The OECS - Twenty-five (25) Years of Integration, growth and Prosperity.

June 18th 1981, marked the dawn of a new era for some of the Windward and Leeward Islands. Following the failure of the West Indies Federation in 1961, the Governments of the Windward and Leeward Islands in 1966, established an informal association known as the West Indies Associated States (WISA), Council of Ministers. In 1968 this Council set up the East Caribbean Common Market, (ECCM). These two institutions subsequently evolved into what we know today as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, (OECS).

The OECS was formally established by the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre, in St. Kitts and Nevis on 18th June 1981.

The Treaty was signed by Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In November 1984, the British Virgin Islands became an Associate Member, followed by Anguilla, in May 1995.

The signing ceremony was hosted by then Premier of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Kennedy Simmonds, and took place in front of the Government Headquarters in downtown Basseterre. Representing the then Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Milton Cato, was his Deputy, Hon. Hudson Tannis, who signed on this country’s behalf.

Under the Treaty of Basseterre, Member States undertook to do the following:

  • Promote co-operation among themselves, the rest of the region and in international relations.
  • Pursue unity and solidarity and defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
  • Assist member States in the realisation of their obligations and responsibilities to the international community.
  • Seek to achieve the fullest possible harmonisation of foreign policy.
  • Promote economic integration.
  • Co-ordinate, harmonise and pursue joint policies, initially in seventeen (17) specified areas, international economic relations, the judiciary, financial management and central banking, tertiary education, mutual defense and security among others.

Now, 25 years later, OECS Heads of Governments will return to Basseterre, in Saint Kitts and Nevis for the 43rd Meeting of the OECS Authority, to be held from 22nd - 23rd June 2006.

At this time, the 25th Anniversary celebrations will reach a high with the unveiling of the new OECS Economic Union Treaty, which replaces the Treaty of Basseterre. This new Treaty will facilitate the further deepening of the integration movement by providing for a single economic space among OECS Member States. The unveiling of the Treaty will be followed by the signing of a Declaration of Intent on behalf of Member States. This in turn will be followed by a year-long region-wide public consultation on the various provisions of the Treaty.

There will also be an historic rising of the first ever OECS flag outside the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Headquarters in Basseterre, over which it is expected that the Heads of Governments will preside.

A three-day exhibition, co-ordinated by the OECS Export Development Unit, (OECS EDU), is among the scheduled events slated to take place. More than fifty (50) businesses from across the region are expected to participate and to display the region’s products and services. A number of buyers, including buyers from the hotel sector, will also be in attendance.

During this period, Heads of Governments will be meeting with the representatives of various donor agencies and other development partners, which carry out programmes and projects in the OECS. They are expected to discuss, inter-alia, support to operationalise the OECS Economic Union Treaty.