Around The Caribbean Community

It's law CARICOM needs; Not a committee

BY Sir Ronald Sanders

At a time of economic decline among the majority of countries of the  Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and a recognition that the region is battling in an unfavourable milieu in terms of trade, aid and investment, the people of the area naturally look to their governments to devise strategies and mechanisms for improving their condition.

Instinctively, the people of each CARICOM country know that the challenges that confront them cannot adequately be met by their national governments alone.  The hope is that governments, acting together and drawing upon the combined resources of each nation-state, will be better able to deliver benefits people urgently need including poverty alleviation, employment and economic growth.

From its outset CARICOM has been hobbled by the absence of machinery for implementing the decisions that are taken.  The fact that the integration project has advanced at all over the 36 years of its existence is largely due to external pressures rather than internal initiatives.  Hence, the Caribbean people have come to expect long statements and declarations from meetings of Heads of Government with little follow-up action and failure to fulfil pledges with deeds.

Unquestionably, there is disenchantment with CARICOM as an instrument for the improvement of the lives of the people of the Community.  

None of this is the fault of the five Secretaries-General that have served CARICOM from its inception.  Each of them from William Demas to Edwin Carrington believed in the regional project; recognised its importance - and necessity - to bargaining in a highly competitive global environment; and kept alive the promise that strong integration arrangements, respected and upheld by national governments, could help to deliver better conditions for the region's people.

The people of CARICOM owe a debt of gratitude to all its Secretaries-General.  After all, they were not heads of government.  They could present the options, urge positions, and try to push the pace of integration, but at the end of the day, they could take the regional project no further than heads of government collectively allowed.  Having worked with each of them, I know how hard each of them tried in his own way.

Against this background, it is unlikely that the recent proposal by a small group of Heads of Government to establish a "Permanent Committee of Ambassadors" as the answer for improved governance of the Community will imbue in the people of CARICOM a sense of confidence that a major step has been taken to advance regional arrangements in a way that will benefit them.

As it stands, the proposed Committee of Ambassadors is set on a collision course with established organs of CARICOM such as the Council of Ministers and the Secretary-General both of whom have established legal roles in the organisation. 

But, it is as yet, still only a proposal, and one that has not been fleshed out.  

In the next few weeks the proposal is to be examined and refined and then put to all CARICOM Heads of government at their next meeting.  By then, hopefully, the organisational difficulties that the proposed Committee poses will be worked out satisfactorily.

However, what will not be worked out - unless the proposal is fundamentally changed - is the very thing that it is supposed to address and that is the implementation of decisions.

The proposal seems to have been driven by the fear that anything more ambitious would require the delegation of aspects of national sovereignty that some CARICOM member-governments cannot abide.  Yet, it is that very determination to keep individual national control of all regional initiatives that has caused CARICOM to stagnate reaching a point that if it does not progress it will disintegrate.

So, in seeking to maintain control at a national level, this latest decision may be one that will weaken not strengthen CARICOM at a time when it needs to be stronger not weaker to preserve and promote economic and social development of the region's people and to bargain for their interests in the international community.

It is worth pointing out that in all the recommendations that have been made for improved governance of CARICOM and for effective implementation of decisions, it has never been suggested that any government should relinquish sovereignty.  Even the recommendation of the 1992 West Indian Commission for the establishment of a CARICOM Commission did not suggest a contraction of sovereignty.  

What was recognised was that "CARICOM commitments must be binding commitments - morally, functionally, legally" and, therefore they must become "Community law" which is enforceable in each member state.  And, these commitments are not to be made or approved by any organ other than CARICOM Heads of Government themselves.

In other words, it is the considered decisions of Heads of Government in council with each other that would become law and would be enforceable and implemented.  It would not be the decisions of any other group whether they are called "CARICOM Commission" or "Permanent Committee of Ambassadors".

What could possibly be wrong with such a system?  Heads of government are most unlikely to make decisions that are legally binding on their countries unless they have studied them carefully with the advice of their Cabinets and their Attorneys-General.  These decisions would have to show benefits for their countries individually and the region collectively. 

Whatever organ implements them, however, must have the force of law at the national level or the same drift, the same failures to implement, the same promises made and not fulfilled will continue, and CARICOM will further decline losing any hope that it offered to the region's people and any moral force it proffered in the region's dealing with the international community.

The issue boils down to this: regional decisions have to become law enforceable in each state, or implementation will be held up by any one government that is unwilling to act.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sir Ronald Sanders. Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat.


Caribbean36011 July 2010 
Terror defendant scoffed at JFK security
AP, USA: A former cargo handler on a reconnaissance mission in an alleged plot to blow up New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport marveled at the lack of security for jet fuel storage tanks there, according to tapes played Tuesday at his terror trial.

Prisons officer shot dead; four wounded
Guardian, Trinidad: The killing of a prisons officer in Gasparillo yesterday resulted in high tension at the nation's penal institution as the dead man's colleagues went on protest action, demanding proper security for officers.

Bolt to race 100, drop 200 at Lausanne meet
AP, Switzerland: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt will run in the 100 meters instead of the 200 at the Athletissima meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, this week.

50-year friendship ends in murder
Kaieteur News, Guyana: Police have detained a Foulis, East Coast Demerara man in connection with the hacking to death of 58-year-old Gerald Indar called 'Banja' around 17:30 hours yesterday.

Finance ministry robbed
Observer, Jamaica: The finance ministry was hit by further embarrassment yesterday, following news that the Auditor General's Department has uncovered fraud totalling $21 million.

Caribbean top for long-haul trips
Press Association, UK: Dollar destinations are proving popular with holidaymakers despite poor exchange rates, ash cloud problems and airline strikes, a travel trends report has shown.

UWI to introduce studies in urban planning
JIS, Jamaica: The University of the West Indies (UWI) is taking steps to mitigate the reoccurrence of the level of devastation in the region, such as the one which Haiti has experienced, due to the January 12 earthquake.

CARICOM heads place tourism on summit agenda
South Florida Caribbean News, USA: Caribbean Regional leaders at the ongoing CARICOM summit in Montego Bay turned their attention to the tourism sector today, as travel and tourism are critical to regional economies, comprising 12.9 percent of GDP.
24 June 2010

Acid attack victim seeks help
Observer, Jamaica: Life for 17-year-old Tichina Miller has become extremely painful since last year when her face was disfigured by the mother of one of her schoolmates.

Rihanna involved in free land controversy
Starpulse, USA: Politicians in Barbados have come under fire for handing native Rihanna a free piece of real estate while poor residents struggle to cope nearby.

'Drug lord' arrested with a wig and a prayer
Times, UK: The alleged drug lord who inspired an uprising in Jamaica had shaved off his beard and was wearing a fluffy black wig when he was arrested on his way to the US Embassy in Kingston, where he intended to surrender, it emerged yesterday.

Jagdeo, Kamla talk food, oil
Stabroek News, Guyana: President Bharrat Jagdeo and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar met yesterday in the Twin-Island republic and discussed agriculture and oil cooperation but said that relocating the proposed smelter from the southwestern Trinidad town of La Brea to Guyana was never on the agenda.

Jamaica government may need to restructure debt, Barclays says
BusinessWeek, USA: Jamaica may need to restructure its debt again to avoid default, Barclays Capital said.

US calls Cuban dissident release 'positive development'
AFP, Cuba: The United States Wednesday called the release of jailed dissident physician Darsi Ferrer in Cuba a "positive development," and called on Havana to take more steps toward full respect of human rights.

Judge rules Allen Stanford will be tried alone
Reuters, USA: Texas financier Allen Stanford, accused of running a Ponzi scheme, will face trial by himself, a U.S. federal judge said on Wednesday, granting motions by Stanford co-defendants to have a separate trial.

Small-scale flooding reported in northwest Haiti
AP, Haiti: Haitian civil protection officials say rains have caused small floods in the northwestern city of Gonaives.

FBI: Royal Caribbean passenger caught fondling child in pool
USA Today, USA: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today is reporting the FBI has arrested a 72-year-old Pennsylvania man for allegedly booking a cruise with the intent of finding a child to fondle.
23 June 2010

Dudus could be charged locally
Although he's wanted in the US to face drug and gun running charges, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke may not escape local justice.

State of emergency expanded and extended
The state of emergency in effect in the parishes of St Andrew and Kingston since May will be in place for another month, and will now include neighbouring parish, St Catherine.

Chances of storm fall but rains continue
Heavy rainfall continues to affect parts of the region as a tropical wave continues to move across the Caribbean.

Judges chosen for probe into electoral commissioners
Three jurists from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are scheduled to arrive in Antigua and Barbuda soon to begin an investigation into the conduct and performance of three members of the Electoral Commission.

Marriott Hotel to open in Guyana in 2013
Guyana will be home to the first Marriott Hotel in the Caribbean and Latin America in another two years.

Multimillion-dollar project for north of Barbados
The northern parish of St Lucy will be the home of a massive development project that will generate millions of dollars in revenue, employ hundreds of persons and stimulate the socioeconomic development of the entire northern section of Barbados.

Bahamas airline begins Montego Bay flights
The Bahamian-owned Western Air has started direct flights from Jamaica's Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay to the Linden Pindling International Airport in Nassau.
Observer, Jamaica: Christopher 'Dudus' Coke - Jamaica's most wanted fugitive - was captured yesterday afternoon in a police dragnet along the Mandela Highway in St Catherine.

Coke caught - now what?
Gleaner, Jamaica: The fugitive, when arrested, must be taken before a resident magistrate (RM) as soon as practicable. Once the fugitive is arrested, the requesting state has 60 days to submit the full documents referred to as the authenticated documents relating to the case.

Christopher 'Dudus' Coke: profile
Telegraph, UK: Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who was captured in Jamaica after eluding a month-long assault, is accused of running a violent drug cartel but is revered in some slums as a modern-day Robin Hood.

Caribbean storms may strengthen in Gulf, hampering oil cleanup
BusinessWeek, USA: The first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season may enter the Gulf of Mexico as soon as next week, possibly disrupting BP Plc's efforts to clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Clico sorry
Nation News, Barbados: CLICO International Life Insurance (CIL) has been issuing letters of apology to policyholders for the inability to honour its financial obligations.

Nations fail to agree on curbing Japan whale hunt
AP, Morocco: Japanese officials and environmentalists traded blame Wednesday as nations failed to reach a deal to curb whale hunts by Japan, Norway and Iceland that kill hundreds of whales every year.

Caribbean Tourism Organization continues to fight unfair taxation
South Florida Caribbean News, USA: Hon. John Maginley, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) today welcomed the extra time provided by the British government to consider future plans for aviation taxation, but said he was concerned that the discriminatory tax bands remain in place and the planned Air Passenger Duty rises scheduled for November appear set to go ahead.

CL Financial chairman resigns
Express, Trinidad: CL Financial has lost its top director. Dr Shafeek Sultan-Khan resigned as chairman of the cash-strapped insurance conglomerate on Monday.

Passenger who died after fall never reached aircraft steps - airport
Stabroek News, Guyana: Dhanchand Balkishun, the departing passenger who died after a fall at the Timehri airport on Saturday never reached the steps of the aircraft, according to a statement yesterday from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation.

Major land dispute
Sun, Turks & Caicos: In what is gearing up to be one of the most controversial land disputes in the history of this country, a group of Turks and Caicos Islanders are strongly protesting Government's decision to confiscate prime real estate which they said was lawfully obtained by them.





Private sector demands more from Golding after Manatt
Observer, Jamaica: Business interests are demanding a timetable for the commitments to improving governance, made by Prime Minister Bruce Golding during his apology to the nation this week over his involvement in the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips scandal.

Mercy Hospital fire losses at $600m and counting
Stabroek News, Guyana: The high replacement cost of surgical equipment lost in the May 10 fire is just one of the issues the St Joseph Mercy Hospital must grapple with now as it seeks to restore all of its services to the public and losses so far have totalled $600m.

Diehards defend 'Dudus'
Gleaner, Jamaica: Embattled west Kingston strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke received a fillip yesterday as thousands of vocal residents of Tivoli Gardens and adjoining communities took to the streets supporting him.

Sign of life in the tropical Atlantic
Accuweather, USA: A large mass of clouds, showers and thunderstorms stretching from the western Caribbean Sea to the Bahama waters of the Atlantic Ocean may generate the season's first system of interest during the 2010 tropical season.

T&T looking for joint ventures with China
Guardian, Trinidad: Government is strengthening ties with China by holding talks to establish a T&T mission in that country and by participating in an Expo in Shanghai.

Holding: 20/20 is destroying Test cricket
CNN,USA: West Indies pace bowling legend Michael Holding has launched a passionate defence of Test cricket, claiming that the 20/20 version of the game is threatening to completely destroy the five-day format.

Aerial Atlas gives more travel options
Advocate, Barbados: Barbadians and visitors alike can now navigate around Barbados with ease, through the Barbados Road Atlas, which can now be purchased in a physical format or be accessed online.

South Africa keep their cool to sweep West Indies
AFP, Antigua: Ryan McLaren kept his nerve in a tense final over to help South Africa formalise a one-run victory over West Indies, and sweep their two-match Twenty20 International series on Thursday.

Royal Caribbean to open 'Historic Falmouth Jamaica' port in 2011
USA Today, USA: Royal Caribbean to open 'Historic Falmouth Jamaica' port in 2011

Author: Renwick Rose is the Co-ordinator of the Windward Islands Farmers Association. A version of this article was originally published in Bananalink -

Author: Sir Ronald Sanders is the a consultant, writer and the former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom for Antigua and Barbuda and Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This article is an abridged version of two recent commentaries authored by Sir Sanders, available at

Jamaica Gleaner - 18th April 2010

Published by the Jamaica Gleaner - In light of the refusal for Movado and Kartel to perform in Barbados, Jamaican Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs queries the benefit of free movement if Governments are going to be designing policies that contravene the principle.

Viewed 7,698 times