The almost four-decade old regional trade and integration bloc, CARICOM, is looking to reform its law book, the Treaty of Chaguaramas, for a second time in hopes of making it more responsive to the needs of the people of the region.
The Treaty of Chaguaramas established the Caribbean Community CARICOM in July 1973, setting out the rules under which the grouping functions. The Treaty was revised in 2001.
Less than a decade later, the outgoing CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington is chairing an inter-governmental task force to revise the Treaty once more.
The Task Force met for the first time at the CARICOM Secretariat yesterday, and Dr Carrington said that the decisions it makes would have far reaching implications for the community “in the way we conduct our affairs.”
He described the process as “perhaps the most significant task with which we have been charged.”
The constitution of the Task Force was ordered by CARICOM Heads of Government when they met in Roseau, Dominica in March, 2009.
Dr Carrington said that the initiative was important to make the Treaty more relevant to the Community’s needs, making it more responsive to the demands of stakeholders and more adaptable to the evolution of the regional integration movement.
In 1989, when the Heads of Government made the decision to transform the Common Market into a single market and economy in which factors move freely as a basis for internationally competitive production of goods and provision of services, it was also decided that for the transformation to take place, the Treaty would have to be revised.
Between 1993 and 2000, the Inter-Governmental Task Force which was composed of representatives of all Member States, produced nine Protocols, for the purpose of amending 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.
In the revised treaty, allowances were made for the subsequent inclusion in the Revised Treaty, by way of additional Protocols, new issues such as e-commerce, government procurement, trade in goods from free zones, free circulation of goods, and the rights contingent on the free movement of persons.
Dr Carrington said that the newly established Task Force may “glance to determine that we did in fact get it right in the current text of the Revised Treaty” and “adopt a more innovative, more forward looking approach to identify the kind of changes that we might determine may be required for the immediate future.”
He said that the changes to the Treaty are “necessary” given that “the circumstances of today are very different from those in 2001 when the Revised Treaty was signed.”
He outlined a number of subject areas he said were ripe for consideration. The Secretary General posited that there was need for inclusion within the Revised Treaty provisions on security and on the regional security architecture which has already been agreed to by the Heads of Government.
He said that significant work has been done in this area and a protocol to give effect to the decisions of heads of government to make security considerations the fourth pillar of the community has been signed by 12 member states and ratified by one.
He said once there is ratification by all member states, this protocol would become part of the treaty.
He said that additional insertions into the treaty as well as amendments to the existing provisions would be fully required “if we are to ensure the incorporation of security as that fourth pillar.”
The objectives of CARICOM, as identified in Article 6 of the Revised Treaty, are: to improve standards of living and work; the full employment of labour and other factors of production; accelerated, coordinated and sustained economic development and convergence; expansion of trade and economic relations with third States; enhanced levels of international competitiveness; organisation for increased production and productivity; achievement of a greater measure of economic leverage and effectiveness of Member States in dealing with third States, groups of States and entities of any description and the enhanced co-ordination of
Member States’ foreign and foreign economic policies and enhanced functional co-operation.
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