28 March 2012

The attractions of Nationhood: Illusion and Reality -- Lessons from the CARICOM experience'

(This is the first in a series of papers presented at the 50-50 Caribbean Conference: Surveying the Past, Mapping the Future. The conference was convened at the University College of the Cayman Islands from 21 - 23 March 2012). 


 Sir Ronald Sanders

Sir Ronald Sanders
Sir Ronald Sanders

This paper will explore the lure of independence for the remaining non-independent territories in the Caribbean and the lessons that can be learned from the experience of other Caribbean countries particularly the member states of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

Speaking just a month ago on February 23rd the newly elected Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on Decolonization, Diego Morejón Pazmino of Ecuador, said that it was necessary to develop new strategies to ensure the “final disappearance of the archaic concept of colonialism”.The Chair did not elaborate on what “new strategies” should be developed to end colonialism, nor did he or any other member of the Committee indicate what might replace the present links to metropolitan powers that now exist.

Yet, these are important questions for the people of these small states to consider in determining how they should respond to the siren call for independence and nationhood, often made by political leaders within their countries.

There are 16 non-independent territories left on the United Nations list.

Of the 16, seven of them are in the Caribbean, and, of the 7, six are administered by the United Kingdom: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos. The seventh is the US Virgin Islands, administered by the United States. In almost all of these territories, a call for independence has surfaced from time to time. 

The urge for independence is often present among small and vocal groups who link their non-independent-status to slavery, exploitation and racism and who regard formal political independence as a defining end to that experience. 

The urge is understandable, but for small states – and more particularly micro-states – the practicalities of its achievement should restrain passion.

Read the full paper here.

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