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Positioning the Caribbean for the Twenty-First Century

We, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, assembled for the Eighteenth Meeting of our Conference, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 4 July 1997;

Recalling the historic gathering of fifty years ago in this city, when an earlier generation of West Indian leaders sought to prepare their countries for the new world, then emerging after the Second World War, with its prospect of decolonization and freedom for all peoples;

Affirming that the vision of unity, which engendered the federal experience, CARIFTA and CARICOM, continues to underlie and inspire our objective for a deeper integration process;

Aware that fundamental changes in the global community since the 1947 Montego Bay Conference, have made the need for unity more compelling than ever before and that, to continue to secure our survival as a free people, we must act together to take advantage of opportunities and to overcome challenges;

Recognising that the momentum of globalisation demands even greater coordination and collaboration among small states, in the defence of our interests and the preservation of our independence;

Recognising also that our regional society currently faces grave threats including drug trafficking and its related activities and the increased frequency and greater intensity of natural disasters;

Concerned at the absence of appropriate measures by the multilateral financial institutions to relieve the burden of debt, the servicing of which retards the social and economic development of some of our member states;

Acknowledging the important role of culture in the thrust towards national and regional development in uniting our countries and in strengthening our identity as people of the Caribbean Community;

Convinced that the empowerment of all the peoples of our countries is of paramount importance to the advancement of our societies and in fulfilment of our regional objectives;

Conscious that such empowerment requires that priority attention be given to Human Resource Development and human capital formation throughout our Region;

Noting that over the last 50 years the process of integration in our region has deepened and that institutions, such as the Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians, have been created allowing for greater dialogue and increased co-operation between our states at many levels;

Make this basic and unswerving commitment to the peoples of our respective countries and to our Region as a whole;


1. We rededicate ourselves to the principles upon which the Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community in July 1973 was based, of consolidating and strengthening the bonds which have historically existed among our peoples; of sharing a common determination to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of our peoples for full employment and improved standards of work and living. We reiterate that these objectives can most rapidly be attained by the optimum utilisation of available human and natural resources of the Region.

2. We resolve to strengthen and deepen our regional integration movement by committing ourselves to taking decisions that we can honour and implement, and to establishing structures of national and regional consultation that will widen the decision-making process to involve the broadest cross-sections of our societies.

3. We reiterate our commitment to the democratic principles which are embedded in our societies; we declare our unswerving respect for the rights and responsibilities of our citizens, and we re-affirm the principles enshrined in the Charter of Civil Society signed in February 1997 in which we committed ourselves to create a truly particpatory political environment within the Caribbean Community.

4. We reaffirm the integrity of our judicial system and pledge to maintain its independence by duly respecting and applying the constitutional principles governing it.


5. We shall work unceasingly to strengthen the capabilities of all our people through redesigned, modern and relevant programmes of education and training at all levels and for all age groups. The physically challenged and other disadvantaged groups will have a special place in these programmes.

6. We shall focus on programmes which will equip our people to acquire the competencies to function effectively in the emerging knowledge-based economy. This will include programmes which will emphasise the creation, application and dissemination of knowledge.

7. Our Governments are determined to ensure that the importance of science and technology and the advances in telecommunications become all-pervasive factors which must be effectively and appropriately utilised for the benefit of our peoples.

8. Our Governments will emphasise, through the education systems which should be geared to the achievement of excellence, the importance of:

    • creating the Caribbean person who will have among other attributes, the capacity to improve and maintain physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being
    • nurturing the fullest development of each person=s potential without regard to gender
    • developing a culture of entrepreneurship
    • the management and protection of the environment
    • research and development as a way of life and means of improving production
  • improving the competitiveness of those industries on which our economies are based

9. We wish to mobilise for the betterment of our societies, the creative talents of all our people, wherever they may live in the world, and whatever their fields of endeavour, and provide for them an environment conducive to their participation in the Region’s progress

10. Consistent with the Grand Anse Declaration of 1989, we continue to recognise the enduring value of the University of the West Indies (UWI) as a regional institution in the service of our development. We also recognise the contributions of tertiary institutions of our Member States

11. We commit ourselves to the implementation of the specific measures identified in the document Towards Creative and Productive Citizens for the Twenty-first Century approved by the Special Session of the Conference on Education and Human Resource Development: Strategies for Building a Creative and Productive Workforce during the Eighteenth Meeting of our Conference


12. We are committed to relieving the scourge of unemployment, and to reducing and eventually eliminating poverty throughout our Region. In this connection, the regional integration process must be seen as a collective instrument for the expanding and exploiting of opportunities for the fuller and more productive lives of our peoples.

13. We acknowledge the value of dialogue with our social partners and the contribution which they make to enhancing the development process in our individual countries and the Region as a whole.

14. In order to make regional unity a more effective tool for development and for building beneficial relations with other countries and groupings of countries, we agree that our states which are members of the Caribbean Common Market shall move speedily to complete the processes for creating a Single Market and Economy, of which the free movement of the factors of production and the harmonisation of monetary policies would be the most important components. We are committed to taking the necessary steps to establish the main elements of the Single Market and Economy by 1999.

15. In most of the areas associated with the Single Market and Economy, significant progress has been demonstrated by the conclusion of Protocol II, amending the Treaty of Chaguaramas to include provisions for the rights of establishment, provision of services and movement of capital and by earlier agreements for the free movement of skills.

16. We are also resolved to widen our integration process to include other CARIFORUM countries, while we strengthen our linkages with partner countries in the Association of Caribbean States.

17. At the same time, we shall continue to pursue mutually beneficial trade, tourism and other development cooperation with countries of Latin America.

18. We continue to attach importance to our long-established relations with Canada and the USA and underscore our commitment to the Caribbean/USA Partnership for Prosperity and Security as well as the modality of the CARICOM/Canada Joint Trade and Economic Committee.

19. We are committed to expanding our trade and economic relations with our traditional partners in Europe through negotiations for post-Lome IV arrangements between the European Union and the ACP Group of countries in just, enlightened and effective ways, and we are committed to doing so through strengthened solidarity with the other ACP countries.

20. We are, as well, eager to strengthen trade, economic investment and various other forms of co-operation with countries in Asia and Africa.

21. In the global economy that is evolving, we resolve to unite our best efforts to plan strategically to position our countries to take the fullest advantage of market niches, other global opportunities and sources of capital.

22. Accordingly, our Governments are fully committed to an open system of multilateral trade. In this connection, we shall make determined efforts to improve the international competitiveness of our economies strengthening our traditional sectors of agriculture and mining where they exist while placing emphasis on the services sector, building on the competitive positions we have already established in service industries such as tourism, entertainment, off-shore finance, and information processing.

23. In relation to the foregoing, we will work assiduously to secure recognition of our economies as small, fragile and vulnerable, and will work with others in similar situations to ensure, in our economic relations, treatment as special cases requiring exceptions, transitional periods, waivers and other arrangements that are fair and reasonable.


24. We pledge collectively and individually, to foster the further development of the cultural identity of our Caribbean sense of community, cultural identity and certitude and richer forms of self-knowledge.

25. We recognise that sports have contributed to the gaining of international respect for our countries and to promoting a sense of dignity and self-worth in our peoples. We shall continue to encourage the achievement of excellence in sports not only to enlarge the opportunities for individual success, but also to further enrich our Region=s standing in the global community and to enhance the dignity and pride of our peoples.

26. We further recognise that our sense of identity as a CARICOM family has also been and will continue to be greatly enhanced by the enduring linkages created through our University of the West Indies and pledge our unwavering support for its continued development to meet the diverse challenges of the new millenium.


We, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, declare our confidence in the creative capacity of the peoples of our Region, in their ability to adapt to changing circumstances, in their resourcefulness and in their fortitude.

We are convinced that as our peoples have uplifted themselves in the 20th Century from conditions of abject poverty to improving social and economic conditions, as they have risen from subjection to establish democratic governance in free societies, as they have responded to the challenges of the last fifty years, they will summon from within themselves the strength and creativity to succeed over the next fifty years and more.

Strengthened by this conviction, we face the 21st Century with the full expectation that, despite the odds, the Caribbean Community will thrive and prosper.

Montego Bay
4 July 1997

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