Your Excellency, Michael Arneaud, President of the Permanent Council;
Your Excellency, Caesar Gaviria, Secretary-General of the OAS;
Your Excellency, Christopher Thomas, Assistant Secretary- General of the OAS;
Distinguished Ambassadors and Members of Staff of the Diplomatic Missions Accredited to
Members of Staff of the OAS Secretariat;
Deputy Secretary-General and other Staff of the CARICOM Secretariat;
It is an honour for me to address the Permanent Council of the OAS this morning. It is
an honour which I have had before as Secretary-General of the ACP and one which I will
always cherish. Mr. Chairman though I am not the first Secretary- General of CARICOM to
have been invited to address the Permanent Council, I am happy to have the privilege to do
so on the happy coincidence of the 50th Anniversary of the OAS, the 25th Anniversary of
the Caribbean Community and under the Chairmanship of my own national Ambassador. Such
coincidences are rare and I am delighted that the occasion is being so appropriately
marked. I will challenge any other CARICOM Secretary-General to match this coincidence of
Mr Chairman, Mr Secretary-General, the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)
came into existence on July 4, 1973 with the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas in
Trinidad and Tobago, by Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, converting the
earlier (1968) looser free trade cooperation arrangement into a more structured Community
and Common Market.
Over the succeeding years, the Membership of CARICOM grew to include Antigua and
Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint
Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines - all English-speaking countries. In 1995
Suriname became the first non-English speaking country to join the Community and in 1997,
the Conference of Heads of Government - the supreme Authority of the Community - took the
decision to accept Haiti as a member of the Community. The terms and conditions of Haiti's
accession are right now being worked out. Haiti's accession will lead to a fifteen- member
English, Dutch and French - speaking Caribbean Community with a population of
approximately 15 million.
The Caribbean Community and Common Market is now working to become a Single Market and
Economy. Fundamental to both the Community and Common Market and the Single Market and
Economy is the principle of the coordination of Foreign Policies of the Member States. It
is on the basis of this fundamental pillar of the integration process in the Caribbean
Community, that we must take a look at CARICOM's relations with OAS states and
In 1967 Trinidad and Tobago became the first English-speaking Caribbean State to secure
membership in the OAS. Since that time, relations between the Caribbean sub-region and the
Organisation have manifested a continuous process of expansion and intensification. This
may be illustrated whether by reference to the accession of CARICOM Member States to the
Charter of the OAS; the sub-region's participation in the full range of the Organisation's
activities in the context of political, technical, economic and other forms of
cooperation, or by reference to the prioritisation and intensification of relations
between CARICOM Member States and other members of the Organisation, both at the bilateral
level or as a group.
Today, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, all CARICOM Member States are full members
of the OAS. Within the OAS, CARICOM Member States have been demonstrating ever increasing
degrees of commitment to the Organisation. This commitment is evidenced by their
constructive role in the various spheres of activity of the Organisation. This has been so
as holders of critical positions in the Organisation, as recipients of the several forms
of assistance dispensed by the Organisation, as leaders in the resolution of various
problems confronting the Organisation, and as voices of concern at threats to the very
values of the Organisation. In other words, I think it is fair to say that CARICOM
countries have fully subscribed to the principles enshrined in our Charter. The eventual
hemispheric and wider international initiative for the restoration of democratic
government in Haitian initiative which found CARICOM Member States in the vanguard -
provides an outstanding example as regards the Community's contribution to this
Organisation's sub-regional achievements.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, with respect to the promotion and intensification
of relations between CARICOM Member States and other Member of the Organisation, over the
years, numerous Agreements have been concluded between CARICOM Member States and several
other Members of the OAS, in fields that span diplomatic relations, visa abolition
agreements, agreements for scientific, technical and economic cooperation, delimitation of
maritime boundaries, fishing, pollution management, air routes and a host of others.
Significant elements of such cooperation include inter-sub-regional arrangements as exist
between CARICOM and the Central American Republics and between CARICOM and "The Group
of Three". There are also agreements between CARICOM as a group and various
individual countries, for example, the greements concluded by CARICOM with Chile, with
Colombia and with Venezuela.
The ground work for many of these formal agreements have either been laid or reinforced
by meetings at the highest political levels among the countries concerned.
One of the most historic agreements promoted by CARICOM was that establishing the
Association of Caribbean States (ACS) which was signed in July 1994 in Cartagena de
Indias, Colombia. I might add, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, that, reflecting what
is perhaps the most concrete expression of open-regionalism in the hemisphere to date, the
Association's own membership includes members of the Andean Community, the Central
American Integration System (SICA), the Group of Three and NAFTA in addition to CARICOM -
whose membership also subsumes that of the OECS.
In this process, we must of course recognise the Agreement signed on 18 May, 1992
constituting as it does the formal cooperation instrument between the General Secretariat
of the Organisation of American States and the Caribbean Community. It is in the
implementation of that Agreement that my staff and I are here in Washington today.
Mr. Chairman, the process of expansion and intensification of CARICOM's relations with
the OAS outlined above is not only expected to continue but is poised for significant
enhancement. The Representatives of the Member States of the Organisation, including
CARICOM Member States gathered in this Special Session of the Permanent Council, are all
fresh from the Second Summit of the Americas which convened in Santiago, Chile over the
priod 18-19 April 1998. That Summit served to consolidate the process of joint action at
the hemispheric level, in a number of areas selected from among those originally
identified in the Plan of Action adopted at the first summit Meeting held in Miami, in
December 1994, namely: Education, Democracy; Economic Integration and Free Trade; and the
Eradication of Poverty and Discrimination.
The institutionalisation of the "Summit Process" as the centrepiece of
hemispheric relations which seeks to address the vital concerns of the countries of the
hemisphere, and which has identified a central role within that process for the OAS, is
the single most important factor that sets the stage for "the significant
enhancement" of CARICOM's relations with the OAS and the hemishere, to which I have
Even as the Member States of CARICOM emphasise their commitment to this grand design
for hemispheric integration, they have repeatedly drawn attention to the challenges
inherent in this enterprise for the "smaller economies" and of the need for both
the process and structures contemplated, to be designed in such a manner as to accommodate
their particular circumstances. One particular initiative advanced by CARICOM, deriving as
much from practical experience as from relevant analysis, is the establishment of a
Regional Integration Fund. The justification for this mechanism inheres in the very
process of integration between large and small, developed and developing economies.
Nothing but political considerations can deny its validity.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, the Charter of the Organisation of American States
does not however directly address the question of size. Nonetheless, throughout its
existence the Organisation has strongly advocated the principle of "the sovereign
equality of States". Also inasmuch as the Organisation's Membership has from its
inception included the smaller Republics of the Central American Isthmus and the
Spanish-speaking States of the Caribbean, issues relating to small states can hardly be
said to be novel themes of discourse in this forum. The admission of CARICOM States from
1967 onwards, resulting in the majority of the OAS States being smaller economies must
also have served to further sensitise the Organisation to the concerns and interests of
As the hemisphere now embarks on the creation of the FTAA, the launching of the
negotiations for which was a major outcome of the Santiago Summit, the Member States of
CARICOM reiterate the need to observe the agreements and understandings previously reached
and reaffirmed at the Summit, to incorporate measures that ensure the full and effective
participation of the smaller economies in this historic adventure.
Neither this objective nor the efforts to combat the illegal traffic in drugs or to
alleviate poverty would not be met by the reallocation of existing resources. This
Organisation cannot afford to endanger Programmes keenly required, especially by the
Smaller States, to finance the new programmes which, under the Summit process, will fall
to it for implementation. Such action would only further weaken the capacity of the
smaller economies to effectively participate in the Summit of the Americas process
especially in the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Moreover, should such reallocation
involve shifting resources from areas such as technical assistance and
scholarships/fellowships, not only will that diminish one of the critical benefits which
the CARICOM Region enjoys from its membership of the OAS, but would also serve to
undermine the educational thrust in the wake of a Summit which has placed education at the
top of its priorities. Mr. Chairman, the entire question of additional resources for
financing the Summit process is one which remains in need of further clarification.
As regards the area of technical assistance, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, let
me take this opportunity to place on record our appreciation for the contribution of the
OAS Trade Unit in developing a clear understanding of the implications of the process of
integration between economies - large and small, developing and developed. We look forward
to receiving continued assistance from this Unit as the negotiations for the FTAA gathers
Continuing CARICOM-OAS Cooperation does not however, rely solely on the Summit Process.
Certain areas of unfinished business as exemplified by the scope for continued cooperation
in Haiti, remain in need of our further joint support; from CARICOM's standpoint, all the
moreso as Haiti moves to finalise the arrangements for becoming the Fifteenth member of
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, the challenges faced by CARICOM at this juncture
emanate not only from the hemispheric developments. In its traditional European theatre of
economic, political and social interaction the fast approaching millennium brings with it
new fundamental challenges to the old order.
The Lomé Convention, which for the last quarter of the century had embodied the trade,
aid and development relationship between CARICOM countries and Europe expires at the end
of February 2000. Arrangements of a fundamentally different nature are expected to govern
those relations, post 2000. First of all, like the FTAA, the new arrangements will have to
be designed against the background of a WTO rules based trading system. The indications of
the nature of some of these differences - loss of preference, prior political commitment
with stringent democratic human rights and Rule of Law requirements, reciprocal trade
relations, less exclusive relations, etc. pose major questions for the region - the
answers to which will need to be in harmony with the initiatives in this hemisphere of
which CARICOM is a part.
The complications brought about by these various challenges is intensified by the
timing of the various developments. The negotiation for a Free Trade Area of the Americas
was launched at the just concluded Second Summit of the Americas and according to the new
Chairman of the process - Canada. It is their intention to move at a brisk pace and to
record significant progress by the year 2000.
At the same time, the negotiations for the post-Lomé IV successor agreement between
the EU and the ACP countries is scheduled to be launched in September 1998 - that
is five months following the launch of the negotiations for the FTAA.
Wedged between those two negotiating challenges facing CARICOM is the WTO negotiations
in a number of critical areas. Following on the WTO Singapore Ministerial Meeting of
December 1996, the WTO will be holding its next Ministerial meeting in Geneva within a
month. On that agenda are issues of great relevance to both the FTAA and the post-Lomé IV
negotiations. For those and other reasons, CARICOM cannot afford the luxury of
non-participation or indifference to such meetings.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, CARICOM recognises the virtue of diversifying its
trade and economic relations; most critically by forging linkages with its neighbours in
and around the Caribbean. Following its decision in 1992 to adopt a more "Caribbean
basin" approach to development, CARICOM has sought to strengthen its trade and
economic relations with neighbouring countries by embarking on and concluding agreements
with Venezuela. Colombia and the Dominican Republic. All of these external trade and
economic relations must, of course, be consistent one with the other and with the WTO.
They also serve to provide a broader and stronger regional market from which CARICOM
countries can launch the export drive which they must, if they are to survive much less
But the single most critical pillar on which CARICOM's future, not merely its trade
relationships, depends is the thrust towards its development into a Single Market and
Economy - an objective slated for significant advancement by 1999. This undertaking to
create a single economic space emanates from the 1989 Grand Anse Declaration of CARICOM
Heads of Government and involves a fundamental revision of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which
To date more than half of the nine protocols designed to amend that Treaty are
virtually ready for signature by CARICOM Heads of State and Government at their upcoming
Nineteenth Regular Summit to be held in Saint Lucia in early July. That Summit which will
mark the 25th Anniversary of the Caribbean Community will see the signing of the Protocols
on Industrial Policy (Protocol III), Trade Liberalisation/Common External Policy (Protocol
IV), Agricultural Policy (Protocol V) and on Disadvantaged Countries, Regions and Sectors
The first two Protocols dealing with the creation of the new Community Structures
of Unity and Governance of the Caribbean Community (Protocol I) and with the Provision of
Services and Movement of Capital and the Right of Establishment (Protocol II) have already
been signed and Protocol I is already in force. With the signing of the four Protocols
envisaged for July, three would remain for signature - on Transport Policy (Protocol VI),
on Disputes Settlement (Protocol VIII) and on Rules of Competition (Protocol IX) to
complete the Treaty Revision process for the creation of the CARICOM Single Market and
A number of critical issues facing CARICOM and their resolution may in many ways amount
to a redefining of the Community itself and of the way it conducts its affairs. A random
choice of three of these issues exemplifies this situation. The recent initiative by
CARICOM to help bring about a resolution to the post-December 15 electoral political
crisis in Guyana has marked a new development by CARICOM as it seeks to pursue democracy
in a Member State. Arising from this, many are calling for a permanent Electoral Advisory
body as part of the Community's arsenal of instruments. Given the universal priority
attaching to the observance of democratic principles, including the observance of Human
Rights and the Rule of Law, the possibility of this development may not be far off.
The Community has already taken a step in this direction when in 1997, it adopted a non
legally binding Charter of Civil Society enshrining community-wide normative moorings for
the governments and governed of the Community.
This recent enhanced political role of CARICOM is also evident in the efforts by the
Community to help arrest the threat of political succession by Nevis in the Member State
of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Another domain in which a redefinition of the role of CARICOM is emerging is in the
area of juridical structures. For most of the CARICOM countries, the final court of Appeal
has historically been the Privy Council - a special Committee of Law Lords of the House of
Lords of the United Kingdom. Recent developments in both the UK and in the Caribbean seem
set to bring the curtain down on this historical piece of the Region's legal structure.
The present Government of the United Kingdom has indicated that consequent on its
subscription to the European Convention rendering capital punishment unacceptable, it
found itself in an undesirable position of sustaining a legal structure which is required
to impose capital punishment in accordance with the laws of the countries of the Caribbean
Community. The UK sees the resolution of this conundrum in the establishment by CARICOM
States of alternative arrangements and has said so.
The CARICOM countries for their part have just about reached the end of a long process
of decision-making as regards the establishment of a Caribbean Supreme Court with final
appellate jurisdiction for the States party to the Court. It is hoped that this court will
come into effect in time for the new millennium.
The third and final issue to which I wish to make reference, is the position of Cuba in
CARICOM relations. This is not the place for a treatise on Cuba and I am not the one to
give one in any case, but one cannot avoid Cuba if one is faced with the task of Caribbean
development. After all, Cuba is a major Caribbean State.
CARICOM countries established diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 1972. Since
then that relationship has been enlarged into in a Cuba-CARICOM Commission to develop
economic, trade, technical, scientific and cultural relations between Cuba and CARICOM.
The last meeting of the Commission took place in Havana in December 1997. Cuba has not
sought membership of CARICOM but has applied for membership of the 71 member African,
Caribbean and Pacific Group of States which is in cooperation with the 15 Member European
Union through the Lome trade, aid and development cooperation agreement. The Caribbean
supports that application.
Finally, Cuba's continuing absence at the table of the Summits of the Americas is a
source of concern to CARICOM and some other Hemispheric States. These concerns have been
publicly expressed as well as the hope that the recently concluded Second Summit would be
the last such occasion.
It is this general concern with Cuba's position in the region which has also led some
CARICOM voices to call for Cuba to move to what has been called "post revolutionary
democracy". CARICOM does not presume to be able to solve the issue of Cuba's
hemispheric relations, but it can neither deny, escape nor ignore it and therefore urges
the search for a solution through constructive engagement and respect for political
diversity, rather than exclusion and embargo.
These three examples point unmistakeably to an evolutionary process taking place in
CARICOM as it prepares internally and in its external relations to face up to the
challenges of the 21st century. In that process, this Organisation from which it has
already benefitted significantly and to which it has contributed substantially and of
which it now shares even higher expectations, can be of critical importance.
It is against this background and for this reason that we share the joy surrounding
this 50th Anniversary and extend our congratulations to all those who have led and
sustained this Organisation. We applaud especially its current leadership and membership
and are proud to be a part of this unique achievement. It remains a beacon of hope for our
future development and welfare. Long live the Organisation of American States!
I thank you.