By Dr Joseph E. Edmunds
In the light of the judgment of the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic on the question of citizenship of persons born in that country, it is useful to bring into sharp focus the Charter of Civil Society for the Caribbean Community. This solemn Charter was adopted at a conference of the heads of government of CARICOM at a special meeting in Port of Spain in October 1992 following the recommendation of the West Indian Commission.
Dr Joseph E. Edmunds is a former Senior Research Fellow, UWI, St Augustine Campus; former Director of Research and Development, WINBAN; former Ambassador of St Lucia. He is currently Consultant and Senior Advisor to The Edmunds Group International, LLC (www.theedmundsgroup.com)
The Articles of the Charter spell out, inter alia, fundamental principles that are to govern our Caribbean society as regards human rights and freedoms, human dignity, the right to life, liberty and security of the person, equality before the law, the rights of women, children, disabled persons, workers, indigenous people, and family.
The Charter reaffirms confidence in the Caribbean Community as an association of states and territories bonded by common heritage committed to the fundamental principles of human rights and freedoms within a Caribbean integration embodiment.
It contains 27 Articles that constitute the integrated fabric of our Caribbean Community. One should therefore presume that the Charter is well known to all the Parliaments of our Caribbean Community, our external representatives, and that it has been tabled as a matter of record at every local, regional, and international organization or affiliation in which the Caribbean is represented. Further, it should be in every school, public and private library in the Caribbean region and in our local and regional institutions, as well as universities of higher learning. It should also be well-known among our Caribbean scholars.
It follows from the Charter that any country wishing to become a member of the Caribbean Community must be aware of the Charter’s guiding principles and prepared to adhere to them before contemplating any request for membership. Is the situation in the Dominican Republic an example of lack of awareness?
Caribbean governments and communities have an important role to play in the dissemination of those principles within our region and internationally.