What is the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an economic union comprising ten islands located in the Eastern Caribbean that promote the unification of economic and trade policies between its member-states. It is dedicated to economic integration and harmony among independent and non-independent Eastern Caribbean states, as well as protecting the legal and human rights of citizens of said states, and promoting the good governance of independent and non-independent Eastern Caribbean states. In the event of a natural disaster affecting states in the sub-region, the OECS plays a role in distributing liability and responsibility for recovery among the various nations and dependencies of the Eastern Caribbean.

Key Takeaways

  • The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States is an economic union comprising ten islands located in the Eastern Caribbean.
  • Seven of its member-states are full members while three have associate member status.
  • It was formed in 1981.
  • OECS countries have one official currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.

Understanding Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

Many of the countries and dependencies that participate in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) operate under one official currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. The British Virgin Islands use the United States dollar, while Martinique, as an overseas department of France, uses the Euro. Geographically, these islands form a near-continuous archipelago across the Caribbean Sea, known as the Lesser Antilles.

Member States of the OECS

The sub-regional grouping was formed in 1981 after the founding member-states enacted the Treaty of Basseterre. With its Central Secretariat headquartered in Saint Lucia, the OECS promotes full economic integration among its members and thus has implemented a number of policies to remove trade barriers in the sub-region. For example, in 2014 the OECS implemented a free movement regime for citizens of all its full member-states, i.e., Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; Grenada; Montserrat; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Its three associate members are Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Martinique; they do not benefit from the free movement regime as they have observer status only. Aguilla and the British Virgin Islands are British overseas territories; Martinique is a part of the French Republic as a region of France and overseas department. Martinique was the first non-British and non-formerly-British Eastern Caribbean dependency to join the OECS. Eight of the ten members of the OECS consider themselves part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, with Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign; the nation of Dominica is a republic, and Martinique is part of France. English is the official language of all member states except Martinique, where the official language is French.

In addition to having their monetary policies overseen and their currency operated by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the members of the OECS share the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority.