Prime Minister David Thompson
Barbados, along with Jamaica and Grenada, is among nine of 21 governments of the Americas which have received passing grades for implementing the mandates of the Summits of the Americas between 2006 and 2008.
This is according to the results of the first Evaluation of Government Compliance Index (EGCI) of the Active Democracy Network, which comprises civil and non-governmental organisations in 24 countries.
The results were released during the Fifth Summit of the Americas now winding down in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
The study sought to determine the extent to which governments had progressed or had been challenged in meeting four Organisation of American States (OAS) mandates fundamental to strengthening democracy: access to public information, decentralisation and local governments, freedom of expression and strengthening civil society participation.
Prime Minister David Thompson, in reacting to the news that Barbados had gained an average of 0.59, noted that it was a credit to the public service and to the country as a whole, that of 21 countries surveyed, Barbados had received such a high rating. Jamaica and Grenada had ratings of .53 and .14, respectively.
“The important thing you need to note about what is happening in relation to our grading is that very often we have introduced those kinds of things before they even came into vogue,” Mr. Thompson said.
“So, let’s look at issues like the social partnership and relations with civil society. We were one of the first countries in the Caribbean, if not the very first, to have what is described as a formal social partnership and it has survived for 18 years. Now, those things predate what in many subsequent agreements have now become formalistic recommendations and declarations coming out of meetings held throughout the world,” he added.
The Prime Minister issued a caution however, that the quality of implementation was important, and the requisite structures should always be put in place.
“What we have found is that even though on the checklist countries have been saying, yes we have done that and we have done this, when we look at the quality of implementation, it is not consistent across the region and in some cases it is not even what is anticipated,” he observed.
Mr. Thompson further stated that this was one of the challenges of CARICOM. “The reason why we are currently doing the audit among Caribbean nations in relation to CARICOM decisions is to ensure that countries have actually been able to implement the decisions that have been taken,” he explained.
The information in the survey was described by Director of International Affairs at the OAS, Irene Klinger, as important to improving the status of democracy, consultation and dialogue between governments of the hemisphere and citizens.
The survey was funded by the OAS and several other international organisations.