25 March 2015

Regional Conference on "Last Colonies in the Caribbean" adopts resolutions on decolonisation, other international issues

The International Conference on The Last Colonies in the Caribbean organized by the Independence for St. Martin Foundation convened at the University of St. Martin from March 6 – 8, 2015.

Dr. Rhoda Arindell, organizer (photo by OTR)
The official opening ceremony of the conference was held on the evening of March 6, and was attended by senior political leaders, members of civil society representatives, students and members of the Sint Maarten/St. Martin community. The conference resumed on March 7 at the University of St. Martin with a series of substantive discussions. The sessions began with a panel on Youth, Education and Independence, followed by a Case Study on the U.S. Virgin Islands presented by Attorney Genevieve Whitaker of St. Croix.

Other panels focused on the Economic Viability of an Independent St. Martin; Labour and Independence; Education and Independence, and Political System and Checks/Balances.

The conference adopted four resolutions which are shown below (OTR edited)The resolutions will be sent to the United Nations (U.N.) Secretary General; the U.N. Decolonisation Committee; the Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); the Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); the Organisation of American States (OAS); the European Union (EU); the governments of France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea; the governments and parliaments of the territories represented at the conference; other relevant authorities and non governmental organisations.

Conference panelists  (photo by OTR)



Acknowledging the importance of this conference as an effective forum to renew focused discussion on matters concerning Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Caribbean, 

Considering that discussion about the actual situation of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Caribbean have been sparse and in-between, thus creating the impression that peoples in said territories have embraced the status quo as “permanent” and therefore not deserving of change;

Declaring that there is an urgent need for the unfinished task of decolonization in the Caribbean to be placed again on the agenda of CARICOM and other international fora and be made a priority until the process is satisfactorily completed;

Realizing that unity, cooperation and mutual assistance are crucial for each remaining territory to achieve full decolonization in this world of globalization;

Reaffirming that until the last colonies in the Caribbean have been fully decolonized, the goals of regional cooperation, integration, democracy and development will remain a pipe-dream;

Resolve to:

1. Communicate with one another regarding the progress each one is making in the decolonization process;

2. Cooperate with one another in an attempt to hasten the decolonization process on each non-self-governing territory;

3. Pledge mutual support, solidarity and exchange of ideas, information, tactics, as well as strategies pertinent to the decolonization process in the Caribbean and elsewhere;

4. Applaud the initiative taken by the Independence for St. Martin Foundation in organizing this conference and recommends that similar conferences be held on a rotation basis in the Caribbean at least once a year.

Attorney Genevieve Whitaker of St. Croix (photo by OTR)

United Nations Reinscription

Considering that the United Nations states that only 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remain today and in view of its declaration of the period 2011 -2020, a period that is only five years away, as the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonies; 

Taking into account that several of the non-self-governing territories in the Caribbean represented at this conference consider their territories to be colonies, no matter what definition of colony is propounded; 

Cognisant of the fact that to be able to garner international support for their struggle for political freedom, their respective territories have to be re-listed by the UN as still non-self-governing; 

Considering that, in particular, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, since the Charter of 1954, has consistently and repeatedly stated that it recognizes the right to self-determination of all its six possessions in the Caribbean, to wit, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Martin (South), 

Noting that this right to self-determination of the island territories has been reiterated at several constitutional conferences within the Kingdom ever since; 

Realizing that the vast majority of the remaining colonies in the world are found in the Caribbean region; 

Declaring that colonization in any shape or form, regardless of the level of autonomy or so-called integration of the non-self-governing territory granted by the Administering Power, is in crucial contradiction to all known principles of democracy; 

Acknowledging that there are significant voices being raised on several of the remaining colonies in the Caribbean for sovereignty of their respective territories; 

Recognizing and reconfirming the ongoing and legitimate role of the United Nations in the decolonization process, especially through the UN Special Committee on Decolonization; 

Resolve as follows: 

1. To call on the UN to reinstate those remaining colonies who request such on its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories; 

2. To request the active support of CARICOM, OECS and the OAS in particular, and other international bodies and organizations in furthering the valid cause of decolonization in the Caribbean, through their individual respective representations at the UN and other such organizations; 

3. To request the UN, through its Special Committee on Decolonization, to speed up action in and to continue providing support until all outstanding decolonization issues were resolved in a satisfactory manner, so that there would be no need to establish a Fourth Decade for the Eradication of Colonies in the world; 

4. To request all those states with administering powers over the remaining colonies to cooperate in the UN decolonization process; 

5. To demand that the results of free and fair constitutional referenda – whenever these are in favor of political independence – be recognized and respected as the popular expression of the people of that territory to attain independence; To urge ALL member states of the UN to continue to stand resolutely behind the legitimate desires for political independence of the peoples in the remaining colonies in the Caribbean.

From left, panelists  Joseph H. Lake, Jr., Shujah Reiph and Claire Eischot (photo by OTR)

Reparatory Justice

Considering that the present situation in the Caribbean, and in particular, the colonial situation in the non-independent territories in this region are a direct result of centuries of exploitation, dehumanization, genocide and oppression which the Atlantic Slave Trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism represent;

Agreeing that Slavery is a crime against humanity that has no statutes of limitation until reparatory justice has been achieved; 

Taking into account that the CARICOM Heads of Government, has established the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) and subsequently endorsed the latter’s Ten Point Plan of Action; 

Reiterating our belief that reparatory justice is not only a moral obligation, but also one of integrity and a legal right of the Caribbean people and others who have endured a similar historical trauma; 

Concurring that Reparations is not just about writing a check to finally pay for the forced and unpaid labor for centuries of our ancestors; 

Hereby resolves as follows: 

1. To endorse and fully support the leadership of CARICOM in the quest for reparatory justice for our people; 

2. To endorse and fully support the Ten Point Plan of Action of the CARICOM Reparatory Commission; 

3. To encourage all the remaining colonies in the Caribbean, particularly those attending this conference, to establish National Reparations Commissions along the lines established by CARICOM; 

4. To call on all other nations and regional and international organizations to support the efforts and initiatives of CARICOM, including the legal suit it has filed against the UK, France, Spain and The Netherlands, in particular, for reparations 

5. To undertake public awareness campaigns to raise consciousness in the region and beyond about the need for reparations and the efforts that are being undertaken to achieve this. 

6. To alert the various educational authorities in the Caribbean to include the study of Slavery and Reparations in their school curricula.
Dr. Maria van Enckevort (photo by OTR) 

Support for the people of West Papua

Considering that the ongoing struggle and resistance of the People of West Papua against the illegal occupation of their land, the systematic oppression, incarceration and murder of those fighting for their political freedom by the government of Indonesia

Declaring their faith and confidence in Mr. Benny Wanda, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and acknowledged leader of the international campaign for a free West Papua;

Reiterating that the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 69/119 declared the period 2011 – 2020 the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, which is now only five years away from expiration;

Agreeing that the right to self-determination is an inalienable right of the people of West Papua, which should be freely and democratically expressed;

Resolve to 

1. Support the legitimate struggle of the People of West Papua for the independence of their country;

2. Support the calls for a free and fair referendum in West Papua for West Papuans to determine their own political future;

3. Calls on the international community to extend similar support to the People of West Papua and raise global awareness about their ongoing struggle;

4. Calls on regional bodies, in particular, the OECS, CARICOM and OAS, to use their good offices to seek a peaceful and democratic process which would lead to the independence of West Papua.

Members of the Conference Organising Committee at close of the Conference 
(photo by OTR)