In the last article a number of issues were highlighted alluding that the mindset of our leaders was still steeped in colonisation thereby effectingthe terms of how they have managed diplomacy.
The Commonwealth for Learning (COL) is mandated to support each member by working towards shared goals in democracy and development and as the Ministers of Education from across the Commonwealth gather in Mauritius this week for their triennial meeting, let us hope that with access to high technological equipment such as seven-inch tablet computers they also take a leaf from the Mauritius Government’s book.
Although the mindset is challenging to change, the Caribbean needs to develop a strategy for capacity building and long term policy thinking. As Geo Politics tells us the influential factors that the British have on the region is based on geography, economics, and demography. So for our leaders to protect and feed their people they need to re-evaluate their foreign policy to reflect globalisation and not re-colonisation.
Being part of the British Commonwealth one would think that Caribbean countries would not just be proud to have their diplomatic missions in the UK, but obtain a host of multilateral agreements among other commonwealth members. Moreover, they continue with ceremonial diplomacy which costs each Caribbean country thousands of dollars to prop up the ‘visage’ of the unified Commonwealth establishment at occasions such as the Queen’s birthday, Remembrance Day and other royal events and ceremonies. I am stating that being independent of the ‘Mother’ that efforts need also to be driven in the areas of Economic and Cultural Diplomacy thus, promoting our countries’ benefits to include tourism, business, education, industry and commerce.
In the example of diplomacy used effectively by Mauritius, a former colony, an area of 2,040 square kilometres; by contrast, what is outstanding is the country’s strong executive commitment to negotiation through lobbyists down to an art. The Prime Minister engaged the French President on the European Union Sugar Regime issue, the US president on AGOA – African Growth and Opportunity Act and successfully lobbied for an increase from 15% to 18% in the compensation issue with the European Union as an African, Caribbean and Pacific member country.
In fairness, the Caribbean leaders tried a similar direct engagement to protect their banana trade. In the 1990s leaders made several trips to Brussels and other European capitals to appeal to European Governments and parliaments. The Caribbean lost in its case with the WTO mainly due to a lack of strong lobbying, in comparison to the American side.