PORT OF SPAIN – From 21-23 November 2018, the Government of Canada funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project held a workshop at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre titled ‘The Law of Treaties, Treaty Negotiations and Drafting with Reference to CARICOM Member States’. IMPACT Justice is a five-year regional justice reform project which is implemented through the Caribbean Law Institute Centre of the Faculty of Law at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus.
The aim of the workshop, as mentioned by Regional Project Director Professor Velma Newton, was to increase the knowledge and training of Caribbean professionals as it pertains to negotiating and drafting international agreements.
The workshop featured prominent Caribbean international law specialists as presenters, including:
- Judge Patrick Robinson – Judge of the International Court of Justice;
- His Excellency Gerald Thompson – Former Director of Treaties and International Agreements, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago;
- Ambassador Colin Murdoch – Senior Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda; and
- Michelle Walker – Head of the Legal Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica.
Public service professionals from 11 CARICOM member states, who were strategically selected by their governments because of their likelihood to be engaged in the treaty process, were brought together in Port of Spain for this training. Countries represented included: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Canada’s High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Carla Hogan Rufelds, reminded participants of the importance of treaty drafting to the region. High Commissioner Hogan Rufelds noted that as an international community, we are confronting numerous challenges which can only be addressed through collective resolve. Issues such as climate change mitigation, the sustainable harvesting of blue economy resources, and international security matters will require attention at the multilateral level. At the regional level, discussions revolving around trade issues, agricultural cooperation, and energy security will also require consideration. As Caribbean countries seek to address these issues, High Commissioner Hogan Rufelds noted that the skills participants learn from this workshop will be invaluable.
The presenters covered numerous topics of interest to the participants, including, but not limited to:
- An Introduction to Treaty Law
- How Treaties Are Made
- Conclusion of Treaties
- Observance of Treaties
- Interpretation of Treaties
- Core Provisions of Treaties
- Specific Treaties Concluded by CARICOM Member States
Over the course of 3 days, participants engaged the presenters often, seeking to integrate the knowledge being offered with the tasks normally performed in their professional roles. In the end, the majority of participants indicated that the workshop was beneficial for them, and increased their understanding of the role, importance and process of treaties and treatymaking.