Happy 40th Birthday, CARICOM

As we celebrate the 238th anniversary of U.S. Declaration of Independence, I also pause to acknowledge the 40th birthday of the Caribbean Community or CARICOM. Created on July 4th 1973, CARICOM is a regional organization created to achieve economic integration and to promote cooperation among its fifteen (15) Caribbean member states. Its members are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Forty years later a question being posed is what has CARICOM achieved? Is CARICOM a success or a failure? As one would expect with such a complex undertaking, the answer is “yes”.

In honor of this 40th birthday, while acknowledging the numerous challenges that remain, we highlight key accomplishments of the Caribbean regional integration effort under CARICOM.

Institutional Continuity

CARICOM HQ building in Guyana (www.caricom.org)

CARICOM HQ building in Guyana (www.caricom.org)

CARICOM remains a functional organization which has expanded beyond its original English-speaking members to encompass Dutch-speaking Suriname and French-speaking Haiti. This year, for the first time, Haiti assumed the rotating position as Chair of CARICOM. Fittingly, President Martelli assumed the position on January 1, the 209th anniversary of Haiti’s independence. The five UK territories– Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands – are associate members. Several other countries, including the Dominican Republic, hold observer status.

Functional Cooperation in Culture, Education, Health

CARIFESTA, the Caribbean-wide Festival of Arts remains alive and well as an expression of the region’s rich and varied cultures. CARIFESTA XI is being held in Paramaribo, Suriname, August 16-25, 2013.

Twenty-eight regional bodies are CARICOM-designated institutions or associate institutions that serve to pool the resources of these small Caribbean states in delivering education, health and other social services to the region. The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Council of Legal Education operate several campuses to provide tertiary education across the region. There is also the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) (formerly CDERA); Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Caribbean Community Climate Change CentreCaribbean Telecommunications UnionCaribbean Public Health Agency, and Caribbean Regional Information and Translation Institute (CRITI), to name a few.

Economic Integration

The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, signed in 2001, refocused the goal of economic integration around creating the CARICOM Single Market & Economy (CSME). For the twelve signatories to the CSME, the goal is to create a regional market for trade in goods and services and the movement of labor and capital. Currently, Caribbean-made products are entitled to duty-free entry into all CSME members and policies to support free movement of specified categories of service providers are being implemented. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) was created by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, with original and exclusive jurisdiction for interpreting the treaty. In this regard, the Court is already functioning and has issued several opinions.

The CCJ is also to replace one of the remaining vestiges of colonialism by serving as final court of appeal for the former English colonies replacing the colonial-era UK Privy Council. As we noted in an earlier post, this aspect of its functions has been stymied by the British-drafted Constitutions that remain in many of the countries.

Like other components of the CARICOM Community, this is a work in progress, that does not negate the progress already made.

Happy Birthday, CARICOM!

(Courtesy, Wikipedia Commons)

(Courtesy, Wikipedia Commons)