30 November 2013

Apartheid In The Dominican Republic: Are You Haitian?

By Myriam J.A. Chancy, Ph.D. 
for Curacao Chronicle

Dominican Republic racist law against its Black citizens affects quarter of a million people.
OES Dispatch from St. Martin – The implications of the ruling of September 23 by the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic, stripping citizenship from the offspring of non-resident Haitians born in the Dominican Republic (DR), where nationality is conferred “jus soli,” by place of birth, are only beginning to be understood by the international community with the OAS, Amnesty International, and the governments of Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, openly condemning the violation of human rights it represents.

Hanging in the balance are the lives of nearly a quarter of a million Dominicans of Haitian descent – of all ages – who have been rendered stateless by the ruling, in what has been deemed a human rights crisis in the making.


28 November 2013

The Decolonisation Papers: French Polynesia political leader addresses Melanesian Spearhead Group on self-determination issue

Statement by

Mr Oscar Manutahi TEMARU
President of Tavini Huiraatira
 
19th MSG Summit
 

CPS, Nouméa, Kanaky

Mr. President of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, 

Dear Victor,

Honorable prime ministers of member states,

Honorable observers and guests,

Honorable members of Kanaky’s institutions,

Ia orana, Talofa,

My first thoughts go to the People of Kanaky, and to your elders whom I had the honor to walk and fight along in the past. Jean-Marie, Yéwené, Yan Séléné, Roch Pidjot, Eloi … I know that you are watching us as we gather here.

This year’s summit is about a “Free and united Pacific”. 

As you all know, all of us are not yet free, but MSG has never failed to support this quest while trying to maintain unity.

You were at the forefront of the FLNKS struggle that led to their relisting on the UN list of non-autonomous territories back in 1986.

For the last two years MSG has again proved that strength lies in unity. Along with the Polynesian countries, you stood strong in supporting the quest of the Maohi People at the United Nations. Adoption of resolution L56 Rev. 1 on May 17th is tangible proof of this unity in pursuit of freedom.

Be assured that the Maohi People will never forget your support. I cannot but give a special “mauruuru” to the Honorable Gordon Darcy Lilo, prime minister of Solomon Islands, whose leadership never failed and gave his ambassador at the UN, Mr Collin beck the indomitable courage and resolve to go forward, despite formidable pressure and lobbying from big countries.

Kanaky and Maohi Nui are now both under the oversight of the United Nations, towards self-determination.

I would have a special request. I don’t know if it is possible but I will ask anyway. I am making this request on my behalf and that of my late brothers, Jean-Marie, Yéwéné, Eloi

I know that you have an upcoming referendum. I would like you to consider “waiting” for us, so that Kanaky and Ma’ohi Nui hold their referendum at the same time. Not too far. Possibly before the end of François Hollande’s term.

Please think about it.

To us, you member states of MSG, are proof that independence can mean sustainable development and good governance, for true social and economic progress that benefits the People.

Yet, remnants of colonial times are still trying to scare our Peoples and convince us that we are not fit to manage our own destinies.

Together we have huge resources and potential that are coveted by big sharks that roam our oceans.

It is therefore very important that MSG, and the newly formed PLG work closely to share best practices and experience of this globalized world in which we all live today.

I am sure that, under FLNKS leadership, the excellent work done by Commodore Bainimarama will be pursued and kept up to the new challenges ahead.

This year, MSG celebrates its 25th anniversary. Next year it will be 25 years since Jean-Marie Tjibaou and Yéwéné.

Yéwéné left us. Time flies but the true legacy remains.

Mauruuru, e te aroha ia rahi.

25 November 2013

Turks & Caicos Islander reveals selective British prosecution on basis of race

The case against the FCO's SIPT
and its institutional racism

Letter by J. Forbes to TCI News Now!

"No matter whatever happens now to try and rehabilitate what are self evidently racist prosecutions, a very large segment of the community will now never accept any convictions of the (British) SIPT (Special Investigation and Prosecution Team), particularly in a judge alone trial, as being the reflection of a fair or reasonable judicial process."


While TCI (Turks and Caicos Islands) residents now realize that British technocrats have plundered millions from the treasury, the truly unforgivable sin is the lost opportunities in having the country in stasis for four years, along with the human toll of having an all-white and racist European prosecuting team selecting who to prosecute, in a predominantly Afro-Caribbean society, under the thumb of Helen Garlick’s SIPT. This latter travesty, which has ensnared a generation of successful Belongers, has been the subject of infrequent public comment, although negative sentiment is widespread.

On 24 January 2013, Professor Trevor Munroe, the executive director of Jamaica’s National Integrity Action (NIA) group, wrote to then TCI Governor Todd about shortcomings in the rule of law in the TCI, and what his group said was the “uneven application of the law”. His concern was the deals that were hatched with white developers and businessmen while others were being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Munroe’s letter was answered, but his concerns were given scant attention. 

Almost six months after Munroe’s letter, a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) ministerial fact finding mission to the TCI, headed by eminent members of that important regional body, published its findings on 11 July 2013. 

The group found widespread sentiments that: (1) the SIPT’s investigation and prosecutions have created a climate of fear, that they have the country on pause, that the prosecutions have destroyed reputations, and that (2) no regional persons are on the SIPT, giving the impression that it is intended to treat Belongers as crooks and target only Islanders for prosecution, that (3) justice is for sale to foreigners while locals face criminal charges and jail time, that (4) there is a complete disconnect between the TCI and British narratives and perspectives, that (5) the UK should say what its level of culpability is for the events that are the subject of the SIPT’s prosecutions, given its oversight responsibility, and (6) that there are widespread concerns over the manipulation of the criminal justice system, including removal of the right to trial by jury, changes to the laws on the collection and admissibility of evidence, etc.

There has been no public response by the UK government to that important regional body’s report but, even more alarming, there has been no movement on any of the recommendations in the report. 

(OTR Note: The British representative to the United Nations Fourth Committee last October stated in a session on the decolonisation of the non self-governing territories under UK administration that the British were unaware of the existence of the CARICOM report on the Turks and Caicos Islands - even as it is stated in the Report that the document was sent to the British government).

As for the merits of the CARICOM delegation’s findings, with twelve out of thirteen of the SIPT’s defendants being Belongers, the charge that the SIPT’s prosecutions have yielded unnaturally skewed results is unanswerable. Even on the SIPT’s account the crimes they are prosecuting involve white expatriates paying bribes to black government ministers for favours, with roughly even numbers of persons paying and receiving bribes. 

With only one exception their prosecutions involve only blacks being strung, drawn, and quartered, and in case after case the person paying the bribes are conspicuously missing, in most cases as a result of having cut a deal, in some instances there is simply no good explanation for the missing developer, and in at least one case the SIPT seems to be making every effort to avoid the particular businessman. 

In addition, in legal transactions they say were corrupt, the consistent conclusions they have drawn is that white professionals representing expatriates were not knowingly a party to the corruption, but long standing and successful Belonger professionals, with much to lose and nothing to gain, they say were mired in the corrupt deals.

The fact that this prosecution has yielded such obviously racist results in its decisions to prosecute is hardly surprising when you consider that the SIPT’s membership is lily-white and all-European, which is not a travesty in itself, even though its members inevitably bring to their jobs preconceived notions about the region and its mostly Afro-Caribbean subjects, with no one in their midst to disabuse them of those prejudices. 

A close look at the composition of the SIPT, however, shows that its predilection for bias goes beyond the colour and culture of its membership. The majority of the team are retired veterans, with thirty-plus years experience, many of whom are former members of London’s Metropolitan Police Service (the Met), which puts them at the heart of one of the most racist police forces in the world. If that seems an unwarranted claim the Met has a record of stopping and searching blacks more than three times the frequency of whites in 2000, and more than six times in 2009-2010. 

The Macpherson Report on London’s Met, published in 1999, found that it was “institutionally racist” (which is defined by unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping among its membership), and came up with a long list of recommendations to tackle its racism, a very important component of which is that its staffing should reflect the cultural and ethnic makeup of the communities it serves. 

Despite significant changes the Met is still considered institutionally racist, with cries that decades later it still does not reflect the markup of the communities it serves. If that is a yardstick to avoid ‘institutional racism’, Garlick’s SIPT clearly fails miserably on that score, being all-white and all-European, and its defendant lineup and prosecutions speak for itself. 

TCI’s mainstream press has been too fearful to state the obvious, and it has therefore been quiet about the travesty of this injustice. A few local blogs have been braver, beating around the central point, and marveling at how by far the largest allegations of corruption have gone completely untouched by the SIPT because of who is at the center of the allegations, but even those ‘anonymous’’ blogs, that have been most vocal, have been intimidated and shut down. 

No matter whatever happens now to try and rehabilitate what are self evidently racist prosecutions, a very large segment of the community will now never accept any convictions of the SIPT, particularly in a judge alone trial, as being the reflection of a fair or reasonable judicial process. These trials will bring the TCI’s criminal justice system completely into disrepute.

British justice does not stink... it reeks, and the FCO United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office) should be absolutely ashamed of its part in this travesty parading as a criminal justice system.

24 November 2013

Former Papua New Guinea MP Philemon slams Australian racism

Former Lae MP and respected statesman, Bart Philemon has slammed Australian immigration for one of the “most blatant racism” cases against Papua New Guineans he has ever seen.

Philemon, who was educated in Australia and travelled frequently there, said all black passengers on an Air Niugini flight to Brisbane last Wednesday were lined up and a sniffer dog set on them in scenes he had never before witnessed.

Ironically, this same part of Brisbane airport, known as the “red carpet”, was where former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was forced to remove his shoes some years ago.

Philemon said the flight from Port Moresby arrived at Brisbane at 4.30pm and passengers disembarked for the normal passport check.

“I got my baggage and was then going through the quarantine section, which is the last before they let you out,” he said, “at Brisbane airport there’s a red carpet.

“There was a woman in front of me. We were told to queue there and I stood behind the woman, who was Indian but she was black.

“I stood there and all the black ones who collected their bags came and there were about 20 of us, all queuing on the red carpet, and they put on the sniffer dog.

“There was only one white man who was in that line. I told the quarantine man, ‘this is really bad as there is no white person here except for a white man who’s married to a Papua New Guinean, so why are you doing this?

“He said ‘go and check the government’ and I asked ‘which government’.

“He went and grabbed me a document about bio-security.

“I raised my voice and said it brought me ‘right there and then back to colonial times when there were black people here and white people there’.

“I said ‘I don’t care if I get arrested or deported back to Papua New Guinea but this is black and white discrimination where all the whites are going and all the blacks are locked up here in a queue’.

“The question I want to ask is ‘why is Australian quarantine singling out just Papua New Guineans, black skins’.

22 November 2013

Pacific cooperation stressed at Eighth Conference of the Pacific Community (SPC)

Coordinated and inclusive approach to sustainable development necessary

Press Release

The importance of coordinated engagement by Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) in shaping the post-2015 development agenda should not be overlooked.

This is a key message emerging from the high-level discussion taking place at the 8th Conference of the Pacific Community at the Vale ni Bose complex in Suva, Fiji. The meeting is attended by ministers and delegations from the 26 member governments of the Pacific Community as well as observers, including Timor-Leste, agencies of the United Nations, and the European Union. 

There has been a call for a coordinated approach to development that is inclusive and focused on clear priorities for the region. This requires increased investment in partnerships to ensure lasting and meaningful outcomes that address priorities critical to the Pacific Islands region.

Mrs. Noumea Simi, Assistant Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Finance in Samoa, said, ‘We request the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to help us develop policies and improve knowledge sharing in the area of sustainable development. Sustainable development goals need to be made more concrete and implementable.’

‘SPC is in a strategic position to be able to assist countries,’ she said, highlighting the important role of the joint country strategies, national development frameworks and increased regional coordination, ‘so that those with the highest needs and minimal resources are targeted for priority assistance.’

Delegates stressed the need for effective regional and national responses to climate change and praised SPC’s efforts to date in supporting Pacific governments to adopt integrated, programmatic responses to climate, disaster and human security risks.

SPC is assisting nationally led efforts to advance sustainable development in Pacific societies, including improving peoples’ ability to lead long and healthy lives, access education, and enjoy sustainable livelihoods.

The conference – which is the governing body of SPC – is held every two years.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) celebrated 66 years of service to Pacific Island countries and territories in 2013.

SPC member countries and territories: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.

On Easter Island, dedicated few trying to preserve native Rapa Nui language

Easter Island's Rapa Nui language nearly died after Chile annexed the island. But, perhaps sensing that losing the language would endanger the island's status as a major tourist draw, the Chilean government is now working with the people of Easter Island to preserve the language and teach it to a new generation.

The South Pacific Easter Island’s towering stone Moai figures lure in 60,000 visitors a year.

Islanders smile, sing and dance in polyester costumes to cater to the mostly Spanish-speaking spenders. Ever since Chile annexed Easter Island more than a century ago, the Spanish language has been chipping away at the Polynesian-based language called Rapa Nui.

But these tourists, fuelling the island’s economy, are also diluting the culture they came to see. Now, with only a couple thousand speakers left, the islanders are upping their effort to revive the Rapa Nui language.

Until the late 1990s, the Chilean government effectively outlawed the islanders from speaking in Rapa Nui. Any public sector job or office required knowing and speaking in Spanish.

Anything involving the schools, police or property rights was in Spanish too.

Even the great, great granddaughter of a Rapa Nui King, Alicia Makohe, grew up speaking Spanish. She taught herself Rapa Nui at 14.


21 November 2013

Decolonization Alliance Supports U.N. Special Rapporteur

A coalition of independence advocates


New Alliance for Decolonization Reform Supports Recommendation of United Nations Independent Expert

On Monday, 28 October, founding members of The Decolonization Alliance were present at the United Nations in New York to support a recommendation being made by the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order to the Third Committee of the General Assembly.

The recommendation (GA document A/68/237, 69 (n)) calls on the General Assembly to direct the Decolonization Committee to receive communications from indigenous and non-represented peoples. This small but crucial change would allow more peoples and nations direct access to the decolonization process.

The Decolonization Alliance commends the independent expert Prof. Alfred M. deZayas and extends our endorsement of his recommendation and encourages member states to adopt a resolution to implement the recommendation.


The issue of decolonization is beginning to reach critical mass at the UN, with the understanding that substantive changes are needed to reform the process. The United Nations resolution in May 2013 to reinscribe French Polynesia to the UN list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGT) touched off calls to reactivate the UN’s decolonization process, which had been stagnating for nearly thirty years.

The reinscription renewed the hopes of those peoples and nations seeking decolonization; and triggered calls from Pacific Island states and others for the UN to step up the decolonization process.


Keying off this renewed interest in decolonization, leaders of peoples and nations pursuing independence, such as Hawaii, West Papua, Rapa Nui, Alaska, and those from North America, Australia and so forth (the list is growing), have initiated an advocacy/mutual support group called The Decolonization Alliance to actively
pursue reform of the UN decolonization process. The Alliance welcomes all those who are willing to support this effort to participate.

Puerto Rico Legislature to Study Impact of Jones Act

by Michael Hansen
Hawaii Shippers Council

The Senate of Puerto Rico’s Legislative Assembly is planning to study the economic impact of the Jones Act on the Commonwealth.  The purpose of the study is to review the germane literature especially three recent reports addressing the Jones Act and Puerto Rico and determine what changes are needed in the law so as improve the island’s economy.

The forthcoming study would be authorized by Senate Resolution No. 237 (SR 237).  The Resolution is currently awaiting a hearing by three Senate Committees:  The Committees on Rules, Calendar and Internal Affairs; the Committee on Government, Government Efficiency, and Economic Innovation; and, the Committee on Civil Rights, Citizen Participation, and Social Economy.  After the Resolution is passed out of committee, it will go to a vote on the floor of the Senate to be adopted by a simple majority.  No action by the House would be required.

The Resolution is supported by the majority leadership in the Senate and is expected to be adopted.  The Popular Democratic Party (Partido Popular Democratico) (PDP/PPD) holds majorities in both legislative chambers and the governorship.  The current governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla (PDP/PPD), supports an exemption from the Jones Act for Puerto Rico.

SR 237 would authorize two Senate Committees  -- the Committee on Government, Government Efficiency, and Economic Innovation and the Committee on Civil Rights, Citizen Participation, and Social Economy – to undertake the study and issue a report.  The Committees will hold public hearings now tentatively scheduled for January 15-17, 2014, and they will call witnesses.

The Committee staffs will prepare the report, which is projected to be released in February 2014.

The investigative committees will start with three recent studies of the impact of the Jones Act on Puerto Rico.  The “Report on the competitiveness of Puerto Rico’s economy,”

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, June 29, 2012, which identified the Jones Act as a major impediment to the island’s economic development recommended a full exemption.  The “Characteristics of the Island's Maritime Trade and Potential Effects of Modifying the Jones Act,” GAO-13-260, Mar 14, 2013, Government Accountability Office (GAO), which was unable to reach any conclusions regarding the liner container trade, but did recommend exemptions for the tramp bulk trades between the United States Mainland and Puerto Rico.  “The Maritime Industry in Puerto Rico,” Estudios Tenicos Inc. for La Alianzna Maritima de Puerto Rico, the trade association of the Jones Act industry in Puerto Rico, May 3, 2013, that concluded the higher freight rates in the domestic Puerto Rico trade are justified by a higher level of service.

SR 237 was introduced by Senator Rossana López León, Majority Whip and President of the Committee on Civil Rights, Citizen Participation, and Social Economy, one of the two standing Senate Committees that would be changed with conducting the study.  Senator López León invited the Hawaii Shippers Council to submit testimony to the Senate Committees hearing the Resolution, which we have done.

Senator López León has been invited to be a panelist to discuss the Jones Act at an event to be held on November 13, 2013 by the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico.  The event “Forosobre Ley de Cabotaje(Cabotage Law Forum), includes both critics and supporters of the Jones Act.  For those on Puerto Rico, the event is open to the public and registration is still open on the Chamber’s website.

The Hawaii Shippers Council (HSC) is a business league organization incorporated in 1997 to represent cargo interests – known as “shippers” – who tender goods for shipment with the ocean carriers operating the Hawaii trade.

20 November 2013

Deep Sea Mining: Coming soon to an ocean near you

 Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Carlos Duarte and Sophie Arnaud-Haond, IFREMER, France 

University of Western Australia 

The depletion of resources on land together with the increase in resource demand and the parallel development in technologies for deep sea exploration have brought the issue of deep-sea mining to the forefront of political, industrial and scientific debate, writes Carlos Duarte.


Shallow submarine mining is already a reality in coastal areas, such as the De Beers Marine diamond mining operation in Namibia, in depths up to 150 metres. The current challenge is to move these operations to the deep sea, which contains vast resources of minerals, including manganese, iron, nickel, copper, cobalt, rare earths and gold, often associated with areas of volcanic activity. Whereas nations are sovereign to regulate seabed mining within their economic exclusive zones, the access to resources in the seabed and ocean floor beyond these national jurisdiction waters, referred in United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as “the Area”.is organized and controlled by the autonomous international organization called “International Seabed Authority” initially established under UNCLOS.

To date, the International Seabed Authority has entered into seventeen 15-year contracts for exploration for polymetallic nodules and polymetallic sulphides in the deep seabed with thirteen contractors. Eleven of these contracts are for exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone in the Pacific, with two contracts for exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the South West Indian Ridge and the Mid Atlantic Ridge.

These contracts allow the contractors to explore specified parts of the deep oceans outside national jurisdiction, giving each contractor the exclusive right to explore an initial area of up to 150,000 km2. Russia, China, Korea, Germany and and France are the nations involved in most of these contracts, which include contracts for small nations, such as Nauru, Kiribati and Tonga, whom would likely open them up to tender by international companies.

Indeed, at a summit on Deep-Sea Mining in London two months ago Mark Brown, Minister of Minerals and Natural Resources of the Cook Islands, announced that the Cook Islands is embracing deep-sea mining as a pathway to multiply the country’s gross domestic product by up to 100 fold, as they assessed that the Cook Islands' 2 million Km2 exclusive economic zone contains 10 billion tons of manganese nodules, which contain manganese, nickel, copper, cobalt and rare earth minerals used in electronics. Negotiations are under way between the Cook Islands and companies in the UK, China, Korea, Japan and Norway, towards granting the first tenders within a year.

These facts suggest that we may soon face and underwater gold rush, but in most citizen’s minds deep-sea mining is still something for sci-fic movies. Much to the contrary, the technology for deep-sea mining is not something of the future but it is largely existing. A deep-sea mining operation consists of a mining support platform or vessel; a launch and recovery system; a crawler with a mining head, centrifugal pump and vertical transport system; and electrical, control, instrumentation and visualization systems. Companies such as Lockheed Martin, Soil Machine Dynamics, IHC Mining and Bauer or Nautilus Minerals are developing vehicles for deep-sea mining, pledging they are in the position to readily develop techniques to operate down to 5,000 metre depth. Indeed, the submarine vehicles required are already in existence and their operations are described in compelling animations.

Besides direct removal of parts of the sea floor during mineral collection, increased toxicity and turbidity is expected in the water column due to sediment resuspension during the extraction (ie near bottom) and tailings rejection after minerals are sorted on the floating plateform (ie near the surface) resulting in clouds of particles forming plumes.  Waste will represent most, 90%, of the volume of materials pumped to surface and, thus, seabed operations will deposit massive amounts of waste at the sea floor. 

This waste can, in turn, release massive amounts of metals and other elements to the surrounding water, impacting on the ecosystems that thrive near these deep sea mining sites. While near bottom resuspended sediment may cause a major threat to local communities, surface plumes generated by tailing may have a wider impact by affecting larger areas.

Here is, however, where the main problem lies. Deep sea communities are very poorly characterized and mapped, and even where a reasonable taxonomic knowledge could be claimed and communities mapped over accurate scales, their sensitivity to these impacts is unknown. Despite these uncertainties, there is little doubt that losses of fragile deep-sea communities during the operations will be unavoidable, and the focus of industry and scientists is placed in the ecological restoration of the deep sea from impacts of mining.

The International Marine Minerals Society has developed a voluntary Code for Environmental Management of Marine Mining that recommends that plans for deep sea mining include at the outset procedures that “aid in the recruitment, re-establishment and migration of biota…”.

The first impact assessment for a deep-sea mining project has now been produced. This was commissioned by Nautilus Minerals Inc., incorporated in Canada but also present in Australia (Queensland). Nautilus was granted the first mining lease for polymetallic seafloor massive sulphide deposits at the prospect known as Solwara 1, in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea, where it is aiming to extract copper, gold and silver. The company, which is likely to be the first one to implement deep-sea mining is also looking at operating in the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Zealand.

A workshop, promoted by Nautilus Minerals Inc., was held in Sète (France) in November 2012, including one of us (S.A.-H.) to consider the feasibility of ecological restoration of the deep sea following mining operations. The outcomes of the workshop are reported in a paper, including coauthors from Nautilus Minerals Inc, published in the journal Marine Policy (Van Dover et al. 2013). This exercise indicated that most of the direct costs (80%) for a deep-sea mining restoration programs would be associated with ship use, including use of remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles. 

The experts attending this workshop concluded that deep-sea restoration will be expensive, but that cost alone should not be a reason for inaction and that restoration should be included in project budgets. They concluded that where restoration costs are prohibitive, offsetting options can be explored but that neither restoration nor rehabilitation objectives or commitments should be taken as a ‘license to trash’.

A record of disasters in the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as deep sea fisheries, shows that there is a high price to pay in allowing industry to move offshore faster than scientific research does, yet only a handful of nations – which do not include Australia – are sufficiently equipped for deep sea scientific exploration as to keep pace with industry. 

The basic knowledge (taxonomic inventories, habitat mapping, characterization of faunal assemblages and dynamics of deep species interactions, …) of deep sea ecosystems and the evaluation of their vulnerability, recovery time scales and processes is a matter of urgency, but this goals cannot be met without significant investments in capabilities for deep-sea research. Providing the immediacy of deep-sea mining, the investment in scientific infrastructure and research to provide the scientific underpinnings for the safe and sustainable mining operations in the deep-sea is an imperative.

Van Dover, C.L., J. Aronson, L. Pendleton, S. Smith, Sophie Arnaud-Haond, D. Moreno-Mateos, E. Barbier, D.Billett, K.Bowers, R.Danovaro, A.Edwards, S. Kellert, T.Morato, E.Pollard, A.Rogers and R.Warner. 2013. Ecological restoration in the deep sea: Desiderata. Mar. Policy, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2013.07.006i


Pacific Solution Exchange discusses Deep Sea Mining

                       by ramunickel
United Nations / PACNEWS

The deep sea a place mostly undiscovered and unregulated, is now facing large-scale industrial exploitation as mining of the deep seabed for minerals becomes a reality.

The knowledge-sharing forum, Pacific Solution Exchange is hosting an e-discussion across the Pacific on the potential trans-boundary environmental impacts given that deep sea mining operations may happen soon within sovereign Exclusive Economic Zones.

Prompting the Pacific-wide discussion is Pacific Political Advisor for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Ms Seni Nabou.

“As terrestrial minerals become depleted and prices rise, the search for new sources of supply is turning to the sea floor and many non-governmental organisations remain concerned at the haste in which exploration and mining is taking place,” Nabou said. “While harvesting these resources could provide a much-needed economic boost to many Pacific Island countries, Greenpeace Australia Pacific and a coalition of Pacific Regional Non-Governmental Organisations are concerned about the rush to deep seabed mining and have called for a halt to it in the Pacific region.” Nabou explained, “This emerging industry, facilitated greatly by advances in technology, poses a major threat to our oceans, which are already suffering from a number of pressures including overfishing, pollution, and the effects of climate change.”

The discussion has received contributions from researchers, scientists, government officials, practitioners and experts from the Pacific and other parts of the world that have shared their thoughts on the environmental implications of deep sea mining.

Some commentators expressed concern about the potential impacts on species dependent on hydrothermal vents, where one type of seabed minerals is found. The need for better understanding about possible impacts of sediment plumes on marine life was also highlighted.

Deep Sea Minerals Project Legal Adviser from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Hannah Lily shared that deep sea environments have hardly been studied. She stated that there are different types of deep sea mineral deposits, each with different biological environments, and the extraction techniques will vary between types. It is therefore difficult to predict impacts without knowing the specific technicalities of the proposed operations and details of a specific site.

Lily noted that in some cases “Scientists predict the direct impacts of seabed mining are likely to be localised to the mining site, due to the high pressure and low current in the deep ocean, which will restrict sediment dispersal.”

She added, “If this is correct, then direct trans-boundary impacts may be considered unlikely, unless perhaps a mining site is allocated right next to a boundary and risk of dispute over mineral rights may well pre-empt that, but the probability of indirect impacts bears further investigation.”

A few members shared the view that mining can be done but in a safe manner with strict limits of damage to the environment and major penalties for breaches.

Others are critical of the fact that very little is known about what lies deep within the ocean and therefore prefer it untouched because the consequences are unclear.

The discussion continues until 4 October 2013, with people invited to join for free the Pacific Solution Exchange (PSE) community if they want to become part of the conversation.

PSE is an email-based knowledge sharing service that enables people across the Pacific to ask each other queries and share answers, insights, experiences and lessons learned to help each other in their climate change and disaster risk work. It has over 1500 members including practitioners, students, government, concerned elders, and community members in remote islands. PSE is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre with support from Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

19 November 2013

Social media used to reinforce "modernised" colonial status in British dependent (overseas) territories

The Anguillian

Facebook brings the overseas territories together

Press Release
The UK-Overseas Territories Family is on Facebook ahead of the annual meeting of the territory leaders later this month. It was launched by the Foreign Office.

The UK -Overseas Territories partnership dates from 1609. In the run up to this year’s Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council, the partnership aims to highlight the uniqueness and diversity of this community. 

(This period of "partnership" apparently includes several centuries of chattel slavery ending in the 1830s in the British-occupied Caribbean - OTR) 

The annual Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) brings together political leaders from the Overseas Territories and UK Ministers. It will meet this year in London from 26 – 27 November and will be hosted by FCO Minister for the Overseas Territories Mark Simmonds MP.

Each inhabited territory will be featured on the Facebook page on a particular day in the run up to the JMC. Anguilla will be featured on Wednesday 20 November. Governor Christina Scott commented “I welcome this initiative to celebrate the rich diversity of the Overseas Territories. Each of the UK’s 14 territories has its own unique history and proud traditions, from the five lush Caribbean territories, to the world’s most remote community. They cover hundreds of islands, vast areas of ocean, and thousands of miles. This initiative lets us learn more about them, and to celebrate that diversity.”

18 November 2013

Associated State expands diplomatic relations with neighbors


By Makereta Komai


Three Smaller Island States have established diplomatic relations with Cook Islands.

The formal signing was held at the margins of the Smaller Island States Leaders meeting in Majuro Tuesday.

Cook Islands issued a joint communiqué after its Prime Minister, Henry Puna signed diplomatic ties with the Presidents of Kiribati, Anote Tong, Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak and Palau’s Tommy Remengesau.

“The agreement strengthens ties of friendship and co-operation between Cook Islands and the three Smaller Island States, says the agreement signed between the Leaders.

All the four island countries are members of the Smaller Island States (SIS) of the Pacific Islands Forum.


(Majuro, Marshall Islands) – On September 3, at the conclusion of Smaller Islands States Leaders meeting in the Marshall Islands, Palau President and the Cook Islands Prime Minister officially established diplomatic ties, formally connecting the North to the South Pacific.

President Tommy Remengesau Junior and the Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna signed a joint communiqué establishing diplomatic relations between both island nations.

Through the communiqué, both countries agree to “develop and strengthen ties of friendship and cooperation between their countries and people.”

Additionally, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the new Pacific Islands Forum Chairman, also established diplomatic relations with the South Pacific island nation.

Led by President Remengesau, the Palau delegation includes Minister Umiich Sengebau of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, Minister Billy Kuartei of the Ministry of State, First Lady Debbie Remengesau, Thomas Taro and Keobel Sakuma, the Press Secretary for the President’s Office.

15 November 2013

UN expert body urges action to prevent violation of indigenous rights due to business activities

States and corporations need to do more to prevent the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights as a result of business-related activities, a United Nations independent expert body has said.
 “Indigenous peoples are among the groups most severely affected by the extractive, agro-industrial and energy sectors,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
“Negative effects range from indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their chosen traditional way of life, with their distinct cultural identity, to discrimination in employment and in accessing goods and services.”
Other challenges involved land use and ownership, as well as displacement through forced or economic resettlement Sulyandziga said yesterday in his presentation of the Working Group’s report to the General Assembly’s social, humanitarian and cultural committee (Third Committee) on the adverse effects of business activities on indigenous peoples’ rights.
 “Such disruption often leads to serious abuses of civil and political rights, with human rights defenders in particular put at risk,” Sulyandziga said. “Indigenous peoples are also often excluded from agreements and decision-making processes that irrevocably affect their lives.”
The report highlights how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can clarify the roles and responsibilities of States, business enterprises and indigenous peoples in addressing these problems.
 “We call on States and business enterprises to increase their efforts to implement the Guiding Principles. This includes the State’s duty to protect indigenous peoples against business-related human rights abuses and corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and where abuses have occurred, to ensure people can have effective remedy,” said Sulyandziga, while urging interested parties to register for the second annual Forum on Business and Human Rights to be held in Geneva in December.
“It will be an opportunity to discuss challenges in implementing the Guiding Principles, in particular sectors, in operational environments and in relation to specific rights and groups, including indigenous peoples. It will also be a chance to identify good practices and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation toward solutions,” he added.

14 November 2013

The Puerto Rico Nationalist Uprising of 1950

Tuesday, October 29, 2013




National Guard soldiers, under orders of the United States, occupy the town of Jayuya. The town was partially destroyed by US artillery and martial law was declared throughout the entire island. Since federal agents and communication regulations heavily controlled the media in and out of Puerto Rico, people in the US mainland were mostly unaware of the Nationalist uprising and subsequent retaliation by US armed forces. This silent civil war, although short-lived, had many casualites and consequences in US/ Puerto Rico relations for years to come.