The Eight Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean community was held in Castries, Saint Lucia from 29 June 1987 to 3 July 1987. For the first time since that Inaugural Meeting of the Conference in Saint Lucia in 1974, all Member States were represented by their Heads of Government. The Heads of Government in attendance were: Dr. The Rt. Hon. Vere Bird, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda; the Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden O. Pindling, Prime Minister, The Bahamas; The Hon. Erskine Sandiford, Prime Minister, Barbados; the RT. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister, Belize; The Hon. Mary Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister, Dominica; The Rt. Hon. Herbert Blaize, Prime Minister, Grenada; His Excellency Hugh Desmond Hoyte. S.C., President, Guyana; The Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga, Prime Minister, Jamaica; The Hon. John Osborne, Chief Minister, Montserrat; Dr. The Rt. Hon. Kennedy Simmonds, Prime Minister, St. Christopher and Nevis; The Rt. John Compton, Prime Minister, Saint Lucia; The Rt. Hon. James Mitchell, Prime Minister, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and the Hon. A.N.R. Robinson, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr. Roderick Rainford, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community. Chaired the Inaugural Session.
Heads of Government observed one minute’s silence in memory of the late Prime Minster of Barbados, The Rt. Hon. Errol W. Barrow.
The Rt. Hon. John Compton, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, delivered the Opening Address. Prime Minister Compton said it must be remembered always that the Caribbean Community was more that a Free Trade Area, important though this aspect of the Treaty might be. The Treaty provided for joint and co-ordinated action to protect and advance the interest of the community and its several members, he said, adding that the Treaty never contemplated that, except in extraordinary circumstances and for very short duration, Member States take action against each other which would do damage to constituent members of the Community. But this, seemed to the norm and for this reason, the effectiveness, and even the relevance, of the Community was being questioned.
The Prime Minister added: “the Community is intended to be our shield, our umbrella against external forces. It was foreseen that we may not be able to withstand these forces by acting alone. But, as the storm clouds rage and the ill winds of external forces buffet our economy, we tend to draw to our tiny island fortresses, pull up our drawbridges and hope that these very eventualities that the CARICOM Treaty was created – to give joint and co-ordinated responses to attack from external forces.”
Speeches were also delivered by The Hon. Mary Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister, Dominica; His Excellency Hugh Desmond Hoyte, President, Guyana; The Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga, Prime Minister, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and The Hon. A.N.R. Robinson, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago.
The Conference, by acclamation, elected the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia as its Chairman.
The Meeting was preceded on 26 – 27 June 1987 by the Thirtieth Meeting of the Common Market Council and, on 29 July, 1987, by the Eleventh Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Finance which submitted a number of recommendations from the thirteenth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, the Eight Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Labour, the Tenth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Agriculture, and the Meeting of Ministers responsible for Transport.
The Heads of Government were pleased to receive a report on the decision taken at the Eleventh Meeting of the Authority of Orgainsation of Eastern Caribbean States held in Tortola, British Virgin Islands on 27 – 29 May 1987, to work towards the establishment of a political union of OECS Member States.
Confident that this initiative is of importance, not only to the aspirations of the people of those States concerned, but also the strengthening of the wider integration movement in CARICOM, the Heads of Government of the MDCs expressed their strong support of any action towards unity among those States.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE COMMUNITY
Conference noted with deep concern the continuing serious decline in the level of intraregional trade and the fact that the value if intraregional imports in 1986 had declined to less than 50 per cent of the 1981 level.
Conference also noted the recent decision by OECS countries to liberalise intra-OECS trade as of January 1988 and welcomed this as a positive first step towards the total liberalisation of trade within CARICOM in goods which satisfy the Origin Rules.
Conference endorsed the decision of the Common Market Council which called on the CARICOM Member States to remove all measures restricting intraregional trade by the end of the third quarter of 1988. Towards this end, an interim regime had been agreed under which Member States are committed not to apply any new restrictions on Common Market trade in contravention of the Annex to the Treaty of Chaguaramas; to grant favourable treatment to Common Market goods in the application of measures governing the conduct of their foreign trade; and that there would be unrestricted free trade with the automatic grant of import licences and the allocation of foreign exchange, where applicable, on items included in a list to be drawn up by Member States. The list will be approved at a Special Meeting of the Common Market Council to be convened in Guyana on October 19 – 20, 1987 to which the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce would be invited. For those items not in the approved list, every effort would be made to improve intraregional trade.
Conference also agreed on agreements for the ongoing identification and elimination of measures impeding intraregional trade, involving the consideration by Council of regular reports by the Secretariat of the incidence of restrictions in Member States. In this regard, Conference also decided on the dissemination of full information on, and the effective implementation of, the agreed procedures governing the certification and verification of the Common Market origin status of goods.
Conference further recommended to Member States the removal of any discrimination as between nationals and other CARICOM salesmen of the requirements of payments of licence fees, where the products to be marketed are exclusively of CARICOM origin.
Heads of Government reviewed the recent economic trends and examined the polices which Member States had been adopting to achieve economic recovery. They welcomed the positive signs of growth in most of the economies, and were encouraged by the measures being taken to diversify agriculture, stimulate investment, improve the competitiveness of the region’s exports and narrow the deficits in the fiscal and external accounts. They expressed concern that for some Member States the large debt service payments in the short term were very significant constraints on economic growth.
CARICOM Enterprise Regime
Conference reviewed the report of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Finance on the progress made with respect to the proposals for the CARICOM Enterprise Regime, and agreed that the draft Agreement should be finalised by 15 August, 1987 with a view to having the document open for signature and ratification as soon as possible thereafter.
Caribbean Export Bank
The Conference reviewed the progress made in the execution of its mandate that a facility to provide export credit be established and decided on the early establishment of the Caribbean Export Bank and agreed that the legal instrument should be finalised by mid-August for signature and ratification in order that the Bank may become operational by the first working day of January, 1988.
Co-operation in Fisheries and the management of Exclusive Economic Zones
Conference, acting on a proposal by Barbados regarding the development of a programme of cooperation among Member States for access to the fisheries zones and management of their exclusive economic zones, agreed to establish a multi-disciplinary committee to prepare a draft inter-governmental agreement for coordinating and harmonising the management of fisheries resources. Conference also directed the Committee to make proposals on human resource development, the preservation of the environment and the manner in which maritime boundaries delimitation, including EEA’s delimitation agreements, might be preservation of the environment and the manner in which maritime boundaries delimitation, including EEA’s delimitation agreements, might be undertaken on a timely and orderly basis.
The Committee will report top a Joint Meeting of Ministers responsible for Fisheries and Attorneys-General who shall make recommendations to Conference.
Basic Human Needs Programme
Heads of Government of Belize and the OECS States reaffirmed their strong commitment to a third phase of the Basic Human Needs Programme jointly financed by the CDB and USAID. Accordingly, they attached the highest priority to the continuation of this Programme.
With reference to air transportation, the Conference agreed to a study to examine the feasibility of a single multi-national air carrier for the Eastern Caribbean to serve destinations outside the Region. In this regard, it agreed to support efforts by the Government of Barbados to secure funding from external sources for this purpose.
Conference also agreed to support an application by BWIA for additional flights from Trinidad and Tobago via the Eastern Caribbean to London.
Establishment of a Caribbean Court of Appeal
The Heads considered the proposal of Trinidad and Tobago for the establishment of a Caribbean Court of Appeal.
Conference, although expressing their agreement in principle with the proposal, considered that the matter required further in-depth study, having regard to the several issues involved and agreed that:
(i) Attorneys-General of Member States be mandated to undertake further study of the matter and make recommendations to the Conference of Heads of Government;
(ii) The Attorneys-General should consult with the judiciary and bodies representative of the legal profession;
(iii) The Attorneys-General should also consider the feasibility of providing a mechanism for adjudicating and settling disputes between Member States arising out of Treaty obligations relating to CARICOM arrangements between Member States;
(iv) Accept the offer of assistance of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth in connection with the study referred to in paragraph (i).
Conference reaffirmed“ its support to the Governments of Member States of the Caribbean Community for the effective realisation of the fundamental human rights of the Caribbean people and their recognition of existing human rights guarantees under national constitutions and international agreements.
Conference agreed on an examination by the Caribbean Community of such further arrangements as may be necessary and appropriate to fulfill the human rights aspirations of the Governments and peoples of the Region to be carried out by Attorneys-General who are charged with studying the question of the establishment of a Caribbean Court of Appeal with assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit.
Common CARICOM Citizenship for outstanding CARICOM Nationals
Conference endorsed the principle of CARICOM countries honouring CARICOM Nationals who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the Region by collectively granting them a special status within their borders through, for instance, an appropriate form of Honorary Citizenship, and agreed that the Attorneys-General of Member States be mandated to examine the concept and make recommendations to the Conference.
Conference agreed on a new format for the organisation and scheduling of CARIFESTA up to the year 2000 which would enable the smaller CARICOM countries to host the festival from time to time.
It noted with appreciation the Jamaica would be hosting the festival in 1988 and accepted the offer of Trinidad and Tobago to host it in 1991.
The Problem of Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
Conference welcomed the progress achieved in developing a Regional Programme to deal with the problem of drug abuse, addiction and drug trafficking in CARICOM Countries.
The Heads urges Member Countries which had not yet done so to establish national drug councils whose composition should reflect the various interest involved in the solution of problems arising from drug abuse and drug trafficking. They also approved the establishment of a regional body composed of representatives of each participating State responsible for supervising and coordinating national drug control programmes. This body is to be responsible for advising on and monitoring the implementation of the Regional Programme.
Conference authorised the Secretariat to continue its efforts to secure financial resources form the international community as well as from participating Governments for implementation of the Programme.
The Heads also affirmed that priority should be given to the areas of preventive education, surveillance and interdiction.
Regional Information System
Bearing in mind the accelerated growth of regional information systems to support the development programme of the Region, and of the need to coordinate these systems in order to optimise the use of resources and maximise the information sharing capacity of the Region, the Heads agreed to the establishment of a Consultative Committee on Regional Information Systems that would monitor and coordinate the planning, implementation and operation of these systems.
EXTERNAL RELATIONS TO THE COMMUNITY
Relations with Caribbean and Latin America
Conference remained convinced of the importance of closer trade, economic and other relations between the Community and other countries and groupings in the Caribbean and Latin America. The Conference therefore renewed its various mandates to the Secretary-General to take steps to extend and deepen those relations.
Haiti and Suriname
The Heads noted with concern the situation of conflict which has plagued Suriname and Haiti in recent months. They welcomed the announcement of early elections in those countries and look forward to the full and early establishment of stability and democracy in them.
Conference noted the interest by both CARICOM and Mexico in resuscitating the arrangements for Mexico/CARICOM relations. In particular, Conference welcomed information on the imminent Second Meeting of the CARICOM/Mexico Joint Commission and endorsed the decision of the Common Market Council to invite representatives of the of the private sector and the research and academic communities to form part of the CARICOM team on that Commission.
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ISSUES
Heads of Government examined recent developments in the international economy. They observed that the pace of global economic recovery continues to be sluggish and reiterated their concern at the deleterious effects which the prolonged economic recession is having on the economic stability of developing countries.
They noted that despite the adjustment policies adopted by many developing countries, their economic progress continues to be constrained by falling commodity prices, increased protectionism, a declining flow of financial resources for development and rising debt burdens. They viewed with deep concern the combined effects of these developments which have resulted in the recent phenomenon of net financial outflows from developing countries as a group to the developed countries and the multilateral financial institutions. They were concerned that the continuation of this trend would threaten the stability of the developing countries.
They recalled their earlier statements that the crisis of the developing countries were deep seated and multifaceted and could only be effectively resolved by a comprehensive set of policies which remove protectionism, increase financial flows and reduce the burden of debt servicing, provide remunerative prices for commodities from developing countries and maintain the pace of economic and social development.
The Heads of Government took note of the growing global awareness of the links between the issues of trade, growth, finance and development. They welcomed the opportunity which the forthcoming UNCTAD VII Conference provides for seeking solutions to these critical issues. They urges that this Conference should not be allowed to deteriorate into a mere debate on the issues but should instead work towards the development of concrete and practical measures to address the difficult problems which face the developing countries. They reiterated their commitment to the UNCTAD as a multilateral forum for the solution of trade and development problems.
In the field of international trade the Conference also noted the efforts being taken under the auspices of the GATT to address the problems of the increasing erosion of multilateral trading system. It agreed that CARICOM countries should pursue an active process of consultation and coordination with other developing countries in Latin America, as well as within the ACP Group, on the issues of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations with a view to promoting their trade interests in the Negotiations.
The Heads of Government discussed in full the nature of the international debt problem and its effect on developing countries, in particular on small middle income developing countries, and in that connection welcomed the initiative of the Prime Minister of Jamaica in proposing a strategy for dealing with the international debt of such countries.
The Heads of Government were concerned at the continuing threat to the principle of multilateralism – a principle that continued to be vital to the interest of small developing states in particular. This threat is reflected in the by-passing of and withdrawal from various multilateral organisations. They urged that the international community, in its efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the UN, leave intact he underlying principles of the organisation. In this context, they renewed their commitment to the “Nassau Declaration of World Order” to which they had subscribed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in the Bahamas in October 1985.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ISSUES
The Heads of Government noted with disappointment that expectations of flexibility on the part of the civilian government in Guatemala with regard to negotiations with Belize had not been realised.
They reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the Government and people of Belize in their efforts at the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize.
They called on Guatemala to recognise the independence and sovereignty of Belize, and its desire to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours. The Heads of Government also called on Guatemala to cooperate in ensuring an early solution based on the principles of sovereignty, equality and mutual respect.
The Heads welcomed the present state of improved relations between Guyana and Venezuela as reflected in the successful visit by His Excellency President Hugh Desmond Hoyte to Venezuela, as well as in the agreements signed and the increase in cooperation in several areas.
The Conference particularly welcomed the fact the both President Hoyte and President Jaime Lusinchi of Venezuela reiterated the determination of their respective Governments to cooperate fully with the United Nations Secretary-General in his efforts to assists the parties in finding as acceptable solution to the existing problem. The Heads reaffirmed their desire for a peaceful settlement of the controversy in accordance with the Geneva Agreement of 1966.
Disarmament and International Security
The Heads took note of the encouraging developments in disarmament negotiations between the two super powers. For the first time it appeared that there could be agreement between them on an important arms-control measure – intermediate range nuclear forces.
In this regard, the Heads of Government stressed that disarmament was not exclusively a question for the superpowers, but affected the interest and survival of the entire globe. It could not therefore be divorced either from the interests of the developing world or from the need for more meaningful and mutually beneficial relations between the north and south.
The Conference noted that Central America continued to be one of the major areas of conflict and, hence, of human suffering, and that a solution to the problem continued to prove elusive. The Meeting considered once again the threat posed by the Central American situation to international peace and security as well as the potential impact of that situation on the image, the stability, and the development prospects of other countries in the Region. Conference reaffirmed its conviction that a solution to the problem lay in dialogue and in this context reiterated its firm support of the Contadora and Support Groups, and expressed the hope that the meetings of the five presidents of Central America will be held as scheduled.
The Heads noted with grave concern that the situation in southern Africa had deteriorated markedly since their last meeting. In order to maintain white majority rule, the Pretoria regime had descended to new levels of desperation against the oppressed majority of South Africa, increasingly curtailing the enjoyment of all their basic rights.
At the same time, they noted with admiration that the South African people had intensified their struggle against the Pretoria regime. The Heads of Government reaffirmed their solidarity with the struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa, a struggle on behalf of the freedom of all humankind.
They noted that 1987 marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the struggle of the African national Congress (ANC) against apartheid. Reaffirming that apartheid cannot be reformed, they re-asserted their support for and solidarity with the ANC and with all other groups and individuals actively engaged in the effort to bring an end to apartheid.
While renewing their confidence in the eventual victory of the struggle being waged by the people of South Africa, and taking note of the world-wide efforts to intensify pressure on the Pretoria regime, they reiterated their call that the Security Council be allowed to proceed with the imposition of a comprehensive regime of mandatory sanctions against South Africa, in accordance with the wishes of the over-whelming majority of the international community and with the demands of justice.
They noted that for their support for the struggle against apartheid the Frontline States had been made by the Pretoria regime to pay a high price through violation of their sovereignty and territorial integrity, loss of human life and damage to infrastructure. They called for the mobilisation of maximum international political moral and material support for these States. In this context they called for generous contributions to the Africa Fund.
The heads of Government reaffirmed the right of the people of Namibia to independence with their territorial integrity intact. They called again for the immediate implementation without linkage or precondition of any sort, of Security Council resolution 435 (1978) which represented the only internationally accepted basis for the independence of the territory. They also called for the full implementation of United Nations Decree No.1 for the protection of the natural resource of Namibia.
Apartheid in Sport
Conference reviewed the Gleneagles Accord and agreed that Member States would firmly adhere to the principles of the Accord.
The Heads of Government were encouraged by recent manifestations of support for the convening of an International Peace Conference in the Middle East and called for in the Geneva Declaration of 1983 and endorsed by the General Assembly in its Resolution 38/58 of December 1983.
On the Iran/Iraq war, Heads of Government supported all efforts to secure a total ceasefire as well as withdrawal of forces to internationally recognised borders. They called on both parties to seek a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
Date and Venue of Next Meeting