31 October 2014

MercoPress - South Atlantic News Agency
The Falkland/Malvinas Islands and the right of peoples to self-determination

Montevideo, October 28th 2014By Marcelo Kohen An international symposium on the concepts of self-determination, devolution, and independence took place last week in Gibraltar, organized by the Garrison Library and sponsored by the local government.
Put simply, 1,650 British citizens do not have the right to determine the result of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom

The aim of the conference was to look at these concepts and to explore them across a number of different examples such as Catalonia, Basque country, Scotland, Gibraltar, Turks & Caicos and the Falklands with the participation of scholars, experts and politicians.

The closing afternoon of the two-day symposium was dedicated to the Falkland Islands case and was addressed among others by Luke Coffey, a Margaret Thatcher Fellow of the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy of the Heritage Foundation whose paper was published by Mercopress 21 October, and today we are offering the contribution from Marcelo Kohen, who is Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

Professor Kohen argues, appealing to Law and history, against the Falkland Islanders right to self determination and downplays the legitimacy and significance of the Islands 2013 referendum when the Islanders overwhelmingly voted to remain a British Overseas Territory. His presentation is very much in line with the current Argentine government position on the dispute over the Falklands sovereignty and whether the Islanders can be considered a 'people'.

Follows Prof Kohen's piece:

The right of peoples to self-determination is one of the fundamental principles of contemporary International Law. It is thanks to this principle that numerous subjugated peoples were able to create their own independent states during the decolonization process over the second half of the 20th century. For long years, the United Kingdom and other colonial powers denied the legal binding – character of the principle of self-determination.

They only came to recognize its importance as of the late sixties, when the independence process of their former colonies had practically come to an end. The British Government did so in an attempt to use its settlers to perpetuate its remaining colonial outposts existing in breach of the territorial integrity of other states. In the Falkland/Malvinas Question, the principle of self-determination of peoples is distorted and improperly invoked by the British government with two goals: to maintain their presence in the South Atlantic region and to avoid resolving its sovereignty dispute which has been ongoing with Argentina since 1833.

In fact, the United Kingdom has not even attempted to present a reasoned argument to justify invoking self-determination. As though it were an axiom, it states that the “Islanders” have the right to determine the future of their territory, simply citing the general rules relating to the principle of self-determination. The British authorities never explain specifically why this right of “peoples” ought to be applicable to the case of the Falkland/Malvinas. They provide either incomplete or falsified information on the composition of the Islands’ population. 

They simply state that many (indeed a minority) of the inhabitants can list several generations of ancestors who were born on the islands. They believe that they can compare the situation on the islands with the way in which Argentina’s mainland population came to be formed. They seek to prove that when Great Britain expelled Argentina from the Falkland/Malvinas by force, only the authorities, troops and their families were evicted, and not the entire population of the islands that had existed under Argentine governance, a question of no relevance at all. The lack of grounding, the omissions and the fabrications explain why the United Kingdom has made no serious efforts to seek for its position to be recognized by the United Nations General Assembly or its subsidiary body, the Decolonization Committee. Or at least when it tried to, as in 1985, its proposal was rejected by the highest representative body of the UN.

That the current inhabitants of the Falkland/Malvinas Islands do not constitute a separate people with the right to self-determination does not mean that they cannot enjoy other rights. They are of course holders of human rights, both individually and collectively. Argentina has enshrined in its Constitution that respect for the way of life of the Islands’ inhabitants as imperative. Put simply, 1,650 British citizens do not have the right to determine the result of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom that covers over three million square kilometers including territory and maritime areas (an area larger than mainland Argentina and twelve times that of the United Kingdom).

Britain’s manipulation of the principle of self-determination is very obvious. For several reasons:

1) because it is the UN General Assembly and not the colonial power that determines how a colonial situation ought to be terminated and the UN’s highest representative body has never applied the principle to the Islands’ current residents; 

2) because this is a special case of colonialism in which the victim of the colonial action was a newly independent state; 

3) because after expelling Argentina, the British government established their own settlers;

4) because ever since it has controlled the migration policy of this isolated and sparsely populated territory; 

5) because the current residents do not constitute a separate “people” who have fallen victim to colonialism; 

6) because the United Kingdom, after having expelled Argentina and established its own settlers, rejected all the offers of negotiation and arbitration put forward by Argentina while it consolidated its physical presence on the Islands. To accept that it is the British nationals settled there who would be the ones to determine the Anglo-Argentine dispute would constitute a blatant case of arbitrariness and the imposition of a fait accompli.

In International Law, not all human communities settled in a given geographical location are entitled to the right of self-determination. This is why there is a distinction between “peoples” and “minorities” (be they national, religious, linguistic, ethnic, etc). Whilst the former are entitled to the right of self-determination, the latter are not, even though they are entitled to an array of rights aimed at safeguarding and preserving their cultural identity, although within the territory of the state in which they live. 

There is also a distinction made for indigenous peoples, whose right to self-determination is recognized by the UN Declaration, although only internally. Nor can a group simply declare themselves to be a “people” and in so doing claim to be entitled to the right of self-determination. Not a single one of the more than 40 UN General Assembly or Decolonization Committee resolutions has acknowledged the existence of a separate people in the territory and as such, said resolutions have opted for other ways to decolonize the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. 

The United Nations doctrine regarding the way to bring the colonial situation to an end is through negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom to resolve the sovereignty dispute, whilst taking the interests of the inhabitants into account. The reason is simple: unlike with the typical cases of colonialism, where an entire people are subjugated by a European power, in the case of the Falkland/Malvinas, the greatest colonial power of the times ejected a young independent state from part of its territory; a sparsely-inhabited isolated territory with no native population.

Unlike what occurred in other regions across the world, such as the Caribbean, where the colonial power introduced a massive slave population, leading to the formation of new peoples, in the case of the Falkland/Malvinas, the limited population brought in by the British government were British settlers. At the same time they resolutely refused to hold discussions with Argentina despite their protests, in a clear example of the rule of the strong policy.

A cursory look at the demography of the islands clearly reveals the artificial nature of Britain’s claim to the existence of a separate people who are entitled to self-determination. In 1851, 18 years after the seizure of the Islands, when a mere handful of the original population remained, the total reached 287 – roughly the same number of inhabitants as there were at the height of the community’s development during the period of Argentine administration towards the end of the 1820s. 

Over one century, the number of inhabitants remained between 2,272 in 1911 and 2,841, according to the latest census in 2012. There were peaks, as in 1931 (2,392 inhabitants), and after generally remaining stable, the figure began to decline from 1962 (2,172 inhabitants) until 1980 (1,813 inhabitants). Following the war in 1982, the population grew by almost a third in just thirty years. The reason for this was the economic boom produced by the granting of fishing licenses. These figures demonstrate that the demographic growth of the population is not natural. The number of inhabitants on the Islands is essentially dependent upon the economic and administrative needs of the colonial power.

The population primarily comprises civil servants of the Crown, landowners and business men and women. Today, the second major “village” on the Islands is made up of the civilian staff at the Mount Pleasant military base. They represent 15% of the islands’ population. The less well paid jobs are done by immigrants from Chile and Santa Helena. And yet the British citizens alone have the right to vote. Added to this there is also discrimination towards the Argentine citizens. Immediately after the end of the 1982 war, the resident Argentine citizens working for the fuel and transport provision services were expelled. For 17 years Argentine passport holder were banned from the right to visit the Islands, even as tourists. An unwritten law prohibits Argentines from owning real estate, to the extent that those inheriting such properties were forced to sell them.

The manipulation of the latest census is blatant. As the majority of the inhabitants were not even born on the islands, the British authorities did not provide this information initially. In place of this, they provided information on how individual islanders identified themselves in terms of their “national identity”. The “result” was that 59% responded “Falkland Islander” and 29% “British”. This clearly shows that many of those who define themselves as “Islanders” are in actual fact British citizens having arrived from the United Kingdom. Indeed, many of them are the supposed “spokespersons” for the inhabitants, either as governmental or legislative representatives or as opinion makers in the islands’ media.

Another pertinent fact that the censuses regularly reveal is that about 40% of the population has been living on the islands for fewer than 10 years. We can scarcely speak of a “people” thus formed, with a population that is largely on the Islands only temporarily.

There are many territorial conflicts around the world, many of which are over inhabited territories. Some were settled by the International Court of Justice. The Court determined the sovereignty of these territories based upon the legal grounds related to sovereignty presented by the parties, and not upon the nationality or the wishes of the inhabitants. In the El Salvador/Honduras case, between 10,000 to 30,000 Salvadorians found themselves on the Honduran side of the border that was drawn up by the ruling. Following the Cameroon vs. Nigeria case, over 100,000 Nigerians now inhabit a territory that the Court recognized as being Cameroonian. The Court did likewise in its latest territorial ruling between Burkina Faso and Niger. 

In all of these instances, the Court reminded the parties of their obligation to respect the rights of the inhabitants of the disputed territories, although it never left its decision up to the will of said inhabitants. There are also other relevant examples. Following the First World War, France argued that holding a plebiscite in Alsace-Lorraine was not appropriate given that as of 1871 –the year of the territory’s handover to Germany- thousands of French citizens had opted to leave rather than being subjected to German sovereignty, while thousands of Germans had settled there. When the Swedish population of the Äaland Islands, under Finnish sovereignty, claimed self-determination to join Sweden, the response was to grant a far-reaching autonomy, whilst nonetheless keeping Finnish sovereignty.

The situation with the Falkland/Malvinas is also different from that of Scotland. Nobody denies that Scotland is British. There is nothing precluding the central government of any state from allowing one of its constituent parts from declaring itself independent if its inhabitants so wish. But there is no international obligation to do so on the basis of the right of peoples to self-determination. The British stance vis-à-vis Scotland is not the same as that of Spain regarding Catalonia or France regarding Corsica, for instance. In the case of Scotland, there is no sovereignty dispute between the United Kingdom and another state. In the case of the Falkland/Malvinas, there is. 

If the United Kingdom wants its citizens to determine the future of the territory in which they live, the territory should be British. On the contrary, there is a dispute as to its sovereignty with Argentina. According to Dame Rosalyn Higgins, former British judge and former President of the International Court of Justice: ‘Until it is determined where territorial sovereignty lies, it is impossible to see if the inhabitants have the right of self-determination’. (International Law and the Avoidance, Containment and Resolution of Disputes. General Course on Public International Law’, Hague Academy of International Law Collected Courses, 1991, vol. 230, p. 174).

The British argument for self-determination in the Falkland/Malvinas case is also seriously undermined by the United Kingdom’s blatant contradictory policy. There was no “self-determination” when it expelled the 2,000 native inhabitants of the Chagos archipelago. There was no “self-determination referendum” when Margaret Thatcher’s government restored Hong Kong to China, its legitimate owner. Less still was British citizenship granted to the five million Chinese living in the territory, as the very same government had done with the 2,000 Falkland/Malvinas inhabitants of European origin at the same period. In other words, self-determination is a flawed argument for retaining one of the last remaining outposts of the British Empire, without any legal justification whatsoever.

For these reasons, the referendum held on 10 and 11 March 2013 by the British government to enable British citizens to affirm that they want the territory in which they live to continue “being” British has no relevance. Despite the colossal diplomatic lengths that David Cameron’s government have gone to, only one state reacted positively to the British move: Canada. As far as the United Nations are concerned, the territory continues to be subject to decolonization.

Naturally no one denies that the Islanders have their own traditions; many of which, incidentally, they hold in common with the continent. Rural traditions (they call the countryside “the camp”, from the Spanish word “el campo”), especially those relating to horses, the use of the term “che” (“chey”), and even until recently the taste for mate are reminders of a past that was considerably influenced by the continent. And yet the existence of such idiosyncrasies, as may be found in different regions or places within any country, do not automatically make a territory and its inhabitants a self-determination unit.

Argentina has much more to offer than Britain’s old colonial approach to managing territories, even if presented under the new guise of a ‘British Overseas Territory’. With a Falkland/Malvinas effectively integrated under Argentine sovereignty, they would enjoy real self-government whereby their inhabitants would elect their governor themselves and they would have representation in the national parliamentary bodies. Their inhabitants who were born on the Islands could enjoy dual citizenship, to be guaranteed by an international treaty.

Natural resources would be essentially owned by the special self-governed entity. But these sorts of matters can only be addressed when the United Kingdom fulfils its obligation to settle the sovereignty dispute through peaceful means. In other words, only once there are negotiations on the central issue which divides the two countries. It is possible to have a negotiated settlement in which the interests of all parties and individuals concerned will be taken into consideration. When there is a will there is a way.

29 October 2014

Curacao Prime Minister discusses economic ties with Guadeloupe

Prime Minister Present At International Conference In Guadeloupe


WILLEMSTAD – During these days, the Prime Minister of Curaçao, Ivar Asjes, who is also the Vice President of the Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union, is representing Curaçao in an international conference titled Biodiversigy and Climate Change in the EU’s Entities. This conference is being held in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

The Prime Minister has used this opportunity to meet and create a relation with dignitaries from various countries or regional territories. Asjes had conversations with the Guadeloupe’s regional President, Mr. Victorin Lure, who is also the President of the association and was a Minister in France.

Both dignitaries agreed that they will study the possibility to intensify the economic ties and cooperation between Curaçao and Guadeloupe.

28 October 2014

First Turks & Caicos Islands Premier calls for CARICOM to carefully watch the British 'modern-day coup underway in the territory



In a press statement on October 10, former Premier Michael Misick congratulated the former Premier of the Cayman Islands McKeeva Bush, on clearing his name of corruption charges.

Misick congratulated Bush on being found not guilty by a jury in what he called "a British Government conspiracy to tarnish it and have him ousted from politics in the Cayman Islands.”

The TCI former Premier said that Bush’s acquittal shows that a justice system made up of a jury of peers works.

He is also calling on the Caribbean Community and fellow Caribbean leaders to take a real interest in what is happening in the Turks and Caicos Islands, "especially Jamaica and Barbados where our judges come from.”

He stated that a trial by jury is a long standing mechanism geared for dispensing true justice and removal of this system can only be deemed as undemocratic.

"No matter what, we will continue to fight for our freedom and the liberation of our country.

"Our people, political and social leaders have to expose this conspiracy in the Turks and Caicos Islands so that true democracy, the rule of law and true justice not manufactured justice can prevail,” the former Premier stated.

He said that is his belief that what is happening to him and his colleagues is similar to what has happened to Bush.

"We are experiencing a modern day coup d'état.”

He further stated that the British government and successive Governors have done everything in their power to tarnish his and his co-accused names including changing the law and the constitution in an attempt to prevent them from getting a fair trial – to wit, a jury trial.

"I believe that if it is right to have a jury trial in the Cayman Islands it must also be right to allow a jury of our peers to judge our guilt or innocence here in Turks and Caicos Islands.

"I believe the justice system here is controlled and manipulated by Helen Garlick, SIPT and others for a specific outcome of their creation.”

Misick added that these people seem to get what they want; both civil and criminal.

He believes that Bush’s verdict illustrates that the justice system can work in a British overseas territory if it is not tampered with by external whims and fancies, namely the British government and their appointed British Governors.

He stated: "It is no coincidence that democratically elected leaders of British overseas territories have been faced with unfounded corruption charges and the people of the Cayman Islands, once given a chance through the jury system have exposed this British government conspiracy.

"Here in the Turks and Caicos Islands we are desperately in need of an independent judiciary.”

24 October 2014

3,800 protesters surrounding OPG buildings say no to new US air base construction

On October 9, citizen groups formed a human chain around the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) buildings in Naha to demonstrated their united opposition to the construction of a new US Marine air base in Henoko, Nago, to replace the Futenma base in Ginowan. 

According to the organizers, about 3,800 people gathered and voiced their plans to stop the relocation of the Futenma base within Okinawa. The participants requested that the OPG reject an application submitted by the Okinawa Defense Bureau to change the method used for landfill, which is part of the planned base construction in Henoko.

This was the third rally opposing the base’s construction since July 1, when demolition of existing buildings started in Camp Schwab. Citizens, including parents and children, took part in the lunchtime rally. There were also some participants from abroad. Citizen group members, who continue to protest against the new base in Henoko and US military helipad construction underway in Takae, Higashi, joined in the rally.

The participants held blue signboards bearing messages, “No to a new base in Henoko” and “We will not surrender”. They chanted, “Stop the landfill for the sake of children,” and “Stop the new base and fight for the future.” They created a human “peace wave”.

Ashitomi Hiroshi, co-representative of the Helicopter Base Objection Association, said in his speech, “Our strike against the Henoko relocation will end in our victory. We will continue to fight at the scene. I would like everyone who lives in Naha, and central and southern parts of the island to fight together to win the victory.”

Rie Ishihara, a member of the group protesting against the construction of US helipad in Takae, stated in her speech, “The sea in Henoko and the forest of Yambaru are the treasures of Okinawa. Let’s protect the treasures of the islands and the future of children.”

Representatives of the four opposition parties of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly made speeches.

(English translation by T&CT)

Guam public sector employees receive retroactive pay

More Than 2,000 GovGuam Workers Receive Retroactive Pay Raise

Delay in payments, totaling $2 million, was due to cash flow problems

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

 A total of 2,150 government of Guam executive branch employees are expected to receive money today for eight months worth of retroactive pay raises, Gov. Eddie Calvo's office announced yesterday.

"Today, General Pay Plan employees will get their full salary increase," the governor further states in his column in today's Pacific Daily News. "It is a retroactive payment covering the period from February 2014 to Sept. 30."

The checks were printed yesterday and total $2 million, according to the governor's office.

The amount of the checks ranges from as low as $5, due to termination of service in February, to $5,500, the governor's office stated.

The average amount of the check is $500, the governor's office stated.

The pay raises being paid today for General Pay Plan employees are about one-third of the more than 6,000 GovGuam employees and supervisors whose pay raises were authorized in a 2011 law.

The General Pay Plan category doesn't include nurses, law enforcement personnel and educators, whose pay-raise classifications fall under a different category.

GovGuam pay raises weren't immediately implemented because GovGuam was short of funds to do so.

"I'd like to thank you for your patience," the governor's column states. "It allowed me to address other financial issues that, without your hard work, probably wouldn't have been done."

The Guam Department of Education's non-teaching employees still haven't been paid their pay raises under the same law. As of yesterday afternoon, DOE received word that today's payments won't include non-teaching DOE employees, said DOE Deputy Superintendent for Finance Taling Taitano.

23 October 2014

U.N. Racism Committee again decries lack of information from U.N. decolonisation bodies on racism in non self-governing territories

Requests by the U.N. Anti-Racism Committee for information on the world's remaining colonies have been made for years. 


VIII. Consideration of copies of petitions, copies of reports and other information relating to trust and non-self-governing territories to which General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) applies, in conformity with article 15 of the Convention

62. Under article 15 of the Convention, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is empowered to consider copies of petitions, reports and other information relating to trust and non-self-governing territories and to all other territories to which General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) applies, as transmitted to it by the competent bodies of the United Nations, and to submit to the General Assembly its expressions of opinion and recommendations in this regard.

63. Accordingly, and at the request of the Committee, Mr. Kut examined the report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples covering its work during and copies of the working papers on the 16 Territories prepared by the Secretariat for the Special Committee and the Trusteeship Council, listed in document CERD/C/83/3, and presented his report at the eighty-fourth session, on 20 February 2014. The Committee noted, as it has done in the past, that it was difficult to fulfil its functions comprehensively under article 15 of the Convention owing to the fact that the copies of the reports received pursuant to paragraph 2 (b) contain only scant information  directly relating to the principles and objectives of the Convention.

64. The Committee further noted that there was significant ethnic diversity in a number of the non-self-governing territories, warranting a close watch on incidents or trends which reflect racial 

discrimination and violation of rights guaranteed in the Convention. The Committee therefore stressed that greater efforts should be made to raise awareness concerning the principles and objectives of the Convention in non-self-governing territories. 

The Committee further stressed the need for States parties administering non self-governing territories to include details on the implementation of the Convention in these territories  in their periodic reports to the Committee.

22 October 2014

Fr. Polynesia, New Caledonia leaders discuss French colonialism

Kanaky, Ma'ohi Nui leaders were at U.N. Headquarters to  address 
the 193-member United Nations Fourth Committee

Photos by OTR

Kanaky leader Roch Wamytan (l) is interviewed by French press following
United Nations testimony

Ma'ohi Nui leader Oscar Temaru (r) discusses strategy with Kanaky leader Roch Wamytan

Member of the French Polynesia Assembly Richard Ariihau Tuheiava (left) and  UPLD Leader Oscar Temaru (2nd left) discuss next steps in the decolonization process with  Kanaky  leaders following testimony to the United Nations Special and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee)

Ma'ohi Nui, Kanaky delegations stand together on the grounds 
of United Nations Headquarters 

Independent Expert on Decolonisation Dr. Carlyle Corbin (c) wth Kanaky leaders following U.N.  consideration of decolonization of New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

21 October 2014

British Virgin Islands - U.S. Virgin Islands Celebrate ties of Friendship

The Government House Blog

Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. 

BVI Governor John Duncan, Governor de Jongh, Premier of the BVI Dr. Orlando Smith and Mrs. Smith upon the arrival of the BVI delegation to St. Thomas Saturday for the annual USVI / BVI Celebration.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. and First Lady Cecile de Jongh welcomed a delegation of almost 100 persons from the British Virgin Islands to the annual USVI/BVI celebration, hosted on St. Thomas Saturday. 

The delegation, led by BVI Governor John Duncan and Premier of the British Virgin Islands Dr. Orlando Smith, were greeted by steel pan entertainment as they arrived at the St. Thomas waterfront and later walked across to Emancipation Garden for a cultural fair and various presentations as the two territories celebrated their historic ties and joint future. “Today we honor many years of friendship and the shared heritage that links our two great jurisdictions together. Truly we celebrate the ties that bind us,” de Jongh said. 

“Although this special holiday is just 42 years old, the relationship between our two island groups spans thousands of years. There's no doubt that many of our families are the same and that individuals have moved back and forth between both jurisdictions for work, healthcare, education and family responsibilities. In both Virgin Islands, many of our residents are direct descendants from emancipated slaves, who built their lives on agriculture, fishing, and basic trades. Over the years, communities were established with schools, churches and necessary government services. Our populations have grown, along with our economies,” de Jongh said in remarks prepared for the event. 

After a breakfast at Grand Hotel, the BVI delegation was treated to a walking tour that highlighted the many ties that bind the people of the two territories: history, religion and day to day practices. The Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School Flambo Combo entertained at Emancipation Garden, the final stop which featured an arts and crafts and cultural fair. 

“I know that our two jurisdictions have established and maintained an excellent working relationship that allows us to effectively deal with common issues, such as law enforcement, boundaries, fishing, and more. It is a mark of our special kinship that we can deal with such issues and policy decisions in a straight-forward and open manner. I feel blessed to have been an integral part of such a unique and special relationship, and hope that my efforts since becoming Governor in 2007 have further strengthened the bond between the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands,” de Jongh said Saturday. 

And the Governor took note that this is the last time he will co-host the friendship day activities. “I am especially pleased that this year's celebration is occurring in the United States Virgin Islands, where we can showcase our hospitality. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to both the residents of the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands for providing me with this singular privilege for the last eight years. More than we can express, Cecile and I have been honored and humbled to represent the United States Virgin Islands at the Friendship Day celebrations. These celebrations will remain vivid and wonderful memories for us for years to come.” As we rejoice in our friendship, let us remember that common values, history, heritage, proximity and economics have brought us together and will always keep us close,” de Jongh said.

Listen to BVI Governor John Duncan's remarks.
Listen to BVI Premier Dr. Orlando Smith's remarks.
Listen to VI Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr.'s remarks.

20 October 2014

British Parliamentary Group meets on future of Chagos Islands

44th Meeting of the Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group – Co-ordinator’s Summary

Photo: Gail Johnson

The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group held its 44th meeting on 15 October.

As the new Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for Overseas Territories (OTs), James Duddridge, had felt that he was not yet ready to meet the Group Prof. Charles Sheppard, Chairman of the Chagos Conservation Trust and his colleagues Alistair Gammell and John Turner, who had requested a meeting in July, attended the first part of the meeting.

The Vice Chairman (Henry Smith MP standing in for Jeremy Corbyn MP) welcomed the representatives of the Chagos Conservation Trust (CCT) and looked forward to hearing about its work. The conservation and environmental aspects of resettlement were discussed. Members were pleased to note that while the CCT mandate was to protect the unique environment of the Chagos Islands, CCT was not opposed to resettlement. 

Prof. Sheppard and his colleagues thought that Diego Garcia was well suited and ecologically sensible, given the available facilities and infrastructure there, though this was a decision for politicians. Members drew attention to the benefits of resettlement for conservation and the types of employment that Chagossians could undertake, especially on Diego Garcia. They agreed to keep in touch with CCT.


19 October 2014

Anguilla political leader calls for independence to be addressed


The Anguillian
The Weekly Independent Newspaper of Anguilla

Mr Haydn Hughes, the Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism and Sports, and for many years a leading figure behind the Anguilla Independence Movement (AIM), has revived the call for that advanced status for the island.

Apart from Mr Hughes’ efforts towards that end, the Anguilla United Movement, in which he plays a key membership role, has also been promoting the issue. In fact, the last AUM-appointed Constitutional and Electoral Reform Committee had reportedly prepared a draft independence constitution with November 1, 2014 as the commencement date. Since then the matter appeared to have been placed on the back burner with more pressing matters on the mind of the Chief Minister.

Now, Mr Haydn Hughes, named by his father as his successor as the candidate for Road South, said at an AUM public meeting in South Hill on Saturday, October 11, that the time “had come for Anguillians to address the issue of independence.”

He stated that “independence must be on the card of any Government moving forward”, but suggested the holding of a referendum as a precursor.

16 October 2014

Guam's natural resources "USurped" again by unilateral federal action

"The General Assembly...urges the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Non Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources (,) and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources..."  -  United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/97 of  11 December 2013.



SPEAKER Judith Won Pat has sent a letter to the federal government, asking it to pursue meaningful consultation with Guam over the recent execution of a treaty that appears to remove the deepest known point in the Mariana Trench, Challenger Deep, from Guam’s exclusive economic zone.

The “Treaty Between the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Government of the United States of America on the Delimitation of a Maritime Boundary” was executed between the U.S. Government and the Federated States of Micronesia on Aug. 1 in Palau during the 45th meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The treaty was negotiated to formally redefine overlapping maritime boundary lines between Guam and the outlying islands of the FSM, but Won Pat said at no point was Guam "meaningfully consulted" during discussions, negotiations and ultimately the execution of the treaty.

Won Pat said there is still confusion as to where Challenger Deep actually lies under the treaty and the potential adverse impacts the treaty would have on Guam’s rights over marine resources, including deep sea minerals possibly located in the area.

“This lack of engagement is especially problematic given the ambiguity surrounding the precise location of the deepest known point in the Mariana Trench, i.e. Challenger Deep. To be sure, many of us in Guam have long understood Challenger Deep as falling within Guam’s EEZ, i.e. on the Guam side of the line identified in the U.S.-FSM treaty,” Won Pat wrote in her letter.

In her correspondence with the federal government, she also attached a 2005 United States Geological Survey publication explicitly indicating that Challenger Deep falls on the Guam side, and not the FSM side, of the line.

"The United States should have been significantly more diligent in discharging its duties to the people of Guam as Guam’s administering power, and more specifically, it should have provided a mechanism for the meaningful consultation of the people of Guam prior to executing a treaty that potentially divests them of no insignificant part of their natural resources inventory,” Won Pat said.

Won Pat also attached a legal memorandum analyzing the international law issues surrounding the treaty.

Specifically, the memo discusses Guam’s right – as a non self-governing territory – to be consulted on matters impacting its ability to pursue economic, social and cultural development and to have a say on issues affecting the island's natural resources.

“Guam had every right to be privy to information surrounding the execution of the U.S.-FSM treaty, particularly as it potentially significantly impacts the territory’s prospective economic development,” Won Pat said.

Copies of Won Pat's letter have been sent to President Barack Obama, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, the U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, the assistant secretary of Insular Affairs, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization chairman, President Emmanuel Mori of the Federated States of Micronesia, the FSM Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the FSM consul general in Guam, Gov. Eddie Calvo, all Guam legislators, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, and the executive director of the Commission on Decolonization.

12 October 2014

American Samoa granted temporary 30-day exemption for non-U.S. carrier to fly between the territory's islands

"Restriction on air service rights for U.S. dependencies, providing monopolies to U.S. carriers, is inconsistent with the free market, and is the primary reason for overly expensive airfares to, from and within these territories. The same scenario is witnessed with the unilateral application of the U.S. Jones Act to most of the territories where U.S. sea carriers exercise a monopoly on service. This results in high costs for commodities transported by ocean freight even as these dependencies, save Puerto Rico, lie outside the U.S. customs zone. Yet the prerogative of the federal government is to unilaterally apply whatever regulations they desire to these offshore areas to protect certain business interests. But then again, the U.S. dependencies are classic colonies, so what should we expect?"  -  A Pacific expert.    



Sun, 10/05/2014 - 7:26am | Category
 Fili Sagapolutele

The U.S. Department of Transportation has granted a 30-days cabotage exemption extension for Samoa government owned Polynesian Airlines to operate three-times a week flights between Tutuila and Manu’a.

The extension decision, issued Sept. 25 by USDOT’s Susan L. Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, followed a Sept. 23 request by Polynesian, which was initially granted cabotage exemption for Sept. 1-30.

In its Sept. 23 request, Polynesian sought a 30-day extension of the cabotage exemption, saying that the Tutuila-Manu’a route “remains without U.S. carrier service” and Polynesian is the only air carrier able to “provide much needed transportation between the two points and thus prevent severe hardship to American Samoa residents.”

“Indeed, in addition to operating regular service Polynesian has been called upon to provide medical evacuation during the past thirty days. There is a clear need for continued service for an additional thirty days,” Polynesian said, through its Washington D.C. based attorney.

In her decision, Kurland agreed with Polynesian, saying that the absence of U.S. carrier passenger service while Inter Island Airways’ aircraft is out of service “continues to constitute an emergency created by unusual circumstances not arising in the normal course of business.”

“We... found that granting of this authority would prevent unreasonable hardship to the residents of American Samoa,” she said and granted an exemption for an additional period of 30 days — Oct. 1-30, 2014 — or until five days after a U.S. carrier initiates intra-American Samoa passenger operations, whichever occurs first.

According to USDOT, there was no opposition to Polynesian’s request and Inter Island Airways supported the 30-day extension.

Inter Island Airways aircraft have been down due to engine problems for more than two months and the locally based carrier is hopeful to have the aircraft back in service later this month.

Polynesian is utilizing a 19-seat Twin Otter plane for the three times a week service to Manu’a. The airline, which has two Twin Otter planes, also continues to serve the inter Samoa route that is expected to get very busy next week — with full flights — as White Sunday, Oct. 12 approaches.

10 October 2014

10-10-14: Deklarashon di resistensia i defensa sivil pa liberashon di e pueblo Boneriano

-e pueblo Boneriano tin derecho riba igualdat i libertat politiko 

-e pueblo Boneriano tin derecho di dirigi su mes destino

-e pueblo Boneriano tin derecho di mantene su idioma,kustumbernan,norma i balornan,kultura i identidat

-e pueblo Boneriano tin derecho pa wordu goberna i dirigi dor di su mes lidernan i hendenan ku e skohe

-e pueblo Boneriano tin derecho hereda i atkeri pa historia kolonial pa wordu sostene i juda dor di e kolonisador Hulanda den su proseso di emansipashon i empoderashon i kreashon di su mes nashon Boneiru

- e pueblo Boneriano no mag di wordu goberna ni domina di ningún forma dor di Hulanda

-e pueblo Boneriano tin derecho di defende e derechonan aki i asta kontra su mes politikonan i gobernantenan i autoridatnan i por usa tur medio pa rekobra i sigura su libertat

- James Finies, Nos Ke Boneiru Bek

09 October 2014

U.N. General Assembly discusses plans for genuine process of self-determination for French Polynesia / Ma'ohi Nui

Hears statements from political leaders of the territory

Statement to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee
 (Fourth Committee) 

Mr. Oscar Manutahi Temaru 
Tavini Huira’atira —
Union pour la démocratie

8th October 2014

"We are pleased that as a newly-listed territory the broad range of decolonization resolutions has become applicable to our territory in particular, the operative paragraph which recognizes the "inalienable rights of the people of the non self-governing territories to their natural resources," and their right to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources...."

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

I present to you and the members of the Fourth Committee the warmest regards from the people of Ma’ohi Nui/French Polynesia. We wish to thank you again for your help in our re-inscription on the U.N. list of non self-governing territories with the adoption of Resolution 67/265 of 17th May 2013, and the subsequent adoption of Resolution 68/93 on 11th December 2013 on the "Question of French Polynesia."

On 17th May 2014 - exactly one year after the re-inscription - thousands of our people moved throughout the towns and villages of Tahiti in a coordinated march in commemoration of this historic event which has provided us with the opportunity to engage in a process of self-determination under the watchful eye and with the technical support of the United Nations.

There, in a prominent ceremony, the permanent memorial to our re-inscription was unveiled symbolizing the relentless efforts of our people and a major milestone for a struggle that I started here, in New-York in 1978, as a simple citizen of my country to petition against the French nuclear testing, trying to gain international support for our struggle to overcome colonialism in our country.

Mr. Chairman,

We are pleased that as a newly-listed territory the broad range of decolonization resolutions has become applicable to our territory. In this regard, we take note of the draft resolution (L.9) adopted last June by the Special Committee on Decolonization (C24) on the Implementation of the Decolonization Declaration with its varied provisions, in particular, the operative paragraph which recognizes the "inalienable rights of the people of the non self-governing territories to their natural resources," and their right to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources."

This language mirrors longstanding text of U.N and Law of the Sea resolutions, and U.N. legal opinions, and the applicability of this doctrine is critical to the disposition of our marine resources comprising some five million square kilometres of ocean. Studies from Japan, and official report from the French Senate from April 2014 clearly establish that vast amounts of minerals and rare earth lie on the seabed of Maohi Nui.

In view of this clear authority the rule of law must prevail since the powers unilaterally exercised by the French State are used to limit the territory's scope and authority in relation to these resources. France is member of the International Seabed Authority. All our independent brothers and cousins from the South Pacific are also members of I.S.A. We are not. We therefore fully expect that in the course of the self-determination process our internationally recognized ownership and control of the resources is given effect.

Technology to reach these seabed resources is already available. Our administering power is already in the process of planning exploitation and has established a special committee on strategic minerals (COMES) in which we again have no say. Without real recognition of our ownership on these resources, and without control over immigration, we are bound to become the powerless spectators of yet another pillaging, as has been the case for over 30 years during the French exploitation of phosphates on the island of Makatea in our Tuamotu archipelago.

Job seekers from France will flock to our islands, and easily saturate our job market, leaving our People and our children with only the scraps. This very sad scenario has already happened throughout the history of mankind. Since our brothers from Kanaky/New Caledonia are here today, they know firsthand that this is exactly what has happened in their country when vast amounts of Nickel were discovered.

Mr. Chairman,

This perspective raises two issues that need the full attention of the United Nations. The first one is that of the control of immigration which currently is only exerted by the administering power. The second is the need to clearly define voters’ eligibility rules in the context of our self-determination process.

Thank you, te aroha ia rahi.


Statement to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee
(Fourth Committee) 

Mr. Richard Ariihau TUHEIAVA
Tavini Huiraatira No Te Ao Ma’ohi-F.L.P. Party

 8 October 2014

"A stakeholder statement to the Universal Peer Review of France, conducted in the Human Rights Council in 2013, concluding that 17 years after the last French nuclear test was held in the Pacific, our people are still "living with the legacy of hundreds of nuclear tests." 


Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

I have the honour to address the Fourth Committee on behalf of the Tavini Huiraatira No Te Ao Ma’ohi-F.L.P. Party created in 1977 to claim and advocate for the freedom and independence of the People of French Polynesia/Ma’ohi-Nui.
Through you, we would like to thank the General Assembly for the re-inscription of French Polynesia/Ma'ohi-Nui by Resolution 67/265. 

We also commend the General Assembly for the adoption of Resolution 68/93 on the Question of French Polynesia, and particular draw attention to its OP 5 which requested a “Report on the environmental, ecological, health, and other impacts as a consequence of the thirty-year period of nuclear testing in the territory”.

While we appreciate the effort made in completion of this Report, we are disappointed that it was published, perhaps strategically, almost a month after the Special Committee on Decolonization had completed its work last June 2014, providing no opportunity for the substantive committee to review the findings. The people of our non-self governing territory were also deprived of a chance to provide their views on the Report.

In this very first opportunity to express our views on the text, we have concluded that the Report is far from comprehensive, and is rather a compilation of replies from just two U.N. agencies out of some 22 requests made by the Secretary-General. Of these replies was a reference to a 1996 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) study which had painted quite a rosy picture that the impact to the health of the Ma’ohi people was negligible. This finding has been proven to be vastly premature.

In apparent contradiction to the 1996 IAEA study, a subsequent document of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation found “that the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere involved unrestrained releases of radioactive materials to the environment locally, regionally and globally (depending on the altitude of the explosion), causing the largest collective dose thus far from man-made sources of radiation."

The Report does make important reference to a stakeholder statement to the Universal Peer Review of France, conducted in the Human Rights Council in 2013, concluding that 17 years after the last French nuclear test was held in the Pacific, our people are still "living with the legacy of hundreds of nuclear tests." 

In effect, the Report, as called for in Resolution 68/93, barely scratches the surface. Instead, it offers but a mere glimpse of the long term health and ecological impacts experienced today by thousands of our people who have yet to be given reparatory justice for this blatant disregard of humanity perpetuated on the people of our country. Therefore, a follow-up in depth examination within the appropriate mechanism of the U.N. system is the next logical step.

Mr. Chairman,

Fortunately, we can draw attention to the Independent Report on the French Nuclear Testing in French Polynesia completed by renowned scientists and published in January 2014. This Independent Report provides a thorough analysis of the impacts of nuclear testing on the people of French Polynesia/Ma'ohi-Nui, and its publication as a document of the General Assembly would be most useful in advancing the knowledge of member states on this question.

We are confident that this Independent Analysis, along with the Independent Assessment of Self-Governance Sufficiency, would be especially useful to the deliberation of member States, and we call on interested member states to so introduce these analyses as official documents.

We take particular note of the organic link between the impact of nuclear testing in French Polynesia/Ma’ohi-Nui, and the draft resolution before the Fourth Committee on the "Effects of Atomic Radiation" with reference to the important work of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. 

We respectively request the assistance of the General Assembly in recommending that the Scientific Committee consider the inclusion of French Polynesia in its programme of work. The clear evidence of considerable environmental, health, social and economic impacts to French Polynesia/Ma'ohi-Nui warrants that this issue be examined by the international community in far greater detail.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Statement to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee
(Fourth Committee)


 8th October 2014

"If countries are allowed to pick and choose which parts of the U.N. Charter they would implement, and which parts they would not, then their aggressive claims of adherence to the international ‘rule of law’ in other international scenarios ring particularly hollow."


Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

In the great city of Faa’a of which I am honored to be deputy mayor, a permanent memorial to our re-inscription testifies as solemn acknowledgement of the support provided by the international community, including our brother Pacific countries, who stood with us as we pursued this important step towards the exercise of our right to self-determination.

As a deputy mayor in French Polynesia’s biggest city, I am the daily witness to the unilateral definition and application of both the electoral laws, and the organizing laws ruling the daily operations in our communes. Today, all communes are facing daunting problems due to the application of the Code Général des Collectivités Territoriales that, contrary to what was achieved in Kanaky/New Caledonia does not take into account our specific needs and constraints and is nothing more than a copy and paste version of what is applied to the metropolitan French communes.

The same applies at our territory level where electoral laws are defined, voted, updated and applied unilaterally from Paris, without any need for local consent. The government and president of our territory are validated, controlled, judged and dismissed by France who even has the unilateral power to disband our parliament as has been the case in in 2004 and 2007.

Mr. Chairman,

We are now under the purview of the United Nations decolonization process pursuant to Chapter 11 of the Charter which highlights the responsibility of the administering powers to prepare the territories for full self-government consistent with international law. We fully expect that France, as the administering power, will live up to its international legal obligations in this regard.

It is regrettable, however, that the administering power has failed to transmit information on our territory this year pursuant to its obligation under Article 73 (e) of the U.N. Charter. The international community cannot simply countenance such pretense as if the consensus resolution of re-inscription had never been adopted. If countries are allowed to pick and choose which parts of the U.N. Charter they would implement, and which parts they would not, then their aggressive claims of adherence to the international ‘rule of law’ in other international scenarios ring particularly hollow.

We therefore appreciate the clear reference from the C24 to the failure by the administering Power to submit information on our territory. We fully expect France to meet its international legal obligations in transmitting information on French Polynesia as they did following a similar delay in transmission of information on New Caledonia one year after its re-inscription in 1986.

Mr. Chairman,

Time will come when France will engage in the process and we look forward to that. However we remain conscious that information transmitted by an administering power regarding one of its territories to be decolonized can be biased. Visiting missions from the UN to French Polynesia are therefore indeed highly needed and anticipated.

The People of Ma’ohi Nui are looking up to the United Nations with high hopes that, true to its roots and mission, it will ensure that a fair self-determination process is put into place in our country. These visiting missions, providing the United Nations with first-hand information and the ability to meet with all local parties involved are seen as an essential part to achieving this process and they also have been referenced to in previous resolutions and statements by member states.

Mr. Chairman,

In a world of violence and wars, we cherish the peaceful yet determined path that has been ours in this decolonization process. With the help of the United Nations, we intend to remain on this path.

Thank you, mauruuru, te aroha ia rahi.