Copyright © 2003 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume Three Winter 2002-Spring 2003 Numbers 1-2.
Theme: THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WEST INDIAN COMISSION REPORT: ASSESSING THE
PROGRESS OF CARICOM NATIONS IN IMPLEMENTING THE COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS
A Collaborative Approach to Foreign Policy CARICOM and the Regional Negotiating Mechanism
Debbie Ann Mohammed
Solange Eryl Cross
Institute of International Relations
The University of the West Indies
St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad
Published online: February 10, 2017
The West Indian Commission (WIC) Report published in 1992 1 underscored the need for a coordinated, regional approach to foreign policy articulation and implementation, building on such a recognition as early as 1973 when the Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Community was signed.
This prescription is even more pertinent to the region thirty years later. Changing patterns of economic relationships, compounded by the inability of such small states to deal effectively with a range of transnational issues, render Caribbean governments largely powerless and threaten the stability and development capacity of the region.
In the current international climate dominated by trade liberalization and the formation of regional trading blocs, it is imperative that mechanisms be established to support the effective coordination and implementation of a regional foreign policy. In this regard, CARICOM governments, in 1997, established the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) as the principal mechanism for devising and implementing an overall negotiating strategy for the region in a number of trade-related negotiations. However, some observers regard its formation “more as a hurried response to such external influences, particularly the three crucial negotiations that were underway or imminent, rather than a facilitator of the growth of the internal dynamics of integration” (Grant, 2000). As a result, the significance of formulating and maintaining truly “regional” positions on issues such as trade, tourism, and security is often not fully appreciated and tends to be at variance with national policies or left to the discretion of domestic policy makers. Clearly these are important considerations that affect the RNM’s ability to effectively execute its mandate.