06 April 2011

Cayman Islands Declines to Host UN Decolonisation Seminar following British Invitation to United Nations


Cayman News Service

(CNS): The Cayman Islands’ premier has turned down an invitation to host the United Nation’s Special Committee on Decolonisation annual seminar here, his office revealed on Tuesday. Despite a release from the United Nations stating that the meeting would be held in Cayman next month, officials from the premier’s office said that McKeeva Bush had written to committee chairman, Francisco Carrion-Mena, on Tuesday morning stating that it would not be possible for his government to host the meeting. Although no reasons have been given as to why Cayman is refusing the invitation, officials said the CIG had never agreed to have it here in the first place. The UN “had jumped the gun” when it said the meeting would be held in Cayman, officials added.
OTR Editor's Note: According to United Nations (U.N.) sources, the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonisation formally decided to accept the invitation from the United Kingdom (U.K.) to hold the U.N. Caribbean Regional seminar on decolonisation. It was unclear whether the Cayman Islands Government had been informed in advance by the U.K. that it was going to extend the invitation to the U.N. According to an international decolonisation expert, the last seminar held in a U.K.-administered territory was in Anguilla in 2003, even as the U.K. had withdrawn its formal cooperation from the committee in 1986. The expert went on to note that the French facilitated the Pacific Regional Seminar on decolonisation in its territory of New Caledonia in 2010.
In his letter to the UN committee’s chair the premier reportedly offered his appreciation and gratitude for the invitation to host the annual meeting but turned it down without explanation.
The UN had released the information at the weekend indicating that the Cayman Islands had been selected following consideration of a number of factors in selecting the venue, including the political situation and logistics of several countries in the Caribbean. CNS has contacted the UN Decolonisation Committee to ask why it believed the CIG had already accepted the invitation and where the apparent miscommunication occurred and is awaiting a response.
The news that the meeting was planned to be held here had received a warm welcome from local activist group, the People for Referendum, which pointed to the importance of holding these meetings in the remaining colonies or non-self governing territories (NSGT).
The local group, which supports the idea that the Cayman Islands should move away from its current colonial status, said the matters discussed by this committee directly relate to the governance relationship between the territories and their respective administering power. The group said that holding seminars in the territories helps to educate the people about the governance options that the UN resolutions obligate all administering powers make available to the people in the territories.
The group said the decision not to hold the committee's seminar in the Cayman Islands after all will deprive Caymanians of a valuable educational opportunity on governance. “Whether we like it or not, in 1945 and again in 1960 it was the UK that put the Cayman Islands on the UN Non-Self-Governing Territories list; the UK was one of the six member states that drafted the establishment of the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation and they also drafted the governing rules between the Administering Powers and Non-Self-Governing Territories,” the PFR said.
“One of these rules requires annual reports on each territory; these annual regional seminars are part of that reporting process when each territory's government, civil society organizations and individuals have an opportunity to talk with the members of the UN.”
The group added that it was still important that Caymanians understand how their future is being discussed at these multinational meetings and that the public exercise their right of free speech.


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