/CARICOM Non-Intervention and Intervention

CARICOM Non-Intervention and Intervention

Professor Cedric Grant poses and offers answers to two related questions –

“How had the world evolved in the matter of Interference and Interventionin the Internal Affairs of States?”; and “How had the affairs of CARICOM, as a group and as individual states, been treated with as that evolution had taken place?” The answers comprise the paper entitled “CARICOM: Non-Intervention and Intervention”.

As its starting point, the paper quotes Article 2.7 of the UN Charter that includes the statement “Nothing contained in the present Charter should authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state…”. It notes that there were several resolutions affirming that principle, possibly the best known of which is the Declaration of the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States (Declaration of Non-Intervention) that was adopted in 1981. By 2002, this classical state-centric regime had been transmuted into a situation in which, for example, Multilateral Financial Institutions were routinely attaching areas of conditionality to loans in a manner that clearly impinged on the internal affairs of sovereign states. Indeed, in 2002, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty was set up to examine the dilemma between state sovereignty and the right to intervene. Its recommendations did not settle the matter unambiguously; and actual practice has not made matters clear. So, none of Treaty, Constitution, other domestic Law, or praxis setting precedent, prevailed.

It is in this milieu of conceptual uncertainty, big power influence, and perceived individual advantage that CARICOM states have meandered through internal conflicts. The paper chronicles in much detail the events and circumstances surrounding the main upheavals in CARICOM member states. The chronicles include: Grenada, beginning in 1979 with the coup against Prime Minister Eric Gairy; Dominica, involving Prime Minister Patrick John; the crisis in St Kitts and Nevis in 1993; Guyana in 1992 and 1997; Suriname in 1999, St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2001, Haiti, between 1999 and 2001; and Trinidad and Tobago in 2001. These examples though stating what was, and possibly why, show no final regional consensus, no general rule derived from the experiences, on how various crises should be treated with respect to the dimension of regional intervention as a prerequisite for conflict resolution.

That there is unfinished work to be done is perhaps best captured by the following quotation from the last paragraphs of the paper:

“While the current diplomatic modus operandi has served the Community reasonably well, there is the need for indicators for intervention to be developed and for a formal institutional mechanism to mediate political conflicts among stakeholders in the political process of the various Caribbean states to replace the reliance on ad hoc interventions such as those utilized in Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

The events since 2004 bear testimony to the truth and urgency for action contained in this remark; but will adherence to the Declaration of Non-Intervention not prevail?