31 January 2010

Constitutional Reform and Political Identity in the Non-Independent Caribbean

An earlier version of this paper was published in “Caribbean Perspectives, scholarly journal of the Eastern Caribbean Centre of the University of the Virgin Islands, January 2009.

by Dr. Carlyle G. Corbin
International Advisor on Governance

I. The Historical Context
 
From the middle to the late 19th century, the Caribbean was governed by a host of European colonial powers which exerted virtual total influence on the evolution of the political status and identity of small islands in the region. The Caribbean possessions were divided, either as prizes won from the spoils of war, or as territorial acquisitions for strategic considerations, irrespective of the views the inhabitants of the islands. The extraordinary political division of the island of Sint Maarten/St. Martin, along with its proximity to the island of Anguilla proved particularly fatuous given the resulting emergence of three non-independent jurisdictions under three separate European states with largely incompatible administrative structures, conducting commerce in three separate currencies and communicating in three different official languages - with a combined population of under 100,000 persons. (1) The division of the Virgin Islands into separate British and U.S. possessions is another example of artificial political constructs in a region where the diversity in political identity is unparralled within such a small geographic space.
 
Emerging from this process were island enclaves controlled by a variety of European states. The British, the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, the Danish, and later the Americans, bought and sold islands based on economic and other strategic considerations, with little regard for the majority of the people who were overwhelmingly of African descent. This practice produced a proliferation of externally-controlled island dependencies by the end of the 19th century, and the colonial governance arrangements became increasingly sophisticated throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st.
 
After the 1960 adoption by the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly of the landmark Decolonisation Declaration (2), and its companion resolution defining full self-government (3), many of the dependencies of the region achieved a full measure of self-government through political independence, or via free association or integration with another country. Decolonisation effectively stalled at the beginning of the 1990’s owing to diminished attention paid to the process in the international euphoria following the end of the Cold War (4). Almost two decades into the 21st Century, six territories administered by the UK and one by the US are formally listed by the U.N. as non self-governing (5). The one U.S. commonwealth and two Dutch associated countries are arguably more autonomous governance models, and were formally removed from UN oversight by General Assembly resolution. The three overseas departments of France are self-governing through political integration and the exercise of full political rights within the French Republic.

II. Governance in the Non-Independent Caribbean

For the dependencies under U.K. administration - in particular, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and to a lesser extent Bermuda, there is a “direct role by the cosmopole in the daily governing process via the reserved and other constitutional powers set aside for the U.K.-appointed governor in such areas as external affairs, internal security, and the civil service. The governor’s powers to annul, and to decline to assent to legislation adopted by the elected legislative body of the territory, is also noted. The additional authority of the governor to impose legislation unilaterally on the territory without the consent and often against the will of the elected government (6) has been termed in the U.K. House of Commons as the “nuclear option.” Collectively, these constitutionally-granted powers to an un-elected official from the cosmopole is illustrative of a continued democratic deficit in the U.K.-administered territories.

A more indirect approach characterises the U.S. governance of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the advent of the elected governorship in both territories replacing the appointed governor, direct executive power from Washington became less evident, save for U.S. jurisdiction over land and marine resources, administrative control of the territorial borders and increasing hands-on management in other areas. From a legislative perspective, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands which are appurtenant to, but not part of the U.S., are governed by the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution which gives the U.S. Congress plenary authority to unilaterally apply U.S. laws (7). Both territories have active non-voting delegates to the U.S. House of Representatives, with no provision for representation in the U.S. Senate, and no vote in U.S. presidential elections. This compares with the absence of representation of any kind in the U.K. House of Commons for the U.K.–administered territories in the Caribbean.

On the other hand, the self-governing countries of Aruba and the five-island grouping of the Netherlands Antilles, in association with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, combine relative autonomous powers with aspects of political integration, e.g. shared citizenship (8). This is similar to the constitutional arrangement between Greenland and the Faroe Islands vis a vis the Kingdom of Denmark. Both Dutch and Danish dependency models are characterised by voting representation in the parliaments of the Netherlands and Denmark, respectively, coupled with the exercise of effective autonomy. As noted, the French overseas departments of Guadeloupe (and its dependencies), Martinique, and French Guiana enjoy full political integration synonymous with the integrated island state of Hawaii.

III. Distinctions and Perceptions of Political Identity

Political identity in the non-independent Caribbean is greatly influenced by the distinctions between dependence and associated governance. For the dependent territories, such rights are governed by several considerations. The extent to which the elected government can legislate cultural and political identity is a primary factor, and is determined by the degree of autonomy of the prevailing constitutional arrangement. Clearly, the U.K. territories have more constitutional flexibility in this area, as they were never regarded as “part of the U.K.”

In this context, significant variation exists between the U.K. and U.S. dependency models, which contrasts with the exercise of autonomous power in the Caribbean jurisdictions associated with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Regarding the U.K. dependency model, Bourne asserts that:

“There was never confusion concerning the differing status of those British citizens who settled in the colonies and their descendants on one hand, and the people of the territory on the other (9).

These distinctions were understood even after the adoption in 2002 of the British Overseas Territories Act, amending the British Nationality Act of 1981, which changed the nomenclature from British dependent territories citizenship to overseas territories citizenship, while simultaneously conferring British citizenship on the people of the UK-administered territories (10). The limits on the rights granted with the conferred citizenship were made abundantly clear by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in 2001 during the second reading of the legislation in the House of Commons, in which he stated:

“The(British Overseas Territories) Bill is about nationality. British citizenship (to be extended) carries with it the right of abode in the United Kingdom and the right of free movement in Europe, but (does not offer) other rights and obligations, including the right to preferential rates for tertiary education, health and social security benefits and the vote in UK parliamentary elections…”  (11)

Dependency governance in the U.S. territories, on the other hand, reflects concepts of territorial “ownership.” (12) Both models are contrasted with the freely-associated political status models of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruban which acknowledge a distinct political and cultural identity of the islands different than that of the Dutch Kingdom.

Another consideration with respect to the dependent territories is very much a matter of self-perception in relation to the interplay between cultural/national identity and citizenship, coupled with the diversity of national origin of the population. In the British territories, the perception of cultural and political identity is understood in an island-specific, ‘nationalist’ context, e.g. a person is ‘Bermudian’ or ‘Anguillan,’ as opposed to being ‘British.’ This is well-defined in the respective constitutions and territorial laws discussed later. This contrasts with the U.S. Virgin Islands where public expressions often mistakenly equate identity with U.S. citizenship. Increasingly, ‘Virgin Islanders’ are defined as ‘African-Americans,’ perhaps initially for ease of reference in federal funding categories, but later acquiring a broader usage. However, the mere combination of cultural descent with citizenship in this manner is mis-guided, since the category is intended for a different set of African-descendent people who went through a specific historical and cultural experience in the continental U.S.

Perspectives on cultural and political identity in the dependent territories are also influenced by demographics. In the U.K. dependencies, there are significant numbers of Caribbean nationals who exercise fundamental rights, but maintain political rights only through their country of origin, except in the cases where long-term residency has led to naturalization. Further, the work permit programmes governing the residency of the non-naturalised Caribbean nationals in the U.K. territories is often governed by territorial ‘turnover laws’ requiring the person to return to their country of origin after a defined period, with varying degrees of privilege to return. Degrees of social dislocation can result from this practice, particularly as related to school-age students who may have been born in the dependent territory but enjoy only the full citizenship of their parents. This contrasts with the immediate grant of U.S. citizenship under U.S. law for children born in the U.S. territories and who can also claim the citizenship of their parents.

For the U.S. territories, Puerto Rico with a population exceeding 4 million has had little need historically for additional labour, notwithstanding the large Dominican Republic community which is integral to economic sustainability. For the U.S. Virgin Islands, the need for additional labour to build and service a fast-growing tourism industry in the wake of the U.S. travel embargo on Cuba resulted in significant population growth through immigration from the wider region. Leibowitz indicated that the numbers reached 34,000 between 1960 - 1970, exceeding the entire 1960 population of the territory. (13) The temporary worker system which had been legislated by the U.S. Congress pursuant to U.S. immigration laws facilitated the movement of mainly African descendents from other parts of the Caribbean to the U.S. Virgin Islands to meet growing labour needs. Concerned with the projected financial impact of the extension of public services to the new residents, the U.S. Virgin Islands legislature sought to use its local authority to regulate access to education, housing and other areas. This was later overturned by the U.S. courts and applicability of U.S. equal protection laws. A specific U.S. immigration measure enacted in 1981 also provided for a process of achieving permanent residency status in the territory, and ultimately U.S. citizenship.

This comparison in the migration of people to the U.K. and U.S. territories does not suggest favour of one system over the other, since many people experienced significant violation of their worker’s rights under both systems in relation to externally-owned development projects and establishments. The main objective here is to portray how the development of the two respective dependency models went on to impact the advancement of political and cultural identity. Accordingly, in both the U.K. and U.S. dependencies, a diverse population evolved which included migration from the wider region.

In this regard, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in its 1988 Factbook defined the population of the territory as “74 per cent West Indian (including) 45 per cent born in the (U.S.) Virgin Islands and 29 per cent born elsewhere in the West Indies.” This assessment, perhaps inadvertently, served to confirm the existence of a collective cultural Caribbean identity among the predominately African descendents in the territory. It has been hypothesized that the migrants from the wider Caribbean who came to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 1960’s might have been the descendents of those Africans who escaped slavery in the Danish West Indies for freedom in the British controlled Caribbean in the preceding century. A genealogical study is not attempted here. The main point is that a unified Caribbean dynamic was a potential basis of a modern paradigm of cultural - and by extension - political identity in the U.S. Virgin Islands, encompassing the prevailing demographic reality. However, the logical extension of such a force might have been a process of natural political evolution that would have been inconsistent with the legitimisation, and subsequent modernisation of dependency governance.

Within this framework, four constitutional conventions in the U.S. Virgin Islands were held between 1964 and 1980. Quite apart from the mandate to create/re-create structures of government through a local constitution to replace the U.S. Revised Organic Act of 1954 was the task of defining/re-defining a political and cultural identity amid changing demographics. The territory’s political status commission of the 1990s had also struggled with similar issues which contributed to a lack of conclusive result in the 1993 status referendum. The Fifth Constitutional Convention, to its significant credit, was undergoing serious analysis of these issues at the end of 2008 into 2009 despite the confines of the existing dependency relationship, even as the exercise was not designed to tackle the fundamental question of political status.

IV. Political and Cultural Identity in Dependency Constitutions

The prevailing constitutions of the U.K. territories in the Caribbean have always acknowledged a separate political identity of the people of the territory vis a vis that of the metropole. This was an important feature of the most recent constitutional review processes underway or completed in five of the six territories (excluding Bermuda) pursuant to the 1999 U.K. Government’s White Paper on Partnership for Progress and Prosperity. In this connection, the British Virgin Islands Constitutional Commissioners in their 2005 recommendations on ‘modernising’ the territory’s constitution addressed a number of relevant issues including the fine-tuning of the “belonger status” and the “preservation of numerical pre-dominance, heritage and culture of indigenous people,” (14) reflective of an ‘island specific nationalist’ focus cited earlier. The Virgin Islands Constitutional Order 2007 ultimately issued by the U.K. reflected much of this thinking.

Accordingly, the first paragraph of the preamble of the new constitution recognised that “… the people of the territory of the (British) Virgin Islands have over centuries evolved with a distinct cultural identity which is the essence of a Virgin Islander.” The preamble also “recall(ed) that because of historical, economic and other reasons many of the people of the Virgin Islands reside elsewhere but have and continue to have an ancestral connection and bond with those Islands.” The new constitution which entered into force in 2007 detailed the criteria for a person who “belongs” to the British Virgin Islands, primarily based on birth or descent, and extends the right to hold elective office in the House of Assembly to this population. (15) A later provision of the preamble “affirm(ed) that the people of the (British) Virgin Islands have generally expressed their desire…to exercise the highest degree of control over the affairs of their country…” This self-recognition of the territory as a country distinct from the U.K. confirms the recognition by the people of a separate political uniqueness, that is, the distinction between their collective political identity and whatever citizenship may be conferred upon them (or subsequently removed) by external legislation. Such recognition of identity is reflected in most constitutions of U.K. territories in the Caribbean, and differs from prevailing views in the U.S. Virgin Islands. On this point, Bourne observed in 2005 that:

“at present, the people of most non self-governing territories other than the U.S. Virgin Islands see their identity as separate from that of their administering power… (while) what we hear in the U.S. Virgin Islands are efforts to accomplish a change to political integration, such as obtaining the presidential vote, being treated as a state with respect to benefit programs, etc., without having a clear analysis of what our present status entitles us to and the overall effect of such political changes.” (16)

In the case of Puerto Rico, a strong political and cultural identity is protected by the insulating predominance of the Spanish language, coupled with a population size far exceeding any other island dependency and large reinforcing diaspora. The complexities of the Puerto Rican ethos significantly influence the territory’s political discourse, while maintaining the unifying thread of cultural identity. This is largely shared by the Puerto Rican people irrespective of their views on a permanent political status achievable through U.S. statehood, free association or integration (17); or on maintaining the accommodation with what Boden describes as “voluntary colonialism with the promise of a completely new form of metropolitan/colony relationship.” (18)

With the control of the executive and legislative branches of the Puerto Rico Government shifting to the pro-integrationist New Progressive Party in January 2009, exertions of distinct political identity typical of the pro-autonomous Popular Democratic Party through active international organisation representation among other manifestations could be reversed if previous changes of power from the autonomous to the integrationist parties are any indication. Regardless of the change in political status preference with the incoming ruling party, however, provisions of the Puerto Rico Constitution maintain important manifestations of identity, in particular the primacy of the Spanish language and the recognition of a Puerto Rican citizenship as a requirement for serving in the Legislative Assembly. (19) Neither can be “wiped away so easily.”

In the Turks and Caicos, the new 2006 constitution confirms belonger status as a manifestation of cultural identity, and as a fundamental criteria for election to the House of Assembly (20), and voter eligibility, without providing further elaboration on the definition as is the case in the 2007 constitution of the British Virgin Islands (21) and in the 1990 amendment to the Anguilla Constitutional Order of 1982 (22). The 2008 Anguillan proposal to the U.K. for full internal self-government is further illustration of a strong collective political identity.

Montserrat and the Cayman Islands continue to proceed in reviewing and recommending changes to their existing constitutions with emphasis on the transfer of varying degrees of power from the un-elected governor to the democratically-elected governments. This reflects the evolution of heightened political maturity in both territories and an “island-centric” approach in the case of the Cayman Islands, as compared to a more regional orientation for Montserrat, whose request to join the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) has been blocked by the U.K.

Both the prevailing 1990 Anguilla constitution and the new 2007 British Virgin Islands constitution reaffirm cultural identity through defining “belonger” status explicit in their document for the purpose of identification, and by extension, as a qualification to hold elective office. Further, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands sought and obtained additional administrative authority in their new constitutions as a confirmation of a strong political identity separate from the metropole. This is evident in the active participation of all six U.K. territories as associate or full members in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and its myriad of associated bodies, and in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

In the U.K. territories, such engagement in regional affairs is usually sustained even following a change of government since ideological distinctions between political parties are narrow, and the recognition of the importance of regional engagement virtually universal. This contrasts with Puerto Rico where the ideological divide among integrationist, autonomist and independence political forces has formed the very basis of political party allegiances for decades. In the US Virgin Islands, the development of a collective political identity through similar international organisation participation had actually exceeded that of Puerto Rico for significant periods during the last quarter century, but has appears unsustainable, largely based on conflicting U.S. policy which isolates U.S. territories from the same regional institutions in which the U.K. territories enjoy membership. This strategy of isolation based on overly strict constitutional interpretations serves to reinforce dependency governance.

For the Cayman Islands, the 1972 Constitution, amended on five occasions through 2003, recognises a “Caymanian Status” for eligibility to be elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly with ancestral ties to the territory either by birth or through at least one parent (23), and for qualifying as an elector (24). Regarding Montserrat, the House of Assembly in its 2002 Report of the Committee of the Whole approved a number of recommendations of its Constitutional Commissioners which had called for a strengthened political identity. In this connection, the Committee approved, inter alia, the recommendations that regional affairs and international finance be placed within the competence of the elected government, that legislative members should be required to swear an oath to the people of Montserrat, that a free association arrangement should be pursued, and that nativity should be a criteria for citizenship.

Bermuda, unlike the other U.K. territories in the Atlantic/Caribbean which proceeded with post-1999 formal reviews of their individual constitutions, did not participate in the review process as it already has an advanced constitution (short of free association, given the maintenance of the governor’s reserved powers), with any further constitutional advancement recognised as a move to independence (where the governor’s powers would no longer apply). In that connection, the Bermuda Independence Commission was created in 2004 to assess the implications of an independent Bermuda, the ultimate expression of collective political identity. The exhaustive report of the commission made a series of recommendations to advance a public dialogue and engage the business sector on the changes that would be brought about through independence, to clarify post independence citizenship issues, and to review all international opportunities.

As the process of dialogue continues, the existent 1968 constitution (25) as amended most recently in 2003, provides similar expressions cultural identity as contained in other U.K. constitutions, including the recognition of a Bermudian status similar in scope to the belonger status of other U.K. territories. The strong political identity of Bermuda is manifest in the advanced powers the territory exercises, and to which many of the other territories aspire.

V. Political and Cultural Identity in Caribbean Autonomous Countries

As earlier cited, the very nature of the autonomy inherent in a political association arrangement provides for a high degree of political identity, as confirmed by international law and principles (26). This is clear in the 1954 Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as amended, which sets forth the equality of the countries of Holland, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba (27). In this connection, the Charter provides for each of the three countries to “conduct their internal interests autonomously, and their common interests on a basis of equality.” Generally, the Kingdom maintains control over defence, foreign relations and nationality, with the option to exercise financial control through ‘higher supervision’ in the event of extraordinary circumstances necessitating a temporary assumption of financial control by the Kingdom government (28).

The autonomous Antilles model also provides for aspects of political integration as detailed in the Kingdom Charter, with membership in the Dutch Council of Ministers set aside for the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, respectively (29).  Further representation is provided for in the Dutch Council of State in relation to the capacity to influence decisions on the applicability of Kingdom laws and regulations. There are also mechanisms for mutual consent precluding the applicability of certain Kingdom laws, as well as international and financial agreements. On regional and international participation, the Kingdom generally supports the membership of participation of the Netherlands Antilles as a matter of course.

In the context of cultural identity, as in the case of Puerto Rico, linguistic autonomy plays a major part in the expression of cultural identity in specific islands. The indigenous language of Papimentu predominates in Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba, and in 2007 was made one of the official languages in the Netherlands Antilles.

In the wake of the acquisition of separate country status (status aparte) of Aruba in 1986, a series of referenda were held in the remaining five islands on the political future of the Netherlands Antilles, resulting in the initiation of discussions to dismantle the five-island associated country. Both Curacao and Sint Maarten chose ‘separate country’ status, and after intense negotiations - under significant pressure with debt relief hanging in the balance - agreements were made for the two jurisdictions to gain the new status, albeit with significant reduction in autonomy presently held by the five-island grouping before the dismantlement scheduled for October of 2010.

The islands of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius chose what was characterised as ‘direct ties’ with the Dutch Kingdom. That status, however, turned out to be a form of partial integrated overseas provincial status (‘public entities’). As such, the Kingdom Government is set to replace local administrative power, in extenso, with the final parameters still being finalised at the beginning of 2010. Bonaire, on the other hand, had a different understanding of “direct ties,” which did not mean ‘partial integration.’ They have scheduled a new referendum in March, 2010 with the internationally recognised political status option of free association along with the now-revealed ‘public entity’ status on the ballot.

It was reported in the Bonaire media that the United Nations had (curiously) termed as ‘problematic’ the residency period for voter eligibility in the upcoming referendum, arguing that it would exclude some Dutch citizens from participation. The question, of course, is whether this would be a referendum for the people of Bonaire, or for the Dutch citizens in Bonaire. International law confirms the right of people, in an act of self-determination, to determine specific eligibility criteria.

Conclusion

It should be emphasized that issues of identity in the non-independent Caribbean are multidimensional, and fundamentally linked to variables such as the nature of the prevailing political status and its prospects for evolution, the size and national origin of the population and cultural manifestations such as language, heritage and other traditions. These remain considerable factors in the evolution of identity in the countries of the non-independent Caribbean, and can often serve to divert attention from the development of a unified national ethos.

Caribbean regional integration initiatives such as the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), as well as the Eastern Caribbean - Trinidad and Tobago unity discussions, for example, are important to the reaffirmation/reinforcement of a Caribbean commonality. Should such processes which promote a unified Caribbean identity be embraced or rejected, in full or in part, by the dependencies and associated states which comprise the non-independent Caribbean? Conversely, should they pursue a direction towards reinforcement of the present dependency-cosmopolitan dynamic which would continue to influence an emergence of an alter ego? What are the implications of either approach given the changing global dynamic precipitated by fundamental shifts in the world economy, planetary implications of the failure to achieve a binding treaty on climate change, and the scramble for access to what’s left of the natural resources of the planet by those states which regard their colonial/associated political relationships with non-independent Caribbean countries as a foothold for the extension of exclusive economic zones? Contemporary international relations in the 21st Century must factor in the dynamic of the non-independent Caribbean in all of its manifestations as decisions on constitutional reform will most certainly have an impact on the cultural and political identity of this component of the Caribbean region.

Notes

1) Corbin, Carlyle. 2006. Decolonisation and Self-Government of Curacao. pp.5-6. A paper presented at the University of the Netherlands Antilles by Dr. Carlyle Corbin, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, 1st June 2006.
 
2) U.N. General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), December 14, 1960.
 
3) U.N. General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV), December 15, 1960.
 
4) Corbin, Carlyle. (1997). A Plan of Action for the Self-Determination of the Remaining Non Self-Governing Territories. A paper delivered to the United Nations Caribbean Regional Seminar, Antigua and Barbuda. pp. 1-3.
 
5)Report of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation for 2008, Official Records, U.N. General Assembly (A/63/23) 30th June 2008; pp. 1-2.
 
6) United Nations General Assembly Resolution 62/118. 17 December 2007.
 
7) United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 3(2).
 
8) Igarashi, Masahiro. 2002. Associated Statehood in International Law. The Hague, London, New York: Kluwer Law International. pp. 62-65.
 
9) Bourne, Judith. (2005). The Ambiguity of our U.S. Citizenship. A Paper delivered at a forum of the Virgin Islands Humanities Council, St. John, Virgin Islands. p.3.
 
10) British Overseas Territories Act. (2002). Section 3.
 
11) Speech by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Ben Bradshaw. Second reading of the Overseas Territories Bill. House of Commons. London, 22 November 2001.
 
12) 7 op. cit.
 
13) Leibowitz, Arnold H.(1989). Defining Status: a Comprehensive Analysis of United States Territorial Relations. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 278-284.
 
14) Report of the Constitutional Commission (2005). Government of the Virgin Islands. Recommendations 16-32.
 
15) The Virgin Islands Constitutional Order 2007. Section 2(2)( a) – (h) and Section 65 (1) – (4).
 
16) 9 op. cit. p. 3.
 
17) Report by the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status. (2005). P. 10.
 
18) Boden, Roy J.A. (2007). The Cayman Islands in Transition. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle. pp. 39-40.


19) Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Article III, Section 5. (1952).


20) The Turks and Caicos Islands Constitutional Order 2006. Section 44(c).


21) 18 op. cit. Section 49 (1)(b)(iii).


22) Anguilla Constitutional (Amendment) Order 1990. Section 25.


23) Cayman Islands (Constitution) Order 1972. Article 18(1) (a), and Article 18 (2) (b).


24) 21 op. cit. Article 25 (b).

25) Bermuda Constitutional Order 1968.


26) 3 op. cit. Annex

27) Documents on International Relations in the Caribbean, University of the West Indies and University of Puerto Rico. (1970)

28) The Netherlands Antilles is comprised of Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius and Sint Maarten. Aruba attained separate status aparte in 1986 as the third country in the Kingdom, filling the vacancy left by the independence of Suriname.

29) Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1954 as amended). Article 7.

4 comments:

Gerard said...

Dr. Corbin, WOW! I wish that I had been aware of this article before. It is remarkably revealing in light of the native rights’ provisions in the document approved by the Fifth Constitutional Convention of the Virgin Islands of the United States of America (USVI). The constitutional trends you so meticulously documented that exist in several of the non-independent Caribbean countries, (i.e. the inclusion of language in their constitutions that make nativity and/or Belonger status a criterion for holding elective office in their assemblies), seem to support and may also provide legitimate precedents for the native rights’ provisions in the proposed constitution for the U.S.V.I.
You also show why a country such as Puerto Rico, due to the presence of a unifying and distinct language from the official language of its Administering Power, and due to the large population of natives there, does not need to insert such direct language in its constitution. Thank you for making this important distinction.

Your scholarly essay is well documented and should be included as part of the source material for the section-by-section-analysis that is being prepared to accompany the proposed constitution of the USVI. Your article shows that the legislative intent of the USVI’s constitutional convention delegates was consistent with that of our brothers and sisters in other dependent territories. It also provides further concrete evidence (in addition to the well established and constitutionally-tested native rights' provisions in the constitutions of American Samoa and the Northern Marianas), which shows that contrary to the pronouncements of a few persons, political independence does not have to be a pre-condition for the insertion of nativity as a qualification for certain privileges in the constitution of a non-self-governing territory.

Thank you for the great research you conducted.

However, the overriding point you seemed to be making, is that these cultural and nationalistic trends may affect the extent to which Caribbean people will be able to eventually unify politically, socially, culturally and economically. Although this is certainly a legitimate concern, we have a proverb that has been passed down by our elders, which says: "PARSON CHRISTENS HIS OWN CHILD FIRST". In other words, we may need to take care of our own people and culture first and ensure sure that they survive, prosper and develop before we can engage in regional, unifying activities. Internal territorial unity may be a prerequisite for regional unity. It is possible that we can do both together, but seeking to achieve the former does not negate the possibility of the latter. It may strengthen the foundation for both just as a person needs to be able to swim before he/she can save someone who is drowning.

So thank you again for such an enlightening essay.

Gerard Emanuel, Delegate
Fifth Constitutional Convention of the USVI

Gerard said...

Dr. Corbin, WOW! I wish that I had been aware of this article before. It is remarkably revealing in light of the native rights’ provisions in the document approved by the Fifth Constitutional Convention of the Virgin Islands of the United States of America (USVI). The constitutional trends you so meticulously documented that exist in several of the non-independent Caribbean countries, (i.e. the inclusion of language in their constitutions that make nativity and/or Belonger status a criterion for holding elective office in their assemblies), seem to support and may also provide legitimate precedents for the native rights’ provisions in the proposed constitution for the U.S.V.I.
You also show why a country such as Puerto Rico, due to the presence of a unifying and distinct language from the official language of its Administering Power, and due to the large population of natives there, does not need to insert such direct language in its constitution. Thank you for making this important distinction.

Your scholarly essay is well documented and should be included as part of the source material for the section-by-section-analysis that is being prepared to accompany the proposed constitution of the USVI. Your article shows that the legislative intent of the USVI’s constitutional convention delegates was consistent with that of our brothers and sisters in other dependent territories. It also provides further concrete evidence (in addition to the well established and constitutionally-tested native rights' provisions in the constitutions of American Samoa and the Northern Marianas), which shows that contrary to the pronouncements of a few persons, political independence does not have to be a pre-condition for the insertion of nativity as a qualification for certain privileges in the constitution of a non-self-governing territory.

Thank you for the great research you conducted.

However, the overriding point you seemed to be making, is that these cultural and nationalistic trends may affect the extent to which Caribbean people will be able to eventually unify politically, socially, culturally and economically. Although this is certainly a legitimate concern, we have a proverb that has been passed down by our elders, which says: "PARSON CHRISTENS HIS OWN CHILD FIRST". In other words, we may need to take care of our own people and culture first and ensure sure that they survive, prosper and develop before we can engage in regional, unifying activities. Internal territorial unity may be a prerequisite for regional unity. It is possible that we can do both together, but seeking to achieve the former does not negate the possibility of the latter. It may strengthen the foundation for both just as a person needs to be able to swim before he/she can save someone who is drowning.

So thank you again for such an enlightening essay.

Gerard Emanuel, Delegate
Fifth Constitutional Convention of the USVI

GlobalPublic said...

Perhaps we should even go further...

Do we need a Referendum For A New Democracy?

Are you concerned about the future of democracy? Do you feel democracy is under attack by extreme greed in countries around the world? Are you sick and tired of: living in fear, corporate greed, growing police state, government for the rich, working more but having less?

Can we use both elections and random selection (in the way we select government officials) to rid democracy of undue influence by extreme wealth and wealth-dominated mass media campaigns?

The world's first democracy (Athenian democracy, 600 B.C.) used both elections and random selection. Even Aristotle (the cofounder of Western thought) promoted the use random selection as the best way to protect democracy. The idea of randomly selecting (after screening) juries remains from Athenian democracy, but not randomly selecting (after screening) government officials. Why is it used only for individual justice and not also for social justice? Who wins from that? ...the extremely wealthy?

What is the best way to combine elections and random selection to protect democracy in today's world? Can we use elections as the way to screen candidates, and random selection as the way to do the final selection? Who wins from that? ...the people?

kittitianhill said...

Elaborative. Great for english speaking two-island nation in the Caribbean.

st kitts and nevis citizenship