The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has expressed its strong support for constitutional advancement of the three overseas territories within its membership to ensure the proper environment for the integration of these territories in the OECS economic union. The nine-members of the OECS include six independent states in addition to the territory of Montserrat as a full member, and the territories of the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla as associate members.
This declaration of support for the evolution of the territories from dependent status was made at the 47th Meeting of the Authority of Heads of Government held in St. Lucia in May, and is included in the official communique of the Meeting, as follows:
47th Meeting of the OECS Authority
23rd – 24th May 2008
Relationship of Non-Independent Member States
"The Authority welcomed a report from the consultant Dr. Francis Alexis of Grenada engaged to examine options available to the Non Independent Member States (NIMS) – Montserrat, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands - in the evolution of the process towards the proposed OECS Economic Union.
The Authority noted the consultant’s recommendation that the most effective solution to the constitutional challenges facing the NIMS would be constitutional advancement which would enable them to sign and ratify OECS Treaties on their own without having to depend on that authority being delegated by the British Government. The Authority also accepted the suggestion by the Consultant that consideration be given to an arrangement that exempted the NIMS from commitments that their constitutional status did not allow them to undertake.
The Authority accepted an invitation extended by the Chief Minister of Anguilla for an OECS participation along with the NIMS in a joint engagement with the British Government in October to address issues related to the constitutional status of the NIMS."
OECS Provides Substantive Support to the Territories
OECS support for the political and socio-economic evolution of the territories within its membership is illustrated in the integration of these territories in OECS programmes. In this connection, the OECS Secretariat, under the leadership of Dr. Len Ismael, furnished the United Nations with a comprehensive report on its assistance to the three non self-governing territories within its membership.
The OECS report was provided in response to the annual request from the U.N. Secretary-General for information from U.N. bodies and regional institutions. The U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) reviews these activities during its summer substantive session, and adopts a resolution that calls for continued and expanded assistance to the non self-governing which are oprimarily in the Caribbean and Pacific. The 2008 ECOSOC session will take up the matter during the week of 21 July.
Following is the submission by the OECS to the U.N. on its support to the territories:
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
Support provided by the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to the Non-Self-Governing Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat
(a) Review of the St. George’s Declaration
41. Montserrat is a member, and Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are associate members, of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. The St. George’s Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States sets out the broad framework to be pursued for environmental management in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States region. The Declaration, which had been signed by the Ministers of the Environment of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States at St. George’s, Grenada, in April 2001, was revised in 2006. Copies of the revised version were distributed to the three Territories.
Additionally, a communication plan has been developed to support and guide regional- and national-level activities aimed at enhancing environmental management in these Territories and the member countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States through implementation of the revised St. George’s Declaration by key stakeholders in the public sector and staff in the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Pursuant to this, a number of communications products have been proposed, including a “workshop” (or “popular”) version, to be used to familiarize stakeholders with the revised Declaration in a workshop setting. The workshop version has been printed and distributed.
(b)St. George’s Declaration-related monitoring and reporting
42. A draft reporting instrument has been finalized based on a series of national workshops on St. George’s Declaration-related reporting, coupled with a regional workshop held late in the current reporting period. “Finalized” national St. George’s Declaration reports have been received from Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.
43. The regional workshop held in January 2008 as well as the national workshops held in member States provided further support to member States in the preparation of national reports. The purpose of the workshops was to:
• Foster increased understanding of the St. George’s Declaration among technical natural resources managers and enable them to use it as a tool for improved environmental management
• Build awareness and appreciation of the St. George’s Declaration within ministries and public sector agencies dealing with related or critical supporting areas
(c) Disaster response and risk reduction
44. UNDP in Barbados awarded a grant of US$ 400,000 to the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States for the implementation of community risk reduction measures. The Disaster Programme of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Secretariat targeted, in the first instance, the British Virgin Islands and a State member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States for the implementation of pilot community-based projects. The activities of this component are focused on communities and households that are vulnerable to natural hazards such as landslides and floods.
45. UNDP has assisted the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States in focusing on building capabilities in communities for landslide risk reduction that utilizes low-cost methods. In the British Virgin Islands, the purpose of the project is to reduce the landslide and flooding risks in the ghetto area/crab lot community. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States has allotted the sum of US$ 145,000 to assist in providing a set of construction implementation interventions related to ghut (gully) sidewall elevations and sediment traps, modelling of water flows on slopes and within channels, and engaging key stakeholders so as to ensure ownership of the intervention.
46. The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States executed service contracts in member States totalling 1,949,811 Eastern Caribbean dollars (EC$) for the period 2006-2007, compared with EC$ 763,634 for the previous fiscal year period. The distribution of these expenditures to Non-Self-Governing Territories by member States of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States was as follows: EC$ 208,996.21 to Anguilla, EC$ 416,353.76 to the British Virgin Islands and EC$ 27,836.76 to Montserrat.
(d) Institutional strengthening of environmental management
47. In 2004, the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, through its Environment and Sustainable Development Unit, provided technical assistance to the Government of Montserrat through the conduct of a strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats (SWOT) analysis with senior Government officials. This facilitated the formulation of a set of recommendations on the requirements for improved management of sustainable development in the context of general and environmental concerns.
(e) Small grants facility
48. Through its small grants facility, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States supported community-based medium-sized ecotourism projects: the Big Spring Heritage Tourism and East End Pond conservation projects in Anguilla and the Piper’s Pond conservation project in Montserrat. The cost of the investments in Anguilla and Montserrat was approximately EC$ 300,000/US$ 111,211.
(f) National focal point meetings
49. The Social Policy Unit of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Secretariat convenes an annual national focal point meeting, in which Anguilla and Montserrat participate. Designated national focal points have an opportunity to meet to discuss the annual work programme of the Social Policy Unit and obtain an indication of where they add value to the work programme.
(g) Organization of Eastern Caribbean States youth initiative
50. The Non-Self-Governing Territories members were included in a series of island youth rap sessions as part of the preliminary activities leading up to the identification of an Organization of Eastern Caribbean States youth initiative.
(h) Localization of the Millennium Development Goals
51. The British Virgin Islands are benefiting directly from a process of localization of the Millennium Development Goals. This process allows the British Virgin Islands to examine:
(a) Existing programmes/projects/activities to determine how they impact the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals;
(b) What has been achieved to date;
(c) What needs to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015;
(d) How to integrate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals into the existing national planning and programmes/projects/activities.
(i) Implementation of the Labour Market Programme of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
52. Certain components of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Labour Market Programme, such as labour-market information systems and the memorandum of understanding between the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the International Labour Organization, are currently implemented by the Non-Self-Governing Territories members.
(j) Statistics Project of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
53. Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat are involved in the Statistics Project of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, which is aimed at improving statistical systems, including statistics on tourism, throughout the region. The Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States is undertaking a series of tourism fact-finding missions extending throughout the member countries to ascertain the current state of tourism statistics. Emphasis is being placed on yachting data.
Support from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
The provision of OECS support to the Caribbean territories is in addition to that which is furnished by the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which includes Montserrat as a full member, and Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands as associate members.
In this connection, the Heads of CARICOM at its 29th Meeting in July 08:
"Expressed their deep disappointment that the Government of the United Kingdom has denied the request of Montserrat for an Entrustment which would enable that Member State's particiupation in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (and) urged the Government of the United Kingdom to review its position on the Entrustment."
Whilst not independent states, the Caribbean territories are nevertheless integral components of the social and economic fabric of the region, as evidenced by their participation in the premier regional institutions of the OECS and CARICOM. Continued political support given by the Caribbean independent states is critical to the expeditious political development of these territories within the framework of the Caribbean region.