31 July 2010

Caribbean Tourism and 'Unrealistic Projections'

Cayman News Service
Unrealistic projections behind failures says survey

(CNS): A survey of lenders in the Caribbean revealed that tourism development projects that have either stalled or failed in the region did so because of unrealistic projections or forecasting. The “Caribbean Regional Financing Survey” by KPMG’s regional advisory practice also pointed to lack of cash and poor financial management. As a result the lenders surveyed said the key lessons they had learned would see a back to basics, conservative, long- term approach to lending in the region. The accountants also found that failed or half-built projects will continue to find it very hard to refinance.

This year for the first time KPMG also included development banks in the survey to capture the emergence of a potential new source of financing in the sector. Lenders were asked about the key lessons learned over the past year and in general the responses revealed a back to basics return to a conservative, long- term approach to lending. “The common themes that emerged from this year’s report should not be a surprise to anyone.

There is a more cautious lending environment across the entire region,” said Tully Cornick, (above) head of Corporate Finance with KPMG in the Cayman Islands.

Kris Beighton, (right) a partner with KPMG in the Cayman Islands and head of its Transactions and Restructuring group said: “Lenders appear to be seeking more contact with their clients, more frequent reviews of their projections, taking a more ‘hands-on’ approach and encouraging clients to plan for tough times.”

With respect to development financing, responses indicated that the level of reliance on pre-sales had become very unattractive and should pre-sales be considered as a source of funding then more manageable phasing and more thorough due-diligence would be required.

Lenders said they remain cautious about the projects they are willing to finance and where. When asked to name their current top three markets they noted The Bahamas; Barbados and Bermuda. However, when asked about future investment, there was less agreement, with The Bahamas, Jamaica and Costa Rica all in the running.

All agreed that good airlift and strong market demand were crucial for the success of any project. Collectively those surveyed reported total exposure in the region in excess of US$2.58 billion.

When asked what characteristics might suggest to them that a development should be re-financed or otherwise revived they noted: Strong project sponsorship (new and sufficient infusion of cash), quality of sponsors and current customer base, strong project fundamentals and structural competencies such as good location, adequate airlift and viable infrastructure.

KPMG also revealed that some lenders were not willing to share quantitative responses concerning loan parameters, a reflection of the more cautious attitude, the accountants said.

Other findings in the survey included the average debt service coverage ratio covenants and interest rate margins are higher than they have been for a long time; average loan to value ratios remain relatively consistent and the average loan tenor has shortened.

KPMG stated that recovery in the major tourism and investment markets will take time to translate into recovery in the region. “The development pipelines will be fairly slow for the next two to three years and the roller coaster ride in personal savings and investments over the last few years could further dampen the demand for second homes even longer; the exception being very high net worth individuals,” it said in a release about the survey.

29 July 2010

Netherlands Antilles 0.7 % Growth for 2010

Bank of the Netherlands Antilles expects 0.7 percent growth in 2010

WILLEMSTAD — Insofar the Antilles exist in 2010, the Bank of the Netherlands Antilles (BNA) expects that the economy of this country will book a moderate growth of 0.7 percent. According to the BNA, this low growth figure reflects the fact that the most important business partners of the Antilles still struggle with the aftereffects of the international financial crisis of 2008.

The United States as well as Venezuela, the Netherlands and Aruba had experienced a decline in their Gross National Product of respectively minus 2.4; minus 3.3; minus 4.0 and minus 7.6 percent. Venezuela also linked an inflation figure 26.0 percent to such.

Mainly because no substantial price increase is expected for petroleum, the distilled products of such and other goods for (the rest of) 2010, one expects 2010 will show a relatively low inflation figure of around 2.3 percent.

Its nice that one predicts a budgetary surplus for the communal governments for the second consecutive year of as much as 672 million guilders. This is indeed lower than the surplus of 762 million guilders on 2009, but still an entire turn about compared with the deficit of 172 million on 2008. Just like the completely positive development in the balance of national debts to the Gross National Product, the budgetary surpluses are the result of the Dutch debt reconstruction.

Expectations are that mentioned debt quote will reach 57.3 percent in 2010, after this was 73.6 percent for 2009, and the sky-high 82.0 percent in 2008. Without the debt reconstruction and with drastic economy measures as of 2004, this debt quote would have reached 71 percent. A debt quote between 30 and 40 percent is considered acceptable for countries with characteristics as those of the Antilles.

28 July 2010

US Support Urged for Indigenous Declaration

Press Release

American Samoa Delegate Calls for US Support of UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, introduced H. Res. 1551 yesterday calling on the United States to promote respect for and full application of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, consistent with U.S. law. Reps. Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, Donna Christensen, Raúl Grijalva, Bill Delahunt, Mike Honda, George Miller and John Lewis joined Faleomavaega as original cosponsors of the legislation.

“The Declaration is a landmark instrument outlining the rights of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples in 70 countries. A non-binding text comparable to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health and education,” Faleomavaega said.

“The United States was one of only four member states of the United Nations to vote against the declaration in 2007, while 143 voted in favor. Three of the four states who initially voted against it have already reversed their opposition to the Declaration or are in the process of doing so. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government has launched a formal review of the Declaration to determine whether the United States will change its stance.”

“Today, indigenous peoples face disproportionate discrimination, inadequate health care, violent crime, poverty, unemployment and environmental degradation even as they struggle to maintain their own institutions, cultures and traditions,” Faleomavaega noted.

“The United States has taken great steps to improve the condition of indigenous peoples, including hosting a historic meeting of nearly 500 tribal leaders last year and President Obama’s issuance of an Executive Order on Consultation and Coordination with Tribal Governments. Yet, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has said, ‘far more must be done – at home and abroad – to tackle’ the challenges facing indigenous peoples.”

“The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides an important framework for addressing indigenous issues globally. To further U.S. leadership in improving the conditions faced by indigenous people, the United States should promote respect for and full application of the provisions of the Declaration as soon as possible,” Faleomavaega concluded.

26 July 2010

Bermuda Premier Addresses House for Final Time

Premier Bids Farewell

Submitted by Progressive Labour Party (PLP)
26 July 2010 - 11:46am.

On Friday, Premier Ewart Brown delivered a heartfelt farewell address to the House of Assembly:

Mr. Speaker, let me first thank you for your indulgence and that of this Honourable House in permitting me to formalise my final speech as Premier in this great Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, 17 years ago I made my maiden speech from a seat almost directly opposite the one I will occupy for just a few more minutes.

Opposition in 1993 was exciting. Everyone knew we were on the cusp of victory. I shall defer to others any comment on the ready symbolism of my own victory in Warwick West. For me, it cemented my gut feeling that Bermuda could and would embrace change.

That change started with the fine people of Warwick West and has ended with the wonderful people of Warwick South Central. The constituents I have been honoured to serve have been loyal, patient and genuine.

Mr Speaker, there is no greater, humbling honour than to earn the people's trust and I am eternally grateful to my constituents who on four occasions have sent me to represent them.

Mr. Speaker, the modern political history of our Island records that change did come, and in three successive elections the people of Bermuda have entrusted the Island's affairs to the Progressive Labour Party.

Mr. Speaker, a child born on the day that I was first elected to service in this Honourable House will be eligible to vote in the next General Election. That child knows virtually one Government, for them we represent their status quo.

Mr. Speaker, as I reflect on my parliamentary career and more particularly on my service as a member of the Government, I believe that so much has been done tangibly and symbolically for this country that the accurate historian will label it growth, change and empowerment.–How my Government is judged seems based on a number of factors, and that is as it should be. For those still intent on judging me, permit me to commend to you the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt:  'I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.'

Mr Speaker, it is important to recognise that I do not consider members opposite as enemies. The Opposition has a vision for this country with which I strongly disagree; that is the nature of our business and that difference of vision, no matter how sharp the debate, cannot make us enemies.

Mr. Speaker, a contest to succeed me is likely to start in earnest once your gavel adjourns these proceedings. The movement to unseat me would seem to have started in November 2006 and persists beyond my declaration of departure.

I am no prophet, nor have I a crystal ball like one honourable member. I cannot say who will next address you from this seat. What I can say is that the only guarantee of full, unbridled affection in this office is to do nothing and do it very well.

Mr Speaker, if one proposes to cut one blade of grass from this seat, rest assured, there will be special reports. Cause one new idea to see the light of day and cedar beams will appear in your home. Seek to govern in any sense of that word, and your spouse and family become fair game.

For whoever assumes this yoke of service in my stead, fret not at what your new enemies say and do. Lead in this Honourable House by example and from the front. Be measured by your oratory, your record and your legislative commitment to improve the lives of the people.

The great work that remains undone is the psychological freedom of Independence. The veil of affluence and material comfort has numbed the senses of the people, and for that we are all to blame.

True self-determination can be achieved, and I am as strong a believer in its merits today as I was in the 1960s when our brethren to the south were making the transition.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of my service. I am grateful for the camaraderie of these hallowed halls and for the working friendships it has allowed me to form. As I close this chapter in service to my country to looks of relief on the faces on the walls my regrets are personal and not political. My list of checked boxes far exceeds the undone and even those welcoming my exit will concede that all my effort has been put into this work.

Mr. Speaker I close with the words of the American poet Robert Frost, words which speak to me at my sunset but equally challenge those still in the morning of their service:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever turn back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thank you Mr. Speaker and may God bless you, my honourable colleagues, and the work of this Honourable House.

23 July 2010

Kosovo Unilateral Independence Not Violation of International Law - International Court of Justice

Press Release
Peace Palace, Carnegieplein 2, 2517 KJ The Hague, Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0)70 302 2323 Fax: +31 (0)70 364 9928
Website: http://www.icj-cij.org/


No. 2010/25
22 July 2010

Accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo

Advisory Opinion


The Court finds that the declaration of independence of Kosovo adopted on 17 February 2008 did not violate international law

THE HAGUE, 22 July 2010. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has today given its Advisory Opinion on the question of the Accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo (request for advisory opinion).

In this Opinion, the Court unanimously finds that it has jurisdiction to give the advisory opinion requested by the General Assembly of the United Nations and, by nine votes to five, decides to comply with that request.

The Court then responds to the request as follows:

“(3) By ten votes to four,

Is of the opinion that the declaration of independence of Kosovo adopted on 17 February 2008 did not violate international law.”

Reasoning of the Court

At the end of its reasoning, which is summarized below, the Court concludes “that the adoption of the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law, Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) or the Constitutional Framework [adopted on behalf of UNMIK by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General]”, and that “[c]onsequently the adoption of that declaration did not violate any applicable rule of international law”.

The Advisory Opinion is divided into five parts: (I) jurisdiction and discretion; (II) scope and meaning of the question; (III) factual background; (IV) the question whether the declaration of independence is in accordance with international law; and (V) general conclusion.


The Court recalls that, when seised of a request for an advisory opinion, it must first consider whether it has jurisdiction to give the opinion requested and whether, should the answer be in the affirmative, there is any reason why the Court, in its discretion, should decline to exercise any such jurisdiction in the case before it.

It thus first addresses the question whether it possesses jurisdiction to give the advisory opinion requested by the General Assembly on 8 October 2008. Referring in particular to Articles 10, 11, paragraph 2, and 12 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Court observes that the General Assembly “may discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the . . . Charter or relating to the powers and functions of any organs provided for in the . . . Charter”, and that “the Charter has specifically provided the General Assembly with competence to discuss ‘any questions relating to the maintenance of international peace and security brought before it by any Member of the United Nations’ and . . . to make recommendations”. The Court further observes that the request for an advisory opinion does not contravene the provisions of Article 12, paragraph 1, of the Charter which prohibit the General Assembly from making any recommendation with regard to a dispute or situation in respect of which the Security Council is exercising the functions assigned to it by the Charter. The Court then notes that the question put by the General Assembly “certainly appears to be a legal question” within the meaning of Article 96 of the Charter and Article 65 of its Statute, and concludes from the foregoing that it has jurisdiction to give an advisory opinion in response to the request made by the General Assembly. It points out, in so doing, that the fact “that a question has political aspects does not suffice to deprive it of its character as a legal question” and also makes clear that “in determining the jurisdictional issue of whether it is confronted with a legal question, it is not concerned with the political nature of the motives which may have inspired the request or the political implications which its opinion might have”.

The Court then observes that the fact that it has jurisdiction “does not mean, however, that it is obliged to exercise it”, pointing out that the discretion accorded to it under Article 65 of the Statute whether or not to respond to a request for an advisory opinion exists “so as to protect the integrity of [its] judicial function and its nature as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations”.

After recalling that its answer to a request for an advisory opinion “represents its participation in the activities of the Organization, and, in principle, should not be refused”, the Court notes that it “must satisfy itself as to the propriety of the exercise of its judicial function in the present case” and that it has therefore “given careful consideration as to whether, in the light of its previous jurisprudence, there are compelling reasons for it to refuse to respond to the request from the General Assembly”. First, the Court considers that the motives which lie behind the request for an advisory opinion “are not relevant to the . . . exercise of its discretion whether or not to respond”. Second, it notes that it cannot accept the argument put forward by some of those participating in the proceedings that resolution 63/3 (in which the General Assembly made its request to the Court for an advisory opinion) gave no indication “of the purpose for which the General Assembly needed the Court’s opinion and that there was nothing to indicate that the opinion would have any useful legal effect”. The Court recalls that it “has consistently made clear that it is for the organ which requests the opinion, and not for the Court, to determine whether it needs the opinion for the proper performance of its functions”. Third, it also cannot accept the suggestion of some of those participating in the proceedings that it should refuse to respond on the grounds that its opinion might lead to adverse political consequences.

The Court then considers an issue which it deems “important”, that is, whether it “should decline to answer the question which has been put to it on the ground that the request for the Court’s opinion has been made by the General Assembly rather than the Security Council”. It notes that “[w]hile the request . . . concerns one aspect of a situation which the Security Council has characterized as a threat to international peace and security and which continues to feature on the agenda of the Council in that capacity, that does not mean that the General Assembly has no legitimate interest in the question”. It recalls that “the fact that, hitherto, the declaration of independence has been discussed only in the Security Council and that the Council has been the organ which has taken action with regard to the situation in Kosovo does not constitute a compelling reason for the Court to refuse to respond to the request from the General Assembly”. Further, it adds that “the fact that it will necessarily have to interpret and apply the provisions of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) in the course of answering the question put by the General Assembly does not constitute a compelling reason not to respond to that question”. It observes in this respect that, while the interpretation and application of a decision of one of the political organs of the United Nations is, in the first place, the responsibility of the organ which took that decision, the Court, as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, “has also frequently been required to consider the interpretation and legal effects of such decisions”, and that it has already done so both in the exercise of its advisory jurisdiction and in the exercise of its contentious jurisdiction. The Court therefore finds that there is “nothing incompatible with the integrity of [its] judicial function” in answering the question put by the General Assembly.

It points out that the question is, rather, whether it should decline to respond to the request from the General Assembly unless it is asked to do so by the Security Council, the latter being, as the Court recalls, both the organ which adopted resolution 1244 and the organ which is responsible for interpreting and applying that resolution. The Court observes that “[w]here, as here, the General Assembly has a legitimate interest in the answer to a question, the fact that that answer may turn, in part, on a decision of the Security Council is not sufficient to justify the Court in declining to give its opinion to the General Assembly”.

The Court accordingly concludes that “there are no compelling reasons for it to decline to exercise its jurisdiction in respect of the . . . request” which is before it.


The Court notes that the General Assembly has asked it whether the declaration of independence of Kosovo adopted on 17 February 2008 was “in accordance with” international law: the answer to that question therefore turns on whether or not the applicable international law prohibited that declaration of independence. The Court adds that, if it concludes that international law did prohibit the said declaration, then it should answer the question put by saying that the declaration of independence was not in accordance with international law. The Court observes that the task which it is called upon to perform is therefore to determine whether or not the declaration in question was adopted in violation of international law. It points out that it “is not required by the question it has been asked to take a position on whether international law conferred a positive entitlement on Kosovo unilaterally to declare its independence or, a fortiori, on whether international law generally confers an entitlement on entities situated within a State unilaterally to break away from it”.


The Court continues its reasoning by indicating that the declaration of independence of Kosovo adopted on 17 February 2008 “must be considered within the factual context which led to its adoption”. It briefly describes the relevant characteristics of the framework put in place by the Security Council to ensure the interim administration of Kosovo, namely, Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the regulations promulgated thereunder by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). It then gives a succinct account of the developments relating to the so-called “final status process” in the years preceding the adoption of the declaration of independence, before turning to the events of 17 February 2008.


In this fourth part, the Court examines the substance of the request submitted by the General Assembly. It recalls that it has been asked by the General Assembly to assess the accordance of the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 with “international law”.

The Court first turns its attention to certain questions concerning the lawfulness of declarations of independence under general international law, against the background of which the question posed falls to be considered, and Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) is to be understood and applied. In particular, it notes that during the second half of the twentieth century, “the international law of self-determination developed in such a way as to create a right to independence for the peoples of non-self-governing territories and peoples subject to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation” and that a “great many new States have come into existence as a result of the exercise of this right”. The Court observes that there were, however, also instances of declarations of independence outside this context and that “[t]he practice of States in these latter cases does not point to the emergence in international law of a new rule prohibiting the making of a declaration of independence in such cases”.

The Court states that several participants in the proceedings have contended that a prohibition of unilateral declarations of independence is implicit in the principle of territorial integrity. It “recalls that [this] principle . . . is an important part of the international legal order and is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, in particular in Article 2, paragraph 4”, under the terms of which “[a]ll Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.

The Court adds that in General Assembly resolution 2625 (XXV), entitled “Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”, which reflects customary international law (Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1986, pp. 101-103, paras. 191-193), the General Assembly reiterated “[t]he principle that States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State”. This resolution then enumerated various obligations incumbent upon States to refrain from violating the territorial integrity of other sovereign States. The Court points out that, in the same vein, the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe of 1 August 1975 (the Helsinki Conference) stipulated that “[t]he participating States will respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating States” (Art. IV). Hence the Court considers that “the scope of the principle of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between States”.

After recalling that several participants have invoked resolutions of the Security Council condemning particular declarations of independence (see, inter alia, Security Council resolutions 216 (1965) and 217 (1965), concerning Southern Rhodesia; Security Council resolution 541 (1983), concerning northern Cyprus; and Security Council resolution 787 (1992), concerning the Republika Srpska), the Court “notes, however, that in all of those instances the Security Council was making a determination as regards the concrete situation existing at the time that those declarations of independence were made; the illegality attached to the declarations of independence thus stemmed not from the unilateral character of these declarations as such, but from the fact that they were, or would have been, connected with the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law, in particular those of a peremptory character (jus cogens)”. “In the context of Kosovo”, the Court continues, “the Security Council has never taken this position. The exceptional character of the resolutions enumerated above appears to the Court to confirm that no general prohibition against unilateral declarations of independence may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council.”

Turning to the arguments put forward by a number of participants concerning the extent of the right of self-determination and the existence of any right of “remedial secession”, the Court considers that the debates on these points “concern the right to separate from a State”. The Court recalls that “as almost all participants agreed, that issue is beyond the scope of the question posed by the General Assembly”. It notes that, to answer the question posed, it need only “determine whether the declaration of independence violated either general international law or the lex specialis created by Security Council resolution 1244 (1999)”.

The Court concludes that “general international law contains no applicable prohibition of declarations of independence” and accordingly that the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law.

The Court then examines the legal relevance of Security Council resolution 1244, adopted on 10 June 1999, in order to determine whether the resolution creates special rules, and therefore ensuing obligations, under international law applicable to the issues raised by the present request and having a bearing on the lawfulness of the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008.

The Court first notes that resolution 1244 (1999) was expressly adopted by the Security Council on the basis of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, and therefore clearly imposes international legal obligations. The Court observes that “none of the participants has questioned the fact that [this] resolution . . ., which specifically deals with the situation in Kosovo, is part of the law relevant in the . . . situation [under consideration]”.

The Court then addresses the UNMIK regulations, including regulation 2001/9, which promulgated the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government and which defined the responsibilities relating to the administration of Kosovo between the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo. It notes that these regulations are adopted by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the basis of the authority derived from Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and thus ultimately from the United Nations Charter. It goes on to state that “[t]he Constitutional Framework derives its binding force from the binding character of resolution 1244 (1999) and thus from international law” and that “[i]n that sense it therefore possesses an international legal character”.

The Court further adds that at the same time, “the Constitutional Framework functions as part of a specific legal order, created pursuant to resolution 1244 (1999), which is applicable only in Kosovo and the purpose of which is to regulate, during the interim phase established by resolution 1244 (1999), matters which would ordinarily be the subject of internal, rather than international, law”; the “Constitutional Framework therefore took effect as part of the body of law adopted for the administration of Kosovo during the interim phase”. The institutions which it created were empowered by the Constitutional Framework to take decisions which took effect within that body of law, the Court continues, observing “[i]n particular, [that] the Assembly of Kosovo was empowered to adopt legislation which would have the force of law within that legal order, subject always to the overriding authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General”.

The Court notes that “neither Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) nor the Constitutional Framework contains a clause providing for its termination and neither has been repealed; they therefore constituted the international law applicable to the situation prevailing in Kosovo on 17 February 2008”. It concludes from the foregoing that “Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework form part of the international law which is to be considered in replying to the question posed by the General Assembly”.

After considering the interpretation of resolution 1244 (1999) itself, the Court concludes that “the object and purpose of [the] resolution . . . was to establish a temporary, exceptional legal régime which, save to the extent that it expressly preserved it, superseded the Serbian legal order and which aimed at the stabilization of Kosovo, and that it was designed to do so on an interim basis”.

The Court then turns to the question whether resolution 1244 (1999), or the measures adopted thereunder, introduces a specific prohibition on issuing a declaration of independence, applicable to those who adopted the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008. In order to answer this question, it is first necessary for the Court to determine precisely who issued that declaration.

In the part of its Advisory Opinion devoted to the identity of the authors of the declaration of independence, the Court seeks to establish whether the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 was an act of the “Assembly of Kosovo”, one of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, established under the Constitutional Framework, or whether those who adopted the declaration were acting in a different capacity. On this point, the Court arrives at the conclusion that “the authors of the declaration of independence . . . did not act as one of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government within the Constitutional Framework, but rather as persons who acted together in their capacity as representatives of the people of Kosovo outside the framework of the interim administration”.

The Court then turns to the question, debated in the proceedings, whether the authors of the declaration of independence acted in violation of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). After outlining the arguments submitted by the participants in the proceedings on this point, the Court undertakes a careful reading of resolution 1244 (1999) in order to determine whether that text prohibits the authors of the declaration of 17 February 2008 from declaring independence from the Republic of Serbia.

It first points out that the resolution did not contain any provision dealing with the final status of Kosovo or with the conditions for its achievement. In this regard, the Court notes that contemporaneous practice of the Security Council shows that “in situations where the Security Council has decided to establish restrictive conditions for the permanent status of a territory, those conditions are specified in the relevant resolution”. The Court notes that “under the terms of resolution 1244 (1999) the Security Council did not reserve for itself the final determination of the situation in Kosovo and remained silent on the conditions for the final status of Kosovo”. It finds that resolution 1244 (1999) “thus does not preclude the issuance of the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 because the two instruments operate on a different level: unlike resolution 1244 (1999), the declaration of independence is an attempt to determine finally the status of Kosovo”.

Turning to the question of the addressees of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), the Court recalls that, when interpreting Security Council resolutions, it must establish, “on a case-by-case basis, considering all relevant circumstances, for whom the Security Council intended to create binding legal obligations”. It recalls that “it has not been uncommon for the Security Council to make demands on actors other than United Nations Member States and intergovernmental organizations”, more specifically, in this case, on the Kosovo Albanian leadership, but points out that such reference to that leadership or other actors, notwithstanding the somewhat general reference to “all concerned” (para. 14), is missing from the text of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). The Court therefore considers that it cannot accept the argument that resolution 1244 (1999) contains a prohibition, binding on the authors of the declaration of independence, against declaring independence. It adds that “nor can such a prohibition be derived from the language of the resolution understood in its context and considering its object and purpose”, and that “[t]he language of . . . resolution 1244 (1999) is at best ambiguous” on the question of whether the resolution creates such a prohibition. The Court notes that the object and purpose of the resolution “is the establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo, without making any definitive determination on final status issues”.

While the text of paragraph 11 (c) of resolution 1244 (1999) explains that the “main responsibilities of the international civil presence will include . . . [o]rganizing and overseeing the development of provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government pending a political settlement” (emphasis added), the Court nevertheless states that the phrase “political settlement”, often cited in the proceedings, “does not modify [its] conclusion” that resolution 1244 (1999) does not contain a prohibition, binding on the authors of the declaration of independence, against declaring independence. The Court explains that this reference is made within the context of enumerating the responsibilities of the international civil presence, i.e., the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo and UNMIK, and not of other actors; the Court adds that, as the diverging views presented to it on this matter illustrate, the term “political settlement” is subject to various interpretations. The Court therefore concludes that this part of resolution 1244 (1999) “cannot be construed to include a prohibition, addressed in particular to the authors of the declaration of 17 February 2008, against declaring independence”. The Court accordingly finds that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) did not bar the authors of the declaration of 17 February 2008 from issuing a declaration of independence from the Republic of Serbia, and that “[h]ence, the declaration of independence did not violate Security Council resolution 1244 (1999)”.

Finally, on the question whether the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 has violated the Constitutional Framework established under the auspices of UNMIK, as argued by a number of States which participated in the proceedings, the Court recalls that it has already held, earlier in its Advisory Opinion, “that [this] declaration of independence . . . was not issued by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, nor was it an act intended to take effect, or actually taking effect, within the legal order in which those Provisional Institutions operated”. Accordingly, the Court states that “the authors of the declaration of independence were not bound by the framework of powers and responsibilities established to govern the conduct of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government”, and finds that “the declaration of independence did not violate the Constitutional Framework”.


To bring its reasoning to a close, the Court summarizes its conclusions as follows:

“The Court has concluded above that the adoption of the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law, Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) or the Constitutional Framework. Consequently the adoption of that declaration did not violate any applicable rule of international law.”

Composition of the Court
The Court was composed as follows:

President Owada; Vice-President Tomka; Judges Koroma, Al-Khasawneh, Buergenthal, Simma, Abraham, Keith, Sepúlveda-Amor, Bennouna, Skotnikov, Cançado Trindade, Yusuf, Greenwood; Registrar Couvreur.

Vice-President Tomka appends a declaration to the Advisory Opinion of the Court; Judge Koroma appends a dissenting opinion to the Advisory Opinion of the Court; Judge Simma appends a declaration to the Advisory Opinion of the Court; Judges Keith and Sepúlveda-Amor append separate opinions to the Advisory Opinion of the Court; Judges Bennouna and Skotnikov append dissenting opinions to the Advisory Opinion of the Court; Judges Cançado Trindade and Yusuf append separate opinions to the Advisory Opinion of the Court.


A summary of the Advisory Opinion is contained in the document “Summary No. 2010/2”, to which summaries of the opinions and declarations appended to the Advisory Opinion are attached. This press release, the summary and the full text of the Advisory Opinion (including the opinions and declarations of the judges) can also be found on the Court’s website (http://www.icj-cij.org/) under the heading “Cases” (click on “Advisory Proceedings”).

Information Department:

Mr. Andrey Poskakukhin, First Secretary of the Court, Head of Department (+31 (0)70 302 2336)
Mr. Boris Heim, Information Officer (+31 (0)70 302 2337)
Ms Joanne Moore, Associate Information Officer (+31 (0)70 302 2394

22 July 2010

Sint Maarten Constitution Adopted

Unanimously adopted after intense debate

Daily Herald
21 July 2010


PHILIPSBURG--The Constitution for Country St. Maarten was approved unanimously by the Island Council on Wednesday night, putting in place yet another vital part for St. Maarten's status of country within the Dutch Kingdom after some nine hours of debate.

Opposition Democratic Party (DP) Island Council members Sarah Wescot-Williams, Roy Marlin, Maria Buncamper-Molanus and Leroy de Weever voted for the constitution after an intense debate to have Transitional Article VII removed. DP members had indicated Tuesday that they were not ready to give the constitution their support unless the transitional article was removed or sufficient reason was given for its remaining in the constitution.

The article, later deleted from the constitution, dealt with not preventing public office holders from running in elections if they had been convicted and punished for a crime prior to passing of the constitution providing the conviction did not revoke the right to vote. The deletion came after Constitutional Affairs Commissioner William Marlin and Wescot-Williams met for talks during an adjournment Wednesday evening.

The debate primarily focused on the insertion of that article in the last draft of the constitution dated July 18 and the need for more public consultation. For the latter, Commissioner Marlin has promised that a public forum will be organised within two weeks to take the constitution to the people. The article was inserted into the constitution on the advice of constitutional and legal advisors to bring it in line with the European Union Treaty on Human Rights, Marlin told the council.

He told the council that there had been no "back room dealings" between the National Alliance (NA) and independent Councilman Louie Laveist, who has legal trouble dating back to 2008, to have the transitional article added to the constitution as the opposition had been implying. Marlin said when the debate started at 9:00am yesterday that whether the article was included in the constitution or not, it would not make a difference. He was willing to have it removed if that would allow smooth passage of the constitution in the council so the constitutional change process would not be stalled.

Non-approval of the constitution would have meant that St. Maarten was missing a vital document needed for the changes to the Kingdom Charter for the birthing of new countries-within-the-Dutch-Kingdom St. Maarten and Curaçao to take effect come 10-10-10 (10th October 2010). This would have left the island in limbo, as it would have been neither an island territory of the Netherlands Antilles nor a new country.

Laveist said in a fiery presentation that he didn't want the article in the constitution if it would mean that it would not have the two-thirds majority needed for adoption. The article, he insisted, had not been included in the constitution for his benefit and did not stem from any deal with NA.

Wescot-Williams pointed out that her party had no issue with the merits of Article VII, but with the method used to insert into the constitution as though it was an afterthought. She said that protection from punishment twice was already regulated in the constitution in Article 28. This protects everyone, including politicians, from "retroactive" punishment; thus there was no need for Article VII to be inserted, in her opinion.

The need to define who is a St. Maartener was also a prominent topic in the debate. Several council members said consultations needed to begin now on fully describe a St. Maartener.

Acting Lt. Governor Reynold Groeneveldt congratulated the people of St. Maarten, the Island Council and all advisors on achieving this milestone in history.

Voting for the constitution were Commissioners William Marlin, Frans Richardson and Hyacinth Richardson, "caretaker" Commissioner Theo Heyliger, Island Council members Sarah Wescot-Williams, Roy Marlin, Maria Buncamper-Molanus, Leroy de Weever, Louie Laveist, George Pantophlet and Rodolphe Samuel.

21 July 2010

The Remaining Colonies in the Caribbean


P.O. Box 460 • Philipsburg, St. Martin • Caribbean

Submission Deadline: October 1, 2010
Edited by: Lasana M. Sekou

Inviting articles/essays/speeches/authors for a new book

Book title: The Remaining Colonies in the Caribbean Region (Working Title)

Submission deadline: 1 October 2010
Estimated publication date: December 2010

Theme of the Book: The State of the Independence Movement in the Remaining Colonies in the
Caribbean region. The position paper should include a brief background of the history of
independence-related ideas and activities in the specific territory/territories, with a focus on
discussing approaches, challenges, comparisons, stages of progress.

Copyright: Authors will retain copyright to their paper upon publication, and receive 10 complimentary copies of the book.

Papers/Essays/Articles: The paper must be unpublished and must not be submitted for publication elsewhere. Submissions should be a minimum of 10 pages and should not exceed 16 pages, letter size (8.5 x 11); typed double-spaced; 12 pt., in a common font such as Times New Roman or similar. Your autobiographical statement should be no more than 160 words. House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) reserves the right to edit all papers, which will not be printed without the express approval of the author(s).

Submissions: Manuscripts on the above topic should be submitted in Word format by email to:

offshoreediting@hotmail.com or nehesi@mac.com  by 1 October 2010.

All submissions must be
in English. (Submissions in Kwéyòl, Papiamentu, Spanish, Dutch or French must be accompanied by the English translation from the author in order for both the original language of the writer and the English translation to be printed in the book). Reference material/works referred to should be listed in a standard bibliographical format at the end of the paper. To avoid copyrights permission delays (and to encourage originality of your paper) extensive quotes from other published/unpublished sources are not encouraged.

14 July 2010

Papiamentu Flourishes as a Caribbean Language

by Caroline Mikolajczyk
In an age in which we lose an average of 10 languages forever each year, it’s heartening to see that at least one language is beating the odds. Although Papiamentu, a Creole language spoken in Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba, only boasts around 250,000 speakers, according to the New York Times it is actually gaining ground in terms of official acceptance and cultural prominence.

The Times notes that Dutch continues to be the language that Curacao’s laws are written in, as well as the language its children are taught in, at least in the upper grades. However, if you set foot on the island of Curacao, you can expect to hear Papiamentu just about everywhere. It’s on the radio, in the songs of local artists. It’s the language you hear on the TV, and the language spoken by politicians. In short, it’s a part of daily life there, not a second-class language at all.

Papiamentu is interesting because even though Curacao was a Dutch colony, the language bears little if any Dutch influence. Instead, it’s a blend of Portuguese and Spanish, with a dash of English thrown in for good measure. Linguists think that the Portuguese came from the West African slave trade, while the Spanish influences came from both the Spanish-speaking Jews who helped settle the island and, more recently, nearby Spanish-speaking Venezuela.

In the New York Times article, linguist Bart Jacobs explains why Papiamentu has a better chance of survival than most Creoles:

While English and French Creoles get more attention, the extension of Papiamentu into different domains like writing, education and policy is incredibly high. This bodes very well for the language’s chances to survive, and possibly even thrive well into the future.

What makes Papiamentu different from other, less healthy Creole languages? According to the New York Times, part of the difference lies in the fact that Dutch has fewer speakers than other colonial languages like English and Spanish. So, while people on the islands tend to learn Dutch to seek jobs in the Netherlands, there’s no incentive to allow Dutch to overshadow the language they grew up speaking. Theres also the fact that the islands that speak Papiamentu are both peaceful and wealthy.Finally, there is Papiamentu’s history as a way for islanders to resist Dutch colonial rule.

In the New York Times, Helmin Wiels, party leader for Pueblo Soberano, which favors breaking off Curacao’s official relationship with the Netherlands completely, explains:
The preservation of Papiamentu would allow us to absorb the influences of our South American brothers, he said, while keeping alive that which makes us unique.

Editor’s Note: The characterisation that Pueblo Soberano favours “breaking off Curacao’s official relationship with the Netherlands completely” is rather misleading. Under an independent Curacao the political status would naturally evolve into a modern bilateral relationship between two sovereign states based on political equality recognising the shared history, language, culture and other commonalities. Such relations would probably be strengthened, rather than broken off.

12 July 2010

The Question of Papua

Jakarta Post
Neles Tebay
Coordinator of the Papua Peace Network in Abepura, Papua

Last Friday indigenous Papuans — through the provincial legislative council — symbolically handed back the 2001 Law on Special Autonomy to the Indonesian government. The act should neither be dismissed as irrational, nor should it lead to the conclusion that referendum and independence are the ultimate goals of those dissatisfied with the current situation in Papua. It is rather a cry to be taken seriously: Papuans are waiting for dialogue to negotiate a new solution to the their governance. The 2001 law was offered by the central government as the best and most realistic solution to the Papua conflict.

Internationally, it was recognized as a win-win solution, preserving on the one hand Indonesia’s territorial integrity while advancing and safeguarding the needs of Papuans on the other.

The policy of a semiautonomous Papua was at the time strongly supported by the European Union, the United States and the state members of the Pacific Islands Forum.

But although the special autonomy policy was hailed by many as the only viable solution, it was not the result of genuine dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuans; rather, it was unilaterally decided by the Peoples’ Assembly (MPR) in 1999. The lack of a joint decision-making process between the government and Papuans thus makes it a solution that is not negotiated but imposed. This is why neither the government nor Papuans felt strongly that they owned this policy.

The decision to “return the law” was taken after a two-day evaluation of the legislation last week in Jayapura, facilitated by the Papuan Peoples’ Assembly (MRP). Papuans from all tribes and political factions participated. According to the 2001 law, an evaluation of the law’s efficacy should be conducted every year. In reality such an evaluation never took place until Papuans took the initiative last week.

The action led the Papuans to the understanding that the government does not show moral commitment and political will to implement the autonomy law.
This has been demonstrated through the government’s controversial policies, which were felt by many to be deliberately violating Papua’s autonomy law.

Those policies include the establishment of three new provinces in Papua in 2001, changing the autonomy law in 2008 to provide a legal foundation for the establishment of West Papua Province, and rejecting the Papuans’ proposal of using the Morning Star flag as a Papuan cultural symbol.

Furthermore, the joint application by the government of the law on Papua’s autonomy and the 2004 Law on Regional Government has brought about confusion among the local government. The Papuans feel their needs and fundamental rights remain largely unaddressed.

The government in the past nine years did not produce the necessary governmental regulations for the special implementing regulations, establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, work out an adequate policy framework to protect and empower the indigenous Papuans, and address the human rights violations since 1963 until today. Despite a central government pouring billions of rupiah into Papua, the majority of Papuans still live under the poverty line. Without government control of migration from other provinces to Papua, Papuans are fast becoming a minority in their own land, economically marginalized and disfavored.

In the light of the above, the act of handing back the special autonomy may be taken as a sign of outrage and anger. More importantly, it is an expression of fear, of frustration and of despair. It is a cry to be taken seriously. Papuans do not feel protected and empowered by the government. They are seriously worried about their survival today and about their future in the country. What the Papuans want first and foremost is to be taken seriously and to have their grievances acknowledged.

They wish for a solution they can be a part of and can participate in. They want a solution that they can also own. They cannot accept any solution they feel is imposed by the government.

In their eyes, there is only one way to produce a negotiated solution, which is genuinely accepted by both the Indonesian government and the Papuans themselves. This is through meaningful dialogue between the central government and the Papuans.

In the wake of the events of last week, the time has come for the government of Indonesia and people of Papua to engage in a such a peaceful exchange.

08 July 2010

Decisión del Comité Especial de ONU relativa a Puerto Rico

Naciones Unidas

El Comité Especial,

Teniendo presente la Declaración sobre la concesión de la independencia a los países y pueblos coloniales, contenida en la resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea General, de 14 de diciembre de 1960, así como las resoluciones y decisiones del Comité Especial relativas a Puerto Rico,

Considerando que la Asamblea General, en su resolución 43/47, de 22 de noviembre de 1988, declaró el período 1990-2000 Decenio Internacional para la Eliminación del Colonialismo, y que en virtud de la resolución 55/146, de 8 de diciembre de 2000, declaró el período 2001-2010 Segundo Decenio Internacional para la Eliminación del Colonialismo,

Teniendo presentes las veintiocho resoluciones y decisiones aprobadas por el Comité Especial sobre la cuestión de Puerto Rico, contenidas en los informes del Comité Especial a la Asamblea General, en particular aquellas aprobadas en los últimos años sin votación,

Recordando que el 25 de julio de 2010 se cumplen ciento doce años de la intervención de los Estados Unidos de América en Puerto Rico,

Observando con preocupación que, a pesar de las diversas iniciativas emprendidas en años recientes por los representantes políticos de Puerto Rico y los Estados Unidos, no se ha logrado hasta el momento poner en marcha un proceso de descolonización para Puerto Rico que cumpla con la resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea General y las resoluciones y decisiones del Comité Especial relativas a Puerto Rico,

Enfatizando la urgencia de que los Estados Unidos propicien las condiciones necesarias para la plena aplicación de la resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea General y las resoluciones y decisiones del Comité Especial relativas a Puerto Rico,

Tomando nota de que el Grupo Interagencial de Trabajo sobre el Estatus de Puerto Rico designado por el Presidente de los Estados Unidos, el cual presentó su segundo informe en diciembre de 2007, reafirmó que Puerto Rico es un territorio sujeto a la autoridad congresional de los Estados Unidos, y de que en el Congreso de los Estados Unidos se han presentado posteriormente iniciativas con relación al estatus de Puerto Rico,

Tomando nota también de la “Proclama de Panamá”, adoptada en el Congreso Latinoamericano y Caribeño por la Independencia de Puerto Rico, que con la presencia de treinta y tres partidos políticos de veintidós países de la región sesionó del 17 al 19 de noviembre de 2006, en Panamá, cuyas conclusiones fueron reiteradas en Ciudad de México el 29 de marzo de 2008 en la reunión del Comité Permanente de Trabajo por la Independencia de Puerto Rico; y de la declaración del Comité de América Latina y el Caribe de la Internacional Socialista, adoptada en su reunión en Buenos Aires en abril de 2010 a favor de la revisión del caso de Puerto Rico por la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas,

Tomando nota además del debate que existe en Puerto Rico sobre la búsqueda de un procedimiento que permita iniciar el proceso de descolonización de Puerto Rico, y consciente del principio de que toda iniciativa para la solución del estatus político de Puerto Rico debe tomarla originalmente el pueblo de Puerto Rico,

Consciente de que la isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico, fue utilizada durante más de sesenta años por la infantería de marina de los Estados Unidos para llevar a cabo maniobras militares, con las correspondientes consecuencias negativas para la salud de la población, el medio ambiente y el desarrollo económico y social de ese municipio puertorriqueño,

Tomando nota del consenso que existe en el pueblo y Gobierno de Puerto Rico sobre la necesidad de que se produzca la limpieza, descontaminación y devolución al pueblo de Puerto Rico de todas las tierras anteriormente utilizadas para maniobras e instalaciones y su utilización para el desarrollo social y económico de Puerto Rico,

Tomando nota también de las denuncias hechas por los habitantes de Vieques sobre la continuación de la detonación de bombas y quema abierta como método de limpieza, agravando así los problemas de salud y contaminación ya existentes y poniendo en riesgo la vida de civiles,

Tomando nota además del consenso que existe en el pueblo de Puerto Rico a favor de que se ponga en libertad a los presos políticos puertorriqueños, algunos de los cuales cumplen condenas en prisiones de los Estados Unidos por más de veintinueve años por causas relacionadas con la lucha por la independencia de Puerto Rico,

Tomando nota de la preocupación existente en el pueblo de Puerto Rico con relación a las acciones violentas, incluidas la represión e intimidación, contra independentistas puertorriqueños, incluyendo las que se han conocido recientemente a partir de documentos desclasificados por agencias federales de los Estados Unidos,

Tomando nota también de que en el Documento Final de la Decimoquinta Conferencia Cumbre del Movimiento de Países No Alineados, celebrada en Sharm El Sheikh (Egipto) del 11 al 16 de julio de 2009, y en otras reuniones del movimiento, se reafirma el derecho del pueblo de Puerto Rico a la libre determinación e independencia, de conformidad con la resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea General; se exhorta al Gobierno de los Estados Unidos a asumir su responsabilidad de acelerar un proceso que permita que el pueblo de Puerto Rico ejerza plenamente su derecho inalienable a la libre determinación y la independencia; se insta al Gobierno de los Estados Unidos a devolver el territorio y las instalaciones ocupados en la isla de Vieques y en la Estación Naval de Roosevelt Roads al pueblo puertorriqueño, que constituye una nación latinoamericana y caribeña; y se insta a la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas a examinar activamente la cuestión de Puerto Rico en todos sus aspectos,

Habiendo oído declaraciones y testimonios representativos de diversas tendencias del pueblo puertorriqueño y sus instituciones sociales,

Habiendo examinado el informe del Relator del Comité Especial sobre la aplicación de las resoluciones relativas a Puerto Rico ,

1. Reafirma el derecho inalienable del pueblo puertorriqueño a la libre determinación e independencia, de conformidad con la resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea General, y la aplicabilidad de los principios fundamentales de dicha resolución a la cuestión de Puerto Rico;

2. Reitera que el pueblo puertorriqueño constituye una nación latinoamericana y caribeña que tiene su propia e inconfundible identidad nacional;

3. Llama al Gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América a asumir su responsabilidad de propiciar un proceso que permita que el pueblo de Puerto Rico ejerza plenamente su derecho inalienable a la libre determinación y la independencia, de conformidad y en pleno cumplimiento con la resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea General y las resoluciones y decisiones del Comité Especial relativas a Puerto Rico;

4. Toma nota del amplio apoyo de personalidades, Gobiernos y fuerzas políticas de América Latina y el Caribe a la independencia de Puerto Rico;

5. Toma nota nuevamente del debate que existe en Puerto Rico sobre la implementación de un mecanismo que pueda asegurar la plena participación de todos los sectores de opinión puertorriqueños, entre ellos una Asamblea Constitucional de Status sobre las bases de las alternativas descolonizadoras reconocidas por el derecho internacional, consciente del principio de que toda iniciativa para la solución del estatus político de Puerto Rico debe tomarla originalmente el pueblo de Puerto Rico;

6. Expresa profunda preocupación en relación con las acciones llevadas a cabo contra luchadores independentistas, y alienta a que se lleven a cabo investigaciones sobre esas acciones, con el rigor necesario y la cooperación de las autoridades pertinentes;

7. Solicita a la Asamblea General que examine de manera amplia y en todos los aspectos la cuestión de Puerto Rico;

8. Insta al Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, en consonancia con la necesidad de garantizar al pueblo puertorriqueño su legítimo derecho para la libre determinación y la protección de sus derechos humanos, a que termine la devolución de toda la tierra antes ocupada y las instalaciones en Vieques y Ceiba al pueblo de Puerto Rico, atienda a los derechos humanos fundamentales, como el derecho a la salud y al desarrollo económico, y acelere la ejecución y asuma los costos del proceso de limpieza y descontaminación de las áreas de impacto anteriormente utilizadas en las maniobras militares mediante métodos que no continúen agravando las serias consecuencias de su actividad militar para la salud de los habitantes de la isla de Vieques y el medio ambiente;

9. Pide al Presidente de los Estados Unidos que ponga en libertad a Oscar López Rivera y Carlos Alberto Torres, quienes cumplen condenas por más de veintiocho años, y Avelino González Claudio, todos presos políticos puertorriqueños que cumplen condenas en prisiones de los Estados Unidos por causas relacionadas con la lucha por la independencia de Puerto Rico;

10. Toma nota con satisfacción del informe preparado por el Relator del Comité Especial1, en cumplimiento de lo dispuesto en su resolución de 9 de junio de 2008;

11. Solicita al Relator que informe al Comité Especial en el año 2010 sobre la aplicación de la presente resolución;

12. Decide mantener la cuestión de Puerto Rico bajo examen continuo.


(English Version)
 Special Committee decision concerning Puerto Rico

The Special Committee,

Bearing in mind the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, as well as the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico,

Considering that the period 1990-2000 was proclaimed by the General Assembly, in its resolution 43/47 of 22 November 1988, as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and that by resolution 55/146 of 8 December 2000, the General Assembly declared the period 2001-2010 the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism,

Bearing in mind the 28 resolutions and decisions adopted by the Special Committee on the question of Puerto Rico, contained in the reports of the Special Committee to the General Assembly, in particular those adopted without a vote in recent years,

Recalling that 25 July 2010 marks the one hundred and twelfth anniversary of the intervention in Puerto Rico by the United States of America,

Noting with concern that despite the diverse initiatives taken by the political representatives of Puerto Rico and the United States in recent years, the process of decolonization of Puerto Rico, in compliance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee on Puerto Rico, has not yet been set in motion,

Stressing the urgent need for the United States to lay the groundwork for the full implementation of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico,

Noting that the inter-agency Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status designated by the President of the United States, which submitted its second report in December 2007, reaffirmed that Puerto Rico is a territory subject to United States congressional authority and that initiatives concerning Puerto Rico’s status have been subsequently presented to the Congress of the United States,

Also noting the “Panama Proclamation”, adopted by the Latin American and Caribbean Congress for the Independence of Puerto Rico, which was held in Panama from 17 to 19 November 2006 and attended by 33 political parties from 22 countries of the region, the conclusions of which were reaffirmed in Mexico City on 29 March 2008 at the meeting of the Standing Committee for Puerto Rican Independence; and the declaration of the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, adopted at its meeting in Buenos Aires in April 2010, supporting a review of the case of Puerto Rico by the United Nations General Assembly,

Further noting the debate in Puerto Rico on the search for a procedure that would make it possible to launch the process of decolonization of Puerto Rico, and aware of the principle that any initiative for the solution of the political status of Puerto Rico should originate from the people of Puerto Rico,

Aware that Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, was used for over 60 years by the United States Marines to carry out military exercises, with negative consequences for the health of the population, the environment and the economic and social development of that Puerto Rican municipality,

Noting the consensus existing among the people and the Government of Puerto Rico on the necessity of ensuring the clean-up, decontamination and return to the people of Puerto Rico of all the territory previously used for military exercises and installations, and of using them for the social and economic development of Puerto Rico,

Also noting the complaints made by the inhabitants of Vieques Island regarding the continued bombing and the use of open burning for clean-up, which exacerbate the existing health problems and pollution and endanger civilian lives,

Further noting the consensus among the people of Puerto Rico in favour of the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners, some of whom have been serving sentences in United States prisons for more than 29 years for cases related to the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence,

Noting the concern of the people of Puerto Rico regarding violent actions, including repression and intimidation, against Puerto Rican independence fighters, including those that have recently come to light through documents declassified by federal agencies of the United States,

Also noting that in the final document of the Fifteenth Summit of the Non Aligned Movement, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 11 to 16 July 2009, and at other meetings of the Movement, the right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence is reaffirmed on the basis of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV); the Government of the United States is urged to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence; the Government of the United States is urged to return the territory and occupied installations on Vieques Island and at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station to the Puerto Rican people, who constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation; and the General Assembly is urged to actively consider the question of Puerto Rico in all its aspects,

Having heard statements and testimonies representative of various viewpoints among the people of Puerto Rico and their social institutions,

Having considered the report of the Rapporteur of the Special Committee on the implementation of the resolutions concerning Puerto Rico,

1. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence in conformity with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the applicability of the fundamental principles of that resolution to the question of Puerto Rico;

2. Reiterates that the Puerto Rican people constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation that has its own unequivocal national identity;

3. Calls upon the Government of the United States of America to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people fully to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, in accordance and in full compliance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico;

4. Notes the broad support of eminent persons, governments and political forces in Latin America and the Caribbean for the independence of Puerto Rico;

5. Again notes the debate in Puerto Rico on the implementation of a mechanism that would ensure the full participation of representatives of all viewpoints prevailing in Puerto Rico, including a constitutional assembly on status with a basis in the decolonization alternatives recognized in international law, aware of the principle that any initiative for the solution of the political status of Puerto Rico should originate from the people of Puerto Rico;

6. Expresses serious concern regarding actions carried out against Puerto Rican independence fighters, and encourages the investigation of those actions with the necessary rigour and with the cooperation of the relevant authorities;

7. Requests the General Assembly to consider the question of Puerto Rico comprehensively in all its aspects;

8. Urges the Government of the United States, in line with the need to guarantee the Puerto Rican people their legitimate right to self-determination and the protection of their human rights, to complete the return of occupied land and installations on Vieques Island and in Ceiba to the people of Puerto Rico; respect fundamental human rights, such as the right to health and economic development; and expedite and cover the costs of the process of cleaning up and decontaminating the impact areas previously used in military exercises through means that do not continue to aggravate the serious consequences of its military activity for the health of the inhabitants of Vieques Island and the environment;

9. Requests the President of the United States of America to release Oscar López Rivera and Carlos Alberto Torres, who have been serving sentences in United States prisons for over 28 years, and Avelino González Claudio, all of whom are Puerto Rican political prisoners serving sentences in United States prisons for cases relating to the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico;

10. Notes with satisfaction the report prepared by the Rapporteur of the Special Committee,1 in compliance with its resolution of 9 June 2008;

11. Requests the Rapporteur to report to the Special Committee in 2010 on the implementation of the present resolution;

12. Decides to keep the question of Puerto Rico under continuous review.

07 July 2010

Univ. of Puerto Rico Student Strike Victory Unleashes Brutal Civil Rights Backlash

Huffington Post

by Maritza Stanchich, Ph.D.

As so many Americans gear up for Fourth of July fireworks this weekend, the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico roils from a brutal civil rights showdown unleashed by a far-right wing government, now seemingly hell bent on destroying the recent unprecedented victory of a two-month long student strike against privatization of higher education at the University of Puerto Rico.

The broader implications are crucial on numerous fronts, including the struggle to maintain broad access to public higher education and efforts to rein in runaway neoliberal policies that have wreaked havoc on the global economy, resulting in draconian austerity measures worldwide. For the violence and repression seen in Greece and at the G20 in Toronto appears to now be visiting this Caribbean island nation of about four million U.S. citizens, the homeland of more than an additional four million Puerto Ricans in the United States, the second largest U.S. Latino group.

While the economic crisis in Puerto Rico--the worst since the 1940s, if not the 1930s-has been deepening for years, and the current right wing government has aggressively implemented a hard-line, unpopular neoliberal agenda since its broad electoral victory last November, it appears as if the recent UPR student strike victory has touched off a firestorm, with a police attack on peaceful demonstrators at Puerto Rico's Capitol building on Wednesday injuring dozens, some seriously.

The UPR strike concluded June 21 after a tense, two-month shut down of 10 campuses in a system serving nearly 65,000 students at the end of the academic year, with an accord that by all accounts was an unprecedented strike victory, in historic, hemispheric terms. A widely-supported student movement remarkable for its coalition building across traditionally distinct and even contentious social and political sectors coalesced against threatened erosion of broad public access to the widely-regarded state university, as well as its increasing privatization.

With tensions high after police and riot squads had attacked and injured students, their parents and journalists on at least three occasions, an agreement finally reached through judicial mediation met with the students' basic demands, reinstating cancelled tuition waivers, temporarily forestalling a tuition hike or imposition of student fees, and protecting strike leaders from summary suspension reprisals. The accord, signed by a majority of the Board of Trustees, though those refusing included the university and board presidents, was hailed as an achievement in civil conflict resolution, especially in light of the history of previous UPR strikes that had ended in deadly violent repressions.

Immediately after however, the Puerto Rico state legislature, dominated by the extreme right of the local Pro-Statehood party, rapidly expanded the university Board of Trustees, with the governor approving four new appointees, and a new but divided board quickly imposed a $800 student fee starting in January, and made it permanent, reminiscent of the imposition of fees at University of California by then Gov. Ronald Reagan. The legislature also quickly dismantled a long-standing UPR tradition of student assemblies, replacing them with private electronic computer voting devoid of open debate. Other cuts were also implemented affecting professors and adjunct instructors, who now make up about 40 percent of the UPR faculty, following trends in the United States, where 60 percent of all professors occupy such increasingly precarious positions.

In a far worse economic straits than the states of California or Michigan, Puerto Rico is confronting its worst fiscal crisis in decades, and UPR the biggest fiscal crisis of its 100-year existence. As throughout much of the world facing related circumstances, virulent and organized opposition to drastic cuts principally directed at the working and deteriorating middle classes has mushroomed, especially since the current global crisis, in Alan Greenspan's own befuddled words, was caused by greed-induced corruption among the highest echelons of the world economy.

While the neoliberal agenda of Puerto Rico's current political leaders look back to the very doctrines now being challenged in the United States and throughout Latin America, the UPR student movement embodies the vanguard of the contemporary 21st Century, as reflected by their symbols and tactics, including the democratizing internet, egalitarian rainbow flags, sustainable organic farming, an effervescence of alternative arts, and new coalition building among center, right and left, in tandem with occupation practices inspired by international student movements as far as California, Spain, France and Greece.

Though a shocking collective trauma, the violent crackdown at the Capitol Wednesday was not entirely surprising given the current administration's assault on all fronts since coming into power, targeting progressive, cultural and social welfare institutions and agencies with crippling budget cuts, attempting to dissolve Puerto Rico's bar association, lifting environmental protections to whole swaths of protected lands, and passing a now notorious law, called Ley 7, that not only dismisses 20,000 public employees, but declares null and void all public sector union contracts for three years, with the only recourse to challenging the law being to petition the local Supreme Court, now stacked with new appointments in the administration's favor. The governor has also activated the National Guard, amidst criticism from groups such the Puerto Rico chapters of the ACLU and Amnesty International.

Common in Puerto Rico, however, though unusual at most U.S. state universities, is the way political parties assume control of UPR leadership by appointing a new president, also recently achieved. This is in part because the UPR is widely regarded as national patrimony, and is one of the few places left in the country where dissent may be cultivated.

As opposition to these policies expands, as seen in a massive national strike in October which drew a quarter of a million workers into the streets, so has the government's seeming intolerance to any opposition, as Gov. Luis Fortuño, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and UPR president José Ramón de la Torre commonly resort to Cold War era red-baiting with media campaigns labeling protestors as Socialists, Communists, and professional rabble rousers out to destabilize the country. The clamp down has so far gone as far as banning journalists from Senate chambers for four days last week during the country's budget sessions, prompting media organizations to petition in court to regain access.

"I don't think there is any doubt that the intention of this government is to set back civil rights," said Judith Berkan, a long-time civil rights attorney and a law professor at University of Puerto Rico and InterAmerican University in San Juan, adding that the administration has enacted a staggering number of measures to neutralize and debilitate all those perceived as a threat to a local oligarchy acting in concert with U.S. interests.

Attempts were made to reach Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress, and UPR President José Ramón de la Torre for comment, but they were not available at press time.

The irony that the Pro-U.S. Statehood party of Gov. Fortuño is now curtailing the most basic press and civil liberties is not lost on UPR student strike leaders who witnessed and were injured at Wednesday's melee, including those who belong to the pro-Statehood party themselves, and voted for the sitting governor.

"It pains me as a statehooder that this government has not learned the lessons of U.S. civil rights struggles of decades ago," said Aníbal Núñez, a student at the UPR law school and a member of the student negotiating committee.

Núñez acknowledged the participation of students affiliated with Socialist groups among strike leaders and the student negotiating committee, and said they overcame their differences via universal concerns for education as a social necessity, as they gained each others' respect while coalition building together, adding that if he could not overcome ideological differences enough to collaborate, he would still believe in their right to pluralistically exist.

The notion that accessible, quality higher education contributes to economic recovery runs counter to the widening U.S. trend of students graduating with crippling debt, as public education has for years now faced diminishing state support. A common argument used by the administration during the UPR strike was its affordable tuition, at less than $2,000 per year for undergraduates before the recently imposed fees. But while tuition is cheaper than probably any other state university in the United States, average income in Puerto Rico is also far lower than any other U.S. state, with about 48 percent of the population living in poverty as defined by U.S. federal standards, and the cost of living in San Juan at least, far higher than at oft compared institutions in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or Oxford, Mississippi. This tradition of maintaining broad public access to a quality state institution of higher learning is a hard earned point of pride at UPR, compared to institutions that have recently reneged their public mission with sudden and steep fee/tuition increases, such as at University of California, where students also opposed, occupied and met with police repression, but could not stave off a 32% fee hike imposed in November.

As UPR administrators continue to grapple with what was a nearly $200 million budget shortfall for next year going into the strike, in search of additional or alternative money saving and raising sources, an emboldened student movement will also regroup and weigh all its options. Future conflicts may be averted by altering the very style of governance at UPR, a top-down and paternalistic holdover from the past, as this could go a long way toward making students, as well as professors and staff who also have large stakes at play, part of a give-and-take process.

For come what may in the global fiscal crisis in the coming decade, these students are the future of new Americas of increasingly porous borders and dramatic, rapid demographic, political, cultural, informational and economic shifts, as the old order, the vestiges of the Cold War in Puerto Rico and in South Florida for example, fade into the proverbial sunset.

"We may not hold the power but we have the will power," stated law student Núñez, "and given the choice, I prefer the latter."

UPR administrators and Statehood party leaders would do well to recognize and reach out to the productive potential of this new power, shift gears and learn to act on the principles.

06 July 2010

Amer. Samoa Seeks Power Over Federal Laws

Governor’s proposal OKed at Constitutional Convention

Radio New Zealand International, 

The American Samoa Constitutional Convention has approved a provision that would allow the legislature to stop federal laws that could be harmful for the territory.

The amendment was proposed by the Governor, Togiola Tulafono, who pointed to the minimum wage imposed by Washington against the wishes of the territory’s leaders.

He says he understands Congress is unlikely to accept the provision but he says it would provide an opening for negotiations with Congress on the problems caused by the federal laws.

The territory’s US Congressman, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, opposed the proposal, pointing to the funds the US has poured into American Samoa in the last ten years.

02 July 2010

From 2011, Emancipation Day likely to be a national holiday in Sint Maarten

~ Says Leader of Government in Emancipation Day message ~

Daily Herald, Philipsburg

Leader of Government Commissioner William Marlin says that with more autonomy after 10-10-10 St. Maarten will be able to make its own decisions, such as declaring Emancipation Day, being observed today, July 1, a National Holiday.

(Sint Maarten is scheduled to attain separate country status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on 10th October 2010 [10-10-10] with the dismantling of the five-island - Netherlands Antilles and the creation of the separate countries of Curacao and Sint Maarten. The other three islands - Bonaire, Saba and Statia - will become partially integrated 'public entities' of the Kingdom - OTR).

In his Emancipation Day message in which he encouraged the population to rally for Country St. Maarten, Marlin said this day could not be celebrated "as if it is just another day," and pledged, "By the grace of God, July 1, 2011, will be a public holiday in the new country St. Maarten."

Marlin called on "each and every St. Maartener and all those who truly love this island to reflect on the past, not to dwell on it, but to learn the important lessons the victory over the monstrosity of slavery teaches us."

He continued:  "I ask you to join me and the rest of St. Maarten in giving all we have to reach that new milestone of 10-10-10, when St. Maarten will become an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

"It is a country we have to build together, a country we have to nurture together, a country we can all be proud of together. What we have not been able to do because we were part of the Netherlands Antilles will now be within our hands to do."

One of those things, he said, is to declare July 1 a national holiday. "A day like this cannot be commemorated as if it was just another day."

He said the struggle for St. Maarten to attain separate status had not started yesterday, or a decade ago when the electorate voted for the island territory to become an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

"We are just a few months away from claiming victory on behalf of the entire St. Maarten population and in the name of all those who have paved the way for us to be this close to achieving another major milestone in our march towards destiny. 10-10-10 is right around the corner; we are, to use a sporting term, in the homestretch.

"Ain't no stopping us now ... we are indeed on the move. This is the time when we cannot allow ourselves to falter," said Marlin, who is currently in Curacao for the Kingdom Political Steering Group (PSG) meeting.

"This is the time to summon all the energy, all the strength, all the determination we have left in the tank and make the final push to the finish line. The race we are engaged in is a marathon, and as any marathon runner knows, managing your strengths and other resources is the key to victory."

Historical perspective

When on July 1, 1863, "the Dutch finally succumbed to pressure" to abolish slavery in all its territories, our ancestors in St. Maarten had already been taking their freedom by fleeing to the Northern half of the island where slavery had been abolished in 1848, Marlin said.

"That was a good 15 years earlier. In fact, history shows that our forefathers did not wait for freedom to be granted to them on a platter; they did everything they could to be free. We can only imagine today what it must have felt like on that sunny day when the Governor proclaimed the official abolition of slavery in the territory."

He said historical records showed that the former slaves had danced and fêted all day long. "They danced the ponum. One of the songs they sang, presumably under the flamboyant tree, included a line that indicated the slaves knew that 'massa' had hidden the news of their freedom from them. For how long? We can only speculate.

"That first, First of July, was a holiday. The celebrations, of course, went on for more than that day. If we looked more closely, perhaps we could trace the origin of our Carnival even to that period of our history. But Emancipation Day was not just about fêting then and shouldn't be just that now, either."

Now, 147 years later, the question is: what have we learnt from that Emancipation Day? he asked.

"I make bold to state that we, the descendants of those slaves, may have missed the true lessons of that day. Freedom, we must all agree, does not come free. Freedom requires sacrifice; it requires struggle; it requires hard work and perseverance. Our ancestors made the ultimate sacrifice to be free: they struggled, worked hard and persevered, never losing faith in that glorious day when they would achieve what is the birthright of every human being.

"Of course, before July 1, 1863, they were not even recognised as human beings. A donkey was worth just as much or sometimes even more than they were. What kind of struggle can be more noble than to free oneself from the metal and the mental shackles that slavery imposed not only on the slave, but perhaps more important, on his master as well?

"It can be argued, with good merit, I might add, that perhaps the main significance of July 1, 1863, lies in the fact that it was on that date we became St. Maarteners in the true, patriotic sense of the word, although the feeling of oneness, of belonging together, surely started long before that in the flats at Great Salt Pond, which our illustrious poet Lasana Sekou has aptly described as the 'Cradle of our Nation,'" said Marlin.


On July 1, 1863, 11,654 slaves in the Netherlands Antilles were freed, of which 6,751 were in Curaçao and 33,621 were in Suriname. The Netherlands was one of the last countries to abolish slavery. The British had already abolished it in 1833 and the French in 1848. Plantation owners received compensation for each freed slave, but the slaves themselves received nothing. Plantation owners received 200 guilders per freed slave in Curaçao, 100 guilders in St. Maarten and 300 guilders in Suriname. -  Daily Herald