Georgetown, Guyana- (July 24, 2015) “The Caribbean needs a stronger collective security system in order to deal with new threats,” declared President David A. Granger, while delivering the commencement address at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (WJPC) graduation ceremony, in Washington today.
The President, who is a former student and adjunct faculty member at the institution, which is an academic institution for defense and security dialogue in the Western Hemisphere, made a strong case for the security of small states. He said, “Unless the small and weak are secure, the strong and large will also suffer.”
In this regard, President Granger called for collective international and regional mechanisms that include medium and large states and respect for the sovereignty of small states. Referencing the threat Guyana faces from Venezuela against its territorial integrity, President Granger said that there are a number of issues at stake; the sovereign right of a country to exploit its own resources, the principles of the peaceful settlement of disputes and the avoidance of the resort to the use of force, threats and intimidation and the inviolability of international agreements and adherence to international law.
Additionally, the President noted that small states also face internal and international threats which can have their sources in political and strategic objectives. He added that there are transnational threats such as the trade of illegal narcotics, illegal weapons and human trafficking.
“Small States, on their own, cannot hope to combat these transnational threats,” President Granger said. He noted that the Caribbean Basin Initiative is a necessary mechanism but it is not sufficient. “The small state has now become the central focus of international relations in the region. The end of bipolar international relations has allowed the spotlight to focus on the security of small states,” he said.
President Granger told the graduating class that that they, along with the William J. Perry Center, have a role to play in hemispheric security and ensuring that the region is characterised by cooperation, not confrontation. “You will appreciate the importance of national sovereignty and international cooperation and more particularly the need for the Caribbean to remain a zone of peace in this turbulent world,” he said.
Dr. Rebecca Bill Chavez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, described President Granger as a long-time friend of the Perry Centre. “President Granger’s commitment and dedication to the people of Guyana is something we all admire. I, for one, am deeply inspired by his calls for unity and inclusion.”
Ms. Chavez added, “His passion for the entire Caribbean is infectious and will surely generate positive momentum for the defence and security of the region.”
Director of the Centre, Mr. Mark Wilkins said that the institution strives to build bridges through-out the Americas via programmes that promote effective and accountable security and defence sector governance.