24 February 2010

Implications of Pending Federal Legislation on US Territories

Press Release February 22, 2010
Panel Discussion on Federal Political Status Legislation

A panel discussion on the Implications of Pending Federal Legislation on the Self-Determination of the US Virgin Islands will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 PM (Thursday) on February 25, 2010 at the NWW Great Hall University on the St. Croix Campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. The activity is being conducted by the United Nations Association of the Virgin Islands in conjunction with the Student Affairs Office of the University of the Virgin Islands.

A similar forum was held by UNAVI on March 20, 2010 in St. Thomas in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute.

The panelists in the St. Croix session will explore several legislative measures which have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives designed to advance political development in U.S. territories, including a measure to fund educational programs in the territories on political status options. This bill was approved by the House of Representatives last December, and is awaiting Senate action.

A similar measure authorizing a federally-sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico, leading to a referendum on political status options, will also be examined. The Puerto Rico bill is awaiting final passage by the US House of Representatives.

The implications of the proposed constitutional amendment extending the presidential vote to the territories and the District of Columbia, and legislation for greater territorial representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, will also be reviewed by the panelists.

Participants are:

Gerard Emanuel, former Director of the Virgin Islands Status Commission
Genevieve Whitaker, Attorney
Amaris Chew, Virgin Islands Youth Activist
A Representative of Congressional Delegate Donna Christensen
Moderator: Dr. Carlyle Corbin, International Advisor on Governance

21 February 2010

Argentina Protests to United Nations on British Oil Drilling in Malvinas Waters

A/64/653
General Assembly
Distr.: General
8 February 2010
English
Original: Spanish

Sixty-fourth session (United Nations General Assembly)
Agenda item 23
Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)


Letter dated 3 February 2010 from the Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

On instructions from my Government, I have the honour to transmit herewith a copy of the note of protest dated 2 February 2010 submitted by the Government of the Republic of Argentina to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, rejecting the British attempt to authorize hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in areas of the Argentine continental shelf around the Malvinas Islands under the illegitimate occupation of the United Kingdom (see Annex). I should be grateful if you would arrange for this note and its annex to be circulated as a document of the General Assembly under agenda item 23.

(Signed) Jorge Arg├╝ello
Ambassador, Permanent Representative


Annex to the letter dated 3 February 2010 from the Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

2 February 2010

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of the Argentine Republic presents its compliments to the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and wishes to refer to the drilling activities which are about to begin to the north of the Malvinas Islands.

In this regard, the Government of the Argentine Republic firmly rejects the British attempt to authorize the carrying out of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in the area of the Argentine continental shelf under illegitimate British occupation.

The unilateral act subject of this protest follows, besides, the succession of British unilateral acts which led the Argentine Government, among other reasons, to terminate as of 27 March 2007 the Argentine-British Joint Statement on “Cooperation on Off-Shore Activities in the Southwest Atlantic” agreed under the sovereignty formula on 27 September 1995, which referred to the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the area subject to the sovereignty dispute.

This new unilateral act by the United Kingdom is incompatible with what has been established by resolutions 2065 (XX), 3160 (XXVIII), 31/49, 37/9, 38/12, 39/6, 40/21, 41/40, 42/19 and 43/25 of the United Nations General Assembly, all of which recognize the existence of the sovereignty dispute referred to as the “Question of the Malvinas Islands” and call on the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume negotiations in order to find as soon as possible a peaceful solution to the dispute. In particular, it is incompatible with resolution 31/49, which calls on the two parties to
refrain from taking decisions that would imply introducing unilateral modifications in the situation while the islands are going through the process recommended by the resolutions of the United Nations.

The Argentine Government reiterates to the British Government all expressions of rejection on this matter, among others the press release of 18 September 1992 against the British unilateral decision to open a tender for prospecting areas of the Argentine continental shelf; the note of 17 December 1992 whereby the Argentine Government reiterated the press release referred to; and the note of 5 October 2000 formally protesting the British attempt to enact legislation on exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the areas of the Argentine continental shelf.

The Argentine Republic reaffirms its sovereignty rights over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas which are an integral part of its national territory.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of the Argentine Republic avails itself of the opportunity to reiterate to the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland the assurances of its highest consideration.

17 February 2010

Dutch Deny Voting Rights to Curacao, Sint Maarten

Daily Herald

First, Second Chambers say ‘no’ to voting rights

THE HAGUE--The Dutch Parliament’s First and Second Chambers are not in favour of giving residents of future Countries Cura├žao and St. Maarten active voting rights in Dutch Parliamentary elections. With the exception of the one-member OSF faction in the First Chamber, all First and Second Chamber parties present at Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Permanent Committee for Antillean and Aruban Affairs NAAZ stated that they were against granting active voting rights to the islands.

The factions stated this in response to a recommendation of the Democratic Deficit Committee. The Committee, chaired by Netherlands Antilles Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague Mavis Brooks-Salomon, had suggested allowing Dutch citizens of the two countries active voting rights as a means of reducing the democratic deficit within the Kingdom. The BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will automatically acquire voting rights in the Second Chamber elections when they become part of the Netherlands on October 10.

(OTR Editors Note: The new status of 'public entity' being crafted for the BES islands by the Dutch would not provide for a full measure of self-government through political integration as required by international instruments, and is tantamount to annexation. The Dutch have thus far blocked Bonaire's efforts to have a referendum (originally scheduled for 14th March) so that the people could make an informed decision on a range of options consistent with international law). 

The (Democratic Deficit) Committee had analysed the democratic deficit and come up with suggestions that were made in a report called “Choosing for the Kingdom,” presented on November 11, 2009.

The Dutch Caribbean partners within the Kingdom generally believe that the Netherlands plays a too dominant role in the Kingdom, especially because decisions relating to the Kingdom are made by the Netherlands.

Benefit

“We don’t see any benefit in granting voting rights,” said Member of the Second Chamber Bas Jan van Bochove of the governing Christian Democratic Party CDA. “We are not in favour of active voting rights,” said Member of the Second Chamber John Leerdam of the Labour Party PvdA, which forms part of the coalition. “We have our doubts as to whether this is even possible,” said Christian Union (CU), the smallest coalition partner, represented by member of the Second Chamber Cynthia Ortega-Martina.

Opposition parties agreed with the ruling parties on this one. Member of the Second Chamber Johan Remkes of the liberal democratic VVD party said “no” to the Committee’s recommendation. “I don’t think it would be proportional,” said Remkes, referring to the small size of the islands compared to the Netherlands.

“Active voting rights are not the solution to the problem of the democratic deficit,” said Member of the Second Chamber Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP). Member of the Second Chamber Hero Brinkman of the Party for Freedom PVV said things should be placed in the right context, with the Netherlands having a population of some 16.5 million.

Member of the First Chamber Jan Laurier of the green left party GroenLinks said his faction couldn’t give a definite “yes” or “no” to the recommendation on voting rights.

Little brother trauma

Only Henk ten Hoeve of the OSF faction in the First Chamber supported the Committee’s suggestion. He agreed that active voting rights would reduce the democratic deficit, since the people of the islands would feel more involved in the Dutch Parliament. Ten Hoeve noted that the Antillean electorate was very small compared to that of the Netherlands. Ten Hoeve said voting rights would positively contribute to reducing what he called the “little brother trauma.”

Liaisons from the Antilles and Aruba Parliaments, and in future, from the Parliaments of the three Dutch Caribbean countries, as well as video-conferencing – other suggestions of the Committee – would have less effect in reducing the “little brother trauma,” said Ten Hoeve. The other parties agreed that video-conferencing was not a bad suggestion, but all doubted that it would work. “It will only work for five minutes,” envisioned Bas Jan van Bochove.

However, parties did acknowledge the importance of communicating between the parliaments, but doing so through liaisons was considered a bad idea. “Liaisons are superfluous and would only lead to more bureaucracy,” said Ronald van Raak.

Parliamentary meetings

The semi-annual Parliamentary Consultation in the Kingdom POK should be done away with immediately, agreed most parties. “POK is dead and we should not make any efforts to revive it,” said Johan Remkes. “Whatever happens, no more POK,” said Hero Brinkman. John Leerdam and Cynthia Ortega-Martijn said POK in its current form obviously didn’t work, just as the Committee had stated. Leerdam and Ortega-Martijn said parties on both sides of the ocean should discuss how to better structure their contacts before definitely killing POK.

“You should not throw out your old shoes before you have new ones,” said Leerdam. “We should give the meetings more content and work with themes,” said Ortega-Martijn.

Brinkman said that meetings between the Parliaments, if they were to continue, had to be public. “We are very much in favour of transparency,” said Brinkman. Remkes and Van Bochove agreed that contact meetings between the Parliaments, in any case, needed to be shortened to one or two days. “Meetings have to be leaner and meaner,” said Remkes.

State of the Kingdom

All parties supported the Committee’s recommendation to have an annual so-called State of the Kingdom, presented by the Kingdom Council of Ministers. In this State of the Kingdom, Government would reflect on developments in the Kingdom. “It will lead to more pondering about the quality of our Kingdom,” said Jan Laurier. Van Raak warned that the State of the Kingdom should not be overdone. “We should not make a big circus out of it,” he said.

Parties showed much appreciation for the work of the Committee and described the report as “good” and “broad.” It was agreed that the First and Second Chambers would continue their deliberations on the report until after State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Ank Bijleveld-Schouten had submitted the formal response to the report on behalf of the Dutch Government.

(OTR Editors Note: The constitutional crisis in Bonaire and the Dutch resistance to the self-determination of the people of that island, is the subject of a forthcoming article in OTR's sister publication Overseas Territories Report, and will be published on this site in due course).

16 February 2010

Political Party Makes Bold Statement to UK in Turks and Caicos

by TCIwatch

The political parties in Turks and Caicos are careful to make clear that they have "moved forward" from the problems surrounding the ousted former Premier, Michael Misick. The PNP (Progressive National Party), the same party to which Misick belonged, explains that it is clearly competent to lead Turks and Caicos and wishes to "move forward" from judgments of Misick, which caused the UK to take over all governance from Turks and Caicos. The PNP has made clear its position on the UK's invasion of Turks and Caicos on August 2009; it is unwelcome and unwanted in the Turks and Caicos government.

In a press statement on January 18, 2010, PNP hopeful, McAllister Hanchell stated, Turks and Caicos "...continues to be in danger of being undermined and infiltrated by individuals carrying out the British Government's and Gordon Wetherell's [UK governor] agenda of divide and conquer." Since the UK's arrival in August 2009, there has been much alarm in regard to UK's drastic and draconian measures, including taking democracy and civil rights from the people who reside in Turks and Caicos.

Besides the loss of revenue from the GDP decidedly from UK's poor business plan, the UK has also taken many citizens' property, the peoples' right to vote, judiciary, etc. However, most alarming to the PNP, is the way in which the UK is politically motivating people to confuse the relevant points that civil rights have been taken. Hanchell goes on to express, "The strategy of the British Government is to maintain political divisions within and between the current political party structures and maintain their presence in our Country."

If you have read my preceding article wherein I explain how the UK is using the media and opposition parties to create a climate of fear and infighting, you might agree with Mr. Hanchell's foregoing statement. But that's not the end of the story, it's only the beginning really. As the political parties sort out how they will lead, or if they will be allowed to lead in light of the UK's long arm, they must also unite for the common goal for autonomous self government. Prior to UK's take over of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the autonomous island territory had its own constitution and was working toward sovereignty.

The problems created by Michael Misick is far less than those created by the UK. However, all of these problems can be sorted out in time with a good leader and good local governance. Political infighting has to be isolated and marganlised so that those moving forward can make progress. This includes all political parties working toward the same common goal, democracy

15 February 2010

United Nations Decision on Militarisation in Territories

For the Record


United Nations Decisions adopted by the General Assembly
during its fifty-seventh session


10 September – 20 December 2002
General Assembly Official Records, Fifty-seventh Session
Supplement No. 49 (A/57/49)

57/525. Military Activities and Arrangements by Colonial Powers in Territories under their administration

At its 73rd plenary meeting, on 11 December 2002, the General Assembly adopted the following Decision based on the recommendation of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee):

“The General Assembly,

Having considered the chapter of 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 relating to an item on the agenda of the Special Committee entitled ‘Military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in Territories under their administration’ and,

 Recalling its resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 and all other relevant resolutions and decisions of the United Nations relating to military activities in colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories,

(The General Assembly)

Reaffirms its strong conviction that military bases and installations in the Territories concerned could constitute an obstacle to the exercise by the people of those Territories of their right to self-determination, and reiterates its strong views that existing bases and installations, which are impeding the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, should be withdrawn.

“2. Aware of the presence of such bases and installations in some of those Territories, the General Assembly urges the administering Powers concerned to continue to take all necessary measures not to involve those Territories in any offensive acts or interference against other States

“3. Reiterates its concern that military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in Territories under their administration might run counter to the rights and interests of the colonial peoples concerned, especially their right to self-determination and independence. The Assembly once again calls upon the administering Powers concerned to terminate such activities and to eliminate such military bases in compliance with its relevant resolutions. Alternative sources of livelihood for the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories should be provided.

“4. Reiterates that the colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories and areas adjacent thereto should not be used for nuclear testing, dumping of nuclear wastes or deployment of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

“5.  Deplores the continued alienation of land in colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories, particularly in the small island Territories of the Pacific and Caribbean regions, for military installations. The large-scale utilization of the local resources for this purpose could adversely affect the economic development of the Territories concerned.

“6. Takes note of the decision of some of the administering Powers to close or downsize some of those military bases in the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

“7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to inform world public opinion of those military activities and arrangements in colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories which constitute an obstacle to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

“8. Requests the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples to continue to examine this question and to report thereon to the Assembly at its fifty-eighth session.”

14 February 2010

Haiti in Proper Historical Context

The Hate and the Quake

by Sir Hilary Beckles 
Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus
University of the West Indies
Barbados

Nations News
Barbados
17 Jan. 2010

The University of the West Indies is in the process of conceiving how best to deliver a major conference on the theme Rethinking And Rebuilding Haiti. I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on January 1, 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption.

Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti's independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy. The evidence is striking, especially in the context of France.

The Haitians fought for their freedom and won, as did the Americans fifty years earlier. The Americans declared their independence and crafted an extraordinary constitution that set out a clear message about the value of humanity and the right to freedom, justice, and liberty. In the midst of this brilliant discourse, they chose to retain slavery as the basis of the new nation state. The founding fathers therefore could not see beyond race, as the free state was built on a slavery foundation. The water was poisoned in the well; the Americans went back to the battlefield a century later to resolve the fact that slavery and freedom could not comfortably co-exist in the same place.

The French, also, declared freedom, fraternity and equality as the new philosophies of their national transformation and gave the modern world a tremendous progressive boost by so doing. They abolished slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte could not imagine the republic without slavery and targeted the Haitians for a new, more intense regime of slavery. The British agreed, as did the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese. All were linked in communion over the 500 000 Blacks in Haiti, the most populous and prosperous Caribbean colony. As the jewel of the Caribbean, they all wanted to get their hands on it. With a massive slave base, the English, French and Dutch salivated over owning it - and the people.

The people won a ten-year war, the bloodiest in modern history, and declared their independence. Every other country in the Americas was based on slavery. Haiti was freedom, and proceeded to place in its 1805 Independence Constitution that any person of African descent who arrived on its shores would be declared free, and a citizen of the republic. For the first time since slavery had commenced, Blacks were the subjects of mass freedom and citizenship in a nation.

The French refused to recognise Haiti's independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans, whom the Haitians looked to in solidarity as their mentor in independence, refused to recognise them, and offered solidarity instead to the French. The British, who were negotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state the Western world.

Haiti was isolated at birth - ostracised and denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development. It was the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history. The Cubans, at least, have had Russia, China, and Vietnam. The Haitians were alone from inception. The crumbling began.

Then came 1825; the moment of full truth. The republic is celebrating its 21st anniversary. There is national euphoria in the streets of Port-au-Prince. The economy is bankrupt; the political leadership isolated. The cabinet took the decision that the state of affairs could not continue. The country had to find a way to be inserted back into the world economy. The French government was invited to a summit.

Officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognise the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparation in exchange. The Haitians, with backs to the wall, agreed to pay the French. The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500,000 citizens were who formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services. The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition.

The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved people before independence. Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.

Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last instalment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Jamaica today pays up to 70 per cent in order to service its international and domestic debt. Haiti was crushed by this debt payment. It descended into financial and social chaos.

The republic did not stand a chance. France was enriched and it took pleasure from the fact that having been defeated by Haitians on the battlefield, it had won on the field of finance. In the years when the coffee crops failed, or the sugar yield was down, the Haitian government borrowed on the French money market at double the going interest rate in order to repay the French government.

When the Americans invaded the country in the early 20th century, one of the reasons offered was to assist the French in collecting its reparations.

The collapse of the Haitian nation resides at the feet of France and America, especially. These two nations betrayed, failed, and destroyed the dream that was Haiti; crushed to dust in an effort to destroy the flower of freedom and the seed of justice. Haiti did not fail. It was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.

The sudden quake has come in the aftermath of summers of hate. In many ways the quake has been less destructive than the hate. Human life was snuffed out by the quake, while the hate has been a long and inhumane suffocation - a crime against humanity.

During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, strong representation was made to the French government to repay the 150 million francs. The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion. This sum of capital could rebuild Haiti and place it in a position to re-engage the modern world. It was illegally extracted from the Haitian people and should be repaid.

It is stolen wealth. In so doing, France could discharge its moral obligation to the Haitian people.

For a nation that prides itself in the celebration of modern diplomacy, France, in order to exist with the moral authority of this diplomacy in this post-modern world, should do the just and legal thing. Such an act at the outset of this century would open the door for a sophisticated interface of past and present, and set the Haitian nation free at last.

11 February 2010

American Samoa Political Status Discussions

Territorial discussions on political future conducted in Samoan
Samoa News
By Fili Sagapolutele fili@samoanews.com

The government launched this week the first two awareness programs to educate the public on various issues dealing with the constitution and the territory’s political system before the Constitutional Convention is called in June. Both programs are in Samoan, without English translations.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono on his weekend radio program announced the outreach program to begin this week saying it will focus on the current constitution as well as other issues to assist American Samoa in preparation for the convention.

The first 30-minute program was aired Tuesday night on KVZK-TV with a roundtable discussion that included the Governor, Secretary of Samoan Affairs Tufele Li’amatua, Constitution Review Office executive director Afoa Moega Lutu and Fofo I.F. Sunia. Tufele was the chairman of the Future Political Status Study Commission (FPSSC) and Fofo was the executive director of the FPSSC.

Togiola said Tuesday night on KVZK that the first program focused on the two deeds of cessions— one for Tutuila and Aunu’u and the other for the Manu’a Island group. He said the two separate deeds of cession have been the subject of debates and questions in the past.

Tuesday night’s program touched on some interesting background history of Manu’a, and the move by the U.S. government, which kept asking then-King Tuimanu’a for his island kingdom to be part of the United States, joining Tutuila and Aunu’u.

KVZK-TV said part two of the program, taped Tuesday morning, was to air last night.

The discussions are considered to be of great interest— especially to help students and others become more familiar with the history which led to this territory becoming an American possession. However, they are in the Samoan language, with no English translation.

During his radio program, Togiola said the constitutional convention is a very important milestone in the territory’s history and public input will help pave the future of American Samoa. He said full community participation is needed. The Governor said the FPSSC has already done its work, which will guide the constitutional convention.

(It should be noted that the FPSSC Report is in English and Samoan.)

In his State of the Territory address last month at the Fono, Togiola said the constitutional convention will be held on the third and fourth weeks of June, which is timed with the opening in July of the 4th regular session of the Fono to present any recommendations and findings for lawmakers’ review and consideration.

He said American Samoa’s relationship with the Untied States requires re-examination. “We should be very worried about the march towards re-federalization of American Samoa that we see today here on our soil as well as other insular areas,” Togiola told lawmakers. “We need to make some hard decisions some time as to our political future, and I believe that time is now.”

The Governor also said that there will be public service announcements and town hall meetings that will take place between now and June and urged everyone in the territory to get involved.

He encourage participation by families, villages and churches; adding that ASG officials will make public appearances to explain the process and enlighten local residents as to the choices for American Samoa’s political future.

“It is anticipated that after the main convention, a youth forum will be impaneled to review the outcomes of the Convention at the same time the Fono will be examining the final proposals. We expect these to all happen this year,” he said.

The Governor will soon be announcing members of the Constitutional Review Board.

08 February 2010

Bermuda Proposes National Service Programme

Premier's Innovative Plan Aimed to Assist Youth

The National Service Programme is designed to provide opportunities for every young Bermudian to contribute meaningfully to our society and broaden their scope through mentoring younger peers and assisting the elderly.

Section 1

The Department for National Service

1. The Department for National Service would be the headquarters and place of register for the National Service Programme. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, Home Affairs and Housing, the Department would be headed by a Director who would answer directly to the Permanent Secretary. The Director would be responsible for the strategic and policy direction as well as the management, administration and delivery of the programme.

The Department would establish and maintain a database of all participating organizations and active national service enrollees. In addition to the Director, there would be an Administrative Officer/Assistant and Technical Support Officers. Full post duties and responsibilities are to be determined. The primary responsibilities of the Department would be:

a) Management and administration of the programme;

b) Recruitment and screening of National Service providers; and

c) Monitoring, reporting, enforcement, funding and adjustment of programme delivery.

2. The Department would work in conjunction with public schools, the Bermuda College, community centres, hospitals, the Centre on Philanthropy, rest homes, rehabilitation agencies, youth groups, sports programmes, and other organizations that may provide outreach to young people, including youth with disabilities. The Director would be responsible for duties which include, but are not limited to recruitment,
screening, monitoring and compliance.

3. The responsibility of the Recruitment and Screening Unit within the Department would be to:

a) Act as a repository for community services and programmes;

b) Educate and raise awareness about the need to give back to the community;

c) Invite and solicit submissions from agencies and organizations who qualify;

d) Promote national service by advertising benefits and advantages of participating in the programme;

e) Act as the sign-up centre for national service activities;

f) Assess and place applicants in approved programmes; and

g) Develop additional incentive programmes.

4. The responsibility of the Compliance Unit would be to:

a) Keep a register follow-up on those who have registered for National Service from the age of 24 to 30 years;

b) Keep records on those who have set aside national service to pursue tertiary education;

c) Acknowledge those who have completed their time served; and

d) Continuously monitor and evaluate the programme operations.

Compliance

5. Compliance with the National Service is goal and incentive oriented.

Section 2

Eligibility

6. All male and female Bermudians are eligible until the age of 30 but they must make a commitment no later than their 28th birthday.

7. All persons who choose to commit to this programme must complete a requirement of 16 hours of service per month for a total period of two years in order to qualify for the benefits.

8. Except for mental or physical illness, where it is determined that an individual is unfit to serve in the National Service; he/she may be reassigned to other community service alternatives to be determined.

9. It is proposed that individuals having served (12) twelve months or more in the Regiment may request a transfer to the National Service Programme, pending approval from the Bermuda Regiment. As the commitment to the Bermuda Regiment is also of national significance, this would hinge upon the supplemental number of recruits available to fill that spot.

Vetting

10. Once registered for the national service, individuals must go through a qualifying screening process to ensure that the safety and best interest of all participants are protected. These measures would include but are not limited to:

a) police and court background checks;

b) physical and mental health examinations.

11. If a candidate seeks placement by the Department, screening for level of education, vocational training, and professional work experience would be conducted. In addition, candidates may notify the programme if they have a disability or religious affiliation that would impact their placement in certain programmes.

Section 3

National Service Programme Criteria

12. The National Service Programme shall be aimed at nurturing an individual’s skills and interests in a manner that is beneficial to Bermuda and its people. This is consistent with both developing career goals and further assisting in communities after the period of service is complete.

13. The National Service Programme shall:

a) Meet an identified need in the participant;

b) Provide a meaningful community benefit; and

c) Encourage collaboration among young adults through the sharing of knowledge and talents.

14. Individuals may either select an activity of their choosing involving youth or seniors, or they may seek to be referred by the National Service Department. Subject to the Department’s approval, national service may include, but is not limited to:

a) Tutoring core subjects in the education system or in an educational programme;

b) Provision of professional advice by those who are in the health, legal or financial sector about subjects such as money management, civil rights, and nutrition;

c) Coaching youth or holding an office in sports programmes;

d) Serving on private or Government Boards that involve or relate to youth or seniors;

e) Serving as a volunteer to youth or senior agencies/organizations;

f) Working on project proposals from various organizations involving youth or seniors; and

g) Serving as a resource for the Department of National Service by assuming leadership responsibilities as delegated by staff, i.e. coordinating/leading various volunteer activities.

15. Subject to the Department’s approval, those who are between the ages of 24 and 30 who already serve in a volunteer capacity may continue in that capacity.

16. Those who already serve in a voluntary mentoring, coaching or professional advisory capacity would qualify for national service hours as determined by the National Service Department.

17. Service to organizations for profit, to labour unions or to organizations with political affiliations will not count toward National Service.

Section 4

Processes for accommodating National Service
Public Sector

18. Government and Quango organizations would allow employees to train and mentor young people giving them an insight into a future career, all the while allowing employees to gain their national service hours.

19. The public sector would be encouraged to give their employees a minimum of one (1) hour of service per month from their work time in order to assist them in carrying out national service activities within the community.

Private Sector

20. Businesses within the private sector would allow those who qualify to gain their national service hours by training and mentoring their younger peers so that they may gain practical knowledge of businesses in Bermuda’s economic sector.

21. Businesses would be encouraged to give their employees a minimum of one (1) hour of service per month from their work time in order to assist them in carrying out national service activities within the community

Bermuda College

22. The Bermuda College would make national service opportunities available to students which shall include college-based volunteer programmes already implemented

on campus, i.e. tutoring, maintenance, sports programs, events held on campus, and outreach initiatives.

Co-op Study Programme

23. Students certifying in programmes such as wood work, electronics, motor mechanics and computer technology at the Bermuda College would gain service hour credit for tutoring in maintenance/technical programmes within schools.

Section 5

Incentives for those providing National Service

24. The following are proposed incentives to offer participants during and/or once national service is completed:

a) Free public transportation;

b) One of criteria for Government Further Education awards;

c) Low interest bank loans;

d) Discount card packages from various retailers;

e) Discounts at TCD on licensing fees;

f) Public recognition once service is completed;

g) Badges/certificates of completion;

h) Supportive organizations will be eligible for benefits.

07 February 2010

The Caribbean in the New World Order

By Benito Wheatley

Benito Wheatley is an Analyst at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in Washington, DC and a Researcher for the publication ‘International Affairs Forum,’ produced by the Centre for International Affairs in Arlington, Virginia. For comments or questions he may be contacted at bwheatley@ia-forum.org

Caribbean states today find themselves in an international system in which the traditional centres of power are shifting. No longer is power solely concentrated among a select few powerful states in North America, Europe and Japan; rather, economic, political, and military power are now more widely dispersed around the world. The economic and financial weakening of the West, coupled with the rise of China, India, Brazil and a resurgent Russia, have dramatically changed the power dynamics of the international system and accelerated the pace of change. In sum, the uni-polar world of the post-Cold War era dominated by the United States and its allies is diminishing and an uncertain new world order is emerging.

This rare realignment of the international system presents a historic opportunity for Caribbean states to reinvent themselves in world affairs and to assert themselves on the international stage. Importantly, the Caribbean’s geographic location and colonial history place it within multiple spheres of influence and define the region’s relationship with the rest of the world. The international relations of the region encompasses Caribbean state’s relations with powerful state actors like the United States (US), China, and Russia; former colonial and status quo powers such as Britain, France, Netherlands and Canada; and regional and revolutionary states like Cuba and Venezuela.

Hemispherically, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), an international cooperation agreement for the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, counts among its ranks Caribbean states including Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda; as well as Latin American states including Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. The organization was established to coordinate and strengthen cooperation between the neighboring countries of the Caribbean, Central America, and and South America.

In the Caribbean itself, the region’s premiere regional organization, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), is an exercise by a collection of Caribbean states to carve out an independent sphere of influence. The organisation’s major challenge is managing the region’s international relationships, while maintaining an independent position that promotes the interests of the region.

Notably, the Caribbean has been courted by a number of states as the competition for natural resources and influence between great and emerging powers has intensified in recent years. World powers such as China and Russia have established partnerships and struck a number of strategic deals in select Caribbean countries. Venezuela continues to supply Caribbean states with cheap crude oil, refined petroleum products, and liquefied petroleum gas at reduced rates under its PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement. In further overtures, Venezuela in late 2008 expressed interest in joining the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), but its application for membership was never formally taken up by the subregional organization. The US is closely monitoring the activities of other world powers and hemispheric players in the region, and recently pledged to renew engagement with CARICOM and to increase aid flows to the region.

Despite these advances, CARICOM must be careful not to entangle itself in any regional, hemispheric, or global disputes or rivalries between competing powers. Rather, Caribbean states should concentrate their foreign policy on international trade, climate change, democracy, and other issues that directly impact the region.

Historically, the Caribbean, with the exception of Cuba, has played a marginal role in world affairs in the post-Cold War era. The relatively weak position of the region in the international system necessitates its small island and coastal developing states’ reliance on international organisations and institutions such as the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organisation (WTO), and Organisation of American States (OAS) to advance their agendas and interests in global affairs. As members of the WTO, Caribbean states have skilfully defended their commercial interests, which was clearly demonstrated by the Republic of Antigua & Barbuda, which successfully mounted a challenge against the United States in 2005 on the issue of online gambling. Caribbean states have also vigorously defended their commercial interests in the stalled Doha round of international trade talks by joining a number of emerging and developing states calling for the elimination of farm subsidies and lowering of non-tariff barriers in agricultural markets in the US, Europe, and Japan.

In the diplomatic arena, Caribbean states have also performed skilfully, which was most recently demonstrated by the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which successfully hosted and superbly chaired the Fifth Summit of the Americas (April 2009) held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. The highly anticipated meeting was expected to be highly contentious and non-productive, but was salvaged in part by the statesmanship of Prime Minister Patrick Manning and his aides. Importantly, CARICOM member states are strategically positioned to play a constructive role in the democratic development of the region, given their strong traditions of democracy and respect for human rights. Their solid record in both areas gives them the credibility and legitimacy to speak forcefully on issues of democratisation, political reform, and human rights with respect to Cuba and Haiti.

Another area where the Caribbean as a region has an opportunity to make its voice heard on the international stage is climate change. The danger of rising sea levels and more intense and frequent tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea as a result of global warming makes climate change a legitimate concern for island states and coastal nations. Caribbean states should use international forums, such as that provided at the United Nation's Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen (December 2009), to express their concerns and inform the world about the real dangers of climate change and its impact on the region. Caribbean states must also leverage their membership in international institutions like the UN and OAS to garner support for combating problems like drug and human trafficking.

Finally, in order to play a greater role in global affairs, Caribbean states must transform the region’s image from that of sunny vacation destinations and offshore tax havens to regional power brokers. The Dominican Republic was moderately successful in this regard when it helped mediate and resolve a conflict among Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador in 2008. Notably, the country has reapplied for membership in CARICOM.

In conclusion, the realignment of the international system has created a historic opening for the Caribbean. Caribbean states, and in particular CARICOM member states, have an opportunity to change the Caribbean’s marginal role in world affairs by strategically asserting themselves on the international stage. A constructive role can be played by Caribbean states in hemispheric relations and the democratisation of Cuba and stabilisation of Haiti. Caribbean states can also take active roles in world trade talks facilitated by the WTO and global talks on climate change. If Caribbean states act strategically to position themselves as power brokers in the emerging new world order, they have an opportunity to exert a greater measure of influence in the international system than has traditionally been the case, despite their limited capabilities as developing small island and coastal states.

05 February 2010

Beloved Papuan Activist Joins the Ancestors

Human Rights activist-dies-at-age-61

By Cindy Trinh
Impunity Watch Reporter
Oceania MANOKWARI, West Papua

Papuan human rights activist, Viktor Kaisiepo, passed away in his home town of Amersfoort, in the Netherlands, at the age of 61.

Kaisiepo was a spokesperson for the West Papua People's Front, which is a federation of Papuan organizations in the Netherlands. Kaisiepo was born in Dutch New Guinea. His family left for the Netherlands when Dutch New Guinea was handed over to Indonesia in 1962. Kaisiepo's father was a well-known activist for Papuan independence. Viktor Kaisiepo followed his father's footsteps, and also became one of the most well regarded activists for Papuan independence.

Kaisiepo frequently lobbied the United Nations to promote the rights of his people as well as the rights of other indigenous peoples. He devoted his life to the right to self-determination of the Indonesian province of Papua. Kaisiepo became a familiar face to the indigenous activists throughout theworld, representing the indigenous peoples of Papua at various international conferences. He was the Executive Director of the Foundation Papua Lobby, and a member of Presidium Dewan Papua and represented the organization in Europe, the United States, and at the United Nations.

Since 2003, he served as a consultant to the Word Bank Grants Facility for Indigenous Peoples. He also co-founded and held positions in various NGOs, including: the Unrepresented Nations and People's Organization (UNPO), an international organizations with 110 millions members whose aim is to achieve recognition and improvement for peoples through peaceful means; the InternationalAlliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in the Tropical Forests; the secretariat of Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP); and served as a Human Rights Defender in 1985 for the United Nations.

Kaisiepo will be remembered as one of the most influential human rights activists.

***************************************************************************
Statement of Unrepresented Peoples' Organisation (UNPO)
on the passing of Victor Kaisiepo
 
On hearing of the demise of Mr. Victor Kaisiepo, the UNPO responded with great sadness. Mr. Kaisiepo was one of the founding members of the UNPO in 1991 at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands and acted as the Assistant General Secretary for the Environment in the early 1990’s. Afterwards, he remained a highly regarded member of the UNPO Steering Committee for many years as well as a compassionate speaker at various UNPO events.
 
Hereby the UNPO offers its sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Kaisiepo and wants to assure them of the highest respect for him and his work.
 
While born in West Papua, his family left for the Netherlands when the territory was handed over to Indonesia in 1962, and Mr. Kaisiepo lived in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, until his death.

Victor Kaisiepo’s passing has left the West Papuan community in the Netherlands and in West Papua in mourning, as he was a renowned Papuan activist and spokesperson. He also functioned as European Representative of the Papuan Council of the Papuan Presidium (PDP) as well as International Representative of the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP), the Indigenous Papua Council. He partook in the international Papua Lobby, seeking to generate support for genuine dialogue between the Papuans and the government in Jakarta. Moreover, Mr Kaisiepo has lobbied at the United Nations to promote the rights of his people as well as the rights of other indigenous peoples.

Mr. Busdachin, current UNPO General Secretary, on behalf of all 54 members of UNPO pays his respects to this remarkable spokesperson and activist within the West Papuan community, as being one of the founding fathers of UNPO.

03 February 2010

HAWAI'I FILM RECEIVES SPECIAL JURY PRIZE AT TAHITI FILM FESTIVAL

Media Contact:
Ana Currie, Pasifika Foundation Hawai'i
e-mail: acurrie@hawaii.rr.com

PAPEETE, TAHITI - Hawaiian filmmaker Anne Keala Kelly's newly released documentary "Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai'i" was awarded a special jury prize at this week's Festival International Du Film Documentaire Oceanien (FIFO) in Tahiti.

The packed Grand Theatre at Papeete's Maison de la Culture exploded into loud cheers, hoots and applause when the special jury prize for Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai'i was announced last night at the closing event of the Festival International Du Film Documentaire Oceanien (FIFO) in Tahiti.
Jurors were moved by its raw and passionate portrayal of the struggles of today's native Hawaiians.

Noho Hewa had attracted considerable attention among the professional and community viewers for its edgy and explicit expression of the ongoing effects of colonialism in Hawai'i. For many Tahitian and other visiting Pacific island viewers, Kelly's film enabled them to understand, for the first time, the realities faced by the Hawaiian people in their own homeland, and the kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) resistance to the desecration and obliteration of their culture by the US military, real estate development, and tourism pressures.

In the Hawaiian language, hewa means "wrong" and noho means "to occupy." From the military exercises and bombings at Makua and Pohakuloa and the desecration of burial sites at Hokulia and Wal-mart, to Maoli homelessness - in stark contrast to the widespread construction of upscale gated communities - and the resistance to the Akaka bill, Kelly's film weaves a context of understanding of how the U.S. overthrow and continuing occupation of the sovereign Kingdom of Hawai'i affect every aspect of native Hawaiian life. The film makes a case that through the force of U.S. laws, economy, militarism, and real estate speculation, the Hawaiian people are facing systematic, intentional obliteration.

The film features interviews with Hawaiian activists and academics, whose comments serve to further clarify the significance and direness of the ongoing erosion of Hawaiian culture. That's a message that resonates deeply with the people of the islands of Pasifika, most of whom continue to struggle with many of the same issues.

Noho Hewa was more than six years in production, and in 2008 won the Hawaii International Film Festival's Award For Best Documentary. Kelly is a Hawaiian journalist and filmmaker who has reported on politics, culture, the environment and indigenous peoples. Keala's reports air regularly on the Pacifica Network's Free Speech Radio News and her print journalism has appeared in The Nation, Indian Country Today, Honolulu Weekly, Hawai'i Island Journal and other publications. Her news footage has been featured on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Democracy Now! and in September 2008 Keala co-produced "The Other Hawaii" for Al Jazeera. She has an MFA in Directing from UCLA.

The Grand Prize winning film at FIFO was Te Henua E Noho, a moving film about the effects of climate change on a small island community. Te Henua E Noho was directed by New Zealander Briar March and produced by On The Level Productions.

The winner of the Prix Selection du Public - the popular choice of screening audiences - was Terre Natale: Retour a Rurutu, directed by Jean-Michele Corillon and produced by Kwanza & Bleu Lagon Production & Canal Overseas. A visually stunning and emotionally rich presentation, this documentary tells the story of two young adults, a brother and sister, who were born on the island of Rurutu in the Austral archipelago of French Polynesia and adopted as very small children by a French couple. After growing up in France, they return to Rurutu to re-connect with their culture and re-discover their roots.

Three special jury awards were given; along with Noho Hewa, the Austalian film Bastardy and the New Zealand documentary The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls were also given special tribute by the jury for their unique and compelling character.

FIFO is one of Pasifika's major film events, a gathering of filmmakers, TV producers, and multimedia journalists from throughout the region to meet, network, and develop projects together. The 2010 festival screenings attracted more than 20,000 viewers in four screening venues at the cultural center.

Festival officials describe the event as a "meeting place for lovers of the Pacific, our vast region, which boasts such a varied and thriving cultural heritage, synonymous with dreaming, mystery and exploration . . . an enriching, sometimes astonishing, often surprising experience ranging over characters, identities, history and current affairs."

Hawai'i was represented at the festival by Kelly's film, as well as by Olohega, a documentary produced by a partnership of Pasifika Foundation Hawai'i (PFH) and TV New Zealand/Tagata Pasifika. Olohega was selected by the festival committee as one of the 25 films screened for general festival audiences in addition to the 17 films that were entered in the juried competition. Both Noho Hewa and Olohega were also among the seven films chosen for special question-and-answer sessions, an indication of the intense interest generated by these Hawai'i-based films. Pasifika Foundation Hawai'i executive director Ana Currie was on hand to answer questions about Olohega, which chronicles the poignant and heartbreaking story of Tokelau's fourth island, Olohega, which was claimed by an American whaling captain, Eli Jennings, in 1856. In 1925, Jennings' descendants utilized their American connections to successfully annex Olohega, known then as "Swains Island," to the United States, and continue to maintain their ownership of the island today.

The film tells the stories of the Tokelauan people of Olohega who were forcibly evicted from their island home in the 1950s. In their own words, the elders who now live in a tight-knit community on Oahu in Hawai'i, describe their shock, sadness and shame at their eviction, as well as their longing to return to their beautiful and fertile island. Only a handful of people now live on Olohega, an island that once, as communal farming land, supported many Tokelauan communities with its bounty of crops.

After announcing the special jury award for Noho Hewa, jury member Elise Huffer explained that every member of the jury had been deeply affected by Kelly's film. "This film is militant and uncompromising," she stated, and said that the jury was unanimous in choosing to award a special prize for this film that told such an important story in such a powerful way.

"I'm shocked and deeply honored," said Kelly in a post-award interview. "And for me the most important thing is that the message of the film was so strongly embraced by the jury, and by the audiences here. This is a story that needs to be told, and to be able to share it with other people of the Pacific is very meaningful to me."