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Barbados foreign policy at fifty and beyond

Authors:
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados

Abstract and Figures

Foreign policy is a key element of a country's independence. For the first fifty years of its independence, Barbados' foreign policy was marked by a considerable degree of continuity and conservatism in both substance and form. Continuity and conservatism in the sense that few major relationships were overturned or positions changed; unlike some of its neighbours, Barbados has remained within the international relations paradigm it inherited from Britain in 1966. As is the case in all other domains, the world has changed considerably since 1966 and continuity and conservatism may no longer be the only appropriate response. The goal of the paper is to develop a preliminary idea of some key elements of Barbados' foreign policy in the period 2016-2066 in terms of its objectives and the means employed to achieve them. The paper will therefore explore three examples: 1)the digital and internet revolution; 2) the emergence of Asia and China in particular; 3)oceans and the law of the sea.
Content may be subject to copyright.
1
Abstract
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus Faculty of Social Sciences
Cross-disciplinary conference on Barbados at Fifty; the journey travelled and
the journey ahead, Barbados, 31 October-2 November, 2016
Title of paper: “New directions for Barbados foreign policy the next fifty
years.
Author: François Jackman, Co-director, Confucius Institute, Cave Hill Campus,
University of the West Indies; francois.jackman@cavehill.uwi.edu
Foreign policy is a key element of a country’s independence. For the first
fifty years of its independence, Barbados’ foreign policy was marked by a
considerable degree of continuity and conservatism in both substance and form.
Continuity and conservatism in the sense that few major relationships were
overturned or positions changed; unlike some of its neighbours, Barbados has
remained within the international relations paradigm it inherited from
Britain in 1966.
As is the case in all other domains, the world has changed considerably since
1966 and continuity and conservatism may no longer be the only appropriate
response. The goal of the paper is to develop a preliminary idea of some key
elements of Barbados’ foreign policy in the period 2016-2066 in terms of its
objectives and the means employed to achieve them. The paper will therefore
explore three examples: 1)the digital and internet revolution; 2) the
emergence of Asia and China in particular; 3)oceans and the law of the sea.
2
Introduction
1. This paper will seek to set out some preliminary ideas regarding the next
50 years of Barbadian foreign policy. In terms of its structure, first, it
will briefly consider what foreign policy is. Second, it will undertake a
brief review of Barbados' foreign policy over the last fifty years. Third,
a cursory overview of the major changes in the international context will
be undertaken. Fourth, the paper will examine three areas which should be
at the heart of Barbadian foreign policy for the next half century:
The digital and internet revolution;
The emergence of Asia and China in particular;
Oceans and the law of the sea.
Section 1: what is foreign policy?
2. This paper will take a distinctly non-theoretical, pragmatic approach to
sketching out some ideas about what the next fifty years of Barbados’
foreign policy might look like. The paper will thus eschew any lengthy
investigation into the varying and competing schools of thought in the
fields of International Relations Theory, Foreign Policy Analysis,
International Politics, Geopolitics or World Politics. Instead, it
proposes to borrow from one of the Caribbean’s most eminent foreign policy
practitioners, the former Guyanese Foreign Minister, Rashleigh Jackson, a
pragmatic, working definition of foreign policy:
The function of a state’s foreign policy is the advancement and
protection of the national interests in the international arena.
Foremost among these are the security of the state and its people
as well as the social and the economic development of the
inhabitants. In other words, foreign policy is an adjunct to
domestic policy crafted and undertaken for the satisfaction of
the people’s aspirations for a secure, bountiful and productive
life.
1
1
Rashleigh Jackson, “Caricom Foreign Policy: some requirements for the 21st
century”, Caricom Policy Options for International Engagement, eds. Kenneth
O. Hall and Myrtle Chuck-A-Sang (Ian Randle Publishers, 2010), page 36
3
Section 2: the first fifty years: continuity and conservatism
3. Having considered the general, let us now turn to the particulars of
Barbados' foreign policy. It is not the purpose of this paper to review
the past 50 years of Barbados' foreign policy, rather, it is to look
forward to the next 50. It is, however, useful to consider, albeit briefly,
some of the major principles and actions that have characterised the first
half century of Barbadian foreign policy.
4. It is generally agreed that the founding statement of Barbadian foreign
policy was pronounced by then Prime Minister, the Right Excellent Errol
Barrow at the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 9th of December,
1966, shortly after Barbados became independent; this is the famous
“friends of all, satellites of none”
2
speech. This speech contained two
main ideas, only one of which is reflected in the informal title cited
above. The first is that Barbados’ foreign policy would be ideologically
unaligned (“satellites of none”). The second is that its foreign policy
would be a reflection of its domestic policy:
The people of Barbados do not draw a dividing line between their
internal affairs and their foreign policy. They strive in their
domestic arrangements to create a just society for themselves….
In thus charting our domestic course, we can have no interest in
a foreign policy which contradicts our national goals. On the
contrary we will support genuine efforts at world peace because
our society is stable. We will strenuously assist the uprooting
of vestigial imperialisms because our institutions are free. We
will press for the rapid economic growth of all underdeveloped
countries because we are busily engaged in building up our own.
In fine our foreign and domestic policies are the obverse and
reverse sides of a single coin….
5. Since then, Barbados’ foreign policy has been characterized by stability
and the principles set out by Barrow 50 years ago, largely hold true today.
2
Errol Barrow, “Speech to the 21st session of the United Nations General
Assembly, December 9, 1966”, cited in Diplomacy and Development, Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of Barbados, 1987, page 4
4
Looking at the implications of these principles in terms of diplomatic
practice and clearly identifying one of the key indices of diplomatic
activity, Sir James Tudor, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, wrote in the
foreword of Diplomacy and Development, a 1987 Ministry publication:
Those Overseas Missions that we have set up, and there are nine
in all, are all in locations of priority importance to Barbados
in the promotion of its national interests, whether in trade,
regional integration, development financing, investment or
tourism and for the protection of its citizens abroad.
3
6. In investing the resources to establish and maintain an embassy, a state
is, as it were, putting its money where its mouth is. The deployment of
precious and expensive diplomatic resources is thus a useful proxy for the
estimation of what it considers important. In this regard, Table 1 shows
the clear geographic and functional emphasis of Barbados’ foreign policy:
the proximate regions of the Caribbean and South America and the
historically significant regions of North America and Western Europe. The
only outlier, both in terms of geography and purpose, is Barbados’ lone
diplomatic mission in Asia of which more anon.
Table 1. List of Barbados diplomatic missions overseas as at 2015
Mission
Region
Nature
Embassy of Barbados at
Washington D.C.
North America
Traditional
Permanent Mission of
Barbados to the United
Nations Headquarters
at New York
North America
Traditional
Consulate-General of
Barbados at New York
North America
Traditional
Consulate-General of
Barbados at Miami
North America
Traditional
Consulate-General of
Barbados at Toronto
North America
Traditional
3
Diplomacy and Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, 1987,
p.i
5
Mission
Region
Nature
High Commission of
Barbados at Ottawa
North America
Traditional
High Commission of
Barbados at London
Western Europe
Traditional
Embassy of Barbados at
Brussels
Western Europe
Trade
Permanent Mission of
Barbados to the United
Nations at Geneva
Western Europe
Trade
Embassy of Barbados at
Caracas
South America
Geographic
proximity
Embassy of Barbados at
Brasilia
South America
Geographic
proximity
Embassy of Barbados at
Havana
Caribbean
Geographic
proximity
Embassy of Barbados at
Beijing
Asia
Emerging
interest
7. This brief survey suggests that the traditional focal points of Barbados'
foreign policy, largely inherited from its colonial orientation at the
moment of independence, have remained preeminent, almost to the exclusion
of anything else.
8. Stability taken this far can arguably be described as conservatism, a
stance susceptible of being challenged by an international environment
which has radically changed since 1966 when the foundations of Barbados'
foreign policy were laid.
Section 3: what are the major changes in the international system since
1966?
9. These changes are too numerous and too momentous to catalogue
comprehensively in this paper. However, one can point to some of the more
obvious ones with particular relevance to Barbados: the terminal decline
6
of the United Kingdom as a global power;
4
the end of the Cold War and the
bipolar international system that went with it; the rise of what Samuel
Huntington described as a “multipolar, multicivilizational world”;
5
the
erosion of non-reciprocal preferential trade agreements with traditional
trading partner;
6
the advent of globalisation;
7
the rise of non-state
actors in the international system;
8
the emergence of Asia in general and
China in particular.
9
10. There has thus been no shortage of paradigm shifts, crises, revolutions
and other tectonic movements in the structure and substance of
international relations. This paper proposes to examine only three areas
which have received comparatively little attention in both the academic
literature and in the formulation and implementation of Barbados' foreign
policy.
Section 4: the digital and internet revolution
11. Information technology has entered into almost every aspect of human
activity.
10
Foreign policy is no exception. Nicholas Westcott identifies
11
three main impacts in this regard:
4
J.P.D. Dunbabin, The post-imperial age: the great powers and the wider world
(Longman Group, 1994) page 58
5
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the remaking of the
world order (Simon and Schuster, 1996), page 21
6
Walter Kennes, Small Developing Countries and Global Markets (Macmillan
Press, 2000), page 26
7
Martin Wolf, “Will the nation-state survive globalization?”, Foreign Affairs,
Vol 80, Issue no 1 (2001), page 178
8
Anne-Marie Slaughter, “The challenge of non-state actors”, Proceedings of
the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law Volume 92
(1998), pages 20-36
9
Susan L. Shirk, China, fragile superpower, (Oxford University Press, 2007),
page 4
10
Johan Eriksson and Giampiero Giacomello, “The information revolution,
security and international relations (IR) relevant theory?” International
Political Science Review, Volume 27 number 3 (2006), pages 221-244
11
Nicholas Westcott, “Digital Diplomacy: the impact of the internet on
international relations”, Oxford Internet Institute Research Report 16, (July,
2008)
7
The multiplication and amplification of voices involved in
international policy-making;
The acceleration of the dissemination of information;
The enabling of faster and more efficient delivery of diplomatic and
consular services.
12. Arguably, these impacts are, for small states such as Barbados, all
positive in nature. The traditional tools of foreign policy, embassies,
Ambassadors, official visits, meetings, delegations etc. place an
inordinate strain on the human and financial resources of small states.
The tools developed as a consequence of the digital and internet
revolution are largely accessible to small states and, on balance, act as
what is known in military circles as a “force multiplier”: a capability
which, added to an existing capability, increases potential effectiveness.
13. Examples abound of what can be done in this domain. Using Westcott’s
taxonomy regarding the impacts of information technology as a starting
point, one can see that there are two main areas where information
technology can have a transformative role in foreign policy.
14. The first is in the advocacy and communication part of foreign policy.
Tools such as social media and electronic communication devices enable
states to communicate their views to other states and to non-state actors
at virtually no financial cost and in real-time. Just as importantly, they
also facilitate the flow of information in the other direction.
15. The second area is in enabling foreign policy practitioners to perform
traditional consular tasks, for example servicing the needs of nationals
abroad, with greater despatch and efficiency.
16. In addressing both these areas, states have developed specific social
media tools, established virtual embassies
12
put visa, passport and other
consular services online, effectively using information technology to
further their reach and transparency.
12
The United States has, for example, established a virtual embassy for Iran,
where it does not have a physical embassy (https://ir.usembassy.gov/tehran/
accessed 28 October, 2016).
8
Section 5: The emergence of Asia and China in particular
17. As economic growth and development in the United States and Western
Europe seems to have reached something of a plateau, the countries of Asia,
China moreso perhaps than any other, have transformed themselves from poor,
rural and unconnected parts of the world, into the throbbing heart of
global economic development
13
and geopolitical attention
14
. With regard to
China, there are two salient facts of particular relevance to Barbados.
18. The first is the China is now the world’s largest source of outbound
tourists and tourism-related spending. Having produced no more than 10
million outbound tourists in 2000,
15
there were just over 100 million
outbound Chinese travellers in 2014 and they spent some 165 billion US
dollars during their travels.
16
19. The second is that China has moved rapidly up the ranks of sources of
foreign direct investment. Figure 1 provides a striking illustration of
the growth of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Caribbean in
the period 2003-2011. Although the total remains comparatively small, the
change represents an increase of in excess of 500% in eight years.
13
Kishore Mahbubani, “The Pacific way”, Foreign Affairs, Volume 74, Number 1
(Jan-Feb 1995), pages 100-111
14
Michael Evans, “Power and Paradox: Asian geopolitics and Sino-American
relations in the 21st century”, Orbis, Volume 55, Number 1 (Winter 2011),
pages 85-113
15
Daniel J. Voellm, “The 21ST Century Game-Changer Up Close: China Outbound
Tourism”, HVS Global Hospitality Services, April 2011,
http://www.hvs.com/Content/3109.pdf (accessed October 28, 2016).
16
United Nations Tourism Organisation, “UNWTO world tourism highlights 2015”
http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284416899 (accessed 28 October
2016).
9
Figure 1. Total Chinese FDI stock in the Caribbean, 2003-2011, from
Richard L. Bernal, “China’s rising investment profile in the Caribbean”,
Inter-American Dialogue’s Economics Brief, October 2013, citing Chinese
Statistical Bulletin of Outward Foreign Direct Investment 2011
20. The quantum of Chinese FDI for Barbados specifically remains quite
modest (see Figure 2) although recent news reports
17
suggest that a major
Chinese investment in Barbados is nearing fruition. At any rate, the
overall growth trends for Chinese FDI suggest that there is room for
considerable growth.
18
17
“Chinese investment plays large role in island nation's tourism” China
Daily, March 25, 2016, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2016-
03/25/content_24086690.htm (accessed 28 October, 2016)
18
“China’s investment abroad”, East Asia Forum Quarterly, Volume 4 number 2
(April-June, 2012), http://epress.anu.edu.au/wp-
content/uploads/2012/05/whole2.pdf (accessed 28 October, 2016)
10
Figure 2: Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the Caribbean, 2003-2011
(US$ millions), Bernal, citing Chinese Statistical Bulletin, 2011
21. What all of this suggests is that Asia in general and China in
particular, should become a focus of Barbados' foreign policy. Table 1
shows that Barbados has opened an embassy in Beijing and clearly this is a
sign that this matter is being taken seriously. Arguably, however, the
scale and scope of the effects of China’s emergence are such that Barbados
will not just need to look East but begin to retool, rebalance and even
“pivot” towards Asia as so many others, most notably the United States
have done.
19
Section 6: oceans and the law of the sea
22. As a small island developing state in an archipelagic region, Barbados'
relationship to the sea is vital. Domestic policy regarding fishing,
conservation, sustainable management of resources and the like play a
preeminent role in this regard. However, because of the nature of the
oceans, the proximity of neighbouring states and the provisions of the
19
Kurt Campbell and Brian Andrews, “Explaining the US ‘Pivot’ to
Asia”,Chatham House Americas 2013/01, August, 2013,
http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/public/Research/Americas
/0813pp_pivottoasia.pdf (accessed 28 October, 2016)
11
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to which Barbados and
all member states of the Caribbean Community are party foreign policy
has an important role to play as well.
23. In this context, there are bilateral issues, regional issues and global
issue to which Barbados' foreign policy is confronted. At the bilateral
level, the drawing of maritime boundaries and the management of shared
natural resources is probably the best known of the issues. Famously,
Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago settled their maritime boundary dispute
through arbitration in 2006
20
but there remains much unfinished business
in this domain, including the conclusion of a fishing agreement between
Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago and the delimitation of the outer
continental shelf.
21
24. At the regional level, Barbados has been confronted by the claims of
Venezuela with regard to jurisdiction in the Caribbean and the Atlantic.
Venezuela claims maritime space which is also claimed by a number of other
Caribbean states including Barbados. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has
strongly disputed Venezuela’s claims.
22
CARICOM has also been instrumental
at developing a Common Fisheries Policy as well as a Regional Fisheries
Mechanism.
23
For its part, the Association of Caribbean States has
established a Caribbean Sea Commission, with the objective of “promoting
and contributing to the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for
present and future generations. Specifically, the CSC aims to promote the
20
Arbitration between Barbados and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,
relating to the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and the
continental shelf between them, decision of 11 April 2006, Reports of
International Arbitral Awards, Volume XXVII (2008) pp.147-251,
http://legal.un.org/riaa/cases/vol_XXVII/147-251.pdf (accessed October 28,
2016)
21
Dolliver L. Nelson, “The delimitation of maritime boundaries in the
Caribbean”, Intervention border and maritime issues in CARICOM, eds. Kenneth
Hall and Myrtle Chuck-A-Sang (Ian Randle Publishers, 2007), pages 203-250
22
Communiqué of the 36th Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government of the
Caribbean Community, CARICOM website, (July 5,
2015)http://www.caricom.org/media-
center/communications/communiques/communique-issued-at-the-conclusion-of-the-
36th-regular-meeting-of-the-head (accessed 28 October, 2016)
23
Barton Scotland, “A Common fisheries policy and regime for CARICOM: a
single economic space?”, Caricom Policy Options for International Engagement,
eds. Kenneth O. Hall and Myrtle Chuck-A-Sang (Ian Randle Publishers, 2010),
pages 413-420
12
cooperation and coordination of actions related to the Sustainability of
the Caribbean Sea.”
24
25. At the global level, the Caribbean’s special relationship with the sea
is well-known and is now embodied in a biennial United Nations General
Assembly resolution entitled Towards the sustainable development of the
Caribbean Sea for present and future generations”
25
as well as a biennial
report from the United Nations Secretary General.
26
26. To its credit, Barbados has been quite active in addressing these
issues. However, their complexity and interdependence as well as Barbados’
inherent dependence on the marine environment for its ecological and
economic survival suggest that this is an area in which heightened
involvement would pay great dividends.
Some concluding observations
27. This paper attempts to suggest that, 50 years after independence,
Barbados' foreign policy, constructed upon stable foundations of
principles and long-standing relations with traditional partners, faces a
significant challenge: to build upon what has worked relatively well in
such a manner as to respond effectively to what has emerged
internationally since those foundations were laid and those principles
enunciated.
28. In 1966, the three emerging areas that have been identified in this
paper simply did not exist as they do today. No one had begun to imagine
the transformation which information technology could engender in the way
24
Association of Caribbean States, “What is the Caribbean Sea Commission” ,
ACS website, http://www.acs-aec.org/index.php?q=csc (accessed October 28,
2016)
25
United Nations General Assembly, “Towards the sustainable development of
the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations”, A/C.2/69/L.8 (October
20, 2014) http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/C.2/69/L.8
(accessed October 28, 2016)
26
United Nations Secretary-General, “Sustainable development of the Caribbean
Sea for present and future generations”, A/&!/265 (August 1, 2016)
http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/71/265 (accessed October 28,
2016)
13
in which public policy is elaborated and implemented. Few could have
imagined that China would occupy the place it now does upon the
international stage and indeed within the Caribbean. And while ocean
policy and the law of the sea was a well-known quantity, the
transformation wrought by a new global treaty combined with improved
technology was unimaginable in 1966.
29. These and other challenges today are quite clear. In order to rise to
them, Barbados cannot adopt the approach to foreign policy that Lord
Salisbury, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom set out in a letter
in 1877 to Lord Lytton, Viceroy of India, in which he said “English policy
is to float lazily downstream, occasionally putting out a diplomatic boat-
hook to avoid collisions.”
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
The delimitation of maritime boundaries in the Caribbean
  • L Dolliver
  • Nelson
Dolliver L. Nelson, "The delimitation of maritime boundaries in the Caribbean", Intervention border and maritime issues in CARICOM, eds. Kenneth Hall and Myrtle Chuck-A-Sang (Ian Randle Publishers, 2007), pages 203-250
A Common fisheries policy and regime for CARICOM: a single economic space?
  • Barton Scotland
Barton Scotland, "A Common fisheries policy and regime for CARICOM: a single economic space?", Caricom Policy Options for International Engagement, eds. Kenneth O. Hall and Myrtle Chuck-A-Sang (Ian Randle Publishers, 2010), pages 413-420
Arbitration between Barbados and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, relating to the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf between them
Arbitration between Barbados and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, relating to the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf between them, decision of 11 April 2006, Reports of International Arbitral Awards, Volume XXVII (2008) pp.147-251, http://legal.un.org/riaa/cases/vol_XXVII/147-251.pdf (accessed October 28, 2016)
Sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations
United Nations Secretary-General, "Sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations", A/&!/265 (August 1, 2016) http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/71/265 (accessed October 28, 2016)