13 December 2017

CONFERENCE ON DUTCH-ADMINISTERED CARIBBEAN CONDEMNS UNILATERAL ANNEXATION OF CARIBBEAN DEPENDENCIES


2nd CONFERENCE ON THE POLITICAL FUTURE
OF THE DUTCH-ADMINISTERED CARIBBEAN
RE-UNITING THE ANTILLES AND CARIBBEAN IN SOLIDARITY

FINAL COMMUNIQUÉ 

Kralendijk, Bonaire, December 3, 2017

The Second Conference on the Political Future of the Dutch-Administered Caribbean,

Having met at Bonaire, West Indies on 2nd and 3rd December 2017,

Aware that the political status of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius (Statia) and Saba was transformed in 2010 from being a part of the autonomous country of the (former) Netherlands Antilles to a new political arrangement unilaterally advanced by the Kingdom of the Netherlands akin to that of 'partial integration', and characterized by serious political and economic inequality, rather than the promised political and economic equality originally envisaged.

Also aware that this new status is tantamount to unilateral annexation, and is wholly inconsistent with the minimum standards of full self-government and equality required on the basis of international principles of democratic governance,

 Noting that in 2010, Curaçao and Sint Maarten joined Aruba as the second and third semi semi autonomous countries in the Kingdom without the full measure of self-government required under United Nations (U.N.) Resolution 1541 (XV), and subject to the applicability of Article 51 of the Kingdom Charter which provides for unilateral intervention in the affairs of the autonomous countries,

Also taking note of the “Assessment of self-governance sufficiency in conformity with internationally-recognised standards – Country Curacao” undertaken in 2012 by the global Dependency Studies Project which found that the present governance model in place in Curaçao emerging from the 2010 dismantlement process of the Netherlands Antilles further reduced the level of self-government to a diminished autonomous model, and is not in compliance with contemporary international standards of full self-government,

Conscious that in addition to the Dutch-administered partially-integrated dependencies, and the autonomous countries in the region, are other non-independent countries (NICCs) including the six British-administered non self-governing territories of Bermuda, Turks & Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands and Anguilla; the U.S. administered dependencies of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; the integrated departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana, and the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, and the French-administered collectivities of Saint Martin and Barts,

Bearing in mind that the 'public entity' status does not reflect the wishes of the people of Bonaire who had previously selected a political status of "direct ties to the Kingdom" of the Netherlands in a 2004 referendum rather than the political status of "public entity" which has been unilaterally and systematically imposed by the Kingdom since the 2010 dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles and the subsequent transition,

Also bearing in mind that the 'public entity' political status was formally rejected by the people of Bonaire in a 2015 referendum by a decisive 'No' vote of over 65 per cent, but the Kingdom decided to unilaterally imbed the public entities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba in the country of the Constitution,

Recognizing that any subsequent referendum on the preferred political status that would be selected from a group of political status options of democratic governance and political equality should be conducted under the direct supervision of the U.N.,

Taking into account that the people of Sint Eustatius voted in its 2005 referendum to remain within a restructured autonomous country of the Netherlands Antilles, but as the 2005 referendum results resulted in the dismantlement of that autonomous country, the Island Council of Sint Eustatius subsequently approved a motion to accept the ‘direct ties’ arrangement offered to Bonaire and Saba, even as the people had not voted in favour of the status, and even as the nature of its political and economic inequality had not yet been revealed,

Also taking into account that the people of Sint Eustatius in a 2014 referendum, under official observation of the U.N. Electoral Affairs Division of the Department of Political Affairs, formally rejected the imposed 'public entity' status by voting for a more autonomous status from a list of political status options, and recalling that the results of the 2014 referendum were formally certified and endorsed by motion of the Island Council on 25th May 2015 as a clear mandate of the people resulting in the subsequent drafting in 2016 of a White Paper and a draft constitution for an autonomous Sint Eustatius,

Alarmed that the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in spite of the democratically expressed wishes of the people of Sint Eustatius and Bonaire in their rejection of the imposed political status of ‘public entity’ in 2014 and 2015, respectively, has proceeded through measures in the Kingdom Parliament to formally annex the two territories through a process of ‘imbedding’ the two islands (along with the island of Saba), in the Dutch Constitution and further alarmed that this unilateral process of the Kingdom could result in a legitimization of the dependency status contrary to international norms of democratic governance and in opposition to the expressed will of the people of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius,

Recognizing the resumption of direct, albeit strained, contact between the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the democratically elected government of Sint Eustatius following the suspension of contacts in 2015, and again in 2016, and deeply concerned  that the method of unilateral withdrawal of communication with the elected government of the territory continues to be an unacceptable practice,

Further expresses its deep concern for the imposition of unilateral financial supervision which requires Kingdom approval for public expenditures by the Government of Sint Eustatius despite compliance with the financial regulations of the Kingdom Committee of Financial Supervision (CFT),

Recalling the Motion adopted by the Island Council of Sint Eustatius on 28th May 2015 which confirmed, inter alia, that the population of Sint Eustatius had not yet exhausted all its options as far as exercising its right to self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and which reminded the Netherlands of its continued obligations towards Sint Eustatius as part of the former Netherlands Antilles,

Taking note of the proposed 'Raizal Statute' submitted by the Raizal Authority of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina to the Government of Columbia to modernize the political, socio-economic and constitutional relationship between the people of the archipelago and the State of Columbia, and affirming the self-determination aspirations of the Raizal people,

Outraged that after 120 years of United States (U.S.) colonialism, and 36 U.N. resolutions asking it to immediately return Puerto Rico’s sovereignty to the Puerto Ricans, distressed by the unilateral imposition of the colonial fiscal control board imposed upon the people of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Government, and concerned for the irresponsibility of the U.S. response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico caused by the impact of Hurricane Maria precipitating the migration of Puerto Ricans from their homeland resulting in a significant reduction in population and family displacement with the intention of changing the demographic composition of the population,


1.         Affirms that the referendum results of 2014 in Sint Eustatius, and of 2015 in Bonaire, constituted a formal, genuine and legitimate refutation of the 'public entity' status as expressed by the people, and alarmed that the 'public entity' status imposed on the people of Sint Eustatius and Bonaire had been misrepresented as a genuine status of political equality by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010 at the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles,

2.         Deeply concerned that the people of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius are presently being governed, contrary to democratic norms, under a political status of political and economic inequality not of their choosing,

3.         Reaffirms the continued applicability to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba of relevant international law doctrine on self-determination and decolonization, including the provisions of Chapter XI on the "Declaration Regarding Non Self-Governing Territories,"

4.        Also reaffirms the continued applicability of  Article 73 (b) of the United Nations (U.N.) Charter which mandates that "Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement,"

5.        Emphasizes the continued applicability to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba of the U.N. Decolonization Declaration [Resolution 1514 (XV)], its companion Resolution 1541 (XV), and all other relevant U.N. resolutions, as well as the present Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and its plan of action,


6.        Also emphasizes the applicability of relevant General Assembly resolutions which recognize that "the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation," as "incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the (Decolonization) Declaration and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' and further emphasizes the applicability of the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly which confirm that self-determination is a fundamental human right protected under the core human rights conventions including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), et al,

7.         Takes note with interest that the U.N. General Assembly Resolution 945 (X) of 15 December 1955 removing the former Netherlands Antilles from the U.N. list of Non Self-Governing Territories did not affirm that the former Netherlands Antilles had achieved a full measure of self-government, thus leaving open the possibility for the U.N. to resume formal review of the self-governance sufficiency of the former territory and any of its former constituent parts, in particular Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, as wel as Curaçao and the other semi autonomous countries within the Kingdom with the aim of fostering a genuine process of self-determination,

8.        Calls on the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a matter of urgency, to lift the financial supervision imposed on the Dutch administered Caribbean, and calls on the Kingdom to exercise respect in their communication and dealings with the territories and semi autonomous countries, 

9.        Condemns the Kingdom of the Netherlands for its actions in unilaterally imbedding the 'public entities’ of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba in the constitution of the Netherlands, and calls on the international community  to review whether these actions are a violation of the  inalienable right to self-determination of the people of the public entities,

10.      Calls for the Kingdom of the Netherlands and/or other relevant U.N. member States to initiate the necessary procedures for the re-inscription of the former Netherlands Antilles islands of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius as well as Saba, Curaçao and the othe semi autonomous countries within the Kingdom on the United Nations list of Non Self-Governing Territories to provide the international community with the required platform to review, in depth where democratic deficiencies in the dependency governance arrangement may exist,

11.       Endorses the commissioning of an independent Self Governance Assessment of the political status and constitutional arrangements of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, through the use of the "Corbin Self-Governance Indicators," to determine the nature and scope of the public entity status according to international standards, and requests that the necessary resources be identified for the Assessment to be carried out as a key substantive document to inform the U.N. in its consideration of the re-inscription process of Bonaire and Saint Eustatius.

12.      Encouraged by the ongoing negotiations between the Government of Colombia and the recognized representatives of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina on a Raizal Statute intended to address the broad range of political, socio-economic and constitutional issues and concerns, and which is aimed at the modernization of the political status relationship between the Raizal people and the Colombian state; urges the Colombia Government to modify the State constitution in order to accommodate the Raizal Statute in recognition of the inalienable right of the people of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina to self-determination in accordance with international law, in particular, the U.N. Charter and relevant human rights instruments.

13.       Calls on the Kingdom of the Netherlands to adhere to the spirit of its Charter to provide for the autonomous functioning of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten;

14.       Calls on the Government of the United States to implement the U.N. Charter as related to the self-determination of peoples, and to implement the 36 resolutions of the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization calling for the self-determination and independence of Puerto Rico,

15.       Calls on Government of the United States to facilitate the self-determination of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands consistent with the relevant resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly.



12 December 2017

Former Netherlands Antilles PM honoured by global body

Former Prime Minister Receives Award At WPL Conference



WILLEMSTAD - Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, Maria Liberia-Peters recently received the lifetime achievement award at the conference of the Woman Political Leader Global Forum (WPL).
The Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL) is the global network of female politicians.
According to the former Prime Minister, she is honored to have received this award in recognition of her achievement as the first female politician who won an election and became the leader of her country. That was in 1984.
This year the Liberia-Peters was honored together with the first female Prime Minister of Dominica, Mrs. Eugenia Charles who passed away on September 6, 2005, at Fort de France, Martinique.
"As two female Prime Ministers, we supported each other in a world of politics dominated by men but where the society was mostly focused on the matriarch," said the former Prime Minister on her Facebook 

11 December 2017

In Puerto Rico, the 'natural disaster' is the US government

BY YXTA MAYA MURRAY, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

The wreckage of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma teaches us that there is no such thing as a “natural disaster.” This trope drives the federal response to environmental traumas under the Stafford Act, which allows the U.S. president to direct funds to any “state,” including Puerto Rico, when it is felled by events such as hurricanes.
The failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), show the illusions of the “disaster” story: It characterizes environmental traumas as short-term, one-size-fits-all catastrophes that are nobody’s fault. It also positions the federal government as a savior of victims, who should be thankful for U.S. aid that is given a matter of largesse. For this reason, President Trump could make the now-infamous complaint that “they” “want everything done for them” via Twitter on Sept. 30, and on Nov. 17 request that Congress provide only $44 billion in aid, a number that Senator Patrick Leahy (D, Vt) describes as “insulting,” especially for Puerto Rico.
Reliance on the story may also explain why the colorful FEMA “timeline” describing U.S. aid appears to stop at Oct. 31 as of this writing, and contains perfunctory assessments of efficient debris-clearance.
Interviews with Puerto Rican residents and responders that I conducted in November, however, reveal a different tale — one where FEMA administrators misunderstood the real dimensions of environmental “disasters,” which may begin far before the event, unfold in highly site-specific ways, and can continue for decades if not longer.
Puertorriqueños found themselves vulnerable for reasons that far predate Maria’s September 20 landfall. As law professor María L. Jiménez Colón, director of legal clinics for the University of Puerto Rico, recently explained to me: What we’re seeing now is “probably the worst, the most graphic, consequences of what happens when you are in a situation as we are, and as we were, before the hurricane.” In recounting the causes of the island’s suffering, she lambasted Puerto Rico’s “colony” status as well as its financial crisis, which may illuminate why its insufficiently maintained electrical grid failed, leaving 95 percent of the territory without power.
Moreover, the dangers foretold by austerity were compounded by FEMA’s negligence post-Maria. Professor Jiménez Colón reported that “We haven’t encountered many FEMA inspectors who speak Spanish.”
This complaint was also echoed by Roxanna García, RN, who did aid work in Puerto Rico from Oct. 4-18 with RNRN/NNU, the relief arm of her union: She said to me: “A lot of them didn’t speak Spanish, and the only thing they were doing was taking applications.”
Along with sending monolingual English speakers to help a territory where approximately 2.8 million people are monolingual Spanish speakers, García complained that FEMA relied on inaccessible technology: “You could fill out applications in person, but (to) follow up the application, (that process) was electronic. (You had to use a) phone, or text, or email. … But the internet was spotty and unreliable.”
And when FEMA handed out supplies, she said, it ignored victims’ health conditions : Residents “didn’t receive the kind of food that was adequate” in either quality or quantity, particularly considering the size of households or the prevalence of diabetes in Puerto Rico. The FEMA relief boxes contained a paltry amount of “chips and beef jerky and maybe a couple of bottles of water,” which often couldn’t be eaten since around 40 percent of the people García aided had diabetes or high blood pressure.
Private responders also said FEMA workers could barely be found. Sophia Hau Yau RN, who also traveled with RNRN/NNU, said that aid workers posted a sheet in a common area titled “FEMA Sightings.” Only six people wrote in of seeing FEMA employees, whereas Yau worked with a group of 300 volunteers that entered remote mountain locations and rural areas.
The disaster narrative also does not adequately imagine the future created for Puerto Rico by colonialism, austerity, Maria and government carelessness: “You can see the health crisis starting and already growing,” Yau said, citing the long-term effects of black mold and tainted water. And Jiménez observed that the hurricane would catalyze “housing (problems), foreclosures and evictions, and with evictions you trigger family relations, with issues with child custodies, and so on and so forth. This ... (is not going to) end soon.”
As Puerto Rico residents and responders know, FEMA does not attend to victims of unpredictable “natural disasters” out of generosity. Instead, human-rights considerations obligate the government to respond fully to environmental events that are rooted in government responsibility. Conscious of its own role in creating “disasters,” the U.S. must also tailor aid to local conditions, and to respond to an injured community with an appreciation of its history and foreseeable future.

30 November 2017

France requests EU Solidarity Funding for hurricane recovery in department of Guadeloupe and Collectivity of Saint Martin

European Commission - Statement

Statement by Commissioner Creţu on the French authorities' request for aid from the European Solidarity Fund

Brussels, 28 November 2017

Within the first few hours of the devastating Irma and Maria hurricanes hitting the Caribbean, the European Union expressed its solidarity by mobilising its emergency response instruments and offering aid for reconstruction in the longer term with the support of European funds.

We have now received a request from the French authorities for aid from the EU Solidarity Fund to help with reconstruction on Guadeloupe and Saint Martin in particular; French Overseas Minister Annick Girardin will today meet my colleague, Pierre Moscovici, to hand him the request in person.

I welcome this request, since once analysed it will allow us to assist the people of Saint Martin by providing financial aid to help restore infrastructure and public services and to cover emergency and clean-up costs.

Europe's support will soon be put to work on the island. This is the promise I made to Daniel Gibbs, President of the Collectivity of Saint Martin, at the Conference on the Outermost Regions in October, where we presented our new strategy for a stronger partnership with these regions. This promise will be kept, since although these overseas regions may be geographically distant from the European continent, never have they been so close, so integrated, or so European.

However, we also realise that these regions are part of a special neighbourhood and that Saint Martin itself is one of a pair, since it shares its island, and therefore its destiny, with the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten.

Saint Martin and Sint Maarten will recover together. My colleague Commissioner Mimica, responsible for development, last week announced an investment package to support the reconstruction and economic revival of the Caribbean countries affected by the disaster, including Sint Maarten.

Furthermore, in December we will announce how our inter-regional cooperation programmes, known by the name of Interreg, can also make a contribution, in particular the specific programme linking Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.

The European Union stands side-by-side with those who lost everything, including their dreams, in the disaster. They can count on the sincere and unfailing support of the EU for the reconstruction work and for the rebuilding of their lives.

29 November 2017

New Solar Park supplies entire Statia with electricity


BES REPORTER


On St. Eustatius, one of the three Public Entities of the Caribbean Netherlands, on the 15th of November a solar park will be officially put into use that can supply the entire island with electricity during the day until after sunset. Thanks to the park, the use of diesel generators, which until recently produced all electricity, can now be reduced by almost half.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate has funded the solar park with a subsidy of over USD 14.1 million. This corresponds to almost USD 7,900 for each of the 1800 households and companies whom the investment from the Dutch Government will benefit.
In addition to the solar panels the park has an innovative battery storage of 2.6 MW / 5.9 MWh that can keep the grid stable without the diesel generators. On sunny days from 9.00 AM until 8.00 PM  the solar park is responsible for the entire power production. Around noon the park produces more than 200% of the electricity demand. The produced surplus is stored and utilized later in the day. At night diesel generators take over the production.
This way on an annual basis the solar park provides 46% of the electricity needs of the island. The park has a nominal output of 4.15 MW; thanks to the sunny climate this plant can produce almost twice as much power as would be possible in the European Netherlands. With an expected annual production of 6.4 GWh, after Sunport Delfzijl, this is the Netherlands’ largest solar park.
The plant will be put into use officially on 15 November 2017 by the Kingdom Representative, Gilbert Isabella.

21 November 2017

For your consideration: "Difference Between Territory and State"


Territory vs State

Some countries are only composed of a certain geographical area, a population, and a government while others, especially those that are bigger and more powerful than others, are composed of several other territories which they cede through invasion or through the choice of their citizens. Some of these territories join together to form federations and are then called states.

A state is an organized, political institution that controls a territory under a government and forms part of a federal republic. It uses legitimate force to maintain a monopoly over the territory under a central government.

There are several types of states; those that are sovereign and those that are subject to the control of other states. Sovereign states are those that have definite territories and which consist of permanent populations and government allowing them to enter into relations with other sovereign states

Most states are part of federated states such as the case of the United States of America, and the federal government holds power over the states. A state is also sometimes referred to as country.

A territory, on the other hand, is a geographical area which does not have sovereignty and is under the control of another government. They may enjoy local autonomy and, at the same time, may be subject to some of the laws of the state that governs them. Territories may be those that are sub-national entities in a unitary state like France, administrative districts of a nation-state such as those in Austria, counties within a state like those in the U.S.

Other examples of territories are those which are occupied territories and are under the military control of the invading country, disputed territories which are claimed by two or more countries, and special administrative regions like Macao and Hong Kong. Ships are also the territories of the countries whose flags they are flying.

A territory can be any area which is claimed by a government. As countries expand their borders, they claim territories, and they can become states when they become organized and incorporated enabling them to petition the federal government to make them states.

Citizens of a state enjoy more privileges and the full rights of a citizen while citizens of a territory enjoy limited rights and privileges. They are also usually situated farther from the central government although they are also represented in it.

Summary

1.A territory is an area which is under the control of another state or government and does not have sovereignty while a state is also known as a country or an organized political organization which enjoys sovereignty.

2. Citizens of states enjoy more privileges and full rights under the law while citizens of territories only have limited rights and privileges.

3. A state is usually located within the geographical area of the seat of government while a territory is usually located far from it; even ships which are in international waters are considered territories of their flagship country.

4. A state monopolizes control over its territories through legitimate force while a territory does not.


19 November 2017

Virgin Islanders To Reflect On Culture: Then And Now


The Department of Culture will observe its annual Virgin Islands Culture and Heritage Week under the theme, “Reflections of Our Virgin Islands Culture: Then & Now” with the subtheme, “Living the Culture”.
The full week of community and school-based activities are scheduled from Monday, November 20 through Friday, November 24.
Director of the Department of Culture, Mrs. Luce Hodge-Smith said that the Department thought that it was important to host the week rather than to cancel it as it was the most opportune moment to create a linkage between our life in the past and our life post Hurricane Irma.
Mrs. Hodge-Smith said, “Since the destruction of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, many Virgin Islanders were in a sense living the culture and we wanted to be able to illustrate that linkage to persons in the Territory.”
The Director added, “Culture and Heritage Week is important in the preservation of the culture and history of the Territory and allows Virgin Islanders to pass on the relevant information to the younger generations. It’s important that we hold true to this event and never lose sight of its relevance.”
Activities during the week will include a number of activities with a focus on demonstrating the link between Virgin Islands culture and heritage, past and present.
The week will begin with the Minister for Education and Culture’s Message to declare the week officially open; cultural events at the various schools throughout the Territory with cultural presentations and exhibitions; a Virgin Islands storytelling radio series and the annual Territorial Dress-up.
The annual Territorial Dress-up day will be held on Friday, November 24. Persons throughout the Territory are encouraged to dress in the Virgin Islands’ territorial wear or in the Territory’s colours- red, green, white, blue and/or yellow.
Author
Bria Smith
Professional Cadet
Ministry of Education and Culture
Telephone: 468-3353
Email: BriaSmith@gov.vg

15 November 2017

DUTCH-ANNEXED SINT EUSTATIUS HAS NEW FACTION LEADER





Rechelline Leerdam replaces Clyde Van Putten as PLP faction leader

BES REPORTER

Rechelline Leerdam replaces Clyde Van Putten as PLP faction leader

Oranjestad- In a letter dated November 8, 2017 to the Chairman of the Island Council of St. Eustatius, Leader of the Progressive Labour Party, Clyde Van Putten, informed the Chairman that effective December 1, 2017, he would relinquish the position of Faction leader of the PLP in the Island Council.

Van Putten also made known that Council Lady Rechelline Leerdam will assume the position of faction leader for the PLP starting on the same date.

The PLP leader said that this decision is in keeping with a promise he made at the beginning of the term, that after the first two years of this period of government that he would relinquish the position in favor of Leerdam, thus giving her the opportunity to gain more experience in this field.

“This is the beginning of a process to prepare the younger generation to assume the mantle of leadership in the party as well as the governing process of St. Eustatius”, said Van Putten.

Van Putten also said that he had every confidence that Leerdam was up to the task and would be able to effectively discharge her new duties as faction leader in the Island Council.

“Relinquishing this position will give me more time to focus on Constitutional Reform as well as the Social and Economic Development of the island”, said Van Putten. Van Putten will still remain leader of the PLP.

12 November 2017

“We the People Project” Seeks “Less Perfect Union”



"Perhaps the 'We the People Project' should issue a manifesto proclaiming “We the People of the American nation, in order to form a less perfect union, to ordain to establish a confederacy of vestigial States and subordinate client regimes in the territories, with government by majority rule and consent of all voters possessing national citizenship.”

PR 51st




Embracing the“last resort” option of a national campaign to amend the Constitution is really an admission by “We the People Project” that federal litigation and even legislation approved by Congress can not confer the same rights in territories that citizens have in the States.

Full citizenship rights come with statehood 
or free association or independence - OTR)

Indeed, the only remedy the courts can provide to enhance the constitutional status of the territories is to overturn the 1922 Balzac v. Puerto Rico ruling that the unincorporated territory status doctrine applies even after Congress grants U.S. citizenship. 

That would restore the historic principles of the Northwest Ordinance and federal court ruling prior to 1922 consistently holding that granting statutory U.S. citizenship incorporated territories into the Union under the Constitution, which then would apply fully upon admission to statehood.

Accordingly, the only legislation Congress can enact to vindicate the promise of equal U.S. citizenship rights in a territory is a statehood admissions act! That is why “We the People Project” litigation seeking judicial rulings are unlikely if not unable to resolve the political questions arising when U.S. citizens remain in a constitutionally temporary and less than equal political status for far longer than intended or expected by the authors of our Constitution.

Congress and the federal courts have failed to resolve the legacy of decades in which denial of full democracy has persisted for territories at the national level. “We the People Project” leader Neil Weare’s retreat from litigation that raised high expectations to the grandiose notion of an amendment under Article V of the U.S. Constitution merely invites the territories to recycle the same old discarded draft constitutional amendments proposed in decades past.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.

09 November 2017

Pacific’s role and history of nuclear suffering boosted treaty success


Asia Pacific Report

ANALYSIS: By Dr Vanessa Griffen
The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced earlier this month that the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
ICAN is an international non-profit network of more than 465 organisations with campaigners in 100 countries.
ICAN was singled out by for the Nobel Peace Prize announced on October 6, as the committee recognised the role it played in raising awareness of the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and in helping to bring about the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in the UN General Assembly on July 7 this year.
The treaty now makes nuclear weapons illegal for any use, development or threat of use. They are to be eliminated.
While ICAN is honoured by the award, it immediately gave credit to the many campaigners around the world who helped make the treaty possible. It also noted the role of the hibakusa atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and nuclear weapons testing victims all over the world, who shared their suffering to bring about the prohibition treaty.
The Pacific Islands’ region has a long history of protesting against nuclear weapons due its legacy – unique in the world perhaps – of being used by nuclear armed states, the United States, United Kingdom and France as sites to develop and test their nuclear weapons.
The Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, and Christmas Island in Kiribati, were used for years for the conduct of horrendous nuclear tests.
Sixty-seven nuclear tests were conducted in the Marshall Islands from 1946-1958; French Polynesia had 30 years of atmospheric and underground tests by France.
Pacific countries protested
All Pacific countries joined in anti-nuclear protests from the 1970s to the present.
The Pacific Island states have joined other non-nuclear states and ICAN, in supporting the humanitarian initiative and calls for a legal instrument to prohibit these weapons use under any circumstances.
Several Pacific states voted on resolutions in the United Nations and in international conferences on humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, keeping up Pacific voices on the nuclear weapons issue.
In the final treaty negotiations in New York, nine Pacific countries voted for the adoption of the historic treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, joining 122 states that voted “yes”.
Seven Pacific states had already signed the treaty when on September 20 in New York when it opened for official signatories – Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
In the period now of heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea threatening to use and develop nuclear weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize gives timely support to ICAN and the treaty that makes nuclear weapons illegal.
What the Nobel Peace Prize is giving strong support for is this historic shift in international thinking on nuclear disarmament – to the opposite philosophy from deterrence -– of rejecting any use, development or threat of use of nuclear weapons because they are inhumane and dangerous.
Humanitarian initiative
The Pacific Islands have always been a part of that campaign – way before it was called a humanitarian initiative, because Pacific Islanders knew first hand the humanitarian, environmental and health impacts on many generations, of nuclear weapons because of the region’s involuntary experience of weapons’ tests.
As the Nobel Prize of 2017 is awarded this year to ICAN and its international campaign and the new ban treaty, the Pacific Island countries and many campaigners will celebrate.
The Prime Minister of Samoa, speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 22 said:
“As small island states, we are no longer protected by our isolation” and explained why he gladly signed the treaty on behalf of Samoa. He pointed to the global dynamics “leading our world perilously close to a potential catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.”
The Pacific Islands has lived through those catastrophes – still ongoing, in Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, among service men affected by nuclear radiation.
Fifty states’ ratifications are needed to bring the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons into force.
With 12 Pacific countries with UN status, the region could play a significant role again, in ratifying soon, so the period before the treaty is enforced is shortened. It is needed urgently.
The Pacific nuclear legacy has been channelled into being a force to be reckoned with. It joins other non-nuclear states that have helped create this alternative to stalled nuclear disarmament – a global treaty for nuclear disarmament that stresses humanitarian impacts as its rationale.
‘Defending’ N-weapons
Present treaties on nuclear disarmament such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty( NPT) do the opposite – defending the use of such nuclear weapons they helped to shape.
None of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – took part in the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons and the United States, Britain and France say they will never sign it.
On December 10, ICAN will receive its award in Oslo from the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
As most campaigners know, the work to prohibit nuclear weapons must continue with more urgency than ever. The Pacific Islands have done a great deal to share their experience of nuclear testing and launch a new approach to nuclear disarmament – prohibition of such weapons.
Dr Vanessa Griffen of Suva, Fiji, is a Pacific supporter of ICAN. She was formerly a member of the Fiji-based ATOM Committee (Against Testing on Moruroa) and a member of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement. She attended with ICAN two of the three international conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and was part of ICAN’s lobby team at the negotiations for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This article was especially written for Asia Pacific Report.

08 November 2017

UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC COMMISSION TO ASSESS ECONOMIC COST OF HURRICANE DAMAGE IN DUTCH-ADMINISTERED SINT MAARTEN

Image result for sINT mAARTEN





EDITOR'S NOTE: SINT MAARTEN IS ONE OF THIRTEEN NON-INDEPENDENT CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES WHICH ARE ASSOCIATE MEMBER COUNTRIES (AMCs) OF THE UNITED NATIONS (U.N.) ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN (ECLAC). A 2017 EXPERT STUDY ON ASSOCIATE MEMBER PARTICIPATION IN THE U.N. SYSTEM PROVIDES EXTENSIVE BACKGROUND ON THE LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY FOR U.N. ASSISTANCE TO THESE COUNTRIES WHICH ARE NOT U.N. MEMBER STATES. 

UN Team To Conduct Damage, Loss Assessment In St. Maarten

Sint-Maarten-from-the-airPHILIPSBURG - A 15-person team from the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will be conducting a damage and loss assessment exercise in St. Maarten from October 22 to October 27.
The team is led by Dr. Omar Bello, Coordinator for Sustainable Development and Disaster Unit. The assessment is expected to be broad based with an emphasis on the economic impact of hurricane Irma.

While in St. Maarten, the team will have meetings with various stakeholders, including those representing sectors such as social affairs, housing, education, health care, the country’s transportation infrastructure, water and sanitation as well as collection and treatment of solid wastes. The group further hopes to gain insight into, among other things, post disaster information on electricity supply and distribution, broadcasters, telecommunications, Internet and tourism.
This will not be the first time ECLAC will be on a similar mission in St. Maarten. Following hurricanes Luis and Marilyn, more than two decades ago, ECLAC also completed an assessment of damages and loss in St. Maarten, which served as valuable analyses, it was stated in a press release over the weekend. Early assessments were already carried out in St. Maarten immediately following the passing of hurricane Irma.

However, as time passes and more information is gathered, a more thorough assessment is always possible and actually recommendable, the release said. “That in turn facilitates a more accurate forecast of the long-term economic impact. With that in mind, stakeholders are encouraged to lend their full cooperation to the ECLAC damage and loss assessment exercise.”
ECLAC is a United Nations regional commission to encourage economic cooperation. The commission’s work includes contributing to solutions by conducting research and analysis and providing sound policy advice and technical assistance to Caribbean governments, focused on growth with equity and recognition of the sub region’s vulnerability. ECLAC has 45 member-States (20 in Latin America, 13 in the Caribbean and 12 from outside the region) and 13 associate members which are various non-independent territories, associated island countries and a commonwealth in the Caribbean. St. Maarten was conferred Associate Membership in ECLAC in May 2014.
A questionnaire to be forwarded to stakeholders prior to the planned meetings is to serve as guideline for the expected conversations. The Department of Interior and Kingdom Relations BAK is coordinating the meetings between stakeholders in St. Maarten and the ECLAC team. For more information, interested stakeholders may call BAK and ask for Cheryl Rohan at tel. 520-0194.