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Caribbean Leaders come together in Chaguaramas to sign the treaty July 4th 1973
Lesson
This module provides an overview of the key aspects of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
 IN THIS MODULE
Brief History of the OECS
Treaty of Basseterre
OECS Member States
OECS Structure and Organisation
Directors General of the OECS
OECS Economic Union
Resources
Biography Country Browser Reading Room Glossary
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 and the British Virgin Islands are associate members of the OECS.

Treaty of Basseterre
Access resource Treaty of Basseterre
Access resource Revised Treaty of Basseterre

Signatories to the Treaty of Basseterre 18 June 1981
Front row (l-r): DPM Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda, PM Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Foreign Minister Hudson Tannis of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, PM Kennedy Simons of St. Kitts and Nevis (fifth from left), PM Winston Cenac of Saint Lucia (sixth from left), PM Maurice Bishop of Grenada (extreme right) and back row: second from left Franklyn Margetson of Montserrat. Others include back row, extreme right, Foreign Minister Peter Josie, of Saint Lucia and front row fourth from left Augustus Compton Executive Secretary of the WISA Council

OECS Member States
The OECS is a 10 member grouping comprising:
Member State

Joined

Population

km²

GDP (PPP)
$M

GDP (PPP)
per capita

Learn more about country Antigua and Barbuda

18 Jun 1981

86,295

442.6

1,709

$20,977

Learn more about country The Commonwealth Dominica

18 Jun 1981

72,660

751

952

$13,102

Learn more about country Grenada

18 Jun 1981

110,000

344

1,142

$11,498

Learn more about country Montserrat

18 Jun 1981

5,879

102

99

$8,500

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

18 Jun 1981

51,300

261

892

$20,929

Learn more about country Saint Lucia

18 Jun 1981

173,765

606

2,071

$10,560

Learn more about country St. Vincent and the Grenadines

18 Jun 1981

120,000

389

1,237

$10,663

Learn more about country Anguilla (associate member)

22 Nov 1984

29,537

151

853

$42,300

Learn more about country British Virgin Islands (associate member)

24 May 1998

13,452

96

108

$8,800

Learn more about country Martinique (associate member)

04 Feb 2015

386,486

1,128

10,700

$27,688

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
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 was signed on June 18th, 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.

Resources
Access resource Communiques of Meetings of the OECS Authority
Sources
http://www.oecs.org
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