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Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

Client profile:
The OECS is an inter-governmental organization dedicated to economic harmonization and integration, protection of human rights, and encouragement of good governance in the Eastern Caribbean. The organization currently has eleven members, bound together not only by geographical proximity but also by close historical, cultural and economic relationships.

Legal issues:
Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are currently discussing how to reform the institution to make it more relevant within the current geopolitical climate. The voices of small developing countries, like the members of the OECS, are mostly absent from the debate. This reflects a lack of resources and capacity: many developing countries simply do not have the means to actively participate in the WTO reform debate.

Likewise, discussions on potential new disciplines for fisheries, an issue of key importance for the OECS Member States, are highly technical, making it difficult for small developing countries to meaningfully participate.

Sidley’s pro bono work:
Sidley lawyers are providing strategic advice to the OECS on how to establish their priorities and make constructive contributions to the WTO reform debate. Specifically, Sidley lawyers have provided presentations and prepared memos explaining different positions of other Member States, and have helped the OECS formulate a strategy and position on particular aspects of the WTO reform debate, such as the issue of notifications.

With regards to fisheries, Sidley lawyers are helping OECS staff to think creatively about ways to formulate a position that reflects the OECS interest in protecting its artisanal fisheries.

Client feedback:
“Allow me to offer my thanks to you for the great work produced over the past 12 months through the pro Bono programme. The programme has supported the OECS Commission and our Member States in a number of key areas of work including through the development of an analytical piece that provides clear guidance on harmonizing the IP architecture across my region. This ground-breaking work portends the creation of a new approach to the protection, registration and further monetization of IP rights. Also of note is your ad hoc support during the selection process for the WTO Director General. In this regard, the opinion produced was useful in assessing options. The Sidley Trade for Development Program is best in class and has provided measurable benefits.”

- Stephen Fevrier, Ambassador to the Permanent Delegation to the United Nations of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.