Multi-Stakeholder Governance: A CSME Success Factor

Owen Seymour Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados, stated in the year 2000, ”I must say to you that the single market and economy in the Caribbean cannot truly become a reality, unless we create the political power structures to make it a reality. It will not be easy or automatic.”. So far, the Caribbean has followed a path of multilateralism building on the principle of unanimity to establish the CSME. This has led to some progress but at a very slow speed.

This leads to the questions: 

  • Does the Caribbean get in its own way by following this pathway? 
  • Are there no other suitable power structures – be they political or societal? 
  • Does decision making have to be unanimous at all times?  

With time going by, new opportunities have emerged. Collective governance for complex issues has proven to be viable all over the world, combining resources, knowledge and viewpoints of different stakeholders in favour of innovative solutions. This happens internationally as well as in the Caribbean, examples being the CARICOM Civil Society Project and the Growth and Resilience Dialogue with Social Partners by the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

Pitfalls of such multi stakeholder settings have been identified as well:

  • accountability, liability, participation and transparency have to be designed into the system to make it compatible with democratic principles
  • closed shops have to be avoided 
  • burden of participation must be held bearable for stakeholders to avoid strong administrative bodies from taking over control

Why should one care about multi stakeholder governance when addressing CSME? Can the Caribbean learn from these experiences?

A major pillar of CSME is freedom of capital movement. Introducing an Economic Union Complementary Currency (EUCC) usable as a fast and affordable means of exchange across the whole Caribbean is a major step towards fulfilling this promise. But this can only work if the EUCC is governed in a responsible manner.

Since there is no All-Caribbean central bank a multi stakeholder board would be the right way to move forward. Transnational institutions like the Caribbean Telecommunication Union, the Network of Chambers of Commerce or the Caribbean Development Bank should be engaged, since their mandate corresponds strongly with implementing CSME. Their major tasks will be related to defining the economic parameters of Carib$

To avoid the pitfall of unanimity, consent based decision making is proposed. This is a decision making method triggering intense discussion on the viability of proposals but at the same time easing the decision making itself. You want to learn more about Carib$? Please check our website.