Friday, May 31, 2019

The Honourable Laura Tucker-Longsworth, Speaker of the House of Representatives attended a Plenary Assembly of PARLACEN at the Central American Parliament Headquarters in Guatemala City, on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. The Honourable Tucker-Longsworth gave her remarks to the Plenary Assembly on the importance of signing the Agreement for Belize and the initiation of the joint working relations with the PARLACEN.

Below is the Speech presented by the Honourable Laura Tucker Longsworth.

Honourable President of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), Mrs. Irma Anaya Echeverria, and Honourable Members of this parliament, it’s a great pleasure for me to be here today and adddess you on this historic occasion, which is the signing of this Framework Agreement for Interinstitutional Cooperation between PARLACEN and the parliament of Belize.  The purpose of this Framework Agreement is to establish the basis for relations that will allow academic-interinstitutional cooperation between PARLACEN and the National Assembly of Belize. It envisions collaboration between our two parliaments and recognises and encourages reflection and consultation in partnership with the right of participation on topics of regional interest by civil society organizations, governmental departments and international organizations.

PARLACEN is among the cornerstone organs of Central American Integration System.  It is borne from the aspirations for peace, political cooperation, and regional solidarity of the countries of Central America.  It is emblematic of the democratic values of our region, which Belize fully shares.

Belize is not a Member of PARLACEN, however, as a full member of SICA, we certainly appreciate the significant contribution that this institution makes to regional integration. We understand fully the critical role that PARLACEN plays in fostering the consolidation of democratic and pluralistic governance, in promoting regional integration through political cooperation and dialogue and in advancing a rules-based system.

Last year, Belize had the honour to serve again at the Presidency Pro-tempore of SICA.  During our tenure we focused on the importance of regional and international cooperation, strengthening relations between SICA and CARICOM.  We have addressed the social, economic, cultural and political development of the people of the Afro-descendants in line with SICA’s commitment to the objectives of the International Decade for People of African Descent.  We also discussed migration in the region, climate change, regional security and enhancing relations with regional and extraregional observers of the SICA among others.  These are all issues of common interest among the institutions of SICA, including PARLACEN. 

Under this Agreement, our two parliaments will be required to jointly organize training courses, workshops, forums and seminars on topics of economic, political, legal, social and cultural integration and other dimensions of mutual interest, seeking to organize regional work with the collaboration of universities and other institutions of higher education.  We will also be required to jointly promote the development and discussion of framework laws on regional integration issues among other issues of mutual interest.  The collaboration with tertiary institutions supports the role of higher education in promoting democracy by conducting research to support proposed government actions from a bi-partisan perspective.

This Agreement also provides for a follow-up mechanism to allow our two parliaments to hold each other accountable for ensuring the goals of the Agreement are realized.  It is important for us to know whether the Agreement is meeting its stated objectives and achieving the desired effect. Therefore the follow-up mechanism allows for greater transparency and accountability in terms of the utilization of resources.

It is therefore our considered view that this Agreement is valuable to accelerate progress in areas of common interest and enhance the integration effort. The inclusion of stakeholder consultation is forward thinking and supports direct democracy through recognition of the right of participation of stakeholders. The signing of this Framework Agreement marks another milestone in our regional political integration of SICA. As a non Member of PARLACEN, this Agreement will be an important and necessary platform to

facilitate inter parliamentary exchanges, political dialogue and cooperation between our two parliaments. We look forward to this and believe firmly that closer cooperation will only lead to greater awareness, stronger ties of friendship and solidarity, and the deepening of our regional democracy. 

Finally, I want to thank you all, on behalf of our National Assembly of Belize, for the opportunity given to me to address you all at this Plenary Assembly.  Thank you.