of that war which have been spoken about. That is going to lead to discomfort in many of our countries, with respect to prices and with respect to access to those commodities. It is going to lead, therefore, to the potential risk of us having to be able to settle our populations and to get them to understand that the world is going through a difficult moment but it is not the first time that it has gone through and it will regrettably not be the last because of the nature of just human civilisation and our natural made environment. A person born in 1900 did not really know stability and peace until they became close to 50 years old. I want to repeat myself because for too many of our people, the culture of contentment has so consumed us that we believe that we have a divine right to prosperity and a divine right to stability. Regrettably, we have no such divine right but we can make it happen if we work together and as General Ricardson said, we are always stronger working together. “

This year’s conference is being held under the theme “Multinational Cooperation in a Changing Operational Environment”.