BARBADOS NATIONAL CONSULTATION
OF CIVIL SOCIETY:
Involving Civil Society
A CARICOM INITIATIVE
SUPPORTED BY THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE
COORDINATED BY BANGO INC.
Sherbourne Centre, Barbados
July 23rd, 2001
BARBADOS NATIONAL CONSULTATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY:
INVOLVING CIVIL SOCIETY IN CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT
1. INTEGRATION AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN THE CARIBBEAN -
Orlando Marville, Barbados India Friendship Society
* The omission of the word 'change' in the programme is a fundamental one
since a change perspective is needed.
* The Caribbean cannot find its way in a globalised world as single national
* Civil society's role should be to push the idea of Caribbean unity way
beyond anything that has been happening up to now.
* The Caribbean has to change the way it sees sugar and bananas. The
Caribbean must conduct its own research to explore the other
commodities that could be developed from these two products such as
fibres, medicines and animal feeds from sugar cane.
* In terms of bananas, the whole tree could be used and products such as
baby foods, clothing material and biodegradable plastics developed.
* The only way that the Caribbean will do more than subsist in a global
world is to be inventive, use its native intelligence, produce new things
and create its own niches in the market.
* Turning to poverty alleviation, Mr. Marville suggested that poverty is more
than an economic status there are also cultural, psychological, social
and anthropological reasons why people are poor.
* Poverty alleviation programmes should commence with research and
must be seen as a long-term exercise.
* Poverty alleviation programmes also have to deal with the dependency
syndrome, family development and poverty dependence reversal. The
poor need to be organised and empowered.
* The basic needs of the poor must be satisfied by providing them with the
means to earn a living. An enabling environment must be created that
involves training, accommodation and job opportunities.
* Communities need to have a sense of project ownership.
* Caribbean governments have failed to create the right environment to
enable the development of other products from sugar and bananas and to
turn to Cuba for the necessary expertise, scientists and technology, if
* Two issues were the need for civil society to force governments to act and
civil society being tired of putting forward ideas to governments with no
* A poverty alleviation programme has to be well thought out and
sustainable over election periods. It should be a national programme
elaborated by civil society.
2. ORGANISING THE PROPOSED CARIBBEAN SINGLE MARKET AND
ECONOMY TO MAXIMISE THE DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL
(NATIONALLY AND REGIONALLY) TO BENEFIT CARIBBEAN PEOPLE -
Peter Wickham, Political Scientist, University of the West Indies
* The CSME is essentially an economic integration initiative and can be
assessed from this perspective. The major blunder is believing that
economic integration can take place without people's input and some
level of democracy.
* Increased political activity is involved as countries move towards a
Common Market and there are issues such as the movement of people,
money and land ownership.
* Unless CARICOM can address the issues of free movement of money, the
ability to travel and work anywhere in the Community and the ability to
purchase and lease land anywhere in the Community, it will not have a
* One of the key issues of concern in relation to the Protocols and the
CSME is the extent to which they will be able to facilitate the movement
of land, labour and capital. For example, in relation to the freedom of
movement skilled persons, non-professionals who comprise the bulk of
the Caribbean workforce are not to be granted this in the near future.
This is a major anomaly.
* The language used in these protocols does not appear to appreciate the
fact that there are several legal impediments preventing a single market
from becoming a reality.
* The CSME is not currently structured to maximise the potential of
Caribbean people. If the movement of people and their ability to
participate in the market are restricted, the full development of that
market will be restricted.
* The CSME needs to be popularised by way of maximising the potential
entry into the market. The Barbados consultation could give substantial
direction and fuel to this process.
* The issue of free movement was of major concern. The concept of "skilled
labour" was questioned.
* The way that other communities are dealing with similar issues in their
integration process should be investigated.
* A study should be done on the psychology of people's movement.
* The role of civil society in furthering the integration movement needs to
be worked out.
3. INTEGRATING WOMEN AND YOUTH INTO THE DEVELOPMENT
AGENDA Nalita Gajadhar, President, National Organisation of Women
* Civil society in Barbados is virtually non-existent. Between now and
November, efforts should be made to define who and what civil society is,
its purposes and its reasons for existing.
* The situation of women in Barbados might be moving backwards, one of
the factors being the discussion on male marginalisation in an
environment that continues to be dominated by men.
* Although legally there is no discrimination against women, what is
problematic is at the level of ideology, in terms of how people think about
women and whether they believe that women have a right to achieve their
* All of the recommended strategies in various Plans of Action are being
* Changes in legislation, labour, minimum wages and sexual harassment
only take place if women are in serious decision-making positions.
* Without a system of local government, women who are interested in
participating have to wait for appointment to committees and they are
primarily being appointed to social committees.
* Until NGOs are fully recognized and have real strength, the only way to
bring about change is through the political process.
* The use of quotas within political parties should be considered. Ways
also need to be found of supporting females who want to offer themselves
* CARICOM has to take the question of education and gender
mainstreaming seriously. It needs to be taken to the level of Prime
Ministers, Deputy Prime Ministers and the CARICOM Secretariat.
* The situation in relation to youth is similar to that of women.
* Strategies should be developed to give youth a voice and to help them
develop their skills.
* A quota system is insulting to women and similar to women having to
apologise for their achievements.
* There are ways of contributing other than being involved in politics.
4. THE CASE FOR THE OMBUDSMAN MODEL IN CIVIL SOCIETY Carl
* In establishing a civil society in the Caribbean, the Ombudsman model
should be considered as a means of getting justice for institutions and
especially for individuals who do not have means.
* The Ombudsman's principal characteristics are independence and
* It deals with complaints against Government Ministries and Departments.
* The institution of the Ombudsman is economical and flexible.
* It is not caught by the law of any particular state and is more concerned
with justice than with law.
* The law is sometimes unwieldy in respect of complaints and injuries
suffered by individuals and often adversarial. The institution of the
Ombudsman allows for more of a win/win situation.
* The only shortcoming that might be raised is that the Ombudsman can
only recommend and has no power of enforcement. However, he can
publish his recommendations if they are not implemented.
* It would not be easy to get CARICOM to support the establishment of a
Caribbean Ombudsman. The Ombudsman could make recommendations
that leaders would prefer to reverse. In addition, it is not easy to abolish
the office because people come to appreciate its usefulness.
* The Ombudsman does not deal with private sector complaints or policy
* Civil society should be involved in the selection of the Ombudsman.
* The concern about the independence of the CCJ strengthens the
argument for a Caribbean Ombudsman who could make
recommendations contrary to the CCJ's decisions.
GROUP REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The recommendations from the groups and those that emerged during the
ensuing discussion are combined.
GROUP 1: Caribbean Single Market and Economy
Objective: To allow for maximum integration of resources human/labour,
capital and land.
* Common Caribbean Passport
* Right to work by removing all restrictions
* Common currency and banking laws.
* Examine integrated tax system.
* Promote competition within the region and business sectors.
* Inter-regional transportation.
* Lack of political will the need for civil society to agitate and advocate
* Lack of Caribbean identity NGO dissemination of regional information.
* The region needs to be more active.
* Spread the word throughout the region by educating all of our citizens.
* Role of civil society civil society needs to start taking itself more
seriously; it should form organizations, advocate and put what they
believe into action.
GROUP 2: The inclusion of women, youth, the disabled, aids victims,
the marginalised the human resource development of all
* The need to train for life, lifelong skills. The shelf life can be five years
before retooling. This must also provide for the disabled community.
* Training should be available for skills of all kinds academic, social and
values which make us a civilised society. The appropriate locations,
equipment and people to train need to be identified.
* Local government and the empowerment of communities. This can only
be done with adequate knowledge and information. The difference
between data and information must be recognized. Data is often not
processed into information.
* Communities of interest. The decentralisation of interest through the
* NGOs need to get information and make it available in the interest of
NGOs themselves and community members, for example the development
of new industries such as making plastics from bananas. NGOs need to
be aware of what is happening and have a critical role to play in finding
out and bringing information back to the Caribbean.
* Regional skills how can the region benefit from the export of skills?
There can be benefit through information of foreign exchange and
remittances. Regional skills may be exported by electronic means.
* Ensure that Edutech is a vehicle for reinforcing values. Use of banners
on the Internet.
* A nation's health is a nation's wealth. Developmental issues in children
need to be identified early.
* One alternative to the traditional export of skills is for the investment to
come here for technology. The Caribbean could benefit through
knowledge transfer and has to be ready to embrace the transfer. In this
way, the traditional concept of export is being changed. The possibility of
people going to countries such as Haiti and Guyana could also be
* The restrictive entry-level requirements for skills training should be re-
examined. Some people who have the capacity to be trained are not given
the opportunity and often end up through the cracks.
* New mechanisms for training need to be found with the focus being on
having training delivered anytime. Current strategies for training have
are less expensive than traditional methods and community centres are
ideal for this.
* There is a rethinking of how people should be educated, what education
is, the issue of accreditation and measuring life experiences. The media,
churches, community centres are places where information can flow and
therefore important tools for education.
GROUP 3: Governance and Human Rights
* For more accountability and transparency, we may need more local
government, not necessarily following the pre-Independence model.
* The need for continuity in government beyond changes that result from
changes of government. The question of Permanent Secretaries changing
from one government to the next. The New Zealand model may offer
guidelines on the appointment of Permanent Secretaries and their
* NGOs should work with whatever government is in power.
* The need for organizations like a Citizens' Advisory Board.
* The need for a better flow of information about the existing avenues for
* NGOs need to work more closely and share information.
* Organizations are usually concerned about turf. BANGO needs to be wise
* Leaders are too often seen as self-seeking and opportunistic. There is
often no accountability in these bodies. There needs to be financial
accountability and transparency, for example Small Business
Association's situation where members' concerns are not being met.
* There needs to be a free flow of information, not self-interested hoarding.
Role of Education
* Education begins with the home, the family structure. Males need to be
educated about their roles as educators.
* More use should be made of public places (even some privately owned) to
* The need to ensure that the Government Information Services have
access to and use radio stations and other media, newspaper licenses do
not have the same licensing arrangements.
* NGOs almost invariably depend on voluntary work. Often employing a
single person will solve the manpower problems.
* The role of the Personal Assistant to the Minister needs to be clarified.
* Access to information. Information in the Public Service is privatised but
a good citizenry can only be developed if people are informed and can
make informed choices.
* Local government needs to be reconsidered as an alternative. Central
government cannot meet the needs of the community.
* The present system of limited access to facilities that belong to the people
and county is unproductive.
* The present mode of electing governments does not suit globalisation.
GROUP 4: How to enhance the region's competitiveness
* Bring school life closer to the business world; include interaction at all
levels with work experience wherever possible.
* Put legislation in place to outlaw race and class discrimination.
* Facilitate wider access to training in key areas for example chefs; bring
computer programming up to international standards.
* Get the region's people to become multi-lingual.
* Divert our people off a fixed mindset; develop a broad outlook and a
* Learning the use of information technology such as e-mail, e-commerce.
* Sharpen analytical skills and be open to new ideas and concepts.
* Niche marketing; develop markets unique to the region.
* Guard trademarks, intellectual property, Sea Island cotton, Barbados'
* Aim for uniform immigration, customs and single currency.
* Proper funding for product development and market access.
* Assign to various countries responsibility for manufacturing products for
which they are best suited with proper quality control.
* Use internationally accepted standards in manufacturing.
* Use of skilled local manpower.