Established in 1958, the West Indies Federation
comprised the ten territories of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados,
Dominica. Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, the then St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla,
Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Federation was established by the British
Caribbean Federation Act of 1956 with the aim of establishing a
political union among its members.
Although a plan for a Customs Union was drawn up,
emphasis was not placed on the economic aspect of Federation during the
four years of its existence. Economically, the Region remained as
it had been for centuries, and not even free trade was introduced
between the member countries during this period.
The West Indies Federation came to an end in 1962 but
its end, in many ways, must be regarded as the real beginning of what is
now the Caribbean Community.
The end of the Federation meant the beginning of more serious efforts
on the part of the political leaders in the Caribbean to strengthen the ties between the
and the mainland territories, Guyana and Belize, by providing
for the continuance and strengthening of the areas of cooperation that
existed during the Federation.
To this end, in mid-1962, a Common Services Conference
was convened to take decisions on these services, the major ones among
them being the University of the West Indies (UWI), founded in 1948 and
the Regional Shipping Services set up during the Federation, to manage
the operation of the two ships donated in 1962 by the Government of
Canada - the Federal Palm and the Federal Maple.
The Caribbean Meteorological Service was established
one year later, in 1963 and, along with the UWI and the Regional
Shipping Service, represented the heart of Caribbean cooperation
directly after the end of the Federation.
In addition to the decision to continue the process of
inter-state cooperation and notwithstanding the dissolution of the
Federation, the year 1962 also market two important developments in the
establishment of a Caribbean Community: the attainment of
independence by both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in August that year
and with it, the power to control their own domestic and external
In announcing its intention to withdraw from the Federation, the Government
of Trinidad and Tobago proposed the creation of a Caribbean Community,
consisting not only of the 10 members of the Federation, but also of
the three Guianas and all the islands of the Caribbean Sea - both independent
To discuss this concept, the then Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
Hon. Eric Williams convened the first Heads of Government Conference in July 1963,
in Trinidad and Tobago. This Conference was
attended by the leaders of Barbados, British Guiana, Jamaica and Trinidad
At this Conference, the leaders of the four (4)
Caribbean countries all spoke clearly of the need for close cooperation
with Europe, Africa and Latin America.
The first Heads of Government Conference proved to be first in a
series of Conference among the leaders of Commonwealth Caribbean
In July 1965, the meeting of the Premiers of Barbados and British Guiana
and the Chief Minister of Antigua and Barbuda focused on the possibility
a Free Trade Area in the Caribbean.
This move resulted in the announcement later that
definite plans to establish a Free Trade Area. This was carried
through in the same year when in December 1965, the Heads of Government of Antigua
and Barbuda, Barbados and British Guiana signed
an Agreement at Dickenson Bay in Antigua and Barbuda to set up the Caribbean Free
Trade Association (CARIFTA).
CARIBBEAN FREE TRADE ASSOCIATION (CARIFTA)
At the Fourth Heads of Government Conference held in
Bridgetown, Barbados on 23-27 October 1967 it was agreed to establish
CARIFTA formally, and to include as many Commonwealth Caribbean
countries as possible in the new arrangement of December 1965. It
was also agreed that the Free Trade Association was to be the beginning
of what would become the Caribbean Common Market, the establishment of
which would be conducted through a number of stages towards the
achievement of a viable economic community of Caribbean territories.
The CARIFTA Agreement came into effect on May 1, 1968, with the
participation of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
1st August 1968 marked the formal entry of Dominica, Grenada, St
Kitts/Nevis/Anguilla, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines,
Jamaica and Montserrat. British Honduras (Belize) joined in May
Emerging also from the 1967 Heads of Government
Conference was the decision to establish the Commonwealth Caribbean
Regional Secretariat on 1 May 1968 in Georgetown, Guyana, and the
Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in October 1969 in Bridgetown,
It was at the Seventh Heads of Government Conference
in November 1972 that the Caribbean leaders decided to transform CARIFTA
into a Common Market and establish the Caribbean Community of which the
Common Market would be an integral part.
CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM)
At the Eighth Heads of Government Conference of CARIFTA held in April
1973 in Georgetown, Guyana the decision to establish the Caribbean
Community was brought into fruition. The process through which it was
established is set out in the Georgetown Accord.
Original signatories to the Treaty were Prime
Ministers Errol Barrow for Barbados; Forbes Burnham for Guyana; Michael
Manley of Jamaica; Eric Williams for Trinidad and Tobago. By 1
May, 1974, all other members of CARIFTA had signed the Agreement to
become full members of CARICOM, except Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts
and Nevis. They both signed the Agreement in July 1974.
In July 1983, The Bahamas became the 13th member ofthe Caribbean
Community but not of the Common Market.
Suriname became the 14th Member State to join the Community in July 1995 and
the Common Market in January 1996.
Haiti was formally admitted as the 15th Member State at the Twenty-Third
Heads of Government Meeting, Georgetown, Guyana, on 2nd July 2002.
In July 1991, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands
became the first Associate Members followed by Anguilla in July 1999. The
Cayman Islands became the fourth Associate Member of the regional grouping
on 16 May 2002; Bermuda became the fifth on 2 July 2003.
The three objectives of the Community at its inception were, economic
integration, co-ordination of foreign policy, and functional co-operation in
areas such as health, education and culture and other areas related to human
and social development.
INSTITUTIONS OF THE COMMUNITY
The Community in responding to
the need to prioritise certain social and economic issues has
established a number of institutions and linked with several partners.
The institutions recognised by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas are:
Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians (ACCP); Caribbean
Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA); Caribbean Meteorological
Institute (CMI); Caribbean Meteorological Organisation (CMO); Caribbean
Environmental Health Institute (CEHI); Caribbean Agricultural Research
and Development Institute (CARDI); Caribbean Centre for Developmental
Administration (CARICAD); and the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute
(CFNI). The Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ)
and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) are examples
of institutions established by the Community subsequent to the
ratification ofthe Revised Treaty.
Associate Institutions of the Community are the Caribbean Development
Bank (CDB), the University of Guyana (UG), the University of the West
Indies (UWI), the Caribbean Law Institute and its Centre (CLI/CLIC) and
the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Among the key partners in the integration process are the Caribbean
Congress of Labour (CCL), the Caribbean Association ofIndustry and
Commerce (CAlC) and the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC).
Faced with a multiplicity of negotiations the Community sought to
streamline its negotiating structures. Thus, in 1997, the Caribbean
Regional Negotiation Machinery (CRNM) was established to coordinate the
Community's external negotiations. The areas of focus are negotiations
for: the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA); the Economic
Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union as part of the Group
of African Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) , and at the level of the
World Trade Organisation (WTO).
CARICOM SINGLE MARKET AND
The decision, in 1989, to establish the CSME was a
move to deepen the integration movement to better respond to the
challenges and opportunities presented by globalisation.
Preparations for the establishment of the CSME included the negotiation
of nine Protocols to amend the Treaty. These nine Protocols were later
combined to create a new version of the Treaty, called formally, The
Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas Establishing the Caribbean Community,
including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy which was signed in
The main objectives of the CSME are: full use of labour; full
exploitation of the other factors of production; competitive production
leading to greater variety; quality and quantity of goods and services,
thereby providing greater capacity to trade with other countries.
On 1 January 2006, the Single Market component of the CSME came into
being, involving Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and
Trinidad and Tobago. The other Member States except The Bahamas and
Haiti, which had not signified their intention to participate in the
CSME, and Montserrat - a British Dependency, which must await the
necessary instrument of entrustment from the United Kingdom - became
part of the Single Market in July 2006. The framework for the Single
Economy component of the CSME is expected to be in place by 2008.
CARIBBEAN COURT OF JUSTICE (CCJ)
The idea of a Caribbean Supreme
Court is not a new one. From as early as the beginning of the 20th
century, opinions were being expressed in support of such a court and at
a meeting in 1947, West Indian governors reflected on the
need for a West Indian Court of Appeal.
Since then, at varying intervals suggestions were made for such a
At the 12th Inter-Sessional Meeting of The Conference in 2001,
Bridgetown, Barbados, the Heads of Government signed the agreement for
the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), emphasising
the central role ofthe Court in providing legal certainty to the
operations of the CSME.
The CCJ is structured to have two jurisdictions - an original and an
In its original jurisdiction, the Court is an international tribunal
with compulsory and exclusive jurisdiction for the interpretation and
application for the Revised Treaty. In this regard it is tasked with the
responsibility to hear and deliver judgment on:
- Disputes arising between Contracting Parties to the Agreement;
- Disputes between contracting parties and the Community;
- Disputes between community nationals, contracting parties,
Community institutions, or between nationals themselves.
In the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ considers
and determine appeals in both civil and criminal matters from courts
within the jurisdiction of Member States.
The CCJ mission is "the Caribbean Court of Justice shall perform
to the highest standards as the supreme judicial organ in the
Caribbean Community. In its original jurisdiction it ensures uniform
interpretation and application of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,
thereby underpinning and advancing the CARICOM Single Market and
Economy. As the final court of appeal for member states of the
Caribbean Community it fosters the development of an indigenous
The Court was inaugurated on 16 April 2005 in Trinidad and Tobago
where its headquarters is located.
CHARTER OF CIVIL SOCIETY
Heads of Government at its Special Meeting in Port-of-Spain,
Trinidad and Tobago, in October 1992, adopted the recommendation of
the West Indian Commission that a Charter of Civil Society be
subscribed to by Member
States of the Community.
In executing the directives from Heads of Government, the
Inter-Governmental Task Force drafted a document that was refined by
Ministers of Legal affairs and adopted by Heads of Government at
their Eighth Inter-Sessional Meeting in 1997, St. Johns, Antigua and
Although member states are not legally bound by the provisions of
the Charter, it sets out the principles that are intended to convert
concepts such as good governance; fundamental human rights and
freedoms and respect for cultural and religious diversity.
CONSENSUS OF CHAGUARAMAS
The 1999 Special Session of Heads of
Government was held at Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago. The theme
of this meeting was 'Concluding the 20th Century/Commencing the
21st' and its specific focus was 'A Vision for the
Community in the Early Twenty-first Century' as well as
'Strengthening the Community's Institutions'.
To help shape this vision Heads issued the Consensus of Chaguaramas
- a document setting out initiatives critical for moving the
Community purposefully into the new millennium. They include:
- Establishing a Quasi-Cabinet;
- The introduction of a CARICOM passport;
- Greater involvement of civil society in the integration
- Involvement of opposition parties in the integration
- Review of the structure and functioning of community
Heads agreed to constitute a quasi-cabinet with individual
Heads having responsibility for critical portfolios. These are:
- SERVICES (including Information Technology and
Telecommunications) - Antigua and Barbuda
- TOURISM (including Land, Cruise, Suva Partnership
Agreement provisions etc.) - The Bahamas
- SINGLE MARKET AND ECONOMY (Including Monetary Union) -
- SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (including Environment and
Disaster (Management and Water*) - Belize
- LABOUR (including intra-community movement of skills) -
- SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - Grenada
- AGRICULTURE, AGRICULTURAL DIVERSIFICATION AND FOOD
SECURITY (including the Regional Transportation Programme
for Agriculture (RTP)) - Guyana
- EXTERNAL NEGOTIATIONS - Jamaica
- HEALTH (including HIV / AIDS) AND HUMAN RESOURCE
DEVELOPMENT - St. Kitts and Nevis
- JUSTICE AND GOVERNANCE - Saint Lucia
- BANANAS AND AIR TRANSPORTATION - St. Vincent and the
- COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND CULTURAL CO-OPERATION
(including Culture, Gender, Youth and Sport) - Suriname
- SECURITY (Drugs and Illicit Arms; and Energy) - Trinidad
*Montserrat will work closely with Belize given its
special interest in Disaster Management.
The introduction of the CARICOM passport is seen as an
important symbol of regionalism and visible proof of common
identity. It is also part of the measure to promote
hassle-free travel for CARlCOM nationals. The format for
this passport as outlined below was agreed by Heads:
- The cover will have the logo of CARICOM and the
words "Caribbean Community"
- The Coat of Arms and the name of the Member State
will also be featured on the cover.
It is intended that the CARICOM passport will create
awareness that CARlCOM Nationals are Nationals of the
Community, as well as a specific country.
the following countries have issued the CARICOM
- Suriname - 7 January 2005
- St Vincent and the Grenadines - 2005
- St Kitts and Nevis - 2005
- Dominica - 2005
- Antigua and Barbuda - 2006
- Saint Lucia - 6 January 2007
- Trinidad and Tobago - 24 January 2007
- Grenada - 29 January 2007
- Guyana - July 2007
All other Member States are expected to
introduce the CARICOM Passport by 31 December 2007.
Those States, which have not yet done so, are
attempting to deplete their existing stock, before
issuing the new CARlCOM Passport.
INVOLVEMENT AND PARTICIPATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN
THE INTEGRATION PROCESS
Since 1973 the
Community has institutionalized annual exchanges
with different groups to discuss issues of
concern/interest. The initial discussions were
conducted through meetings between a Joint
Consultative Group (JCG) and the Common Market
Council of Ministers.
The JCG comprised:
- The private sector, through the Caribbean
Association of Industry and Commerce (CAlC, a
private sector umbrella body);
- Labour, through the Caribbean Congress of
Labour (CCL); and
- Consumers, through the Caribbean Consumers
Over time the CCC ceased functioning.
Private sector and labour representatives,
however, continued to meet with the ministers
through the JCG and from the late 1980s, began
holding exchanges directly with Heads of
Government instead of the Council of Ministers.
In 1995, the NGO community began participating
in the JCG, through the Caribbean Policy
Development Centre (CPDC) - an NGO umbrella
In 2002, under the theme Forward Together, all
civil society groups and Heads of Government
came together at a conference in Guyana to begin
the process of institutionalising a
consensus-building forum on CARICOM development
INVOLVEMENT OF OPPOSITION
PARTIES IN THE INTEGRATION PROCESS
of Government also agreed at their meeting in
Chaguaramas that Community issues should be seen
as politically neutral ground at the national
level and the political opposition should be
brought in 'as partners into the framework of
the consultation in the regional integration
process'. The decision was taken in the spirit
of inclusiveness and as part of the effort to
ensure that as many segments of our society as
possible, are afforded the opportunity to
contribute to charting a direction for our
Consultations have been initiated through
briefings of opposition leaders by the
Heads of Government also agreed that the
Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians
(ACCP) was an appropriate institution through
which opposition leaders would also be able to
meet to discuss issues critical to the Region's
In 2005 the first meeting of Heads of Government
and Leaders of Parliamentary Opposition took
place in Saint Lucia.
REVIEW OF THE
STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONING OF COMMUNITY
As the integration movement
deepens, numerous demands are being placed on
key regional institutions, such as the CARICOM
Secretariat. In an effort to address this
situation, and further accelerate the
implementation of decisions, Heads of Government
agreed that the structure and functioning needed
to be reviewed in order to strengthen the
A team of consultants was appointed to conduct a
review of the structure and functioning of the
CARICOM Secretariat and the findings and
recommendations of that group were submitted in
2002. The recommendations of this group are
being considered as part of a broader thrust -
launched in 2003 - to review governance of the
Community's integration process.
CARIBBEAN PARTNERSHIP AGAINST HIV/AIDS (PANCAP)
- The challenging circumstances of the
integration movement do not only pertain to
its economic welfare. In fact, the Region as
a whole has not been spared the impact of
the deadly scourge of HIV/AIDS, drug abuse
and narco-trafficking. This has led to the
establishment of PAN CAP at the February
2001 Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of
Government and endorsed by the Nassau
Declaration on Health 2001. The Partnership
aims to scale up the response to HIV/AIDS in
Its specific mandate is:
To advocate for HIV / AIDS issues at
government and highest levels;
- To coordinate the regional response and
mobilise resources both regional and
To increase country-level resources, both
human and financial, to address the
PANCAP is in partnership with several
international funding agencies and receives
support from a few regional institutions.