Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

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Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

In 1958 the West Indies Federation, which consisted of Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Windward and Leeward Islands under British control, was established with the hope of regional integration. It came to an end in 1962 with the independence of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago from Great Britain, but it led to the political leaders in the Caribbean hoping to strengthen their ties with a Common Services Conference that was called in mid-1962. The government of Trinidad and Tobago proposed the creation of a Caribbean Community that would consist of not only the ten members of the former federation but also of French Guiana, Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana), Guyana (formerly British Guiana), and all the islandsboth independent and nonindependentin the Caribbean Sea. The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago convened the first Heads of Government Conference in July 1963, which was attended by the leaders of Barbados, British Guiana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. The July 1965 conference established a Free Trade Area, and in December 1965 the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) was established. The CARIFTA agreement came into effect May 1, 1968, with Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago participating. In July 1968 Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis/Anguilla, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent joined. Jamaica and Montserrat became members in August 1968, and Belize joined in May 1971.

At the seventh Heads of Government Conference in October 1972, the leaders decided to transform CARIFTA into a common market and establish the Caribbean Community. The members signed a draft in April 1973, and the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), was signed at Chaguaramas, Trinidad, on July 4, 1973. It went into effect on August 1, 1973, among the independent countries of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Eight other territoriesAntigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Monserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadinesbecame full members on May 1, 1974. The Bahamas joined on July 4, 1993, Suriname on July 4, 1995. Haiti became the fifteenth member state on July 3, 2002. (However, Haiti's membership was put on hold with the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.) Associate members include Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda. The fifteen member nations have a combined population of some twelve million.

CARICOM has concentrated on the promotion of cooperation, especially in human and social development, and in the integration of the economies of its members. The objectives of CARICOM include establishing a freetrade area within its member nations; improving the region's standard of living and work; full employment; accelerated, coordinated, and sustained economic development; expansion of trade and economic relations; enhanced levels of competitiveness; increased production and productivity; greater economic leverage and effectiveness; and the coordination of foreign and economic policies. The Conference of the Heads of Government, the decision-making forum and final authority for CARICOM, is made up of the heads of government of the member states, with their primary responsibility being to determine and provide policy direction. There are four minister councils within the community: The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), and the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP).

The eighth conference in 1987 established the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) to promote economic issues and to allow goods, services, people, and capital to move throughout the community without tariffs

and restrictions; the CSME was included as part of the Treaty of Chaguaramas when it was revised in February 2002. In 1992 CARICOM established the Charter of Civil Society to recommend and develop a free press; a fair and open democratic process; respect for fundamental civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights; the rights of women and children; respect for religious diversity; and greater government accountability. In July 1994 CARICOM established the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) to promote and implement policies and programs designed to utilize and develop the Caribbean region to attain cultural, economic, social, scientific, and technological advancement as well as promote trade and investment and various cooperative arrangements. The ACS consists of thirty-seven states and associated territories located in and around the Caribbean Basin. In 1999 the Heads of Government also established a supreme court for the region known as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Although the court has been in the planning stages since 1970, various disputes concerning its legal powers and authority have hindered its effectiveness. CARICOM has also mobilized a region-wide response against HIV/AIDS through the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP), and its leaders also work to promote the Caribbean region as a tourist destination with more than twenty-five percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) currently provided by the tourism industry. The community also maintains a number of subsidiary organizations, including the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), the Caribbean Meteorological Institute (CMI), the Caribbean Environment Health Institute (CEHI), and the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development

Institute (CARDZ), among others. The headquarters of CARICOM is located in Georgetown, Guyana, and is headed by a secretary-general who is responsible for providing leadership to the development of the community.

CARICOM also has its own flag, which was approved by the Heads of Government Conference in November 1983. The flag features a blue backgroundthe upper part being a light blue representing the sky and the lower part a dark blue representing the Caribbean Sea. The yellow circle in the center represents the sun. On it, printed in black, are two interlocking Cs (for Caribbean Community) in the form of broken links in a chain that symbolize both unity and a break with the community's colonial past. A narrow green ring around the sun represents the vegetation of the region.

See also West Indies Federation


CARICOM Secretariat. CARICOM: Our Caribbean CommunityAn Introduction. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2005.

Charles, Jacqueline. "CARICOM Looks at Ways to Assert Influence in Region." Miami Herald (June 1, 2005).

Dowling, Jay. "Caribbean Common Market Has Broad Economic Agenda." Business America (March 23, 1992): 7.

Hall, Kenneth, ed. Reinventing CARICOM: The Road to New Integration. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2003.

Luxner, Larry. "CARICOM: 25 Years of a United Caribbean Voice." Americas (February, 1999): 56.

Nicholls, Colin. "The Caribbean Community." UNESCO Courier (October, 1986).

Pollard, Duke, and Kenneth Hall, eds. The CARICOM System: Basic Instruments. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2003.

Serbin, Andres. "Towards an Association of Caribbean States: Raising Some Awkward Questions." Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (winter, 1994). Available from <>.

christine tomassini (2005)

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Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

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