CJ Interviews

Norman Girvan on Irwin LaRocque and the Necessity of a Caribbean Parliament

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - August 15, 2011

Dr Norman Girvan, Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, is one of the foremost experts on Caribbean political economy. Girvan, who was formerly the Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States, was appointed last year as the United Nations Secretary General’s Personal Representative on the Guyana-Venezuela Border Controversy. Caribbean Journal talked to Dr Girvan about his advice for new CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque, what the region can learn from the European Union and the necessity of a directly-elected Caribbean parliament.

New CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque takes office today. What advice would you give him?

I would advise him to put before the Heads of Government immediately a proposal of the reform of governance of CARICOM, to give the direction of giving legal force to the decisions of the Heads of Government and other organs of the community in certain prescribed areas. Those areas have been identified in a paper laid before the Heads of Government by the previous chairman of the Community, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas of Grenada. The proposal for the reform of governance would also include a proposal for the establishment of an executive authority to oversee the implementation of the decisions of the Heads of Government in the context of the provision of legal force to those decisions.

I would also advise him to review and develop the proposals for popular involvement of the people of the Community, in the decision-making of the community, so that the people of the Community may feel a genuine sense of ownership in the business of CARICOM.

What have been the major roadblocks to integration thus far?

The principal roadblock has been the preoccupation of the governments of member states with retaining absolute sovereignty in matters relating to integration, which has resulted in a continual stalemate in dealing with proposals for the reform of governance. It is now time to acknowledge that some pooling of sovereignty by the member states will be necessary if CARICOM is to move forward.

What can CARICOM learn from European Union integration?

Well, CARICOM can learn from the European Union that even large countries, each one of which is several times the size and economic weight of CARICOM, have felt it necessary to pool their sovereignty in certain areas to effect integration. [These are] large countries, which have many languages, and which have historically been divided by war, and have found it necessary to do so. They have found it necessary to do so to give legal force to the provisions of the European Union and to have a European Parliament, to ensure popular involvement, and to have a European Commission to ensure implementation, or be responsible for implementation. If the EU can do it, there is absolutely no reason why CARICOM cannot do it. The combined population of CARICOM is the equivalent to less than that of the leading member states of the European Union. So the only thing that is holding us back is the failure of political will to rise above the preoccupation with insular sovereignty.

Do you foresee the possibility of a Caribbean Parliament?

I think it is a necessity — not just a possibility but a historical necessity. Because we need to have a mechanism by which the ordinary people are involved in the affairs of the Community, and I see the necessity for such a parliament. I think it should be directly elected, and that it should have space for representation of the civil society partners, as well as the directly-elected representatives, so that the business community, labour, the churches, and other social partners should be represented as well as the directly-elected delegates.

What is your outlook for CARICOM’s next few years?

Well, it’s either move forward or perish as a community — move forward and strengthen the community and the direction in which I have suggested, or face increased fragmentation and marginalisation globally. We can’t avoid that any longer, and it’s either one or the other.

Popular Posts belize hotel mayan world

At the Falling Leaves Lodge in Belize, a Portal to the Maya World

SAN IGNACIO — There has been some form of settlement on this site for more than 3,000 years, here on a leafy hill above the town of San Ignacio, Belize. In other words, this is no ordinary hill. This is Cahal Pech, […]


In San Ignacio, Belize, The Art of Adventure (And Pupusas)

pupusas belize

The sizzle is calling you. In the early morning, corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and beans and meat sing a particularly strong siren song.  It could be that perfect blend of dough and heat, or the aroma. It might just […]


Delta Is Adding More Nonstop Curacao Flights, Citing “Booming Demand”  

the beach at the avila hotel in curacao

Curacao is hotter than ever, with a wave of new hotels and record-breaking tourism numbers. And just a few months after Delta made its long-awaited return to the island, the carrier is adding even more flights.  The reason? What Delta […]


Related Posts la soufriere volcano

Island Routes Is Expanding to St Vincent and the Grenadines 

Caribbean attraction company Island Routes is adding another destination in the Caribbean: St Vincent and the Grenadines.  The company’s expansion comes ahead of sister brand Sandals Resorts International’s imminent debut of the new Sandals St Vincent resort, slated for this […]


The Bahamas Is the Caribbean’s Hottest Spring Destination 

pink sand beach

The Bahamas is the most popular destination in the Caribbean for spring travel, according to a new report from travel insurance company Squaremouth.  The Bahamas was the only Caribbean destination to make the top 10 among the most popular destinations […]


Saint Lucia Is Getting a New Luxury Beach Resort  

cas en bas

Even if you haven’t been to the island, you’ve almost certainly seen Saint Lucia’s most famous imagery — the Pitons, around which stand most of the destination’s most luxurious resorts. In recent years, though, the island’s northern tip has been developing […]


SUBSCRIBE!

Sign up for Caribbean Journal's free newsletter for a daily dose of beaches, hotels, rum and the best Caribbean travel information on the net.


No. Thank You