15 February 2011

Wikileaks Reveals U.S. Perspectives on British Dependent Territories


Passed to the Telegraph by WikiLeaks

9:09PM GMT 04 Feb 2011 Ref ID: 09LONDON1039
Date: 5/1/2009 15:02
Origin: Embassy London
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Destination: 08LONDON2667|09LONDON993|09NASSAU169


Classified By: Political Affairs Counselor, Rick Mills for reasons 1.4 (b, c, and d) Introduction and Summary ------------------------
1. (C) The British Overseas Territories (BOT) are fourteen far-flung possessions under British sovereignty that hearken to the era when Britannia truly ruled the waves. One Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) official accurately characterized the BOTs as "remnants of empire" -- acquired by Great Britain when the phrase "the sun never sets on the British Empire" could be spoken without a trace of irony. The territories run the gamut from remote locales without a permanent population, such as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, to largely autonomous entities like Bermuda. Some, such as the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, are subject to sovereignty claims by other nations - although the overwhelming percentage of the populations of both the Falklands and Gibraltar strongly prefer to remain under British rule. The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT, which includes the atoll of Diego Garcia), Ascension Island, and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, are notable for their strategic value to the US government. The BOTs comprise a mosaic of distinct cultural traditions, reflecting their worldwide locations. Since 2002, BOT citizens have been British citizens, with limited exceptions. However, the BOTs are not constitutionally part of the UK. Each has a distinct constitution and a unique legal relationship to the UK. HMG guarantees the defense of all BOTs and handles their foreign relations. Many aim for economic self-sufficiency, with tourism and finance playing a significant part in the economies of many BOTs.

3. (SBU) This telegram provides an overview of the BOTs. The FCO Country Profiles pages at www.fco.gov.uk offer specific information about individual BOTs, as does the CIA World Factbook. Both are valuable sources of in-depth information about the BOTs, as are the websites of many of the BOTs themselves. End Introduction and Summary.
What They Are -------------

4. (SBU) The fourteen BOTs are, in alphabetical order, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Antarctic Territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Cayman Islands, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena and its dependencies (Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The BOTs are sometimes mistakenly lumped in the popular British imagination with the Crown Dependencies. However, Crown Dependencies are possessions of the British Crown, as opposed to BOTs or colonies. Crown Dependencies are the Channel Island bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.

5. (C) Facts and figures about each BOT are available on the FCO's Country Profiles pages at www.fco.gov.uk. As one FCO officer with extensive experience covering OT issues recently told Poloff, these territories are "the remnants of empire." Indeed, Britain acquired most of them at the apogee of its national power and prestige, with dates of acquisition ranging from the 17th to the early 20th century. Bermuda was the first, settled in 1609; Britain claimed the last, the British Antarctic Territory, in 1908.

6. (U) The overall population of the BOTs totals approximately 200,000, ranging from 67,000 in Bermuda to about 50 on the Pitcairn Islands. Some BOTs have a transient population, but no permanent inhabitants. For example, the LONDON 00001039 002 OF 004 inhabitants of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands include British officials, scientists, and support staff from the British Antarctic Survey who maintain scientific bases on the islands. The transient populations of the BIOT atoll of Diego Garcia and Ascension Island in the South Atlantic consist of U.S. and UK military personnel, as well as civilian contractors of various nationalities.

Where They Are --------------

7. (SBU) Gibraltar and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus are the only BOTs located in Europe and fall under EU jurisdiction. -Five OTs -- Anguilla, the BVI, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands--are located in the Caribbean Sea. Bermuda is situated in the North Atlantic, off the U.S. coast on roughly the same latitude as Charleston, South Carolina. -The Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha, and Ascension Island are all located in the South Atlantic. Tristan da Cunha is the most remote inhabited island in the world, about 1700 miles west of Cape Town. -The Pitcairn Islands, officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, are a group of four volcanic islands in the South Pacific 1550 miles southeast of Tahiti. Only Pitcairn Island - the second largest - is inhabited. -The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which comprises the Chagos Archipelago and includes the atoll of Diego Garcia, lies between Africa and Indonesia. -The British Antarctic Territory comprises that sector of the Antarctic south of latitude 60 degrees south, between longitude 20 degrees and 80 degrees west.

So What IS a British Overseas Territory? ----------------------------------------

8. (U) The BOTs are constitutionally not part of the UK. Each has a separate constitution. All have governors that are appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, except the uninhabited ones. For these, HMG appoints a commissioner, who is an FCO employee. The governors and commissioners dually represent HMG in the BOT and the BOT before HMG.

9. (U) Each BOT is constitutionally unique. The degree of self-government depends on the BOT's constitutional relationship with the UK. Larger, more developed BOTs are largely autonomous in regard to their internal affairs, as is the case with Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Falklands, and others. The common thread among them is recognition of UK sovereignty, acknowledgment of the Queen as the Head of State, and British citizenship.

10. (U) HMG can and will intervene directly and significantly in a BOT's internal government under extraordinary circumstances, as is presently the case in the Turks and Caicos Islands (see Paragraph 16). Larger BOTs, such as the Cayman Islands and the BVI, have popularly-elected legislatures and executive heads, and the UK-appointed governors have limited control over local affairs. For example, Gibraltar has an independent parliament and the governor does not intervene in local affairs; Bermuda is largely self-governed, and practically independent in all areas other than foreign relations and defense. The Falkland Islands and Saint Helena have elected legislative councils, but the governors appointed by the Queen are the heads of government. The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia have no locally elected government and are represented by the Commander of the British Forces in Cyprus. Cypriots who live in that BOT are subject to the LONDON 00001039 003 OF 004 laws of Cyprus.

11. (SBU) The BOTs are supported in HMG by the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA). UKOTA acts like a lobbying group in London; it exists to promote and defend the common interests of the BOTs, as well as promote cooperation and common positions among BOT governments. UKOTA's members are the BOT governments themselves, represented by a delegate named by each government.

Who are BOT Residents? ----------------------

12. (U) With the signing of the British Overseas Territories Act in 2002, nearly all residents of the BOTs became full citizens of the UK. There are limited exceptions. For example, those connected solely with the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus are not entitled to full British citizenship. Some BOT citizens had British citizenship prior to the 2002 Act, e.g. Falkland Islanders. The 2002 Act changed the official name of the areas from British Dependent Territories to British Overseas Territories.

13. (U) Although the BOTs are united by their common British sovereignty, they are a mosaic of different cultures. For example, Gibraltar is a melting pot of English, Spanish, and North African influences. The Falkland Islands are mostly populated by people of British origin, with more sheep than human beings on the islands. Bermuda and the Caribbean BOTs are vibrant mixtures of diverse cultures and languages. Unsurprisingly, these sunny BOTs are popular tourist destinations for UK residents. Some BOTs have unique languages or dialects. For example, Pitcairn residents speak "Pikern," a mixed language of 18th century English dialect infused with Tahitian elements.

Economy -------

14. (SBU) Tourism and financial services account for most of the revenue generated in the BOTs. Shipping and the sale of fishing licenses are also revenue sources for many BOTs. As philatelists know, the BOTs also generate revenue from the sale of postage stamps. HMG has, for example, issued stamps for the BIOT and the uninhabited British Antarctic Territory. Many BOTs are self-sustaining, except for defense costs. Saint Helena, the Pitcairn Islands, and Montserrat depend on subsidies from HMG. The BOTs do not make a direct contribution to the British Exchequer, although some contribute towards the cost of the governor and his staff.

15. (U) Bermuda has an economy roughly the size of all the other BOTs combined. Bermuda's economy is based on providing financial services for international business and tourism. According to the FCO, the Bermuda per capita GDP in 2007 was USD 91,477.

Problems --------

16. (C) The FCO has identified several problems facing the BOTs. According to the FCO, many BOTs face challenges common to all small island economies, i.e. smaller countries risk marginalization in a globalized economy. Some BOT economies are fragile because of dependence on one or two sectors (e.g. tourism and international finance). Some of the BOTs, especially those in the Caribbean, are vulnerable to drug-trafficking and associated crime. In some instances, the lack of a developed civil society, a strong legislature and/or a vibrant press mean there are few checks on the executive. For example, in July 2008, HMG conducted an inquiry into allegations of corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands' government. The embattled Premier resigned and HMG intervened directly in governance (see ref A). The final report of the Commission of Inquiry has been delayed until the end of May, the FCO has confirmed. The islands are LONDON 00001039 004 OF 004 currently deeply in debt, due in large part to executive mismanagement.

Who Else Claims Them? ---------------------

(SBU) Some BOTs are sources of international controversy based on competing sovereignty claims. Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982, but Britain retook them after a fiercely fought, seven-week-long armed conflict. Argentina's constitution claims the Falkland Islands, although Argentina agreed in 1995 to no longer use force to press its claim. HMG continuously rejects requests for sovereignty talks between the UK and Argentina, citing the strong preference of the Falklands' population to remain British subjects. Argentina also claims South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

18. (C) HMG will contest Argentina's claim for sovereign rights (including oil and mineral rights) to seabed surrounding Britain's South Atlantic Overseas Territories, including the Falkland Islands. Great Britain will submit its own claim for seabed rights for its South Atlantic territories to the UN body that considers claims for seabed rights. HMG does not presently plan to file seabed rights claims for the British Antarctic Territory, but will reserve the right to make claims in the future (see ref B).

19. (SBU) Gibraltar was ceded from Spain to Great Britain in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. Although Spain claims Gibraltar, the population overwhelmingly wants to remain under British sovereignty. HMG has affirmed that it will not consider independence or a power-sharing agreement with Spain without the consent of Gibraltar's citizens.

20. (SBU) Mauritius claims the Chagos Islands (BIOT), contending that the islands were "wrongfully detached" by the UK before Mauritius became independent from British colonial rule. The BIOT has been the subject of a legal battle between HMG and some of the islands' former inhabitants, whom the UK relocated off the archipelago in the early 1970s. "Chagossians" and their advocates contest the legality of the islanders' resettlement and seek the right to return (see ref C).

Strategic Relevance -------------------

21. (C) Diego Garcia, in the BIOT, presently is home to a joint U.S.-UK naval support facility. The atoll is of vital strategic importance for defense purposes to the U.S. and UK, including in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Note. For further information about the U.S. Navy Support Facility on Diego Garcia see www.cnic.navy.mil/DiegoGarcia. End Note.) Ascension Island (Saint Helena BOT) is the location of Wideawake Airfield, which is a joint facility of the RAF and the U.S. Air Force. The island was used extensively by the U.S. during WWII and was integral to British success in the Falklands War. 22. (C) The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus are geographically distinct military bases. RAF Akrotiri is an important aircraft staging point and one of the few major RAF stations located outside the United Kingdom.

Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TOKOLA

Algiers Declaration on Fiftieth Anniversary of Decolonisation Declaration

The two-day conference held in Algiers last December to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Decolonisation Declaration brought together key figures in the decolonisation of Africa.

Mercredi 15 Décembre 2010  

(English translation below)

1- Le cinquantième anniversaire de la résolution 1514 (XV) du 14 décembre 1960 portant Déclaration sur l’octroi de l’indépendance aux pays et aux peuples coloniaux,a été célébré à Alger, les 13 et 14 décembre 2010.

2-D’éminentes figures de la lutte anticoloniale ont participé à cette Conférence, aux côtés de personnalités du monde politique, de la communauté diplomatique, des Organisations internationales, régionales et sous-régionales, de la société civile, des milieux de la création littéraire et cinématographique, et de la presse et des médias audio-visuels.

3-Les participants ont rappelé les sacrifices consentis par les peuples coloniaux pour la reconnaissance de leur droit à l’autodétermination et l’indépendance et ont souligné, en particulier, le rôle important des femmes et des jeunes dans la lutte de libération et dans l’édification de leurs pays.

4-Les participants se sont félicités du rôle important de l’Organisation des Nations unies et de l’ex-Organisation de l’Unité Africaine dans l’accélération du processus de libération des peuples coloniaux conformément à la résolution 1514 (XV).

5-Les participants à la Conférence ont noté avec satisfaction que, depuis l’adoption de la résolution 1514 (XV), un grand nombre d’anciens territoires coloniaux ont recouvré leur indépendance et siègent en qualité d’Etats membres souverains au sein de l’Organisation des Nations Unies, assumant pleinement leurs responsabilités individuellement et collectivement, en vue de la mise en œuvre des buts et principes de la Charte des Nations unies.

6-Les participants se sont félicités de la Déclaration par la 65ème session de l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies de la période 2011-2020, Troisième Décennie Internationale pour l’éradication du colonialisme.

7-Les participants se sont également félicités de la célébration par l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies du cinquantième anniversaire de la Déclaration sur l’octroi de l’indépendance aux pays et aux peuples coloniaux.

8-Ils ont aussi salué l’apport significatif des médias et du cinéma dans la prise de conscience des méfaits du colonialisme et la défense des buts et objectifs définis dans la Déclaration sur l’octroi de l’indépendance aux pays et aux peuples coloniaux. Ils ont souligné leur rôle dans la promotion et le soutien aux droits civils et politiques des peuples opprimés, notamment en Palestine et au Sahara Occidental, à travers l’éclairage qu’ils apportent à la lutte et aux souffrances de ces peuples.

9-Ils ont souligné que le colonialisme, sous toutes ses formes et dans toutes ses manifestations, est contraire aux buts et principes de la Charte des Nations Unies et aux normes du droit international.

10-Réaffirmant la validité et la pertinence de la Déclaration sur l’octroi de l’indépendance aux pays et aux peuples coloniaux, les participants ont exprimé leur conviction que le parachèvement de la décolonisation est inéluctable.

11-Les participants ont exprimé leur solidarité avec les peuples des territoires non autonomes qui aspirent à exercer leur droit à disposer d’eux-mêmes dans le cadre préconisé par la résolution 1514 (XV).

12-Les participants ont souligné, à cet égard, que le peuple palestinien et le peuple du Sahara Occidental sont en droit d’attendre de la Communauté internationale un soutien plus ferme et une action plus résolue en vue de l’exercice de leur droit à l’autodétermination. Ils ont décidé de faire de cet objectif une priorité de leur action.

13-Ils ont, pour cela, encouragé les écrivains, les cinéastes, les artistes, les journalistes et la société civile dans son ensemble à poursuivre et à intensifier leurs actions de sensibilisation et de mobilisation de l’opinion publique mondiale sur la justesse de ces aspirations.

14-Les participants appellent à l’adoption au sein de l’Organisation des Nations Unies et dans l’ensemble du système des Nations Unies, de mesures efficaces pour l’application intégrale de la Déclaration sur l’octroi de l’indépendance aux pays et aux peuples coloniaux.

15-Les participants ont rappelé que, conformément au droit international et aux résolutions pertinentes des Nations Unies, aucun prétexte lié à la superficie du territoire, à la situation géographique ou à l’importance numérique des peuples ne saurait être recevable pour empêcher le libre exercice des peuples encore colonisés de leur droit à l’autodétermination et à l’indépendance.

16-Les participants ont exprimé leur préoccupation face à l’impunité avec laquelle les puissances occupantes poursuivent leur agression et appellent le Conseil de Sécurité à assumer ses responsabilités à cet égard.

17-Les participants ont noté que la Résolution 1514 (XV) a aussi jeté les bases du droit au développement. En effet, elle a inspiré notamment :

-la Résolution 1803 (XVII) du 14 décembre 1962 relative à la souveraineté permanente des Etats sur leurs ressources naturelles ;

-la Résolution 3281 (XXIX) du 12 décembre 1974 portant Charte des Droits et Devoirs Economiques des Etats.

18-Les participants ont relevé avec satisfaction les efforts déployés pour consolider les indépendances nationales, à travers la reconstruction des structures étatiques, sociales et économiques que la colonisation s’était évertuée à briser. Ils ont, à cet égard, noté que malgré ce lourd héritage colonial qui a généré des contraintes de toutes natures et un système de relations économiques internationales qui ignore largement leurs intérêts, les pays nouvellement indépendants ont enregistré des avancées indéniables dans leur processus de développement politique, économique et social.

19-Les participants ont mis en relief le fait que, nonobstant les difficultés auxquelles ils continuent d’être confrontés, les peuples des pays qui ont recouvré leur indépendance connaissent une dynamique de progrès multidimensionnelle que le système colonial rendait impossible.

20-Les participants ont considéré que cette dynamique s’est inscrite dans le prolongement naturel de la délivrance du joug colonial, et confirmé la pertinence de la politique de non-alignement, qui a beaucoup contribué non seulement au raffermissement des indépendances, mais aussi à l’atténuation des tensions dans le monde.

21-Les participants ont estimé que la coopération Sud-Sud et l’intégration régionale contribuent à la préservation de l’indépendance et à la facilitation de la participation équitable des pays ex-coloniaux à l’économie mondiale.

22-Ils ont apporté, à cet égard, leur soutien aux programmes en cours au niveau régional et inter-régional en Afrique, en Asie et en Amérique Latine, ainsi que dans l’établissement de partenariats stratégiques entre ces régions.

23-Les participants ont noté que les pays ex-coloniaux s’efforcent de promouvoir un partenariat mutuellement bénéfique avec les autres pays tout en veillant à la préservation de leur capacité autonome de décision et de leur souveraineté sur leurs ressources naturelles.

24-Les participants ont renouvelé leur attachement à la démarche d’indépendance de décision dans les relations internationales poursuivie par les pays nouvellement indépendants, qui aspirent à participer pleinement à la conduite des affaires mondiales dans le cadre d’un multilatéralisme rénové.

25-Les participants ont exprimé leurs remerciements au Président Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA et au gouvernement et au peuple algérien pour l’excellente organisation de cette importante Conférence et se sont félicités de la qualité des débats et des conclusions auxquelles elle a donné lieu.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Algiers Declaration

1 - The fiftieth anniversary of resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 on the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, was celebrated in Algiers on 13 and 14 December 2010.

2 - Prominent figures of the anticolonial struggle took part in this Conference, along with personalities from politics, the diplomatic community, international organizations, regional and subregional organizations, civil society, media creative writing and film, and the press and audiovisual media.

3 - The participants recalled the sacrifices made by the colonial peoples for recognition of their right to self-determination and independence and stressed in particular the important role of women and youth in the liberation struggle and in building of their country.

4 - Participants welcomed the important role of the United Nations and the former Organization of African Unity in accelerating the process of liberation of colonial peoples in accordance with resolution 1514 (XV).

5 - The Conference participants noted with satisfaction that since the adoption of resolution 1514 (XV), a large number of former colonial territories regained their independence and serve as a sovereign member states within the Organization of the United Nations, assuming full responsibility individually and collectively, to implement the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

6 - Participants welcomed the statement by the 65th session of the UN General Assembly for the period 2011-2020, Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

7 - The participants also welcomed the celebration by the UN General Assembly's fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

8 - They also welcomed the significant contribution of media and film in the awareness of the evils of colonialism and defense goals and objectives outlined in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. They emphasized their role in promoting and supporting civil and political rights of oppressed peoples, especially in Palestine and Western Sahara, through the light they bring to the struggle and suffering of these people.

9 - They stressed that colonialism in all its forms and in all its manifestations, is contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and norms of international law.

10 - Reaffirming the validity and relevance of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, the participants expressed their conviction that the completion of decolonization was inevitable.

11 - The participants expressed their solidarity with the peoples of the Territories who aspire to exercise their right to self-determination within the framework advocated by resolution 1514 (XV).

12 - The participants stressed, in this context that the Palestinian people and the people of Western Sahara have come to expect from the international community support firmer and more resolute action to exercise their right to self-determination. They decided to make this goal a priority in their action.

13 - They have, for that, encouraged writers, filmmakers, artists, journalists and civil society as a whole to continue and intensify their advocacy and mobilization of world public opinion on the accuracy of these aspirations.

14 - The participants called for the adoption within the United Nations and the entire United Nations system, effective measures for the full implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

15 - The participants recalled that in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions, for any reason related to land area, the location or the size of peoples can not be acceptable to prevent the free exercise still colonized peoples of their right to self-determination and independence.

16 - The participants expressed their concern at the impunity with which the occupying powers are continuing their aggression and called on the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities in this regard.

17 - Participants noted that Resolution 1514 (XV) also laid the foundations for the right to development. Indeed, it has inspired in particular:

-Resolution 1803 (XVII) of 14 December 1962 on permanent sovereignty of States over their natural resources;

-Resolution 3281 (XXIX) of 12 December 1974 Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.

18 - The participants noted with satisfaction the efforts to consolidate national independence, through the reconstruction of state structures, social and economic colonization had strived to break. They have, in this regard, noted that despite the heavy colonial legacy that has generated all kinds of constraints and a system of international economic relations that largely ignores their interests, the newly independent countries have demonstrated progress recorded in their process of political development , economic and social development.

19 - The participants highlighted the fact that notwithstanding the challenges they still face the peoples of the countries which regained their independence is a growing multi-dimensional progress that the colonial system made it impossible.

20 - The participants felt that this dynamic has occurred in the natural extension of the grant of colonial rule, and confirmed the relevance of the policy of non-alignment, which greatly contributed not only to the strengthening of independence, but also mitigation of tensions in the world.

21 - The participants agreed that South-South regional integration and contribute to preserving the independence and facilitating the equitable participation of former colonial countries into the global economy.

22 - They brought in this regard, support to ongoing programs at regional and inter-regional levels in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as in establishing strategic partnerships between these regions.

23 - Participants noted that the former colonial countries trying to promote a mutually beneficial partnership with other countries while ensuring the preservation of their autonomous capacity of decision and sovereignty over their natural resources.

24 - The participants renewed their commitment to the process of independent decision-making in international relations pursued by the newly independent countries that aspire to participate fully in the conduct of world affairs as part of a renewed multilateralism.

25 - The participants expressed their thanks to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the Algerian government and people for the excellent organization of this important conference and welcomed the quality of discussions and conclusions to which it gave rise.