18 October 2018

VIRGIN ISLANDS SENIOR LEGISLATOR JOINS THE ANCESTORS

Statement By Acting Premier Dr. The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering On The Passing Of Honourable Delores Christopher

16 October 2018 
Good evening.
Today, we received the sad news of the untimely passing of our colleague, the Honourable Delores Christopher. Honourable Christopher was, as those who knew her, an elected official, an entrepreneur but most importantly – she was a true BVI patriot.
She was a true definition of a person who exuded national pride, the true essence of an indigenous Virgin Islander.
Honourable Christopher first became a Public Officer in 1968 when she joined the then Chief Minister’s Office and her love for country over self, led her to remain a Public Officer throughout her lifetime.
In 2003, she was elected as the Representative for the Fifth Electoral District and served as a Government Backbencher. In 2011, she was appointed Deputy Speaker in the House of Assembly.
One of the things we would always remember about Honourable Christopher was that she swelled with so much pride in being a BVIslander. She was a woman of many passionate words of these Virgin Islands. She was very politically-minded and advocated for the development of the people of this Territory.
Many will remember Honourable Christopher as one of the founders of the popular Christmas on Main Street annual event. She believed that it is important for us to all know and cherish our legacy. She was also very instrumental in the development and success of the Festival of Arts event held in 2013.
The Honourable Christopher strongly believed that the many vibrant pieces from the annual Emancipation Celebration could be preserved as an added attraction to our tourism product. In fact, she advocated for the construction of a national museum to house artifacts depicting our local history.
The friendship shared between Honourable Christopher and myself go a long way back. We both hail from Long Look. She was a personal friend of my family and I admired her fervor in which she defended this Territory and protected our rights as BVIslanders.
She touched many lives and her passing is a great loss to the Territory. Her contributions to the cultural development and historical preservation of the Territory are invaluable.
Honourable Christopher will long be remembered as a daughter of the soil. We will miss her as a colleague and we will miss her passionate contributions in the House of Assembly.
On behalf of the Government, the people of the Virgin Islands, my wife Alice, and our children, I extend deepest condolences to her husband Robert and the children, Troy, Art and Najan and of course the grandchildren.
May God grant us all comfort during this difficult time.

15 October 2018

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights summoned the United States about the status



By José A. Delgado Robles

The Organization of American States’ advisory group admitted two pro statehood lawsuits and called for a hearing in Colorado on October 5.

Washington - After 12 years, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will reach a decision next month on the complaints filed against the US for violating the human and civil rights of residents in Puerto Rico under the current colonial status.

On October 5, in a public hearing, IACHR will examine the independent complaints filed by attorney Gregorio Igartúa and former Governor Pedro Rosselló against the US for denying the inhabitants of the island the participation in the US Electoral College, which elects the President and representatives with full rights in Congress.

The hearing will be part of the IACHR session period number 169 and will take place at the University of Colorado Law School, in Boulder, headquarter of the meetings scheduled from October 1 to 5.

The IACHR is an autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), with jurisdiction to investigate the compliance with the commitments made by member states in the American Convention on Human Rights.

"I anticipate, with full confidence, that the Commission will prove us right by ruling in our favor and declaring that the US is violating human rights under the international law of their American citizens in Puerto Rico by denying them the right to vote at a federal level for the President and vice president and for representatives and senators before Congress, "said Orlando Vidal, attorney for former Governor Rosselló’s.

The complaints about the lack of participation of Puerto Rico’s residents in the federal government were filed in 2006, three years after the IACHR resolved another similar case in favor of Washington DC, whose residents vote for the US president, pay taxes on income, but have no representation with full rights in Congress.

In 2003, the IACHR determined that the US denies "equal rights" to residents in Washington D.C. "Due to their place of residence", by not granting them full representation in Congress.

Limited reach

Determinations such as IACHR’s in the case of the federal capital are not binding on the US government, as is the case with the expressions of the Special Committee on Decolonization in favor of Puerto Rico’s independence and free determination. 

But they question American democracy.

As in Puerto Rico, little has the political landscape of Washington D.C’s residents changed after IACHR’s decision.

For example, the bills introduced in Congress for Washington D.C. to become the 51 state, which usually have only Democratic support, have never finished the legislative process.

The furthest they have gone was the approval, in 2007, of a measure in the House that sought to give Washington D.C a representative with full rights, that usually supports Democrats, adding another one to the state of Utah, with Republican inclinations. But the legislation never advanced in the US Senate.

Deponents

Former Governor Rosselló and attorney Igartúa will speak at the hearing on October 5. Each one will have about 12 minutes to present their arguments.

Igartúa said that he will reaffirm his position, which he has promoted without success in federal Court, regarding that the US Constitution "has been applied (in Puerto Rico) to such an extent that we are practically a state, what is missing is the right to participate in federal elections."

Under the current territorial status, residents of the island do not have to pay federal income taxes. But Igartúa stated that, nonetheless, through Medicare and Social Security, the inhabitants contribute more to the US Treasury than 15 states.

PUBLICIDAD

In addition to the complainants, a representative of the US government, probably from the US mission before the OAS, will be able to respond to the complaints, and the seven members of the IACHR will have the opportunity to ask questions. The federal government's response would be an opportunity for the Donald Trump administration to interpret how he sees the island's latest local plebiscite, held in June 2017.

"The US government will need to face the reality of Puerto Rico and the violation of rights to which they have subjected the American citizens residing on the island," said, in a written statement, former Governor Rosselló, whose youngest son, Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, is now the governor of the island.

In the 2017 plebiscite, statehood obtained 97 percent of the votes. But the consultation took place amid a boycott of the opposition parties and with a turnout of 23 percent.

The government of the New Progressive Party (PNP) has introduced in Congress and the White House, during this federal legislative session, pro-statehood bills by Resident Commissioner in Washington D.C., Jenniffer González.

The most recent on, from June, proposes to create a Congress Working Group to examine the laws that must be changed for Puerto Rico to be the US State 51, in January 2021.

González believes that her legislation, if approved, would incorporate Puerto Rico as a territory, which would be perceived as leading the island towards statehood, while awaiting for the Congress Working Group’s consideration.

Lawyers consulted by El Nuevo Día believe that the language of the legislation does not contain a clear incorporation of the island as a territory. However, as an incorporated territory, Puerto Rico would remain outside the US Electoral College, even though its residents would have to pay income taxes.

The chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Republican Rob Bishop (Utah), told the newspaper last week that he still considers calling a hearing to examine Gonzalez's bill, and said he does not see why it cannot go to a voting in that committee and in the plenary session.

But the issue is not on the federal Senate’s agenda, the session of Congress closes in December and, due to the midterm elections in November, the work schedule is very tight.

Process before IACHR

The complaints that IACHR examines about the political status of Puerto Rico were admitted last March.

The session on October 5 will be the fourth time, in 18 years, that IACHR holds a hearing on issues of the island.

In 2000, IACHR reviewed the violation of human and civil rights because of US military maneuvers in Vieques.

PUBLICIDAD

In March 2015, they hold a hearing on the human rights situation in Puerto Rico, in which civic groups denounced violations against LGBTT communities, immigrants, children, women and the federal insistence on implementing death penalty.

In December 2017, three months after Hurricane Maria’s devastation, a coalition of civic and academic organizations in Puerto Rico denounced to IACHR an alarming increase in poverty, which keeps many people "in inhuman conditions", and urged them to examine the island's crisis on the ground.

Then, Commissioner Margarette May Maculay of Trinidad and Tobago, in charge of US affairs, told the media that they would ask Trump’s government for authorization to send a mission to Puerto Rico to closely examine the human rights situation and poverty on the island.

On January 18, IACHR also expressed concern about what it considered was a "less rapid and efficient" response from the US government in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, compared to other jurisdictions.

Attorney Vidal considers that, after the hearing, IACHR should not take more than one year to decide on the complaints.

"A ruling like this will be another blow to the current political status," said Vidal, referring to PROMESA, which accentuated the colonial situation of the island with the imposition of a Financial Oversight and Management Board, which controls the financial decisions over the elected government, and the decision of the US Supreme Court in the case of Sánchez Valle, that stressed that the ultimate source of power over the country lies in the US Congress.

Status debate

When the US government appeared in the case before IACHR, in April 2011, they maintained that residents in Puerto Rico have repeatedly supported the current status, officially called Commonwealth.

"The results of the voting have not expressed a preference for statehood, the status that would give them the right to federal vote," said Milton Drucker, deputy representative of the US before the OAS.

Later, the government of the island called two plebiscites, which continue to generate controversies.

The other plebiscite was in November 2012, when 54 percent of the voters expressed their opposition to the current territorial status. 61 percent supported statehood in a second question, but if the high number of ballots left blank is considered, as requested by the Governing Board of the Popular Democratic Party, the percentage did not exceed 45 percent.

In January 2014, Congress approved a language that urged Puerto Rico to hold a new referendum, consulting status alternatives with the US Department of Justice.

Beyond radioactivity: how French nuclear tests changed Polynesia forever

Equal Times




“We had to wait inside the shelters until the rain passed,” says Daniel, a local farmer from Mangareva, one of the French Polynesian islands in the Gambier Archipelago, 1,500 kilometres south-east of Tahiti. He describes the drill carried out by French military officers for the island’s 500 residents on 24 August 1968, the day Canopus – a thermonuclear device 150 times stronger than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 – went off 400km away.




This was neither the first nor the last time islanders would seek shelter when it rained. Between 1966 and 1996, France conducted 193 nuclear tests in what was then the Overseas Territory of French Polynesia. Forty-six tests were carried out in the atmosphere, the blasts producing radioactive clouds that floated with the winds, depositing radionuclides all over the environment and exposing people, fauna and flora to abnormal levels of irradiation.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.


14 October 2018

FRANCE FACES GLOBAL SCRUTINY OVER POLYNESIA NUCLEAR TESTS



France detonated 200 nuclear bombs in colonies but never answered for it

Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

TRT WORLD

What will it take for France to take responsibility for its extensive nuclear testing across its colonies and what are the effects of the radioactive legacy they left behind?

French Polynesia has filed a case at the International Criminal Court against France for crimes against humanity, regarding over 193 nuclear tests conducted there over three decades, according to a French Polynesian opposition leader on Tuesday, October 2.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.

10 October 2018

CONSEQUENCES OF FRENCH NUCLEAR TESTING EXPOSED AT U.N.


Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

French Polynesia Petitioners Blame France for Years of Suffering Fallout from Nuclear Tests, as (U.N.) Fourth Committee Continues Decolonization Debate

Petitioners from the Non-Self-Governing Territory of French Polynesia expressed alarm today over the consequences of France’s nuclear testing in the Pacific region, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) considered decolonization issues for a second day.


Maxime Chan of the Association Te Ora Naho, said France has a duty, in accordance with its own constitution, to remedy the damage it caused in the Territory through nuclear testing. He recalled that 368 instances of radioactive fallout were reported and that radioactive waste was discharged into the ocean, in violation of international rules on such material.

In a similar vein, Taaroanui Maraea, President of the Maòhi Protestant Church of French Polynesia, said that such crimes against humanity have caused untold sickness and death among the Territory’s people. Francois Pihaatae of the Pacific Conference of Churches echoed that sentiment, calling upon the Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur to undertake a fact-finding mission to Ma’ohi Nui ‑ French Polynesia’s indigenous name ‑ saying the Territory continues to face the spill-over effects of the tests.

Many petitioners noted that the impact of French nuclear testing is omitted from United Nations resolutions and working papers. Loïse Panie of the Panie Genealogy Office, said it is disturbing that language was deleted from the relevant General Assembly resolution 72/101, and called for that language to be restored.

Other petitioners from the same region also stressed that France has been able to establish a proxy territorial leadership through a distorted electoral system, with Teumere Atger describing France’s unilateral authority over French Polynesia’s electoral system as a modern colonial arrangement. “This is why we ask the Non‑Aligned Movement member States to stand tall on their principles and to remember: “You have been where we are right now,” stressed Steve Chailloux, another petitioner.

However, Lana Tetuanui, Chair of the French extra-parliamentarian follow-up commission on financial compensation for the victims of nuclear testing, said France took a big step forward by apologizing for its nuclear activities in the region, and called upon all to move forward.

READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE AT:

_________________________________________________________

       READ ALSO: 

"Publish French nuclear testing report" - French Polynesia leader to United Nations

05 October 2018

U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE TO REVIEW SELF-DETERMINATION PROSPECTS FOR ISLAND DEPENDENCIES


The Special Political and Decolonisation Committee (Fourth Committee) will convene its 2018 Session on 4th October to review the recommendations to advance the self-determination process for the remaining non self-governing territories including the Caribbean and Pacific dependencies administered by European and North American States. Below are extensive excerpts of the Report of the U.N. Secretary-General on "The Right of Peoples to Self-Determination." 


The report provides a summary of the main developments relating to the realization of the right to self-determination within the framework of the activities of the U.N. The report also includes reference to the consideration of the issue within the framework of the Human Rights Council, both in its resolutions and in the reports submitted to the Council by special procedures mandate holders and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In addition, it includes reference to concluding observations issued by the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which are based on their consideration of periodic reports submitted by the States parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in respect of the implementation of the right of all peoples to self-determination guaranteed in common article 1 of the two Covenants.

*************************
EXCERPTS


General Assembly 

 During the reporting period, in addition to its resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (resolution 72/159), the General Assembly adopted a number of resolutions in which it addressed the issue of self-determination...

In addition, in paragraph 7 (a) of its resolution 72/172, the Assembly affirmed that a democratic and equitable international order required, inter alia, the realization of the right of all peoples to self-determination, by virtue of which they could freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

  Non-Self-Governing Territories
. In its resolution 72/92, the General Assembly reaffirmed the right of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination and their right to the enjoyment of their natural resources and to dispose of those resources in their best interest. 

It affirmed the value of foreign economic investment undertaken in collaboration with the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories and in accordance with their wishes in order to make a valid contribution to the socioeconomic development of the Territories, especially during times of economic and financial crisis. 

It reaffirmed the responsibility of the administering Powers under the Charter to promote the political, economic, social and educational advanceme nt of the Non-Self-Governing Territories and reaffirmed the legitimate rights of their peoples over their natural resources. 

The Assembly reaffirmed its concern about any activities aimed at the exploitation of the natural resources that were the heritage of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, including the indigenous populations, in the Caribbean, the Pacific and other regions, and of their human resources, to the detriment of their interests, and in such a way as to deprive them of their right to dispose of those resources. 

It reaffirmed the need to avoid any economic and other activities that adversely affected the interests of the peoples of the Non Self -Governing Territories, and reminded the administering Powers of their responsibility and accountability vis-à-vis any detriment to the interests of the peoples of those Territories. 

The Assembly invited all Governments and organizations of the United Nations system to take all possible measures to ensure that the permanent sovereignty of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories over their natural resources was fully  respected and safeguarded. 

It urged the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources, and requested the administering Powers to take all steps necessary to protect the property rights of the peoples of those Territories. 

In its resolution 72/111, the General Assembly called upon the administering Powers, in accordance with resolutions on decolonization, to take all steps necessary to enable the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to exercise fully, as soon as possible, their right to self-determination, including independence, on a case-by-case basis. 

In its resolution 72/94, the Assembly invited all States to make, or continue to make, offers of study and training facilities to the inhabitants of those Territories that had not yet attained self-government or independence and, wherever possible, to provide travel funds to prospective students.

American Samoa

In its resolution 72/96 on the question of American Samoa, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of American Samoa to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of American Samoa to determine freely their future political status. 

In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination. 

It took note of the work of the territorial Government with respect to moving forward on political status, local autonomy and self-governance issues with a view to making political and economic progress. 

In its resolution 72/97 on the question of Anguilla, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Anguilla to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of Anguilla to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.
Bermuda

In its resolution 72/98 on the question of Bermuda, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Bermuda to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of Bermuda to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.
British Virgin Islands

In its resolution 72/99 on the question of the British Virgin Islands, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of the British Virgin Islands to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of the British Virgin Islands to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


Cayman Islands

In its resolution 72/100 on the question of the Cayman Islands, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of the Cayman Islands to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of the Cayman Islands to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


French Polynesia

In its resolution 72/101 on the question of French Polynesia, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of French Polynesia to self- determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of French Polynesia to determine freely their future political status. 

In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of French Polynesia of their right to self-determination in conformity with the legitimate political status options and to intensify its dialogue with French Polynesia in order to facilitate rapid progress towards a fair and effective self-determination process, under which the terms and timelines for an act of self-determination would be agreed.


Guam

In its resolution 72/102 on the question of Guam, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Guam to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of Guam to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination. 

It called once again on the administering Power to take into consideration the expressed will of the Chamorro people as supported by Guam voters in the referendum of 1987 and as subsequently provided for in Guam law regarding Chamorro self-determination efforts, encouraged the administering Power and the territorial Government to enter into negotiations on the matter and stressed the need for continued close monitoring of the overall situation in the Territory.


Montserrat


In its resolution 72/103 on the question of Montserrat, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Montserrat to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of Montserrat to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


New Caledonia

In its resolution 72/104 on the question of New Caledonia, the General Assembly reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of New Caledonia to determine freely and fairly their future political status, and in that connection called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination in conformity with the legitimate political status options. 

The Assembly expressed the view that adequate measures for conducting the upcoming consultations on access to full sovereignty, including a just, fair, credible and transparent electoral roll, as provided for in the Nouméa Accord, were essential for the conduct of a free, fair and genuine act of self-determination consistent with the Charter and United Nations principles and practices. In that respect, it welcomed the continuous dialogue undertaken by the parties within the framework of the Committee of Signatories to the Nouméa Accord to establish the parameters for the conduct of a conclusive act of self-determination, including the setting of an electoral roll, as provided for in the Accord. It called upon the administering Power to consider developing an education programme to inform the people of New Caledonia about the nature of self-determination so that they might be better prepared to face a future decision on the matter. 

The Assembly urged all the parties involved, in the interest of the people of New Caledonia and within the framework of the Nouméa Accord, to maintain their dialogue in a spirit of harmony and mutual respect in order to continue to promote a framework for the peaceful progress of the Territory towards an act of self-determination in which all options were open and the rights of all sectors of the population would be safeguarded, based on the principle that it was for the people of New Caledonia to choose how to determine their destiny.


Pitcairn

In its resolution 72/105 on the question of Pitcairn, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Pitcairn to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of Pitcairn to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination. It welcomed all efforts by the administering Power and the territorial Government to further devolve operational responsibilities to the Territory, with a view to gradually expanding self-government, including through the training of local personnel.

Saint Helena

In its resolution 72/106 on the question of Saint Helena, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Saint Helena to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of Saint Helena to determine freely their future political status. 

In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


Tokelau

In its resolution 72/107 on the question of Tokelau, the General Assembly acknowledged the decision of the General Fono in 2008 that consideration of any future act of self-determination by Tokelau would be deferred. It welcomed the cooperative attitude of the other States and territories in the region towards Tokelau and their support for its economic and political aspirations and its increasing participation in regional and international affairs.


Turks and Caicos

 In its resolution 72/108 on the question of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


U.S. Virgin Islands

25. In its resolution 72/109 on the question of the United States Virgin Islands, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of the United States Virgin Islands to self-determination, and also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the people of the United States Virgin Islands to determine freely their future political status. In that connection, the Assembly called upon the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government and appropriate bodies of the United Nations system, to develop political education programmes for the Territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.

31 August 2018

"Guam Veteran Vote Proposal Confuses" - former U.S. legal advisor

By Howard Hills
Former counsel on territorial status affairs in the Executive Office of the President, National Security Council and U.S. State Department, and author of "Citizens Without A State"

Honoring Veterans with Truth


The Governor of Guam, Eddie Calvo, recently sent a letter to President Trump requesting that U.S. military veterans in Guam be given the same federal voting rights as Americans in the States of the Union.
In doing so the Governor did not make it clear if this was just a symbolic gesture, or if he really believes the president or even Congress and the federal courts can simply extend federal voting rights under the U.S. Constitution outside a state, for persons born in a U.S. territory.
If the latter he may not be getting fully accurate historical and constitutional background information from his advisers. If instead the Governor seeks to illustrate and arouse sympathy for the veterans and other U.S. nationals and citizens in territories who can’t vote in federal elections, then in a real sense it creates confusion about the legal, political and moral context for honoring the sacrifice of veterans.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.

30 August 2018

UN COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS MOURNS PASSING OF KOFI ANNAN, SEVENTH SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS


Sir Julian R. Hunte, President of the 57th Session of the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly (l) with H.E. Kofi Annan, the seventh U.N. Secretary-General  (2004)

 


  COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS                       COUNSEIL DES PRESIDENTS
OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY                 DE L’ASSEMBLEE GENERALE
  OF THE UNITED NATIONS                                DES NATIONS UNIES


STATEMENT 

SIR JULIAN R. HUNTE, CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY (CPGA)

ON THE PASSING OF 

KOFI ATTA ANNAN
THE SEVENTH SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS



On behalf of the Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly, and on my own behalf, I wish to join with millions across our planet in expressing deep condolences on the passing of Kofi Atta Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, who has joined the ancestors. 

Kofi Annan was a proud son of Africa, and had an illustrious and highly distinguished career at the United Nations, spanning the areas of world health, peacekeeping, and other important areas of peace, security and development. He was elected by the member States of the General Assembly as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1997.

During his tenure as Secretary-General, he steered the institution with great distinction for over a decade. Of the many initiatives under his direction was the introduction of the Global Compact as a principle-based framework aimed at advancing world human development. This groundbreaking work preceded the emergence of the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

His work was rewarded with the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. Upon demitting office in 2006, he continued to contribute to the cause of world peace and development through the establishment of the Kofi Annan Foundation in the further promotion of global governance; and as Chairman of the Elders, the distinguished group of elder statesmen involved in conflict resolution and the promotion of human rights. He also served as United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria after his tenure as Secretary-General came to a close. In 2006, he was appointed to investigate the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar.

As president of the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly from Saint Lucia, I had the distinct honour to work closely with Kofi Annan in initiatives to strengthen the role of the General Assembly as the most representative body within the U.N. family.

Kofi Annan personified the best of the United Nations. He was the consummate world diplomat and gentleman. He devoted his life towards finding solutions to the myriad issues facing the people of our world. As Secretary-General, he raised significantly the level of importance of the United Nations in addressing the global challenges to peace, security and sustainable development. 

He will be sorely missed, but he leaves behind a legacy which should serve as a roadmap for the sustainable development of our planet. 

International Day Against Nuclear Tests 29 August

Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

"The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has an essential role within the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It fosters international peace and security by constraining the development of nuclear weapons. Our collective security demands that every effort should be made to bring this essential treaty into force." — 
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

SEE ALSO:

Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in the Pacific




17 August 2018

BRITISH TO EXAMINE FUTURE OF ITS COLONIES POST-BREXIT

Committee announces inquiry on future 

of UK Overseas Territories

20 July 2018

How the Foreign Office manages its responsibility to ensure the security and stability of the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories is to be considered in a new inquiry by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Inquiry: The future of the UK Overseas Territories
Foreign Affairs Committee

Chair's comments

The Chair of the Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:


"The Overseas Territories have a special place in our constitution. They are self-governing but part of the United Kingdom. As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still work. The Committee will look at these distant parts of our community and look at how we work to support all our communities."
The future of the UK Overseas Territories

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has primary responsibility for the UK Overseas Territories (OTs). These OTs are spread across four oceans and eight time zones. With a total population of 250,000, they cover a seven million sq. km maritime zone. They range from Bermuda, with 64,000 people and a maritime area of 53 sq. km, to the British Antarctic Territory, with no permanent residents but a maritime area of 1.8 million sq. km. These dispersed territories support the UK’s global reach but ensuring their security and stability, while respecting the principle of self-government, presents a major challenge to the FCO.

Many face similar challenges. Most raise their own revenues but many depend on funding from a range of government departments and international organisations. Many have struggled to build sustainable economies while adapting to the increasing demands of global transparency. Several are the subject of sovereignty claims. They include some of the world’s richest biodiversity maritime zones but most are heavily exposed to climate change and increasingly regular extreme weather events.

In recent years, the OTs have been exposed to shocks, from the Panama Papers in 2015, to the Brexit vote in 2016, and Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. This led some OTs to question the Government’s willingness to support them. Relations have been put under further strain due to high-profile instances of divergence between the UK and some of the OTs on issues such as civil rights and financial transparency.

In the light of these concerns, this inquiry will consider the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future. The inquiry is likely to be structured around overarching themes but may look at individual OTs, as and when appropriate.
Send a written submission


The Committee welcomes written submissions on:
The governance of the OTs, including their adherence to human rights frameworks;
The benefits to the UK and the OTs of the relationship between them;
The financing of the OTs;
Representation of the OTs in the UK and in the Commonwealth and other international fora;
Assets and liabilities (including but not limited to ecological richness and the effects of extreme weather, and natural resources such as minerals and fish).

Send a written submission.

The deadline for written evidence for this inquiry is 3 September 2018.
Further information
Guidance: written submissions
About Parliament: Select committees
Visiting Parliament: Watch committees

14 August 2018

ANGUILLA DISCUSSES COOPERATION WITH FRENCH CARIBBEAN DEPARTMENTS ON AIR AMBULANCE SERVICES


An air ambulance, with brand new technologies and other advanced features, in a familiar-looking aircraft, was the centre of attraction recently at the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport in Anguilla.
Known as a Pilatus PC 12 Medical Ambulance, the sleek aircraft is available as a means of rushing Anguillian patients to Guadeloupe, Martinique or elsewhere for advanced emergency treatment.
The air ambulance is part of an arrangement now being discussed among the Government of Anguilla, the Health Authority and officials in the two French territories. Those territories, now working closely with the English-speaking islands, are sharing their medical services with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) of which Anguilla is an Associated Member.
The special features of the air ambulance were explained to Anguilla Government and Health Authority officials by the visiting healthcare providers and technical team. Flying at a speed of 600 kilometers per hour and a height of over 30,000 feet, the aircraft, like a jet, took just over 40 minutes to arrive in Anguilla from Guadeloupe.
“It is an aircraft with new technology but an engine almost 40 years old,” the CEO of the company explained. “There are 56,000 engines like this flying around the world. The fleet has 8 million hours of flight with no engine failures.”
He also spoke about the automatic operations, safety features, carrying capacity and other qualities of the air ambulance.
Among those who inspected the aircraft was Minister of Health and Social Development, Evans McNiel Rogers, who is working feverishly to improve the healthcare services in Anguilla and to partner with regional and global professional providers to accomplish his mission.
“Late last year, the Permanent Secretary, Health, Foster Rogers, and I visited Martinique to attend an OECS Health Meeting and we took the opportunity to visit a number of the health facilities in Martinique and the menu of services being offered,” he stated. “Subsequent to that, I was invited to the opening of the Imaging Centre in Guadeloupe and again took the opportunity to visit the health facilities and the services available there.
“I was very impressed with the level and quality of service offered in these two islands. As a result of those meetings, we were able to invite officials of the University of Guadeloupe Medical Centre to Anguilla to discuss how they can assist us in a more organized fashion. We took note that we already have a number of persons who go to Guadeloupe and Martinique for various services.
“We looked at the insurance coverage here in Anguilla involving the Government, Nagico and the other private insurance companies – and what it would take to utilize the services in those territories. We are so near but still so far apart. During our deliberations, we spoke about the barriers, one of which was the language barrier. They assured me that they are working on that – not only in Anguilla but with the OECS to bridge that gap.
“They are setting up a concierge service, a medical records and customer service – and other arrangements – so that the transition would be easy and patients would feel pretty comfortable knowing that they are able to communicate via translators.”
Minister Rogers continued: “There was a follow-up meeting in Anguilla on July 27, when officials from Guadeloupe, including personnel from insurance companies, social security and the medical community, visited Anguilla. There was also an air ambulance called St. Barths Executive. Its personnel were here to display the equipment and services they can offer whether to Guadeloupe, Martinique or further afield. We realize that, depending on the nature of the illnesses of our patients, Guadeloupe is as good as anywhere else in the region – and it is very close to us.
“As a matter of fact, the air ambulance took just over 40 minutes to touch down in Anguilla. It was a very impressive display of all the new electronic features, and so forth, with respect to the particular aircraft. We were told that it was the latest technology, just a month old. There is a number of other aircraft of the same calibre, name, brand and type, but of an older age. This is the top of the line – with pressurized cabin – able to take the necessary stretchers as well as having the electrical and oxygen capacity not available in some of the regular aircraft.
“We are working to construct an agreement with them whereby we would be able to access the services they have to offer – not only in Anguilla, but the OECS in general.”

13 August 2018

GUAM CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATE SAYS TERRITORY SHOULD CONSIDER 'DE-LINKING' FROM U.S. TAX CODE



The Trump tax law enacted last year dealt a devastating blow to GovGuam’s revenues and caused our island’s current deep budgetary challenges. This law was crafted in Washington, D.C., without any input from the territories or rank-and-file Congressional Republicans or Democrats.

The consequences of the Trump tax law now require the Legislature and governor to address GovGuam’s budget shortfall. The impacts are significant and will affect thousands of GovGuam employees, local businesses and working families who rely on critical government services every day..

Making up for GovGuam’s budgetary shortfall is not an easy task. While reversing the Trump tax law is not possible in the current political environment, I am working hard to boost federal investment in Guam, provide parity for the U.S. territories in federal grant programs and develop new industries that will expand our island’s economy.

As we work to resolve GovGuam’s immediate budgetary crisis, our local leaders should re-examine our need to mirror a complex federal tax system intended for the United States as a whole, not specific to the needs or realties of our island. Guam currently mirrors the federal tax code, which requires our local government to adopt mandates enacted by the president and Congress and prevents local leaders from making meaningful changes to GovGuam’s ability to set tax rates and raise new revenue.

Developing a Guam tax code would allow our elected leaders to design a system that more accurately reflects the needs of our community. This cannot be accomplished in time to address our immediate budgetary crisis or provide an easy out for the tough choices that our Legislature and Governor must make this year. But in the long term, it would mean that GovGuam would have greater autonomy to generate revenues for local public services, assist needy families, and promote economic development.


Ultimately, it would put Guam on an equal footing with the 50 states and other municipalities that do not rely on the federal government to dictate how their local governments generate income and corporate tax revenues.

Since 1986, federal law has authorized the Legislature and governor to delink from the federal Internal Revenue Code, and I am encouraged that the Guam Tax Commission is reviewing this option.

Now is the time to seriously re-evaluate whether de-linking is ultimately good for our island’s long-term interests. This process will take time and will require engagement from our entire community. But we cannot let the complexities deter us from meaningfully considering this option. Any new tax code developed for Guam will also need to improve tax collection and enforcement, to ensure fairness and accountability.


As your voice in Congress, I am committed to working with our local leaders and providing technical assistance from federal agencies and tax writers to advance this discussion. By working together, I am confident that we will overcome the impacts of the Trump tax law and develop a stronger, more self-reliant Guam for future generations.

10 August 2018

DEBT RELIEF FOR PUERTO RICO, OTHER U.S. DEPENDENCIES INTRODUCED IN U.S. SENATE

The U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands would be eligible jurisdictions under the proposal.
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115th CONGRESS
2d Session
S.3262
To provide the option of discharging certain unsecured financial obligations of self-governing territories of the United States. 1/

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
July 25, 2018
Ms. Warren (for herself, Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Markey, and Ms. Harris) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

A BILL
To provide the option of discharging certain unsecured financial obligations of self-governing territories of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

(a) Short Title.—This Act may be cited as the 
“United States Territorial Relief Act of 2018”.

(b) Table Of Contents.—The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Definitions.

Sec. 3. Findings.


Sec. 101. Relief through exercise of the power to regulate commerce, the bankruptcy power, and the territorial power.

Sec. 102. Effect of discharge.

Sec. 103. Actions relating to the status of financial obligations.

Sec. 104. Notice of discharge.

Sec. 105. Effective date.

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1/ International law recognises the U.S. dependencies as non self-governing territories administered under Article 73 of the United Nations Charter.