Updated: View Site Map Site Map
Brief History of the OECS

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) came into being on 18 June 1981, when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty agreeing to cooperate with each other and promote unity and solidarity among the Members. The Treaty became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, so named in honour of the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis where it was signed.

Following the collapse of the West Indies Federation, and prior to the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre, two caretaker bodies were created: the West Indies Associated States Council of Ministers (WISA) in 1966 and the Eastern Caribbean Common Market (ECCM) in 1968.

As the islands gained their independence from Britain it became evident that there was need for a more formal arrangement to assist with their development efforts. So it was that the OECS was established. The WISA Secretariat became the central secretariat of the OECS and the ECCM, the Economic Affairs Secretariat.

In mid 1997, as a result of restructuring of the organisation, the Economic Affairs Secretariat was merged into and became a Division of the OECS Secretariat in St Lucia. The OECS is now a nine member grouping comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Martinique, and Guadeloupe are associate members of the OECS.

OECS Member States

The OECS is an 11 member grouping comprising:

Member State Joined Population km² GDP (PPP)
per capita
Learn more about country Antigua and Barbuda

18 Jun 1981





Learn more about country The Commonwealth Dominica

18 Jun 1981





Learn more about country Grenada

18 Jun 1981





Learn more about country Montserrat

18 Jun 1981





Learn more about country The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis

18 Jun 1981





Learn more about country Saint Lucia

18 Jun 1981





Learn more about country St. Vincent and the Grenadines

18 Jun 1981





Learn more about country Anguilla (associate member)

22 Nov 1984





Learn more about country British Virgin Islands (associate member)

24 May 1998





Learn more about country Martinique (associate member)

04 Feb 2015





Learn more about country Guadeloupe (associate member) 14 Mar 2019 429,085 11,628 11,556 $25,497

OECS Structure and Organisation

The OECS is administered by a Central Secretariat located on Morne Fortune, Castries, Saint Lucia. The Secretariat is headed by the Director General who is responsible to the Authority. Over the years several subsidiary and autonomous institutions have been created.

The OECS Authority – the highest decision making body of the OECS comprising the collective of the OECS Heads of Government which meets twice a year

The Economic Affairs Council – which is essential responsible for driving the creation and operationalization of the economic union

Councils of Ministers – include Ministers of Health, Ministers of Social & Human Development, Ministers of Education, Ministers of Trade, and Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

OECS Assembly – a unique Parliament of the OECS in which each member state sits – not as Government and Opposition – but as a national delegation to debate and discuss matters relevant to the perfection of the union.

The OECS Commission – the administrative arm of the OECS responsible for supporting and facilitating the work of the organs of OECS integration.

The Islands share a single currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar ($2.70 ECD = 1 USD). The operation of the currency is overseen by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the monetary authority for the seven OECS governments and the government of Anguilla (The British Virgin Islands uses the US Dollar as their de facto currency).

The Islands also share a common Supreme Court: The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, with its two divisions, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is headed by the Chief Justice. High Court judges are based in each Member State, but the judges of the Court of Appeal are resident in Saint Lucia and travel to each territory to hear appeals from the High Court. Final appeals go to the Privy Council in the UK.

Directors General of the OECS

The OECS Commission is headed by a Director General. The fourth and current Director General is Dr. Didacus Jules.

Name Beginning of Term End of Term Country
Dr. Vaughan LEWIS 1982 1995 Saint Lucia
Mr. Swinburne LESTRADE 1995 2000 St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Mr. George GOODWIN (Acting) 2000 2003 Antigua and Barbuda
Dr. Len ISHMAEL 2003 2013 Saint Lucia
Dr. Didacus JULES Apr 2014 incumbent Saint Lucia

OECS Economic Union

The Revised Treaty of Basseterre was signed on 18 June 2010 in St. Lucia, during the 51 Meeting of the Authority of Heads of Government of OECS Member States.

The Treaty establishes the OECS economic union, making possible the creation of a single financial and economic space within which goods, people and capital move freely, monetary and fiscal policies are harmonized and countries continue to adopt a common approach to trade, health, education and environment, as well as to the development of such critical sectors as agriculture, tourism and energy.

Significantly, the Treaty paves the way for the introduction of legislative competence at the regional level, so that Member States of the Organisation act in concert to develop and enact legislation in certain areas specified in the Treaty.

Related Resources

Access resource Communiques of Meetings of the OECS Authority
Access resource Treaty of Basseterre
Access resource Revised Treaty of Basseterre
Fact Check
We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, or if you would like to share additional information on the topic, kindly contact us!
How to Reference Our Site
To reference our site, please use the following as a general guideline.
APA: KnowledgeWalk Institute. (Date Published).Title of Web Page. Retrieved from (URL)
MLA: "Title of Web Page." caribbeanelections.com. KnowledgeWalk Institute, (date published). Web. Date Accessed.
Chicago: "Title of Web Page," KnowledgeWalk Institute, last modified (date), URL.
 TOPICS learn more
 Democracy and Citizenship
 Right to Vote
 Understanding Government
 Heads of Government
 Politics and the Electoral Process
 Democratic Electoral Systems
 Politics: The Basics
 Caribbean Political Parties
 Cost of an Election
 Choosing a Candidate
 Women in Politics
 Independence and Regional Integration
 Understanding Regional Integration
 West Indies Federation
 Independence in the Caribbean
 Caribbean Free Trade Area
 Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
 Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
 CARICOM Single Market and Economy
 Caribbean Court of Justice
 Heads of Government Conference
 Country Browser
 Reading Room
 Glossary of Election Terms
 Glossary of Budget Terms
 GENERAL TOPICS learn more
 Caribbean Constitutions
 Caribbean Studies
 Citizenship Education
 Free Trade Agreements
 Green Economy
 Global Election Sites
 Human Development Reports
 Human Rights
 International Development Reports
 International Politics
 Multilateral Agencies
 National Budgets
 National Heroes
 National Strategies & Policies
 Political Party Manifestos
 Regional and International Integration
 Throne Speeches
 Trade and Investment
Caribbean Elections
Caribbean Elections provides comprehensive information on the electoral process, politics, and citizenship in the Caribbean. The portal includes election data and resources for the public, teachers, students, and researchers.
Learn more about CE»