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The Fifth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community was held in Nassau, The Bahamas from 4th to 7th July 1984. Eleven States were represented by their Heads of Government; the Rt. Hon. V.C. Bird, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda; the Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden Pindling, Prime Minister of the Bahamas; the Rt. Hon. J.M.G. Adams, Prime Minister, Barbados; the Rt. Hon. George Price, Prime Minister, Belize; the Hon. Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister, Dominica; Mr. Nicholas Brathwaite, Chairman of the Interim Advisory Council, Grenada; H. E. Cde. Forbes Burnham, President, Guyana; the Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga, Prime Minister, Jamaica; Dr. the Hon. Kennedy Simmonds, Prime Minister, Saint Christopher and Nevis; the Rt. Hon. John Compton, Prime Minister, Saint Lucia; and the Hon. George Chambers, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago. The Heads of Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat were unavoidably absent.

The Opening Address at the Inaugural Ceremony was given by the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden Pindling. In his address, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas emphasized his conviction that the fullness of mutual understanding was the bedrock on which CARICOM had its genesis. However, he stated that this fullness of mutual understanding must not be a mere façade behind which the vital issues of great moment were swept under the carpet. “For CARICOM’s own sake,” he asserted, “and for the sake of each individual Member State of CARICOM, the mutual understanding that survives among us must be a living and authentic reality on the basis of which we face the ever present challenges in today’s world to our individual and collective independence.”

Addresses were given in response by the Hon. George Chambers, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago, the immediate past Chairman of the Conference, the Rt. Hon. J.M.G. Adams, Prime Minister, Barbados and the Rt. Hon. John Compton, Prime Minister, Saint Lucia.

The Heads of Government noted with particular satisfaction that since they had last met, Saint Christopher and Nevis had achieved independence.

Heads of Government congratulated Mr. Roderick Rainford on his appointment as Secretary-General of the Community.

The Heads of Government Conference elected by acclamation, as its Chairman, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas. The Conference conducted its business through Plenary Sessions, a Caucus of the Heads of Government and an Economic and General Committee.

Prior to the Conference, the Twenty Fifth Meeting of the Common Market Council of Ministers, the Tenth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs and the Eighth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Finance were held to consider economic, trade and foreign policy issues and make recommendations to the Conference thereon.

Heads of Government exchanged views on the current international situation. They noted with concern that the threats to international peace and security have multiplied and spread. They were convinced that those threats would be considerably diminished by universal respect for the principles enshrined in the U.N. Charter relating to sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-intervention and non-use of force. They also reiterated their recognition of the right of each State to freely determine its own political, economic and social system.

They reaffirmed the need for the strict observance of the sanctity of treaties and for full acceptance of defined and demarcated boundaries.

The Security of Small States

The Heads of Government expressed their concern that the security of small States continues to be seriously threatened. They observed that small States were increasingly vulnerable to external aggression, manifested in traditional as well as new forms, and are being subjected to various forms of economic aggression, including the attempt of some States to impose extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Heads of Government renewed their commitment to the maintenance of the integrity of the Caribbean Community and of its Member States. They emphasized the need for continuing efforts within the Caribbean Community to identify and document the various forms of threat to the security of States in the Region. They took note of the Proposed study by the Commonwealth Secretariat on the security of small States, and agreed on a procedure which would ensure that the particular needs of the States of the Caribbean Community should be adequately reflected in the study.

Heads of Government called for the early convening of the previously established Working Group to consider a unified approach to the question of economic aggression and the establishment of a scheme of mutual assistance.


Heads of Government heard a statement made by the President of Guyana on developments in relation to the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela which had arisen as a result of the Venezuelan contention that the 1899 Arbitral Award, on the basis of which the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela was settled, was null and void.

They noted with satisfaction the unqualified undertaking given by the Venezuelan Government to eschew the use of force as a means of settling the controversy.

Heads of Government further noted that Guyana and Venezuela has referred the choice of a means of settlement of controversy to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in accordance with the provisions of the 1966 Geneva Agreement. They expressed the hope that Venezuela would desist from any action or threat of action which was likely to affect the economic development of Guyana.


Noting a statement by the Prime Minister of Belize that Guatemala has persisted in its refusal to recognize the independence and territorial integrity of Belize, Conference also called on the international community to maintain its support for Belize in its efforts to secure an early and peaceful resolution of the problem.

Conference noted that the continued existence of exclusionary provisions in some regional treaties and arrangements was contrary to the principle of universality of membership and that such provisions effectively limit the ability of some States to fully participate in the overall development of the Region. It called for the early removal of these exclusionary provisions so that those States which desire to adhere to these treaties and arrangements might be enabled to do so.

Central America

The Conference of Heads of Government, in reviewing the developments in Central America, expressed its concern at the deteriorating situation in that Region. The Conference reiterated its support for the Contadora process and its commitment to the peaceful settlement of regional problems. Noting the increase in violence and build-up of domestic and foreign military forces in the area, it appealed to the contending parties to continue the process of direct and meaningful dialogue.

The Heads of Government emphasized that, notwithstanding ideological factors, the fundamental crisis faced by the people of that Region was rooted in deep-seated social and economic ills. In this context, they expressed support for the continuing effort of the international community to provide assistance to the peoples of Central America, and they noted the establishment of the Action Committee in support of the Economic and Social Development of Central America (CSDESCA). Heads of Government urged that all possible support be given to the work of this Committee.

Southern Africa

The Heads of Government in reviewing new developments in Southern Africa condemned the racist South African Regime for its barbaric attacks against the independent states of Southern Africa and called upon it to cease immediately all acts of aggression and destabilisation. Reaffirming that the policy of apartheid is a crime against humanity, they pledged their continuing support for the struggle to bring the system of apartheid to an end and to establish majority rule in South Africa.

They insisted that South Africa should be required to implement at once United Nations Resolution 435 so that the people of Namibia could proceed immediately to independence under the acknowledged leadership of SWAPO.

Finally, they urged the international community to keep under careful surveillance the various tactical moves now being made by South Africa to ensure the perpetuation of the evil system of apartheid and the installation of a South African sponsored puppet regime in an independent Namibia.

Middle East

The Conference expressed its deep concern over the continuing situation of conflict and tension in the Middle East. The Heads of Government reaffirmed their conviction that a just and lasting peace in the Region can only be based on a comprehensive settlement which must recognize that the question of Palestine is the core of the Middle East problem. Any settlement must therefore be based on the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people, as well as the right of States in the Region to live in peace within secure borders.

Heads of Government affirmed their support for the territorial integrity and independence of Lebanon and the right of its Government to exercise sovereignty throughout its territory. They expressed their solidarity and support for the efforts of the people of Lebanon to restore stability and peace to their country.

Noting that the continuing conflict between Iraq and Iran has resulted in an immense loss of life, an interruption in international maritime traffic and now threatens to involve other states, the Conference affirmed its support for all efforts, including action by the UN and through the Non Aligned Movement, which would assist to bring the conflict to an end and open the way to a just settlement of the issues.

The Widening of the Community

The Heads of Government Conference agreed to invite the Standing Committees of Ministers responsible for Agriculture, Education and Labour and the Conference of Ministers responsible for Health, to grant observer status to Haiti and the Dominican Republic at their respective deliberations and to invite the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Education to grant a similar status to Suriname, which already enjoys observer status in the Caribbean Community’s institutions in the area of Health and Labour.

Heads of Government also agreed that there should be Joint Technical Groups with Haiti, Dominican Republic and Suriname to assist with the design and implementation of a programme of cooperation particularly in the field of trade.

Decision-Making Under the Treaty of Chaguaramas

The Conference requested the Secretary-General to conduct a study, in consultation with Member States, of the system of decision-making under the Treaty of Chaguaramas with a view to identifying areas of decision-making in the Community in respect of which consideration could be given to the introduction of a voting procedure other than by unanimous vote. This study would exclude any matter relating to amendments of the Treaty dealing with admission of new Members, and suspension or expulsion of Members.

Increasing Intra-regional Trade

In stressing the cardinal importance of revitalizing intra-regional trade, the Conference endorsed the important and wide-ranging decisions taken on this matter by the Common Market Council at its Twenty-Fifth Meeting.
The Council had noted the continued deterioration of intra-regional trade, simultaneous expansion of extra-regional trade, and determined to undertake an immediate and urgent programme aimed at having the effect of visibly restoring and increasing intra-regional trade. Towards this end, the Heads of Government accepted that the CARICOM Secretariat should continuously monitor intra-regional trade, with particular emphasis on a selected range of commodities, and its findings would be reviewed at each Meeting of the Council. The monitoring mechanism would include observation of Member States’ market places.
Noting a proposal that Member States should undertake to satisfy their domestic requirements for sugar from regional sources provided production levels so permit, Conference directed that Common Market Council re-examine the Agreement under which sugar from member States is sold in CARICOM markets.

The Heads of Member States noted the undertakings to strengthen their individual certification and verification procedures for ensuring compliance with the CARICOM Area Origin Rules.

Resuscitation of the CMCF

The Heads of Government agreed on a number of measures for the resuscitation of the CARICOM Multilateral Clearing Facility (CMCF),including the following:

Appointment of a Technical Committee comprising representatives of Central Banks, Ministries of Finance and the Secretariat which would meet to develop and present specific proposals for the discharge of indebtedness to the Facility.

The pursuance of a joint approach to extra-regional Donors for assistance in establishing a fund to support the CMCF.

The Nassau Understanding -Structural Adjustment for Accelerated Development and Integration In the Caribbean Community

The Conference reviewed the report on “Measures for Structural Adjustment in the Member States of the Caribbean Community”, prepared at its request by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in consultation with Member Countries, other regional institutions and individuals.
The Conference expressed appreciation to the President and staff of CDB for the thorough and penetrating analysis contained in the Report. Following upon discussions of the report, the Heads were in general agreement with its recommendations. Their understanding of the problem of structural adjustment as well as the policy actions which Governments may take at the national level together with those that may be initiated within the Caribbean Common Market are set out in the document entitled, “The Nassau Understanding”, which is attached.
The Heads of Government noted that the Nassau Understanding embodied the first CARICOM approach to many features of national development strategy placed largely within a regional and international framework. They agreed that this serves to underline the continuing vitality and progress of the regional Integration Movement in spite of the serious problems and difficulties which, as is the experience of other integration groupings, it must inevitably face from time to time.

In discussing the role of CARICOM in structural adjustment, Heads of Government reaffirmed the spirit of Caribbean co-operation and solidarity which has always constituted the foundations of the Community. They affirmed that a regional Community does not require rigid conformity to a single point of view. In common with other integration groupings, both among developed and developing countries, they noted that there are occasions when Member States will differ on individual issues. They stated that what was essential for regional unity was that areas of agreement should outweigh those of disagreement.

It was gratifying to record that CARICOM is still in this situation today. Heads of Government restated their dedication to strengthening the common ground among their countries; to continue helping one another in a spirit of accommodation and togetherness; and to maintaining regular contact among themselves, keeping up the frank, cordial and constrictive exchange of views that had traditionally characterized intra-regional relations.

External Economic Relations

In reviewing developments in external economic relations, Conference agreed:

Trade and Protectionism

to encourage Member States to continue to support the initiatives of the developing countries in the various international fora to secure agreement by the developed countries to reduce present trade barriers, to resist tendencies to introduce new protectionist measures to facilitate developing countries’ exports of manufactured goods.

to support initiatives towards the new round of multilateral negotiations with the full participation of developing countries.

External Debt

that the grave crisis which most debtor countries are now facing are a matter of deep concern;

that the present debt burden is such that most debtor countries are unable to cope with it, let alone achieve the economic growth rates that their respective situations demand;

that the debt problem must be addressed internationally, as a matter of urgency, if the developing countries are to play their part in the global economic recovery, signs of which can now be seen in the developed countries;

to call on –

the IMF to extend the period of adjustment under their extended Fund Facility of five years;

the World Bank to make more funds available to enable developing countries to undertake necessary structural adjustments to their economies;

the commercial banks, where dictated by circumstances of borrowing countries, to prepare meaningful programmes for rescheduling of short term debts including extending the repayment periods and also maintaining their net exposure in developing countries;

creditor countries to give support to their relevant financial institutions to enable increased trade credits to be extended to developing countries and also to give their support to increasing the resources of multilateral institutions to enable them to give more meaningful support to developing countries.

The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI)

Noted that the CBI had been passed into law; that all Member States of CARICOM with the exception of the Bahamas and Guyana, have been designated as beneficiaries; that the programme is being implemented essentially on a bilateral basis; and that the GATT is considering a request from the Government of the United States for a waiver.

Agreed to encourage Member States to support efforts towards ensuring the grant of the waiver by GATT;

Successor Arrangement to Lome 11

Noted that Council continues to monitor the negotiations for a Successor Arrangement to the Lome 11 Convention in accordance with the mandate from its Third Meeting;

Endorsed the candidacy of Mr. E. Carrington, Deputy Secretary-General, for the post of Secretary-General of the ACP Secretariat.

Relations with Multilateral Development Banks

Heads of Government, in reviewing relations between the States of the Region and the multilateral development banks, expressed concern about the premature “graduation” of some CARICOM countries from eligibility for both hard and soft funds from these institutions, and gave support to the CDB in its negotiations for concessionary loans from these agencies.

Inter-Governmental Agreement on Co-operation in Air Transportation

During the Conference, the Representatives of Member States signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Co-operation in Air Transportation. In the context of the Agreement, national airlines of Member States shall explore and implement all feasible areas of functional co-operation in order to promote their viability and the orderly and rational development of the air transport services for the Region. Member States have also agreed to the establishment of a consultative mechanism on bilateral air transportation negotiations.

Maritime Transportation

The Conference endorsed the recommendations in the Interim Report of the High Level Committee on the Rationalisation of the Operations of the Regional and National Shipping Lines in CARICOM. The decisions of Conference are attached.

Restructuring of the University of the West Indies

Conference noted that all the relevant issues which had been identified at its Fourth Meeting of Conference had been resolved and that satisfactory progress was being made towards attainment of the target dates for implementation of the new structure, namely, 1st October, 1984 for the academic aspects and 1st August, 1984 for the financial arrangements.

Apartheid in Sport

The Conference endorsed for implementation the Report of a Working Group which had been set up by the Tenth Meeting of the SCMFA to establish a co-ordinated position on apartheid in sport. The Working Group has recommended that a consultative inter-governmental mechanism be established as soon as possible for the exchange of information and the review of proposed national action with a view to harmonising such action.

CARICOM representation at Future Olympics

The Conference requested the CARICOM Secretariat, in consultation with the OECS Secretariat, to examine the acceptability of the CARICOM countries organizing one CARICOM team for the 1988 and future Olympics.

International Youth Conference

The Conference was informed of plans being made for the holding of an International Youth Conference and World Youth Festival of Arts being organized by Jamaica in the context of the celebration of International Youth Year in 1985. Heads of Government gave their support for the Conference and Festival and expressed the hope for effective participation by youth organizations in the Region.

Human Resources Development Facility

Heads of Government noted that CARICOM countries are as severely affected as other under-developed countries by the whole problem of manpower shortage which operated as a constraint on development within the Region.

Against this background, CARICOM Heads of Government took note of the initiatives taken by the Government of Jamaica during the Thirty-First Session of the Governing Council Meeting of the UNDP to secure agreement to the establishment of a “Human Resources Development Facility”. The proposed Facility would function as a means to increase the flow of available manpower to developing countries from sources not normally tapped in a systematic manner, mainly business entities and universities. They agreed to participate in the follow-up action during the next eight months to have decisions taken to establish the Facility, noting that the operational modalities to the Facility are to be worked out at a Round Table discussion in Jamaica in February/March 1985.

Commonwealth Institute -Caribbean Focus, 1986

The Conference, in taking note of the proposals for a Major Focus on the Caribbean planned by the Commonwealth Institute in 1986, urged that there should be a coordinated regional approach to the Focus.

Development of the Steelband

Recalling the mandate which it has given to the CARICOM Secretariat to prepare proposals for the development of a regional programme for the promotion of the steelband, the Conference endorsed the decision of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Education to approve the steps being taken to establish a decentralised Caribbean Intercultural Music Institute in Trinidad and Tobago with the development of the steelband as a priority concern.

Observance of the 150th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery

The Conference took note of the plans being made to commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery and Emancipation, through coordinated Region-wide activities over the four-year period 1984 – 1988. Conference emphasized the importance in the context of the programme of commemorative activities, of the recognition that Abolition and Emancipation constituted steps towards the restoration of freedom.


The Conference noted, with satisfaction, that the CARICOM Flag, the design for which had been approved at its Fourth Meeting, was flown for the first time at the Opening Ceremony.

Date and Venue of Next Conference

Conference accepted the offer of the Government of Barbados to host its Sixth Meeting in the first week of July 1985.


Agreed that –

with respect to intra-regional trade, it is feasible to maintain only one major intra-regional shipping operation to serve all CARICOM territories, and WISCO should continue to be the major intra-regional carrier in keeping with its decision at the Fourth Meeting;

as a long-term policy, Member States establishing new shipping lines should take cognizance of WISCO’s role as the intra-regional carrier when identifying the mandate of the new entity;

whenever conflict arises between the operations of a national line and WISCO, the Member Government concerned should review its policy to remove any conflict with the recognized role of WISCO;

WISCO and SCOTT reach a mutually acceptable agreement and submit the text of the same to the High Level Committee by 15th September 1984;

Also agreed that with reference to extra-regional trade –

a co-operative arrangement should be worked out between the national and regional shipping lines in order to increase their market share of cargoes to and from extra-regional destinations to enhance the viability of the regionally-owned carriers;

the nature and structure of the cooperative arrangements would be determined on the basis of a study to be undertaken by the consultants in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat;

the Working Group comprising representatives of SCOTT, JMM, WISCO and the Secretariat shall supervise the study;

opportunities for functional cooperation between the national lines and WISCO would be identified from time to time;

such opportunities, as are readily implementable, would be exploited by the lines as the opportunities arose.

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