Following is an edited version of a presentation by Dr Carla N Barnett, CARICOM Secretary
General, at a symposium ‘CARICOM at 50’ hosted by UWI St Augustine on April 14, 2023.
CARICOM is a Community of sovereign states which have agreed to act in concert in areas
agreed within the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Unlike, for example, the European Union,
which has a supranational personality where regulations and laws made at the level of the
Union have direct national effect, in CARICOM, decisions taken by the Heads, although they
may create rights for persons within the CARICOM sphere, also create obligations for Member
States to implement the decisions through national laws and policies. This has complicated and
lengthened our decision-making and implementation process; notwithstanding, we have made
A model for similar integration movements
The four pillars of CARICOM – Economic Integration, Human and Social Development, Foreign
Policy Coordination and Security Cooperation – provide a broad scope to develop an integration
movement that is the longest lasting of its kind in the developing world. This is a reality that
has resulted in our friends from Africa and the Pacific sending missions to study what we have
been doing. CARICOM has been a model for similar integration movements.
And what have we been doing? In the past 50 years, we have functioned as a collaborative
mechanism which has established several specialised Regional Institutions, including in the
areas of Education, Health, Agriculture, Disaster Management, Climate Change, and Crime and
Security, which all work to enhance the benefits of our integration.
We need to remind ourselves from time to time that, as a Region, we were successful in
establishing the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Caribbean
Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility,
the Caribbean Examination Council, the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS, and the
Caribbean Public Health Agency, among others.
The objective of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is to progressively and
ultimately create a single, seamless economic space within our Community that provides a
larger scale economic, trading and business environment. It is our platform for economic
growth and development within our Region, as well our foundation for international
competitiveness and effective insertion in the global economy.
We already have a Community Agricultural Policy and a Double Taxation Agreement and are
creating a Community Industrial Policy among the Member States. We have harmonised
standards, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, and a competition policy. We have in place a
CARICOM Multilateral Air Services Agreement.
The Revised Treaty created a rules-based Community. The Treaty, the binding decisions of the
Conference of Heads of Government and the Ministerial Councils, and the rulings of the CCJ,
together constitute an emerging body of Community law.
A security architecture has been put in place, including a CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty, an
Agreement on the Recovery and Sharing of Assets derived from criminal activity and a Counter
We have leveraged our votes in the international arena along with sustained advocacy to
become a respected voice in global affairs, most recently in climate change and Non-
Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Our slogan for our 2023 anniversary celebration is most apt, “50 Years Strong: A Solid
Foundation to Build On”.
No insurmountable challenges
Let us be clear. There is more that could have been done to take us further along the road. The
lag in the implementation of an efficient transportation system has adversely affected intra-
regional trade and ease of travel for people throughout the Community. The non-tariff barriers
that impeded the flow of trade have created unnecessary friction. Actions by officials at points
of entry threaten to become a deterrent to CARICOM citizens wishing to visit or seek
employment in another Member State, as is their right under the Revised Treaty. The joy of the
Single Domestic Space when our Region hosted Cricket World Cup in 2007 is now a distant
None of those challenges is insurmountable, as intractable as they may seem. And the goal is to
surmount them as we move on to the next 50 years and beyond.
The regional and global environments have changed considerably since signing of the original
Treaty of Chaguaramas in 1973, and even since the Revised Treaty of 2001. However, the
fundamental objectives and principles of regional integration remain more valid than ever. It is
these objectives and principles that underpin efforts of our Community as we rise to the
challenges of this new era. Our young people must now channel their greater facility with the
technology, their creativity, and innovative skills to create value that will benefit our Region.
Unity of purpose
Much has been achieved in the past 50 years. A lot of it is taken for granted today. Some of the
Regional achievements mentioned earlier are not even directly associated with the integration
movement. The stories of regional success must be continuously shared across our Community
to serve as a constant reminder of what we can achieve with unity of purpose.