31 March 2011

UN Decolonisation Seminar Set for Cayman Islands 24-26 May


United Nations Press Release
Special Committee on Decolonization
2nd Meeting (AM)

The General Assembly’s Special Committee on Decolonization decided today to hold its Caribbean regional seminar on implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020) in Cape Town (sic), Cayman Islands, from 24 to 26 May.

The Committee... also authorized its Chair, Francisco Carrion-Mena (Ecuador), to finalize the composition of the official delegation, as well as the list of experts and non-governmental organizations that will be invited to attend.

Mr. Carrion-Mena told Member States that the official delegation would comprise the Bureau and one Special Committee member from each regional group: Africa; Asia; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Eastern Europe. As such, it would consist of eight representatives, he said, adding that the United Nations would bear the cost of the delegation’s travel. Owing to the shortage of time, he requested that Committee members entrust him with the mandate to complete the list of the formal delegation following informal consultations among the regional groups. He would, he said, duly inform the Committee of the final list.

As in previous years, the Bureau planned to invite three experts and three representatives of non-governmental organizations to speak at the Seminar, all six of whom would be funded by the United Nations. The list of proposed participants would be reviewed by the Bureau and circulated in short order to all Committee members under separate cover.

Mr. Carrion-Mena said that he would request, through the Secretariat, those Committee members who wished to submit additional names for the list of experts to do so. “I think it’s important to have a greater participation,” he stressed, adding that “we shouldn’t just use a list we already have”.

He also informed Committee members that, in determining the venue, a number of factors were considered, including the political situation and logistics of several countries in the Caribbean. Following a request from Cuba, information and statistical data on the Territories had been provided on the Special Committee’s web page. In the end, however, the Committee had followed through with its intention to hold the meeting in the Cayman Islands.

He further noted that all elected and appointed officials of the Non-Self-Governing Territories would be invited, while invitations would also be extended to other Member States, administering Powers, specialized United Nations agencies and some regional organizations.

(For coverage on the last UN Decolonisation Seminar, see: Intensification of Decolonisation Process Discussed at the United Nations )

Following those announcements, the Special Committee also approved the guidelines and rules of procedures, including the seminar’s agenda (document A/AC.109/2011/18), and endorsed English as the seminar’s official language. As in the past, the Special Committee will celebrate the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories at the seminar.

After a suggestion by the representative of Saint Lucia, the Committee decided to seek proposals for the themes of the Third Decade, which was declared by the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session, prior to the seminar to facilitate discussion.

Before closing the meeting, Mr. Carrion-Mena, who was elected Chair at the previous meeting of the Special Committee, paid particular tribute to the outgoing Chair Donatus Keith St. Aimée ( Saint Lucia), as well as the work conducted under his helm. “I hope I can keep up the same pace,” he said, underscoring his commitment to the milestones that had already been set.

Congressional Delegate Calls for a Legitimate Act of Self-Determination for Guahan (Guam)


Political leaders in Guam have stepped up their efforts to bring about the modernisation of the political status of the territory through a self-determination process in the U.S.-administered territory in the Pacific. Recently, Guam Congressional Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo called for the resolution of the political status dilemma in the territory through “a legitimate act of Chamorro self determination.” In an address to the people of Guam delivered at the Antonio R. Unpingco Legislative Session Hall at the Guam Legislature in Hagatna, Delegate Bordallo made the following points:

“As we embark on this journey to our future, one of the first steps—maybe the most important step—is to resolve our political status through a legitimate act of Chamorro self determination. Last year Congress passed, and the President signed, a bill I authored to provide federal funding for political status education in the territories.

I have asked Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta to make this a top priority, even as his budget cuts dictate that not all needs will be met in this fiscal year. I commend the Governor for stating that this is also his priority, and Senators Pangelinan and Respicio for their initiatives to move us toward decolonization.

Resolving our political status, and decolonizing Guam, is a process that will cause us to examine our relationship with the United States, and determine what is best for our island and our people. We need to get on with this process and I will do my part in joining with the Governor and Legislature to make the self-determination vote a reality.”

This statement of Delegate Bordallo follows the extensive report on political status issued by the transition team of Governor Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo who began his first term last January. The report provided an extensive history of past action on the political status front, and made a number of key recmmendations:

"While the Government of Guam’s participation in political status and the area of Chamorro Self-Determination has been minimal over the past eight years, there have been a number of initiatives on the part of civil society that has advanced this area of work. Initiatives towards this end have included the following: testimonies before the United Nations’ (UN) Committee on Decolonization, the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee, and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; participation in the UN Pacific Seminars bi-annually; revitalization of the Chamorro Registry; University of Guam educational initiatives; the production of scholarly articles deepening the legal understanding of Chamorro Self-Determination; and the passage of a Congressional authorization to fund a local political status educational campaign...

Executive Summary of Recommendations

The Political Status &  External Affairs Subcommittee recommends that Governor-Elect Calvo and Lt. Governor-Elect Tenorio reactivate the work of the Commission on Decolonization in order to fulfill their intentions of conducting a political status plebiscite during their term of office."

As the international community has embarked on the third decade to focus attention on the decolonization of the remaining territories worldwide, the increased attention to the issue in Guam concides with the issuance of the 2011 White House Report on Puerto Rico which has important implicatins for the evolution of a permanent political status for the five U.S. territories.

UPDATEGuam senator: Move forward on Chamorro-only vote

See also:

Self-Determination Legislation - Opportunity for US Administered Territories?
US House Approves Political Status Education Bill
US Congressional Committee Approves Self-Determination Assistance to Territories
US Virgin Islands Delegate Clarifies Status of Political Status Legislation

Statia Coalition Government Addresses People


 SINT EUSTATIUS – On Friday, March 11th 2011 the newly installed Executive Council of St. Eustatius held its first monthly Press Conference along with the Deputy Kingdom Representative, Mr. Hans Gerritsen in the V.A. Lopes legislative Hall.

The Island Governor, Mr. Gerald Berkel opened the press conference addressing the immediate actions by the newly appointed commissioners on their first day. He used the expression” on day one they hit the ground running.” He passed the word over to Commissioner Clyde van Putten followed by Commissioner Glenn Schmidt and concluded with the deputy Kingdom representative Mr. Hans Gerritsen.

Mr. Clyde van Putten highlighted the areas discussed in the Executive Council with the Kingdom representative. He talked about the education conference for March 25 and 26th 2011 where the Minister of Education of the Netherlands, Mrs. Maria Bijsterveld would be present.

The Commissioners of Education and stakeholders of the various Territories (Saba and Bonaire) would also be participating in this conference. To assure that St. Eustatius is well prepared he announced that he would talk to his predecessor Mr. Roy Hooker, who was responsible for education for two terms.

The outcome of the elections was briefly touched. He hopes that the results of the election sends a clear message to the Dutch Government stationed in the Hague, that the people of Statia wanted change. He said that the newly formed coalition does not oppose the status but the content needs to be reviewed, areas like healthcare and taxes needs to be looked at.

Another area which successive governments talked about is proper housing for the government administration. When we talk about good governance we need to assure that civil servants have the necessary tools and good housing facility to accomplish this. The lengthy procedures of government for decision-making should be something of the past. One of their campaign promises was to assure that the general public acquire timely and active information from the Island Government through the office of the Government Information Service.

To accomplish this goal they wish to restructure the government information service to be able to have nightly TV programming. Mr. van Putten concluded that the newly formed coalition government is for all the people of St. Eustatius.

Commissioner Schmidt, described his first day as exciting, although they just went through the recent election followed by the inauguration on March 10th and immediately at work on March 11th 2011. His introductory meeting in his new capacity as commissioner with Mr. Hans Gerritsen was pleasant. In this meeting they became knowledgeable of his interest and concerns.

They hope to have a good working relationship with him to get the necessary results for the people of Statia. They talked about many issues of which Transparency in government stood out. Reviewing this topic in general and the functioning of government it must be transparent to the public. He explained about his relatively large family of which his sister and other relatives are employed at finance and other areas of government.

When certain services are to be carried out through these sectors, the people need to know that it has the Executive councils approval. Another important topic was that of the governing programme of the government. Mr. Glenn Schmidt explained that the coalition parties are in the process of putting a committee together to complete the governing programme. He gave a time frame of 60 days in which the programme will be completed. Thereafter it will be presented to the Island council who will hold the Executive Council accountable for carrying it out within 4 years.

The Deputy Kingdom Representative, Mr. Hans Gerritsen opened his address by congratulating the Island Governor, Mr. Gerald Berkel for the good flow of the elections. He also extended his congratulations to the newly appointed commissioners for the accomplishments of their parties. They briefly talked about the role of the Kingdom Representative, with the chief responsibility to look at the governments on the islands with the objective that there is good governance.

Listening to the steps to be taken by the commissioner with regard to transparency in government was of an important and positive nature. He mentioned the Dualism, which is the change in the ground rules. He indicated in the Executive Council Meeting the urgency of the appointment of a Griffier (recorder) responsible for the preparations of everything surrounding the Island Council meetings.

It is customary to host a press conference after each visit of the Kingdom Representative to inform the general public of the points that were discussed. Although these press conferences are usually short in nature, the government will enlighten the public more detailed on these topics through the Government Information Service weekly press conferences.