CASTRIES, St Lucia – Thirty-three years after the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre establishing the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Organisation reflects on its achievements in a series of articles of which this is part one.
On June 18, 1981, seven OECS member states - Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines signed the Treaty of Basseterre, which established the regional integration mechanism. In 1984, the British Virgin Islands joined the OECS as an associate member and, in 1995, Anguilla joined, also as an associate member.
On a very basic level, the people of the region share common policies and procedures on matters of currency, trade, transport and civil aviation, agriculture and tourism, education, human and social development, security, environment and immigration, and telecommunications.
These policies and procedures are guided by a common growth and development strategy that speaks to the transformation of the OECS economies in the following areas -- economics, employment, growth, poverty reduction and attainment of the appropriate levels measured by human development indices as set by the United Nations.
On an institutional level, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange and the regional Government Securities Market, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority, the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority stand out among the flagship accomplishments of OECS integration.
On June 18, 2010, the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Economic Union was signed. This came into force on January 11, 2011, and was touted as a serious and significant way forward in the realisation of regional integration. The OECS Economic Union was described as a most ambitious endeavour embarked upon, since the dawn of the twenty-first century among Eastern Caribbean States.
The primary objectives of the Organisation include:
• To promote cooperation among the member states at the regional and international level;
• To promote unity and solidarity among the member states and to defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence;
• To assist the member states in the realization of their obligations and responsibilities to the international community with due regard to the role of international law as a standard of conduct in their relationships;
• To seek to achieve the fullest possible level of harmonization of foreign policy among the member states;
• To seek to adopt, as far as possible, common positions on international issues and to establish and to maintain wherever possible, arrangements for joint overseas representation and/or common services;
• To promote economic integration among the member states.
The primary objective of the Economic Union shall be closer economic relations among protocol member states to facilitate among others, the creation of a single financial and economic space comprising protocol member states.
The marine environment is recognized as a burgeoning sector within the growth and development of the OECS and presents tremendous potential for the transformation into a vibrant blue economy, contributing immensely to human well being. One of the greatest achievements is the collective approach to sustainable oceans governance and the approval of the Eastern Caribbean Regional Oceans Policy in 2013. The successful implementation which is currently being undertaken can potentially transform the ocean environment for the benefit of the region and its people in terms of economic output and protection.