The Government will host the 37th Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region, from May 11 to 18 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston.
It will be held under the theme: ‘Low Citizen Confidence in Governance: How Can Parliamentarians Build Trust in Caribbean Legislatures?’
Some 100 delegates from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat,
St. Lucia, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica are expected to attend.
“The CPA is made up of 18 branches from 17 countries and consists of Commonwealth Parliamentarians who are united by their respect for the rule of law, democracy and individual rights and freedoms, without regard to gender, race, religion or culture,” Conference Co-ordinator and Clerk of the Houses of Parliament, Mrs. Heather Cooke, told JIS News at a ‘Think Tank’ on May 2.
“The conference will be a cause for reflection among Parliamentarians in light of the theme. This is an opportunity for them to network, share information, exchange ideas and fellowship,” she said.
Five separate events are scheduled to be held within the context of the conference. They are the Fifth Regional Conference of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP); the 37th Regional Conference; the Ninth Regional Youth Parliament; the Regional Executive Committee Luncheon Meeting; and the Annual General Meeting of the Regional Association.
The Fifth Regional Conference of the CWP will be held May 12 to 13. This will precede the official opening ceremony, which is scheduled for Monday, May 14 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. This will be followed by a number of plenary sessions involving delegates from the various countries.
One of the highlights of the conference will be the Ninth Regional Youth Parliament. Some 24 young persons from the various branches, including Jamaica, will debate the motion: ‘Be it Resolved that the Speaker of the House be Independently Elected to Ensure that the Positions of the Standing Orders and Other Rules of Parliament are Effectively Enforced’.
Topics to be discussed at the conference include: ‘Raising Levels of Integrity Among Parliamentarians: Are Existing Rules Adequate’; ‘Robust Debate Versus Conduct: Do Presiding Officers and Standing Orders Need to Draw the Line More Effectively?’; ‘Constituency Representatives, Party Loyalist, National Legislator: Balancing Roles in a Time of Challenge’; ‘Parliamentarians Before the Courts: Raising the Bar or Leaving it at ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty?’; ‘Enhancing Accountability and Empowering the People: Exploring the Right of Recall’; ‘Part-time Parliament, Full-time Parliamentarians: Are Sittings Adequate?’; and ‘Member of Parliaments and the distribution of scare benefits’.
Delegates will be entertained at a Cultural Evening to be hosted by the Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna.
The conference will culminate with tours of Mystic Mountain and Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, in St. Ann; Bob Marley Museum, National Gallery and Devon House in Kingston.
This is the second time that the conference will be held in Jamaica, as the country hosted the event in 1998.
By Judith Hunter, JIS Reporter