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CARICOM: Regional Integration in a Post‐Colonial World

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Abstract

This article argues that the distinctive form of economic integration within the Commonwealth Caribbean can best be understood if account is taken of the imprint of colonial rule both upon relations between these former colonies and upon the political consciousness of the region's leaders. The legacy of colonial rule, including the abortive attempt at a West Indies Federation, resulted not only in a profound mistrust of any form of political union but also established the ideal of island self‐government as the centre of the region's political culture. This is clearly manifest in the institutional structure and governance of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), which is based on the principles of intergovernmentalism. Notwithstanding some recent changes to that institutional structure, such as the introduction of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Member States remain firmly committed to the pursuit of regional integration through cooperation and association without any transfer of their sovereign decision‐making powers. It will be argued, however, that this will not only make it increasingly difficult to achieve the economic objectives of CARICOM, but will also make it increasingly difficult to maintain the fragile sense of regional unity, originally forged in the crucible of colonial rule, in a post‐colonial world as new alliances both within and without the region begin to emerge.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Oxford Brookes University, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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