31 August 2018

"Guam Veteran Vote Proposal Confuses" - former U.S. legal advisor

By Howard Hills
Former counsel on territorial status affairs in the Executive Office of the President, National Security Council and U.S. State Department, and author of "Citizens Without A State"

Honoring Veterans with Truth

The Governor of Guam, Eddie Calvo, recently sent a letter to President Trump requesting that U.S. military veterans in Guam be given the same federal voting rights as Americans in the States of the Union.
In doing so the Governor did not make it clear if this was just a symbolic gesture, or if he really believes the president or even Congress and the federal courts can simply extend federal voting rights under the U.S. Constitution outside a state, for persons born in a U.S. territory.
If the latter he may not be getting fully accurate historical and constitutional background information from his advisers. If instead the Governor seeks to illustrate and arouse sympathy for the veterans and other U.S. nationals and citizens in territories who can’t vote in federal elections, then in a real sense it creates confusion about the legal, political and moral context for honoring the sacrifice of veterans.

30 August 2018


Sir Julian R. Hunte, President of the 57th Session of the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly (l) with H.E. Kofi Annan, the seventh U.N. Secretary-General  (2004)


  OF THE UNITED NATIONS                                DES NATIONS UNIES





On behalf of the Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly, and on my own behalf, I wish to join with millions across our planet in expressing deep condolences on the passing of Kofi Atta Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, who has joined the ancestors. 

Kofi Annan was a proud son of Africa, and had an illustrious and highly distinguished career at the United Nations, spanning the areas of world health, peacekeeping, and other important areas of peace, security and development. He was elected by the member States of the General Assembly as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1997.

During his tenure as Secretary-General, he steered the institution with great distinction for over a decade. Of the many initiatives under his direction was the introduction of the Global Compact as a principle-based framework aimed at advancing world human development. This groundbreaking work preceded the emergence of the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

His work was rewarded with the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. Upon demitting office in 2006, he continued to contribute to the cause of world peace and development through the establishment of the Kofi Annan Foundation in the further promotion of global governance; and as Chairman of the Elders, the distinguished group of elder statesmen involved in conflict resolution and the promotion of human rights. He also served as United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria after his tenure as Secretary-General came to a close. In 2006, he was appointed to investigate the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar.

As president of the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly from Saint Lucia, I had the distinct honour to work closely with Kofi Annan in initiatives to strengthen the role of the General Assembly as the most representative body within the U.N. family.

Kofi Annan personified the best of the United Nations. He was the consummate world diplomat and gentleman. He devoted his life towards finding solutions to the myriad issues facing the people of our world. As Secretary-General, he raised significantly the level of importance of the United Nations in addressing the global challenges to peace, security and sustainable development. 

He will be sorely missed, but he leaves behind a legacy which should serve as a roadmap for the sustainable development of our planet. 

International Day Against Nuclear Tests 29 August

Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

"The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has an essential role within the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It fosters international peace and security by constraining the development of nuclear weapons. Our collective security demands that every effort should be made to bring this essential treaty into force." — 
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres



Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in the Pacific

17 August 2018


Committee announces inquiry on future 

of UK Overseas Territories

20 July 2018

How the Foreign Office manages its responsibility to ensure the security and stability of the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories is to be considered in a new inquiry by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Inquiry: The future of the UK Overseas Territories
Foreign Affairs Committee

Chair's comments

The Chair of the Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:

"The Overseas Territories have a special place in our constitution. They are self-governing but part of the United Kingdom. As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still work. The Committee will look at these distant parts of our community and look at how we work to support all our communities."
The future of the UK Overseas Territories

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has primary responsibility for the UK Overseas Territories (OTs). These OTs are spread across four oceans and eight time zones. With a total population of 250,000, they cover a seven million sq. km maritime zone. They range from Bermuda, with 64,000 people and a maritime area of 53 sq. km, to the British Antarctic Territory, with no permanent residents but a maritime area of 1.8 million sq. km. These dispersed territories support the UK’s global reach but ensuring their security and stability, while respecting the principle of self-government, presents a major challenge to the FCO.

Many face similar challenges. Most raise their own revenues but many depend on funding from a range of government departments and international organisations. Many have struggled to build sustainable economies while adapting to the increasing demands of global transparency. Several are the subject of sovereignty claims. They include some of the world’s richest biodiversity maritime zones but most are heavily exposed to climate change and increasingly regular extreme weather events.

In recent years, the OTs have been exposed to shocks, from the Panama Papers in 2015, to the Brexit vote in 2016, and Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. This led some OTs to question the Government’s willingness to support them. Relations have been put under further strain due to high-profile instances of divergence between the UK and some of the OTs on issues such as civil rights and financial transparency.

In the light of these concerns, this inquiry will consider the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future. The inquiry is likely to be structured around overarching themes but may look at individual OTs, as and when appropriate.
Send a written submission

The Committee welcomes written submissions on:
The governance of the OTs, including their adherence to human rights frameworks;
The benefits to the UK and the OTs of the relationship between them;
The financing of the OTs;
Representation of the OTs in the UK and in the Commonwealth and other international fora;
Assets and liabilities (including but not limited to ecological richness and the effects of extreme weather, and natural resources such as minerals and fish).

Send a written submission.

The deadline for written evidence for this inquiry is 3 September 2018.
Further information
Guidance: written submissions
About Parliament: Select committees
Visiting Parliament: Watch committees

14 August 2018


An air ambulance, with brand new technologies and other advanced features, in a familiar-looking aircraft, was the centre of attraction recently at the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport in Anguilla.
Known as a Pilatus PC 12 Medical Ambulance, the sleek aircraft is available as a means of rushing Anguillian patients to Guadeloupe, Martinique or elsewhere for advanced emergency treatment.
The air ambulance is part of an arrangement now being discussed among the Government of Anguilla, the Health Authority and officials in the two French territories. Those territories, now working closely with the English-speaking islands, are sharing their medical services with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) of which Anguilla is an Associated Member.
The special features of the air ambulance were explained to Anguilla Government and Health Authority officials by the visiting healthcare providers and technical team. Flying at a speed of 600 kilometers per hour and a height of over 30,000 feet, the aircraft, like a jet, took just over 40 minutes to arrive in Anguilla from Guadeloupe.
“It is an aircraft with new technology but an engine almost 40 years old,” the CEO of the company explained. “There are 56,000 engines like this flying around the world. The fleet has 8 million hours of flight with no engine failures.”
He also spoke about the automatic operations, safety features, carrying capacity and other qualities of the air ambulance.
Among those who inspected the aircraft was Minister of Health and Social Development, Evans McNiel Rogers, who is working feverishly to improve the healthcare services in Anguilla and to partner with regional and global professional providers to accomplish his mission.
“Late last year, the Permanent Secretary, Health, Foster Rogers, and I visited Martinique to attend an OECS Health Meeting and we took the opportunity to visit a number of the health facilities in Martinique and the menu of services being offered,” he stated. “Subsequent to that, I was invited to the opening of the Imaging Centre in Guadeloupe and again took the opportunity to visit the health facilities and the services available there.
“I was very impressed with the level and quality of service offered in these two islands. As a result of those meetings, we were able to invite officials of the University of Guadeloupe Medical Centre to Anguilla to discuss how they can assist us in a more organized fashion. We took note that we already have a number of persons who go to Guadeloupe and Martinique for various services.
“We looked at the insurance coverage here in Anguilla involving the Government, Nagico and the other private insurance companies – and what it would take to utilize the services in those territories. We are so near but still so far apart. During our deliberations, we spoke about the barriers, one of which was the language barrier. They assured me that they are working on that – not only in Anguilla but with the OECS to bridge that gap.
“They are setting up a concierge service, a medical records and customer service – and other arrangements – so that the transition would be easy and patients would feel pretty comfortable knowing that they are able to communicate via translators.”
Minister Rogers continued: “There was a follow-up meeting in Anguilla on July 27, when officials from Guadeloupe, including personnel from insurance companies, social security and the medical community, visited Anguilla. There was also an air ambulance called St. Barths Executive. Its personnel were here to display the equipment and services they can offer whether to Guadeloupe, Martinique or further afield. We realize that, depending on the nature of the illnesses of our patients, Guadeloupe is as good as anywhere else in the region – and it is very close to us.
“As a matter of fact, the air ambulance took just over 40 minutes to touch down in Anguilla. It was a very impressive display of all the new electronic features, and so forth, with respect to the particular aircraft. We were told that it was the latest technology, just a month old. There is a number of other aircraft of the same calibre, name, brand and type, but of an older age. This is the top of the line – with pressurized cabin – able to take the necessary stretchers as well as having the electrical and oxygen capacity not available in some of the regular aircraft.
“We are working to construct an agreement with them whereby we would be able to access the services they have to offer – not only in Anguilla, but the OECS in general.”

13 August 2018


The Trump tax law enacted last year dealt a devastating blow to GovGuam’s revenues and caused our island’s current deep budgetary challenges. This law was crafted in Washington, D.C., without any input from the territories or rank-and-file Congressional Republicans or Democrats.

The consequences of the Trump tax law now require the Legislature and governor to address GovGuam’s budget shortfall. The impacts are significant and will affect thousands of GovGuam employees, local businesses and working families who rely on critical government services every day..

Making up for GovGuam’s budgetary shortfall is not an easy task. While reversing the Trump tax law is not possible in the current political environment, I am working hard to boost federal investment in Guam, provide parity for the U.S. territories in federal grant programs and develop new industries that will expand our island’s economy.

As we work to resolve GovGuam’s immediate budgetary crisis, our local leaders should re-examine our need to mirror a complex federal tax system intended for the United States as a whole, not specific to the needs or realties of our island. Guam currently mirrors the federal tax code, which requires our local government to adopt mandates enacted by the president and Congress and prevents local leaders from making meaningful changes to GovGuam’s ability to set tax rates and raise new revenue.

Developing a Guam tax code would allow our elected leaders to design a system that more accurately reflects the needs of our community. This cannot be accomplished in time to address our immediate budgetary crisis or provide an easy out for the tough choices that our Legislature and Governor must make this year. But in the long term, it would mean that GovGuam would have greater autonomy to generate revenues for local public services, assist needy families, and promote economic development.

Ultimately, it would put Guam on an equal footing with the 50 states and other municipalities that do not rely on the federal government to dictate how their local governments generate income and corporate tax revenues.

Since 1986, federal law has authorized the Legislature and governor to delink from the federal Internal Revenue Code, and I am encouraged that the Guam Tax Commission is reviewing this option.

Now is the time to seriously re-evaluate whether de-linking is ultimately good for our island’s long-term interests. This process will take time and will require engagement from our entire community. But we cannot let the complexities deter us from meaningfully considering this option. Any new tax code developed for Guam will also need to improve tax collection and enforcement, to ensure fairness and accountability.

As your voice in Congress, I am committed to working with our local leaders and providing technical assistance from federal agencies and tax writers to advance this discussion. By working together, I am confident that we will overcome the impacts of the Trump tax law and develop a stronger, more self-reliant Guam for future generations.

10 August 2018


The U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands would be eligible jurisdictions under the proposal.

2d Session
To provide the option of discharging certain unsecured financial obligations of self-governing territories of the United States. 1/

July 25, 2018
Ms. Warren (for herself, Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Markey, and Ms. Harris) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

To provide the option of discharging certain unsecured financial obligations of self-governing territories of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

(a) Short Title.—This Act may be cited as the 
“United States Territorial Relief Act of 2018”.

(b) Table Of Contents.—The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Definitions.

Sec. 3. Findings.

Sec. 101. Relief through exercise of the power to regulate commerce, the bankruptcy power, and the territorial power.

Sec. 102. Effect of discharge.

Sec. 103. Actions relating to the status of financial obligations.

Sec. 104. Notice of discharge.

Sec. 105. Effective date.

1/ International law recognises the U.S. dependencies as non self-governing territories administered under Article 73 of the United Nations Charter.

09 August 2018

Okinawa Governor, known for his opposition to US Bases, Passes away at 67

Governor Onaga sends congratulations to U.S. President-elect Trump, hopes to break deadlock

OKYO – The governor of Japan’s Okinawa prefecture, who came to power in 2014 on a campaign platform of opposition to US military bases, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 67 years.

Takeshi Onaga, who was recovering after undergoing pancreatic cancer surgery in April, had been hospitalized, according to public broadcaster NHK.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Vice Governor Kiichiro Jahana had said he would be taking over Onaga’s duties so that he could focus on his recovery.

The governor had been openly confrontational with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the relocation of one of the biggest US bases in the area, which also led to massive protests in Okinawa and a legal battle initiated by Onaga.

At the end of July, the governor announced that he intended to exhaust all legal options to stop the relocation of the Futenma base from its present location to Henoko Bay, north of the prefecture’s main island.

Japan and the US had agreed to move the military facilities to Henoko, an area much less populated than the current base in Futenma, in order to reduce its impact on local population.

The local government, however, rejected the shift on the grounds that it posed a threat to the area’s environment and might prove to be detrimental to the local population.

Onaga tried to revoke the approval for the transfer given by his predecessor, even taking the case to court, which has ruled in favor of Tokyo.

A majority of citizens of Okinawa – which is home to over 70 percent of US military facilities in the country and half of the nearly 47,000 troops that the US maintains in Japan – are opposed to the relocation of the Futenma base and have asked that it be moved outside its territory.


04 August 2018


SXMGOV Official website

On Tuesday July 24, 2018, the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, the Honorable Leona Romeo- Marlin received a delegation from the World Bank Group headed by Mr. Edouard Erefio Blanchet, Disaster Risk Management Specialist.

The overall objective of this mission was to provide Technical Support to the Interim Recovery Committee (IRC) and to supervise the Emergency Recovery Project I (ERP1) and Grant Agreement which was signed in Sint Maarten on July 12, 2018. The World Bank specialists worked alongside the IRC on drafting and disclosure of the project's Environmental and Social Management Plan, finalized the Project's Operational Manual, processed the first disbursement of funds and discussed the procurement processes that have been, or are about to be undertaken, in particular the shelters repairs.

The group also provided environmental and social safeguard support to the Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness Project currently under preparation. A review of all planned and retroactive financed activities was also conducted as part of safeguard due diligence, to ensure that the proper environmental assessment arid mitigation provisions are in place. Work was also carried out with the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) to draft the Environmental and Social Management Plan for the Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness Project.

The mission began with an assessment of all the shelters and the roofing projects that are being repaired under the ERP 1. The specialists also met with various stakeholders and recovery partners, such as GEBE, Fire Department, St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF), Korps Politie St. Maarten, Meteorological Department St. Maarten (MDS), as well as the focal point representatives of the various ministries to accomplish the objective of this mission. 

The team comprised of a Short Time Project Manager or ERP 1, a Financial Management specialsit, a Finance Analysist, a Senior Social Safeguards specialist, a Senior Technical Specialist and consultant. Oversight of the team from Washington was provided by the Senior DRM Specialist and Task Team Leader.

01 August 2018

Independence vote rolls released in New Caledonia

Town halls across New Caledonia have published the provisional rolls for the November referendum on independence from France.
New Caledonia referendum poster
Photo: RNZ/ Adrienne Baron

Until 9 August, it is still possible to ask to be registered or to demand that names be struck off.
The rolls are restricted to long-term residents and include more than 173,000 names compared to the general roll which lists more than 210,000 voters.
The final rolls for the plebiscite will be released on the last day of August.
The rolls have been vetted by commissions appointed by the French state after a prolonged period of concern over their make-up.
The pro-independence movement had accused the authorities of allowing thousands of people to be enrolled despite them failing to meet the residency requirements.