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Weekly Spotlight: 7 October 2023

1. Prime Minister Trudeau Announces Canada-CARICOM Summit

On 06 October, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his intention to host a Canada-CARICOM summit in Ottawa between 17-19 October 2023. The planned summit will be based around the theme “Strategic Partners for a Resilient Future”, and co-hosted by both Prime Minister Trudeau and CARICOM’s current chair Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica. The summit’s theme will highlight important areas of shared cooperation between Canada and CARICOM including the promotion of multilateral collaboration, strengthening of coordination on regional security, and establishment of financial schemes to assist Small Island Developing States in tackling the effects of climate change. Prime Minister Trudeau commented that he was “looking forward to welcoming leaders from the Caribbean community,” and that all delegates were committed to “working together to take climate action, build strong economies, and keep people safe.”

2. United Nations Security Council Approves Kenyan-Led Intervention in Haiti

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) authorised the deployment of a long-term Kenyan-led multinational security mission to Haiti, whose security institutions have recently been overwhelmed by rampant gang violence, on 02 October 2023. The mission was approved by thirteen of the fifteen member states of the UNSC, with only Russia and China abstaining. Whilst UN approval was not specifically required for the mission to proceed, as the operation will not conducted by UN peacekeepers, Kenya refused to commence the operation without such support, which has been viewed as indicative of the country’s commitment to upholding international law. Reportedly, Kenya will send approximately 1,000 "well-resourced and effective" security personnel to restore public order as soon as January 2024. Twelve other nations have committed to join the operation, including several from within the Caribbean.

3. Bangladesh and India Announce Greater Cybersecurity Collaboration

Bangladesh’s Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, announced on 04 October that greater collaboration with India would be pursued to enhance cybersecurity provision between the two countries. The announcement was made during a three-day Bangladesh-India joint cooperation initiative program run by the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC), which was attended by senior representatives from both the Indian and Bangladeshi government. Specifically, Bangladesh will establish enhanced communications channels with the Indian Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) to combat cybercrime, facilitate technological innovation, and enhance data security. After a memorandum of understanding was signed, Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Pranay Kumar Verma praised the initiative for elevating relations between the two nations to “new heights”.

4. Brunei Receives Second Ex-Singaporean Patrol Vessel

The Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) formally received delivery of an ex-Singaporean Fearless-class patrol vessel at Singapore’s RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base on 02 October 2023. The new vessel, which has been recommissioned as KDB Al-Faruq, is the second decommissioned Singaporean vessel to be transferred to the RBN, with the As-Siddiq previously entering service on 15 March 2023. The Fearless class is a 500-tonne water-jet-propelled patrol vessel powered by two MTU 12V-595-TE90 diesel engines, which can achieve a top speed of 20 knots. The transfer signals both the development of an increasingly close security partnership between Brunei and Singapore, and Brunei’s desire to enhance its own naval capabilities.

5. Australia Seeks Security Agreement with Papua New Guinea

Reports indicate that Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles has planned to host his counterpart from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Win Bakri Daki, in Geelong for discussions regarding the completion of a new defence and security agreement. Initially, a defence pact was due to be signed between the two countries by mid-2023. However, a separate agreement signed with the US sparked internal divisions within PNG which delayed negotiations with Australia. According to Mr Marles, discussions will centre on enhancing the bilateral defence relationship between the two countries, including the possibility of regional military exercises and broader regional security agreements. Furthermore, Australia aims to provide enhanced naval assistance to tackle illegal and unreported fishing, perform routine surveillance, and implement rapid natural disaster relief. Ahead of the meeting, Mr Marles commented that “Canberra and Port Moresby share a unique and deep defence relationship underpinned by close people-to-people ties,” and that he was “looking forwards to discussing ways to deepen our close partnership.”


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