The Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States (CARIFORUM) is the body that comprises Caribbean ACP States for the purpose of promoting and coordinating policy dialogue, cooperation and regional integration, mainly within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement between the ACP and the European Union and also the CARIFORUM-European Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
There are sixteen (16) Participating States, namely:
Antigua and Barbuda The Bahamas Barbados Belize Cuba Dominica Dominican Republic Grenada Guyana Haiti Jamaica Suriname Saint Lucia St. Christopher and Nevis St. Vincent and the Grenadines Suriname Trinidad and Tobago
All Participating States, with the exception of Cuba, are signatories to both the ACP/European Union Cotonou Agreement and the CARIFORUM-European Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). In this regard, they benefit directly from regional resources under Caribbean Regional Indicative Programmes financed by the European Development Fund (EDF) and also belong to the preferential trade arrangement with the European Union.
The Group also allows observer status for other Caribbean territories. The following British and Dutch Overseas Territories and Countries (OCTs) have observer status in CARIFORUM:
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- Netherlands Antilles
- The following French Overseas Departments in the Caribbean (DOMs) also have observer status in CARIFORUM:
- French Guiana
Origin and History
The Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP Group) was formally established through the signing of the Georgetown Agreement in Guyana, in 1975 shortly after the signing of the Lomé (I) Convention, which came into effect in 1976. The Lomé Convention was an international aid and trade agreement between the ACP and the European Community (EC). It was renegotiated and renewed three times: Lomé II (January 1981 – February 1985), Lomé III (March 1985 – 1990), Lomé IV (1990 – 1999). In 2000, the Lomé Convention was succeeded by the ACP/EU Cotonou Agreement, also known as the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement, as the main framework of cooperation between the parties. The ACP/EU Cotonou Agreement had a first revision in 2005. The negotiations for a second revision of the agreement concluded in May 2010 in order to reflect the changes which have taken place over the last decade in different aspects the world arena.
Lomé development aid was dispersed primarily through the European Development Fund (EDF). For each Lomé Convention, there was therefore a corresponding EDF. Under Lomé I, II and III (corresponding to the 4th, 5th and 6th EDFs respectively), the function of coordinating and monitoring of EDF-financed regional projects was executed by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat. However, for Lomé IV, two new Caribbean ACP States became signatories the Convention, namely Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Since neither of these countries were members of CARICOM at that time (Haiti became a full member of CARICOM in 2002; the Dominican Republic is not a member of CARICOM), the need emerged to institutionalize a new forum for consultation on regional integration and cooperation. It must be noted that Suriname joined the Convention in 1979 under Lome II, many years before it became a member of CARICOM in July 1995.
The Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) was therefore established as a political group in October 1992 to provide that forum for consultation. CARIFORUM was then charged with the management and coordination of the programming of Caribbean regional resources under the 7th and subsequent EDFs.
The official languages of CARIFORUM are English, Spanish, French and Dutch and the working language is English.
The Objectives of CARIFORUM
The overriding objectives of CARIFORUM are as follows:
To manage and coordinate policy dialogue between the Caribbean Region and the European Union; and
To promote integration and cooperation in the Caribbean.
The Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers of CARIFORUM is the highest decision-making body of CARIFORUM and meets at least once a year.
Each Member State is represented at CARIFORUM Meetings by the representative duly designated by the Member State. Most of the Member States are represented at the Ministerial Meetings by their Minister of Foreign Affairs accompanied by one or more advisers.
The Chairperson of each Meeting of the Caribbean Forum is elected from among the representatives of the Member Countries in alphabetical order of the names of those States. In addition, the Chairperson serves for a period of twelve (12) calendar months commencing with effect from 1 July and holds office until the selection of another Chairperson.
All decisions of CARIFORUM are made by consensus.
The CARIFORUM Rules of Procedure were amended by Ministers in November 2010.
The Secretary General
Below the Council of Ministers is the Secretary General of CARIFORUM whose duties and responsibilities are carried out by the Secretary-General of CARICOM. The Secretary General is responsible for the overall management of the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP) and serves as a channel of official communication between the Forum and the EC on matters related to the CRIP, including matters affecting its development and implementation. The Secretary General of CARIFORUM, also assumes the role of Regional Authorising Officer (RAO) for regional projects financed by the EDF. In this regard the Secretary General signs the Financing Agreements of the Regional Programmes on behalf of the CARIFORUM States.
The Secretary General of CARIFORUM may delegate authority in specific cases to expedite project development and implementation. Within this context, the Secretary General, in his capacity as RAO, requests Member States to nominate an individual from their national administration to serve as Deputy Regional Authorising Officer (DRAO) for specific programmes. In addition, the Secretary General may appoint as DRAO an individual within a regional institution involved in the regional programmes in order to facilitate the implementation.
The CARIFORUM Directorate provides support to the Secretary-General of CARIFORUM, in delivering key results pertinent to the development cooperation relationship between the CARIFORUM States and the European Union, as well as in the coordination of the Economic Partnership Agreement implementation. The position also provides assistance to the Secretary-General in mobilizing funds from non-EU sources aimed at the development of CARIFORUM Member States.
The CARIFORUM Directorate manages the work of the Caribbean Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States (CARIFORUM). The Directorate is located administratively in the CARICOM Secretariat. It comprises a Development Cooperation and Programming Unit and an Implementation Unit for the CARIFORUM-European Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The CARIFORUM Directorate comprises the following two Units each of which is:
- The EPA Implementation Unit
- The Development Cooperation and Programming Unit