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Strengthened Governance Arrangements within CARICOM

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GOV 1- Reform of Organs, Bodies and Governance Arrangements to Enhance Decision-Making, Implementation and Accountability and Enforcement

GOV 2 – Develop Arrangements for Participatory Governance in the Community
GOV 3 – Develop Governance Arrangements for Community Institutions
GOV 4 – Strengthen Relationships and Build Partnerships with International Development Partners (IDPs) to support CARICOM priorities and positions. The Community will hold regular and structured engagements with IDPs, both traditional and new Partners, guided by the priorities set out in the Strategic Plan. Such engagements would involve Member States, the CARICOM Secretariat and Community Institutions. Additionally, the Community will take steps for greater coordination and effectiveness in the use and management of IDP resources.
GOV 5 – Develop and Agree on the Desired Governance Arrangements for the Future


“... the Member States transformed the erstwhile voluntary arrangements in CARICOM into a rule-based system, thus creating and accepting a regional system under the rule of law. The rule of law brings with it legal certainty and protection of rights of states and individuals alike, but at the same time, of necessity, it creates legal accountability. Even if such accountability imposes some constraint upon the exercise of sovereign rights of states, the very acceptance of such a constraint in a treaty is in itself an act of sovereignty.”[1]


The Community recognises that good governance encompasses the rule of law, democratic governance, effective citizen participation, and efficient public services in the context of a diverse Region. The rule of law is one major aspect of a governance framework which provides a foundation for sustainable development – a principle which is illustrated by quote above.


The Community law or rules-based system which governs the functions of the Community, its Organs and Bodies, comprises the Revised Treaty and related Agreements, Policies and Protocols adopted by the Community, and binding decisions of the Organs and Bodies. There is a formal structure, established by Treaty for decision-making, and monitoring of implementation. The Revised Treaty also provides for a dispute settlement mechanism, including recourse to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The CCJ in its original jurisdiction has the exclusive and compulsory jurisdiction to determine disputes on the interpretation or application of the Revised Treaty and thereby provides, in addition to dispute resolution, definitive guidance on the application of Community law.


This strategic priority seeks to close gaps as it relates to governance of the Community and ensure effective and transparent decision-making and decision-taking, accountability and compliance with agreements and Community Law, including respect for the rule of law.


There is recognition that the emerging policy responsibility would require a diverse competence which cannot be readily provided by the CARICOM Secretariat alone. In this context, it will be important to draw from the competence residing across the Community, particularly Member States, regional Institutions, regional private sector, regional labour representatives, and subject matter specialists amongst others.


Over the Plan period, the strategy will involve:

 Reforming existing arrangements to enhance decision making, implementation, accountability, compliance and enforcement;


Developing arrangements for participatory governance;

Developing governance arrangements for Community Institutions;

 Strengthening relationships with IDPs;

 Developing and agreeing on the desired governance arrangements for the future.


Reform of existing Arrangements

  • Arrangements for Participatory governance
  • Governance of Community Institutions
  • Relationships with IDPs
  • Governance for the Future


Goal – Strengthening Governance Arrangements in CARICOM (GOV)


To ensure effective and efficient governance arrangements that support good decision making, successful implementation of the regional agenda and accountability by all actors.[2]





GOV 1- Reform of Organs, Bodies and Governance Arrangements to Enhance Decision-Making, Implementation and Accountability and Enforcement – This strategy involves improving existing arrangements to desired levels of efficiency and effectiveness viz.:


Enabling improved decision-making and implementation through:


Improving the operations of the Organs and Bodies of the Community, in particular the Community Council as it relates to the strategic role of this organ and the reform of the CCS. Among the initiatives will be establishing a performance framework for the Organs to assess their results, improving the conduct of meetings, improving coordination across Councils, gaining commitment for ministerial representation at meetings, formalizing the participation/consultation with non-state actors, the use of think-tanks to support the Councils;
Improving the decision-making process through reviewing, refining and promoting decision-making protocols, strengthening the preparatory process, including feasibility/resource/cost-benefit analysis; improving the management of meetings by focused discussion and taking of strategic decisions.


Further to (i) and (ii) above the following arrangements are proposed:


Introducing the Committee of Ambassadors as the nexus between national/Member State needs and the regional agenda, a requirement for successful transposition in CARICOM.[3] Working with the Secretary-General and the CCS, the Organs of the Community, their Ministers, Senior Officials and CARICOM Units in their Member States, the Ambassadors will bring the issues to bear in the agenda setting and policy formulation and with a mandate to ensure the implementation of the regional agenda at the national level, including addressing challenges and ‘breaking log jams’ that stymie implementation; as well as monitor and track the results and the benefits which accrue. In that regard, the Committee is intended to provide a range of services which will complement the work of the Organs and of the Secretariat (the best practice example of the OECS Commissioners is noted);


 Formalise the current Forum of the Secretary-General and Heads of Community Institutions to facilitate coordinated implementation of the Strategic Plan. This Forum will be convened by the Secretary-General and can be expanded to include the Committee of Ambassadors, and the Private Sector and Civil Society as needed, for consultation, strategic discussion and guidance on specific issues (committee of the whole).


Further to the reform of operating procedures and governance structures, the following is proposed to strengthen decision making and implementation:


Strengthening the executive role and function of the Community Council and Secretary-General as intended by the RTC. For the Community Council, the executive function will be strengthened as it relates to its role in monitoring the policy and decision-making process, as well as implementation of mandates, ensuring compliance to Treaty obligations and mandates among Member States and ensuring the efficiency of the Conference of Heads of Government. Similarly, the Secretary-General will need to act and take decisions regarding the approach to and optimal use of resources in pursuit of mandates. The development of the Strategic Plan for the Community provides the opportunity for a Community-wide approach to managing the regional integration process. However, a key consideration is the role of the Secretary-General, in the capacity of CEO of the Community, providing oversight to the work of the Community Institutions;


Support Implementation in Member States by harmonizing functions and responsibilities and building capacity of CARICOM Units in Member States (building on previous initiatives to develop a model for Regional Integration Implementation Units) as well as other ‘partner’ public sector ministries or institutions. These Units should be headed by the CARICOM Ambassador. Additional measures to support implementation in Member States include creating fora for engaging Permanent Secretaries and Senior Officials, well as private sector and civil society partners; deepening the role of the Assistant Secretaries General of the CARICOM Secretariat as a ‘bridge’ with Member States; improving access to CARICOM institutions; and providing critical support services through a reformed CCS;


Enable Compliance, Accountability and Enforcement by fully utilising mechanisms for dispute settlement, agreeing on appropriate sanctions, and enforcement through the CCJ;[4] bearing in mind the Community is moving increasingly towards a rules based system.

GOV 2 – Develop Arrangements for Participatory Governance in the Community


In the Plan period, action will be taken to develop mechanisms for participatory governance arrangements in CARICOM. Three primary undertakings will be i) Forum for Parliamentarians; ii) Promoting discussion on CARICOM Issues at national parliamentary assemblies and iii) Fora for Civil Society and the Private Sector.


Forum for Parliamentarians – Over the planning period, consideration would be given to re-engineering the Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians (ACCP), or a similar Forum could be developed comprising government and opposition representatives from each Member State. Such a Forum will have the benefits of:


Ensuring inclusive, participatory engagement and decision-making across the Community on Community matters;


Facilitating the inclusion of CARICOM and regional integration matters in the strategic documents of political parties in Member States;


Demonstrating tangibly the viability of regional development to the people of the Community through inclusive, participatory dialogue and decision making;


Engaging the people of the Community;


Promote discussion on CARICOM Issues at national parliamentary assemblies. This may include advocating for Member States to agree to set aside a time period each year for discussions on CARICOM Issues. It is noted that these debates can also be used to engage the people of the Community on issues;


Fora for Private Sector, Civil Society – Establishing a permanent arrangement for engagement/consultation with the regional representatives of private sector and civil society (NGOs, Labour, Youth, Media etc.) at the meetings of Councils. Ongoing information sharing and engagement of these stakeholder groups will also be facilitated, using technology, as well as through the CARICOM Ambassadors in Member States;


In addition, the development of national level consultative mechanisms will be facilitated, for example, to establish inter-ministerial consultative committees, business and labour advisory committees, and fora for civil society for regular consultation with stakeholders. The fora at the national level will support and facilitate a consultative mechanism at the regional level.


GOV 3 – Develop Governance Arrangements for Community Institutions – This strategy will focus on reviewing and developing the governance arrangements for the Community Institutions in order to create an enabling environment for coordinated management across the Regional Integration Architecture. The objective is to ensure that the Community Institutions are best positioned to contribute to the effective implementation of the resilience building agenda within the context of the Strategic Plan. This strategy will address:


Strengthening of accountability mechanisms and harmonization of institutional arrangements,[5]


Development and application of a shared performance framework based on the Community Strategic Plan;


 Mechanisms for greater collaboration among Institutions and with the CCS;


Use of relevant tools to support collaboration, coordination and accountability e.g. MOUs, Service agreements;


Use of ICT tools to support information sharing, and development and implementation of collaborative programmes and functional cooperation initiatives.


The development of governance arrangements will occur in the wider review of the Institutions to be conducted in the plan period.


GOV 4 – Strengthen Relationships and Build Partnerships with International Development Partners (IDPs) to support CARICOM priorities and positions. The Community will hold regular and structured engagements with IDPs, both traditional and new Partners, guided by the priorities set out in the Strategic Plan. Such engagements would involve Member States, the CARICOM Secretariat and Community Institutions. Additionally, the Community will take steps for greater coordination and effectiveness in the use and management of IDP resources.


GOV 5 – Develop and Agree on the Desired Governance Arrangements for the Future – Over the Plan period, there should be fora for consultation and dialogue among stakeholders and Community nationals, to develop a long term view of the integration for the Region, as it relates to both economic and political integration. Part of this discussion will take account of the governance arrangements required for the desired form of integration and the steps to be taken in that regard.



Key Considerations


The strategies outlined above are mutually supportive and action in one area is likely to contribute to progress in all other areas. It is critical that there is an acceptance at the outset of the need for major changes in the principles and practices that underpin governance in the Community.


 The Community will be guided by principles of good governance including transparency, accountability, respect for human rights, participation by all stakeholders, equity, justice, respect for the rule of law and clearly defined roles and responsibilities.


The Community must speak with one voice in the global arena as well as within the Region and harmonise relevant policies and legislation.


The OECS sub-regional grouping is further along with its integration process than the wider CARICOM grouping and, in that regard, may choose to act as one on matters of exclusive competence by the Economic Union, which must be accommodated in the initiatives outlined to strengthen the governance arrangements.


Participatory governance will require strengthening of civil society representative organizations, with formal mechanisms to engage these organizations on a regular basis, recognizing that consultation begins at the national level.


The roles and responsibilities of community institutions must be clear to guide their review and rationalisation and formalise their relationship with the Principal Organs, Organs and Bodies to reinforce their position as part of the Regional Integration Architecture.


There must be continuing review of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to reflect new arrangements.


The governance arrangements proposed will inform the performance framework for actors within the Community.


The initiatives proposed will mean new ways of working, and a change management approach will be adopted to support the required shifts in thinking and behavior. The Change Management Strategy going forward is further discussed in Chapter 7 of the full Plan (see also Section 3.6 of this Executive Plan

[1] Trinidad Cement Limited v. The Caribbean Community ([2009] CCJ 2 (OJ) at para 32

[2] Reforming and strengthening governance is seen as vital for improving success in CARICOM. Stakeholders note that the governance arrangements should be based on and be consistent with strengthening the operation of the rule of law in the governance arrangements for the Community. All parties need to know the rules and the consequences of their conduct with a greater degree of certainty, and all actors including states actors, Organs and Institutions of the Community and persons, need to operate according to these rules and procedures laid down. Business enterprise, commercial activity, investment, trade, the entrepreneurial spirit, and economic growth will be enhanced and promoted by the certainty that is created when there are clear and predictable governing rules, clearly defined rights and obligations that are easily accessible to all, under which all parties must operate. There is a strong desire to do the things we need to, as a community, to achieve growth and prosperity. The reform process offers a unique opportunity to address these matters

[3] Noted in the Discussion Paper on Governance, based on the deliberations of the TWG on Governance, 2010

[4] Stakeholders have emphasized that special attention should be given to the role of the CCJ in strengthening and optimizing the governance arrangements. In that regard, Governments need to signal greater commitment to the CCJ and improve utilization of the Court, for example to: i) resolve disputes in a speedy manner on the basis of regional and international law; ii) draw on the competence of the Court in interpreting and applying the RTC and related decisions of the Organs of the Community; and/or iii) develop the regional legal framework to achieve greater clarity and certainty regarding the rights and duties of all actors of the Community.

[5] Harmonization of institutional arrangements such as operational policies and procedures, including accounting, procurement, as well as human resource management policies etc across regional institutions. The aim would be to have minimum standards that are consistent with internationally recognized best practice

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