The OECS is an international intergovernmental organization dedicated to regional integration in the Eastern Caribbean. The OECS was established on 18 June 1981, when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty in Saint Kitts and Nevis, agreeing to cooperate and promote unity and solidarity among the Members. The Treaty became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, named in honour of the capital city where it was signed. Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are signatories to the 1981 Treaty.
Twenty-nine (29) years later, on 18 June 2010, a Revised Treaty of Basseterre was signed during the 51st Meeting of the Authority in Saint Lucia, establishing a single financial and economic space where goods, people and capital move freely.
The establishment of the OECS, founded on the vision of unity between the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Eastern Caribbean, recognized the vulnerability of the individual states and the benefits that such a body can have in managing regional policy in areas such as migration.
Economic opportunity, environmental change and natural disasters have always been among the reasons why people move or migrate from one place to another. The provisions for the free movement of people within the OECS proved lifesaving for some citizens in the aftermath of the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Since citizens could move freely between Member States, some were able to continue working or get their children back into schools in neighbouring islands. In addition, free movement facilitated the hassle-free mobilisation of construction workers and volunteers into territories where help was needed.
The OECS is now an eleven-member grouping, with Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Martinique and Guadeloupe having joined. This is testament to the relevance of the grouping and the benefits that it brings to the governance and life of the region.
In recent years, IOM has implemented projects in six of the original seven Member States, in areas ranging from diaspora mapping and engagement, disaster response, and counter trafficking in persons. All OECS Member States have also participated in the Caribbean Migration Consultations that IOM has supported since 2016. At present, the organizations are collaborating to activate a project funded by the Federal Foreign Office of the Government of Germany, to enhance the governance of human mobility related to environmental change in the Eastern Caribbean through improved evidence and regional cooperation. IOM-OECS partnership development is supported by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, through its Western Hemisphere Program.
The IOM Coordination Office for the Caribbean in Guyana, and all the missions in the Caribbean region and internationally, extend sincere congratulations to the governments and people of the OECS, and to the OECS Commission, on the achievement of the 39th anniversary of the Organisation’s establishment. IOM looks forward to continued cooperation with the OECS and its Member States toward achieving common goals to support safe, regular, and orderly migration, as well as encouraging the benefits that migration can provide to countries of origin, transit and destination.
About the International Organization for Migration / IOM:
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a United Nations organization working on migration issues. IOM was established in 1951 and is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration, committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. In 2016 IOM became part of the United Nations as the first agency specialized in all areas of migration.
The core function of IOM is “building migration management capacities” where it is most needed, through providing for training of stakeholders to make a difference; development of national policies; engaging the diaspora for development; creating livelihood opportunities and setting up new government institutions.
IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, promote international cooperation on migration issues, assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.