Two Islands One paradise - Beautiful St. Kitts and Nevis

Historical overview of the OECS

  The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States came in to being on 18th June, 1981. This was brought about because of the visioning of the leaders of the Windward and LeewardIsland and the kinship among them. Today, the spirit of regional cooperation and integration continues and is stronger than ever. The history of the OECS is one that should be known by everyone in the sub-region since it is a proud legacy of its visionaries.

   After the collapse of the Federation of the West Indies and a proposed federal scheme with Barbados in 1966, the six islands together with Montserrat grouped themselves in an administrative arrangement under the West Indies Associated States Council of Ministers (WISA) “to administer such common services of the participating territories and to perform such other functions as may be agreed upon from time to time.” It was an informal arrangement among the islands although sub-sequently several legally constituted institutions were established and operated within this framework.

   The WISA council of Ministers was intended to be a “caretaker arrangement” until such as the seven territories concerned could decide on their constitutional and political future. The first Executive Secretary was the Hon. Gorge Odlum of St. Lucia. The WISA Council of Ministers (Head of Government) first met in 1968, the tear following the enactment of the status of Associated Statehood with Britain. The Secretariat’s role was that of the administrative arm of the arrangement and ensured the implementation of decisions taken by the council.

   Several institution were established under this arrangement pursuit of this common service and functional cooperation by the Governments of the Eastern Caribbean Common Market (ECCM), The West Indies Associated States Supreme Court, the East Caribbean Currency Authority (ECCA), The Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA), The Overseas Missions in the United Kingdom and Canada and cooperation in the framework of the Council of Ministers.

    Since these administrative and institutional arrangements were set up primarily to meet the needs of the seven territories concerned within the framework of their constitutional status, i.e. as non-independent states, the move towards full political independence by the WISA Member States necessitated a functional cooperation. To this end, the council of Ministers agreed that the relationship should be deepened through the establishment of an Organization with a legal personality and embracing the seven Member States of WISA both independent and non-independent.

 The WISA Governments decided to establish the Organization of Eastern Caribbean Stases (OECS) after a number of changes had taken place both regionally and inter-nationally, Firstly, the Governments themselves initiated the concept of the OECS: unlike other integration efforts such as the West Indies Federation, the region and then promoted among Caribbean Governments. Secondly, the Governments were aware that in order to realize the economies of scale that it was better to work together rather than to attempt to do it on their own.

  With the setting up of CARICOM in 1973. After the initial optimism the WISA countries began experiencing problems under the weight of regional economic difficulties, particularly trade restrictions which some of the large CARICOM countries were forced to adopt as their domestic economies experienced severe difficulties. In this atmosphere of self-protection., the WIAS countries realized that there was need to formalize their arrangement and to begin speaking in one voice in order to defend their interests. Within CARICOM, the creation of OECS has strengthened the position of the LDC’s in that group.

    In October 1980, the council of Ministers reached agreement on the text of the Treaty for the establishment of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The Treaty of Basseterre was signed in Basseterre, St. Kitts in the afternoon on the 18th June, 1981 and was named after the city in which it was signed. The Treaty came into operation on the 2nd July, 1981. The ceremony took place at Fort Thomas Hotel and the Prime Minister signed the Treaty with a peacock feather dipped in ink.


Treaty of Basseterre Signatories:

    • Hon. Lester Bird – Antigua and Barbuda
    • Hon. Eugenia Charles – Dominica
    • Hon Maurice Bishop – Grenada
    • Hon. Franklyn Margetson – Montserrat
    • Hon. Kennedy Simmons- St Kitts and Nevis
    • Hon. Winston Cenac – St Lucia
    •  Hon. Hudson Tannis – St Vincent and the Grenadines  

    In attendance were Hon. Lester Bird, at the time Deputy Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and he was accompanied by the Hon. Hugh Marshall, Dame Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Hudson Tannis, Minister of Trade, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr. Fanklyn Margetson, Montserrat, Hon. Winston Cenac, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, he was accompanied by Hon. Peter Josie and the Hon. Maurice Bishop, Prime Minister of Grenada.

Mission & Objectives

The Organisation's Mission

The Mission of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States is to be a Center of Excellence contributing to the sustainable development of OECS Member States by supporting their strategic insertion into the global economy while maximizing the benefits accruing from their collective space

The Organisation's Objectives

As set out in the Treaty of Basseterre:
The Agreement establishing the Eastern Caribbean Common Market is an integral part of the OECS Treaty. Among the main purposes of the Organization are:

· to promote cooperation among the Member States and at the regional and international levels;

    · to promote unity and solidarity among the Member States and to defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

     · to promote economic integration through the provisions of the Agreement Establishing the Eastern Caribbean Common Market.

     · states;to seek to achieve the fullest possible harmonization of foreign policy among the Member

     · to seek to adopt as far as possible common positions on international issues and to establish and maintain wherever possible arrangements for joint overseas representation and/or common services.

The functions of the organization are accomplished primarily through its principal institutions which are:-

a.    a. The Authority of heads of Government;

b.   b. The Foreign Affairs Committee (Ministerial).

c.    c.The Defense and Security Committee (Ministerial)

d.   d. The Economic Affairs Committee (Ministerial) 
e.The Legal Affairs Committee (Ministerial and
 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.

f.  f. The Central Secretariat

   .     The first Director General was Dr. Vaughn Allen Lewis who served the Organization for thirteen years.

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.





 Dr. Vaughan Lewis 
   (St. Lucia) 1981 - 
 Swinburne Lestrade (St Vincent and the Grenadines) 1996-                   2001     
   Mr. George Goodwin,  
  Acting Director General  

  Dr. Len Ishmael 

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