What is the OECS Assembly?
The OECS Assembly is one of 5 principal Organs established by the Revised Treaty of Basseterre Establishing the OECS Economic Union, and is one of the new Organs of the OECS. The Revised Treaty came into force in 2011 and replaces the original OECS Treaty of 1981. The Revised Treaty establishes new governance mechanisms to enhance the ability of the OECS to respond to global and regional challenges.
Who comprises the OECS Assembly?
The OECS Assembly comprises 5 members of the Parliament of each independent Member State and 3 members from the Legislature of each non-independent Member State. Member States’ representation in the Assembly must reflect the proportionate representation of the government and opposition members of each parliament/legislature. The Head of Government and Leader of the Opposition are included in the numbers comprising the government and opposition members respectively.
Who represents the opposition on the OECS Assembly if there are no elected opposition members of Parliament/Legislature?
The Head of State is required to designate one person to represent the opposition parties.
What is the function of the OECS Assembly?
Its primary function is to support the legislative work of the OECS by acting as a ‘legislative filter’ to discuss and report to the OECS Authority or the OECS Council of Ministers on legislation developed by the OECS. It has no power under the Revised Treaty to enact legislation. However, it is intended to quicken the process of enacting legislation.
Why has this new Organ been created?
The Revised Treaty of Basseterre seeks to create closer relations among participating Member States. This process of deeper integration requires harmonized policies and laws to be developed by the OECS. It is therefore critical for participating Member States to have a joint forum for deliberating on the laws developed by the OECS.
How often does the OECS Assembly meet?
The OECS Assembly meets at least twice per year or as directed by the OECS Authority
What is the relationship between the OECS Assembly and the other OECS Organs?
The other Organs created by the Revised Treaty are the OECS Authority consisting of Heads of Government of OECS Member States and which is the supreme policy-making Organ of the OECS; the Council of Ministers which meets in various configurations according to the subject matter under review (e.g. Trade, Education, Tourism Council); the Economic Affairs Council with responsibility for supervising and keeping under review the OECS economic union; and the OECS Commission which provides administrative support to all OECS Organs. The OECS Commission will have responsibility for preparing model legislation, while the OECS Authority and the Council of Ministers will request the OECS Assembly to deliberate and report on model legislation that is prepared. The respective Organs will consider the report submitted by the OECS Assembly, but are not bound to comply with its recommendations.
What will guide the conduct of the proceedings of the OECS Assembly?
The OECS Assembly will be guided by Rules of Procedure, regulating such issues as preparation of the Order Paper, Statements by Members, Motions, the order in which speeches can be made, debates, and select committees. The OECS Authority has the power to issue directions to the OECS Assembly about the conduct of its proceedings.
Does the OECS Assembly have a headquarters?
Antigua and Barbuda will serve as the headquarters of the OECS Assembly. However, the OECS Assembly may hold meetings in other Member States.
Which officials will assist the OECS Assembly in its functions?
The Revised Treaty provides for a Speaker and Deputy Speaker to be appointed who will guide the deliberations of the meetings. The Revised Treaty also requires that a Clerk and other staff be appointed, to provide administrative support to the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and the OECS Assembly as a whole.
Does the OECS Assembly have a Speaker?
Yes, The Honourable Rene Baptiste of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the Speaker. There is also a Deputy Speaker of the OECS Assembly – The Honourable His Excellency Walford Gums of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis
Does the OECS Assembly have a Clerk?
Mr. Kurt Thomas of Saint Lucia is the Clerk of the OECS Assembly
Will the OECS Assembly really make a difference to OECS integration?
The importance of shared dialogue in achieving strategic objectives cannot be over- emphasised. This novel development of bringing together government and opposition members allows for greater participation in the integration process by the policy makers, and by extension, the citizens of the OECS. It provides a platform for joint debates on issues that are critical to the further development of the OECS. Agreement at the regional level on the way forward would allow for more effective implementation of laws and policies at the national level, allowing for OECS citizens to maximize the benefits of the economic union.
What type of legislation will be debated by the OECS Assembly?
The OECS Authority can request the OECS Assembly to report on any area of legislative interest. There are however 8 specific areas for which the Revised Treaty allows the OECS to develop legislation. The areas are the common market, monetary policy, trade policy, maritime jurisdiction and boundaries, civil aviation, commercial policy, environmental policy and immigration policy. These areas are critical in advancing the progress of OECS integration, and therefore it is important for OECS parliamentarians to have a common forum to debate these issues.
For more information visit www.oecs.org