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hen the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community affixed their signatures to the Resolution adopting the Charter of Civil Society on Wednesday, February 19,1997 in StJohn's, Antigua and Barbuda, in so doing, they undertookto pay due regard to its principles, thus giving effect to one of the strongest recommendations of the West Indian Commission (WIC) as contained in its report, "Time for Action."
In the words of the Commission: "We attach much importance to this proposal for a Charter of Civil Society. CARICOM needs normative moorings; we have found widespread yearning for giving the Community a qualitative character - values beyond the routine of integration arrangements themselves can be judged and to which they can be made to conform. The Charter can become the soul of the Community, which needs a soul if it is to command the loyalty of the people of CARICOM.
The Heads of Government expressed similar sentiments in accepting the recommendation for the Charter at a Special Session at Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in October 1992 convened to consider the report.
The leaders declared in the Protocol of Port of Spain issued after the meeting, "that a CARICOM Charter of Civil Socie~v be developed as an important element of the Community's structure of unity to deal with matters such as free press; a fair and open democratic process; the effective functioning of the parliamentary system; morality in public affairs; respect for fundamental civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; the rights of women and children; respect for religious diversity; and greater accountability and transparency in government.
An Inter-Governmental Task Force, under the Chairmanship of the SecretaryGeneral, which was established to revise the Treaty of Chaguaramas, was also mandated to draft the Charter. The task force completed this latter task in 1996, and presented the draft document to the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Legal Affairs (SCMLA)for their consideration prior to its submission to the Heads of Government. Agreement was reached on the texts of the Articles of this