The four-term ex-Prime Minister, an acknowledged 'elder statesman' of the 36-year-old Community, made his appeal in an eloquent address, at the ceremonial opening at the 30th Heads of Government Conference in Guyana, in appreciation of being honoured with CARICOM's highest award--Order of the Community (OCC).
Not only did he pledge his availability to be of whatever assistance he could possibly offer.
Patterson publicly invited previous recipients of the OCC to come forward to be of assistance at this time when CARICOM is going through a most difficult period in its existence.
"I feel confident in speaking not only for myself", he told the assembled guests who packed the Guyana National Cultural Centre for the opening ceremony, "but also for all the others who have received your highest accolade that the Caribbean Community is at liberty to call upon each and all of us to give our experience, or share our expertise in any way that will serve to move our fellow citizens on the path of economic progress and social mobility...."
Such a response, he feels, will help to "ensure the fashioning of a Caribbean civilization, embedded in strong regional consciousness and rooted in the promotion of human dignity for those who call the Caribbean our only home..."
Previous and surviving OCC recipients would include, Sir Shridath Ramphal, Sir Alister McIntyre, poet laureate Derek Walcott, novelist and social commentator George Lamming.
Emphasising the need for the region's economic integration movement to introduce a new administrative structure for effective governance, Patterson sought to revive new interest in a core recommendation of the West Indian Commission of 1992 that had urged the establishment of a high-level CARICOM Commission with executive authority.
"The greatest threat to the credibility of CARICOM", warned Patterson, "lies squarely in the failure to implement solemn declarations and decisions made at (Heads of Government) Conference after Conference:
Surely, he argued, "mature regionalism will remain a pipe dream unless authority is vested in an executive mechanism which is charged with full time responsibility for ensuring the implementation, within a specified timeframe, of the critical decisions taken by Heads or other designated organs of the Community..."
The Community leaders are expected to take a decision, one way or the other today on a new mechanism that could help in redeeming the 'credibility' of CARICOM.