25 May 2017

Hawai'i Shippers again call for exemption from Jones Act

Hawaii Free Press

by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council

U.S. News & World Report published on May 15, 2017, an opinion-editorial, “Put the Jones Act Out to Sea,” calls upon President Donald J Trump to seriously consider Jones Act reform as a low cost economic development strategy.
The author is Thomas Grennes is professor of economics emeritus at North Carolina State University and affiliated with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Key excerpts:
President Donald Trump has issued executive orders to reduce business regulation and to relax restrictions on domestic energy production. Along with many Democrats and Republicans, he supports improvements to our deteriorating national infrastructure. Is it possible to do all three, all without doing further harm to the federal budget?
Reforming or repealing the venerable Jones Act might just provide a good start.
Because it costs more to build and operate American ships, the act has imposed a significant shipping cost within the American economy for nearly a century.
The prohibition on the use of foreign ships is a form of protection, like a tariff or import quota. For each dollar transferred to builders and operators of ships, consumers and other end-users lose more than one dollar. It results in a net loss to the economy.
Defenders of the Jones Act claim that this criticism ignores its contribution to national security. Training more builders and operators of merchant ships, they say, complements the Navy's foreign military operations and improves the ability of the domestic fleet to respond to domestic disasters.
But if the Jones Act was designed to preserve a large ship-building industry and American-flag fleet, and thus bolster our national security, it has been a clear failure.
If the Jones Act is so costly to the nation, why has it lasted for nearly a century? The reason is simple, and all too common.
The act benefits a few well-organized interests, while the costs are spread across an entire country that barely knows it exists. In the regions where the costs are more visible, the losers have little political power. Among the largest losers are the states and territories that need the most goods shipped by sea: Hawaii and Alaska, with small populations and little political clout, and Puerto Rico, which lacks representation.
One compromise could exempt Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico from the American-built ship requirement.
Reform of the Jones Act would contribute to less intrusive economic regulation and greater American energy production. It would also be a low-cost way to improve transportation infrastructure.

20 May 2017


Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves addresses opening ceremony of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation seminar which convened in the capitol city of Kingstown.  The seminar examined the conditions in the remaining seventeen non self-governing territories which have not achieved a full measure of self-government including British and U.S.-administered territories in the Caribbean; and the French and New Zealand territories in the Pacific.


Speakers at Caribbean Regional Seminar Call for Effective Approaches in Fulfilling Decolonization Mandate, Urging United Nations to End Long Impasse

Secretary-General Confirms His Commitment to Decolonization Agenda in Message for Opening of Caribbean Regional Seminar

Abstentions high in French colony vote for President of the Republic


French Pacific territories have all voted for Emmanuel Macron to become the next French president although his winning margin in New Caledonia was slim.

Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at his campaign headquarters in Paris after the second round of the French presidential election. Photo: AFP

Turnout was low, with 53 percent of voters in French Polynesia abstaining.

In New Caledonia, more than 47 percent voted for the National Front's Marine Le Pen which was her best result outside mainland France.

She won comfortably in Noumea but fared poorly in small Kanak communities.

In Wallis and Futuna, she had her worst score outside France as close to 80 percent voted for Mr Macron.

Mr Macron won 58 percent of French Polynesia's votes, but in lost by big margins in several small islands.

17 May 2017



CNMI Chamorro leaders to work with Guam commission

The chair of Guam's newly reformed Chamorro Language Commission says she is looking forward to working with indigenous leaders from the Northern Marianas.
Hope Cristobal
Hope Cristobal Photo: YouTube/ Vanessa Warheit
The commission was resurrected after nearly 20 years on Monday, with the former senator Hope Cristobal installed as chair.
It has been charged with updating the orthographic rules of the language, standardising it across the Marianas and developing a curricula for schools.
Ms Cristobal said Chamorro leaders from the CNMI had already made contact.
"We're excited that the Northern Marianas Chamorro are going to be coming to Guam in June and we're going to interface and see where we can work together.
The far-sighted goal is potentially re-intergration of the Marianas."
Ms Cristobal said the nine commissioners include appointees from the education department and Guam University.

14 May 2017

Multilateral military exercises scheduled in U.S. Pacific colonies

by Associated Press 

The French stealth frigate Courbet is docked Thursday at Naval Base Guam near Hagatna, Guam. Military personnel from the United States, Japan, France and the U.K. are gathering in the remote U.S. Pacific islands of Guam and Tinian. The exercises come at a time of regional tensions in the South China Sea and North Korea.
Photo by Associated Press /Fulton Sun.

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — The U.S., the U.K. and Japan are joining a French-led amphibious exercise at remote U.S. islands in the Pacific over the next week. Participants said they are showing support for the free passage of vessels in international waters, an issue that has come to the fore amid fears China could restrict movement in the South China Sea.

The drills around Guam and Tinian may also get the attention of nearby North Korea. Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea spiked last month after Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile and the U.S. sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the region.

The drills will practice amphibious landings, delivering forces by helicopter and urban patrols.

Two ships from France are participating, both of which are in the middle of a four-month deployment to the Indian and Pacific oceans. Joining are U.K. helicopters and 70 U.K. troops deployed with the French amphibious assault ship FS Mistral. Parts of the exercise will feature British helicopters taking U.S. Marines ashore from a French ship.

"The message we want to send is that we're always ready to train and we're always ready for the next crisis and humanitarian disaster wherever that may be," said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col Kemper Jones, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Approximately 100 Marines from Jones' unit will be part of the drills slated for this weekend and next week.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has aggressively tried to fortify its foothold in recent years by transforming seven mostly submerged reefs into island outposts, some with runways and radars and — more recently — weapons systems. This has prompted criticism from other nations, who also claim the atolls, and from the United States, which insists on freedom of navigation in international waters.

Critics fear China's actions could restrict movement in a key waterway for world trade and rich fishing grounds.

China said its island construction is mainly for civilian purposes, particularly to increase safety for ships. It has said it won't interfere with freedom of navigation or overflight, although questions remain on whether that includes military ships and aircraft.

Mira Rapp-Hooper of the Center for New American Security, a Washington think tank, said the exercises will send a strong message in support of a "rules-based order in Asia" at a time when China's actions have raised questions about this.

"A reminder in this exercise is that lots of other countries besides the United States have an interest in that international order," said Rapp-Hooper, who is a senior fellow with the center's Asia-Pacific Security Program.

13 May 2017

BVI Finance Promotes The BVI’s Unique Offer For Africa

Press Release

BVI Finance showcased the jurisdiction’s unique proposition and key role in aiding investment in and from Africa at the Africa Financial Services Investment Conference (AFSIC).
The three day conference, held in London from 3-5 May, is the leading investment event focused on Africa’s financial services sector and this year BVI Finance was a gold sponsor. AFSIC was an excellent opportunity for BVI’s team of six, which included members of BVI Finance, to engage with stakeholders from across the African continent and position the BVI as a leading jurisdiction for channelling investment to support Africa’s economic development.
During a panel session entitled ‘The BVI Advantage’, Interim Executive Director at BVI Finance, Lorna Smith OBE, made several key points that highlighted the BVI’s credentials as a leading partner for the region. 
She emphasised the quality of the professionals working in the BVI’s international finance sector, the capital flows that already exist between the BVI and Africa and that the jurisdiction is a trusted and reputable destination - as evidenced by the more than 140 listed companies having entities registered in the BVI.
Bomi Anise, Managing Director at Anise Consulting, echoed Smith’s words, describing the success and prowess of the BVI as an enabler of investment. She pointed to the $152bn invested through BVI companies each year as clear evidence of the BVI’s position on the global stage.
Jeffrey Kirk, Managing Partner at Appleby BVI, explained why BVI Business Companies are popular and detailed the types of investment vehicles used in the jurisdiction. He pointed to the BVI’s relationship with Mauritius and how it works as a conduit for those investing into Africa using BVI vehicles. 
Smith and Gary Hales, BVI Finance’s Head of Business Development, also chaired a session of five speakers from African financial services businesses. Topics discussed in the presentations included an evaluation of the African investment landscape and value creation through private equity in Africa. 
Commenting on the conference, Smith said, “AFSIC was a major success for BVI Finance. We educated many influential stakeholders about the BVI and its unique advantages and made some excellent connections which will put us in good stead for the future.”
She added, “From our conversations at the conference it is clear that we have many opportunities in Africa and as the continent continues to develop, I believe the BVI will be better positioned to support growth in Africa. We are looking forward to further promoting the BVI’s credentials across Africa in the coming months and years ahead.”
  • BVI Finance is responsible for marketing and promoting the BVI’s financial services industry. More information can be found at www.bvifinance.vg, by contacting info@bvifinance.vg or by following BVI Finance on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn`


Natalia Prieto
Media Relations Officer
Telephone:  468-4335
Email: nprieto@bvifinance.vg

12 May 2017


Powers of the British appointed governor:



4 May 2017 

Mr. Gus Jaspert has been appointed Governor of the British Virgin Islands in succession to Mr. John Duncan OBE.  Mr. Jaspert will take up his appointment in August 2017.

Full name:                               Augustus (Gus) James Ulysses Jaspert                                           
Married to:                               Millie Jaspert
Children:                                  Two
2015 – present                        Cabinet Office, Director of Security and Intelligence, National Security Secretariat
2014 – 2015                            Member, Royal College of Defence Studies
2012 – 2014                            No 10 Downing Street, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
2009 – 2012                            Home Office, Head of Drugs and Alcohol and Head of                                                             Policing
2007 – 2009                            HM Treasury, Delivery Manager, Prime Minister’s Delivery                                                       Unit
2001 – 2007                            Surrey County Council, Lead Manager, Children’s Services
Press and Digital Department l Foreign and Commonwealth Office   
All the latest news is available on the Foreign Office page of the gov.uk website at: www.gov.uk/fco
Follow the FCO on twitter for the latest news @foreignoffice and travel advice @fcotravel


Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
354 James Walter Francis Drive
RJT Edifice Building, 5th Floor
Road Town, TORTOLA VG1110

08 May 2017


The vote for self-determination is a right reserved for the native people of Guam.
Furthermore, the Chamoru Land Trust Act was enacted to protect and ensure Chamoru Homelands are kept for native Chamorus.  
These acts of restorative justice must be upheld!
Elected Leaders: Please respect the rights of the native people of Guam to decolonize and thrive in their homeland.
A series of disrespectful acts against the Chamoru people seemed to eclipse what is normally one of the most festive times of the year — Mes Chamoru, a month dedicated to celebrating the Chamoru culture.
Almost daily during the month of March, Guam’s news outlets have reported on military and other encroachment into sacred lands and natural habitats from northern to southern Guam; a court decision against the Chamoru right to self-determination; and Federal threats to the Chamoru Land Trust. For many Chamorus, these actions have sparked the need to remind the community that Guam is i Tano’ i Man Chamoru, the homeland of the Chamoru people. 
The language, culture and heritage of the Native people of Guam and the Marianas are what make our archipelago unique in the world.  There is no other place on earth for Chamorus to call their homeland. Above all, the Chamoru people, like all indigenous people, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, especially in their native land.


Video message to Minister Plasterk goes viral

Kralendijk- Michiel Bokhorst has sent a video message with the title “This is how it is” to minister of Interior Affairs, Ronald Plasterk. In his video message, Bokhorst explains the negative effect the proposal to anchor the current status of Bonaire, Saba and Statia as “special municipality” can have on the islands.

According to Bokhorst, Minster Plasterk and State Secretary Klijnsma try to chase the proposal through the First and Second chambers of Parliament, with the aim to anchor ‘lesser rights’ for the three Dutch “special municipalities” of Bonaire, Saba and Saint Eustatius in the constitution.

According to Bokhorst, this would basically mean the end of equal rights for all Dutch people. Bokhorst is not the firsts to voice his concerns over the anchoring of the current status in the Dutch constitution. After the dissolution of The Netherlands Antilles back in 2010, the 3 smaller islands of the Dutch Caribbean were given the status of a “special municipality”, which means that they are not entitled to everything normal Dutch municipalities in the European part of The Netherlands are entitled.

Pressure groups, such as ‘Nos Ke Boneiru Bèk’ and the ‘Statia Brighter Path Foundation’ point out that it can never be the idea to actually anchor a temporary status, like the “special municipality” was supposed to be in the beginning, in the Dutch Constitution. The anchoring, according to these groups, would form a legal basis to withhold the inhabitants of the islands full equal rights as their Dutch counterparts.

When introduced back in 2010, the addition of “special” to the status of the islands was supposed to be to the advantage of the islands. However, according to critical observers, it seems more and more as if the special status is used as justification to avoid awarding the islands the same rights as citizens from “normal” Dutch municipalities, especially when it come to social benefits, pensions and unemployment benefits.

04 May 2017

U.N. Decolonisation Seminar to focus on Caribbean territories


The Special Committee on Decolonization decided today to hold its Caribbean Regional Seminar in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, from 16 to 18 May.
Approving a set of guidelines and rules of procedure (document A/AC.109/2017/19), the 29-member body — known formally as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples — also agreed on the agenda and other organizational issues related to the biennial Caribbean Regional Seminar on the implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.
The Special Committee decided on the theme “The future for decolonization in the Non-Self-Governing Territories:  what are the prospects?” and that its delegation to the Seminar would be made up of 10 Special Committee members from the four regional groups:  the Group of African States, the Group of Asia-Pacific States, the Group of Eastern European States and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Special Committee Chair Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela) noted that experts and representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories and non-governmental organizations would be invited to the Seminar.
Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) expressed hope that the Seminar would advance progress on decolonization challenges.  As a small island State, her country and others in the region had benefitted from the United Nations self-determination process, she said, appreciating the Special Committee members for accepting Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ offer to host the event.

30 April 2017


As Anguilla gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary of the Anguilla Revolution, Dr Carlyle Corbin, International Advisor on Democratic Governance, Executive Secretary of the Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly, has called for a shifting of the mind to self-determination.

“I would argue that for those of us who remain in the political periphery of dependency status, we are indeed in a bit of a trap – and the way to emerge from it is through a proper process of self-determination underpinned by international law and principles prescribed by the international community,” Dr Corbin said as he delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony of the UWI Anguilla Country Conference on Wednesday evening at La Vue.

He further proposed: “I would suggest that we turn to the global strategies adopted over the last 70 years by the United Nations to deal with self-determination and ultimate decolonisation of the dependencies. These are the tools which can assist us in taking on the political inequality of dependency governance which has become increasingly anachronistic.


19 April 2017

BVI Financial Services Increase Transparency And Efficiency

Press Release

“The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has continued to take steps towards increasing the level of its transparency as well as enhance international cooperation capabilities and efficiency,” Leon Wheatley, Asia Representative of the BVI’s Financial Services Commission, told the 300 plus attendees at the Companies Registry’s Corporate Governance Roundtable, held at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong.

The BVI operates and maintains a well-regulated financial services system, which is committed to transparency, integrity and proper regulation, according to international standard setters such as the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which have made periodic assessments of the jurisdiction. As a result, the BVI has been placed “among the most compliant jurisdictions globally,” said the BVI regulator.

During the Panama Papers episode, Mr. Wheatley continued, many of the media outlets covering the story were surprised to learn that the BVI has received favourable reviews by respected international bodies such as those mentioned above, and that the BVI has a documented history of early adoption of a number of global initiatives. Essentially, the reporters uncovered what many within the industry had long known – that the BVI has been a well-regulated jurisdiction for financial services.

Mr. Wheatley noted that at present, the information the public can obtain about a BVI company includes the memorandum and articles of association, certificate of incorporation, name change certificates and registers the companies may elect to file, such as the register of charges. Information that is not publicly available includes the register of directors, the register of members, beneficial ownership information and resolutions/minutes.

Last year the BVI embarked on a project to have all BVI companies file their register of directors with the Registry of Corporate Affairs. This was done with a view to ensure compliance with FATF recommendations. As mentioned, these files are not publicly available; however, they may be accessed by a competent authority.

Under the BVI’s legacy system, corporate services providers for years were required to seek licencing to operate in the BVI. This legal requirement does not exist in many jurisdictions, and affords the BVI the opportunity to assess entities during the application phase, conduct desk based monitoring following licencing, and conduct onsite inspections. In addition to placing increased focus on the testing of IT systems during the conduct of onsite compliance inspections, the BVI is currently considering the possible implementation of legislation that would introduce minimum standards for data security for licenced corporate service providers.

“In order to facilitate all of the above, corporate registries, government agencies, corporate service providers and the wider industry will have to devote considerable resources and time towards meeting these standards,” Mr. Wheatley concluded. “But I do think the end result will be a more compliant industry, a standard and goal the BVI has always played its part in striving to achieve in the global marketplace.”

About BVI Finance

BVI Finance is the voice of the British Virgin Islands’ financial services industry; marketing and promoting its products and services, as well as managing and maintaining its excellent reputation as a premier offshore financial centre. Established in 2002 as the BVI International Finance Centre, BVI Finance was re-branded in 2015. The BVI has established itself as the leading provider of offshore financial services, not only due to its best-in-class innovative regulatory regime and business-friendly environment, but also through BVI Finance’s presence at conferences and trade events in our core and emerging markets, and support in maintaining a strong relationship with key stakeholders both locally and internationally. To retain the jurisdiction’s competiveness, BVI Finance partners with local and international practitioners, media outlets and investors in emerging and traditional markets. Read more at: http://bvifinance.vg/About-Us/Who-We-Are

About BVI House Asia

BVI House Asia is the representative office of the Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in Asia Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, BVI House Asia was established in September 2013 to support and expand the strong relationship that the BVI has enjoyed with the Asia Pacific region for over 25 years. With a focus on financial services, the BVI provides a wide range of services to Asian businesses, such as asset protection, property holding, financial management, trading, copyrighting, bespoke trust services and investment business. The BVI is among the largest corporate registers in the world and is lauded for its efficient time to market, competitive incorporation fees, and strong and innovative legal system. Drawing on its deep experience in the region and mature infrastructure in Asia, BVI House Asia is committed to building effective, trusted and responsible relationships with its clients, business partners and vested third parties.

For more information about BVI House Asia, please visit: www.bvihouseasia.com.hk.

Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
354 James Walter Francis Drive

RJT Edifice Building, 5th Floor
Road Town, TORTOLA VG1110

18 April 2017


Caribbean News Now

Wayne James, former senator of the US Virgin Islands 
and former Senate Liaison to the White House

By Wayne James

ST CROIX, USVI -- League for league, square mile for square mile, the Caribbean archipelago is the world’s most international region. There, since the 15th century, the Old and New Worlds have collided and the world’s people -- Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, and Asians -- have intermingled.

For centuries, within eyeshot, and sometimes within a stone’s throw, Spain, England, France, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden vied for dominance and sought fabled riches. The region was also a principal site for the unfolding of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. And as such, the Caribbean is today the arena for heated discussions and diplomatic discourse on the ever-elusive reparations.

But if there is one nation that should pay reparations for its active participation in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, it is Denmark -- so much so that it could easily qualify as the initiative’s “poster nation.” Here are ten reasons why:



By Wayne James

US Virgin Islanders who officially reside in the islands and can trace their ancestry back to the Danish era (1671 – 1917) should be entitled to automatic Danish citizenship, whether they decide to renounce their United States citizenship or obtain dual citizenship of Denmark and the United States.

The request of US Virgin Islanders for automatic Danish citizenship is separate and distinct from any claim for reparations or the redressing of past wrongs. To the contrary, the request is a claim for the redress of a present, ongoing wrong: Many US Virgin Islanders, in 2017, still feel part-Danish; many US Virgin Islanders are, by blood, part-Danish; and many US Virgin Islanders feel that they have earned the right to Danish citizenship because of the 246 years of service and contribution to the Danish nation. In essence, many US Virgin Islanders feel that Danish citizenship is their birthright.


17 April 2017

St. Eustatius declares right to full measure of self-governance based on UN charter.


The government of St. Eustatius (Clyde van Putten) surprised the Dutch Government on Monday morning when they sent a letter to the Kingdom Council of Ministers, Minister of Interior and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk, the second chamber and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte informing them of the decision the Island Council of St. Eustatius has taken based on Sint Eustatius right to a "full measure of self-government" as laid out in the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions, certain planned and enacted legislation (e.g. the WoiBES, and the draft legislation to permanently embed St. Eustatius into the Dutch Constitution), as well as measures (e.g. the preliminary supervision and other types of unlawful interference by the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations in the Internal Affairs of St Eustatius) imposed on the Government and people of St Eustatius by the Government of the Netherlands as of October lOth, 2010, clearly manifest an intrinsic inconsistency or conflict with the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions.

The letter to the Kingdom Council further states that The Island Council of St. Eustatius, exercising its right to a “full measure of self-government” pursuant to Chapter Xi of the Charter of the United Nations in combination with UN Resolution 742 (VIII) of November 27, 1953:

1. Declares any provision in the WOLBES which is in conflict with St. Eustatius’ right to a “full measure of self-government” inoperative.

2. Abolishes the position of governor or Lt. Governor of St. Eustatius effective January 1, 2018

3. Declares that all documents emanating from the Government of St. Eustatius requiring the signature of the governor shall effective immediately be signed by a person designated by the Island Council of St. Eustatius.

4. The Island Council of St. Eustatius decides when a provision in the WOLBES is in conflict with the right to “a full measure of self-government”.

The decision taken by the Island Council of St. Eustatius came in the wake of ongoing discussions with the Netherlands with their continuous interference, also the fact that the Netherlands has failed to respond to letters sent to them by members of the Island Council. 

“On January 4th, 2017, a letter with reference number 0001/17, was dispatched to you by the Executive Council of Sint Eustatius, including a copy of a related motion of the Island Council of Sint Eustatius of November 30th,2016. Said letter contained a formal petition to stop the process of permanently embedding Sint Eustatius in the Dutch constitution. As far as I have been informed, the Executive Council has not received any reply from you as yet. In a letter to the Executive Council dated February 27th, 2017, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations did indicate that he expected to respond to the Executive Council's letter to you of January 4th, 2017, "within a few weeks". 

Since then, and without said answer having been received by the Executive Council, both you and the minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations presented the draft legislation for said embedding of Sint Eustatius in the Dutch constitution to the newly elected Dutch Parliament on March 23rd,2017. This appears to be a clear indication that the petition of January 4th, 2017 has been ignored.

The Dutch Parliament also requested you to inform them about the content of the Executive Council's letter, and your reply to it, no later than February 14th,2017. As far as I have been able to determine, this information has not been provided to the Dutch Parliament.

Meanwhile, as proposed by the Executive Council in a letter dated March 14th, 2017, a process of dialogue between the Executive Council and the Government of the Netherlands is being prepared under the guidance of a committee of four "wise men" appointed jointly by the Governments of Sint Eustatius and the Netherlands. The objective of said dialogue is to come to lasting solutions for the differences of opinion between both Governments, including the manner in which the Government of the Netherlands has dealt with Sent Eustatius' right to self­-determination and full internal self-government.” Excerpts are taken from the letter sent by Van Putten to the Dutch Government.

16 April 2017

Poll: St. Martin voters call for French- and Dutch-side unity

MARIGOT--In an exit poll conducted by St. Martin Stats for the French-side newspaper Le Pélican during the second round of voting for the French-side Territorial Council elections in Sandy Ground, Concordia, La Savane and French Quarter, an overwhelming majority of voters support greater unity between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.

The pollsters surveyed 297 voters, of whom 245 “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement on greater unity, representing 91 per cent of respondents.

“The support for greater unity cuts across all demographics and geographical segments,” St. Martin Stats co-founder Timothée Didier-Bandou explained. “Even amongst recent French-side arrivals – so perhaps those with less ties to the Dutch side – a full 82 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the need for greater unity,” he added.

13 April 2017


Photo: Dependency Studies Project (2014)
Derrick Simmons Jr.
Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs

 Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius
 April 11th, 2017
 I am pleased to have had the opportunity to present the white paper “On the Road to Autonomy” and the draft constitutional framework “Elements of a draft constitution” to the Island Council last week Tuesday.
First of all, I wish to thank all those who have contributed to these two historic documents being prepared. I want to particularly single out the local Constitutional Committee, Dr. Carlyle G. Corbin, Mr. Denicio Brison, and others for their continued hard work and advice.
Having these documents debated and ratified by the Island Council today is the first important step towards attaining the island’s rightful constitutional status, in line with the wishes of the population.
The white paper basically:
·         Examines the desire of the people of Sint Eustatius to achieve an autonomous political status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
·         Draws attention to the fact that Statians have systematically formally expressed their preference over the years, but instead were given the status of partial integration when the Netherlands Antilles was dismantled in 2010.
·         Clarifies that the financing of the autonomous arrangement can and will take place within the normal budgetary process of Sint Eustatius (BDO study).
·         Emphasizes the importance of self-determination within the Dutch and international context.
·         Concludes with an examination of the unusual circumstances surrounding the removal of the Netherlands Antilles from the UN list of NSGT’s, short and medium-term actions towards Sint Eustatius’ re-inscription on the UN list of NSGT’s, and a clear plan to increase regional awareness of the right of Sint Eustatius to genuine self-determination.
Constitutional framework:
The "Elements of a Draft Constitution" for Sint Eustatius was prepared to reflect the transition from the "public entity" status to an autonomous country within the Kingdom, consistent with the results of the 2005 political status referendum in which the electorate voted for a restructured autonomous arrangement, and the subsequent 2014 political status referendum in which they similarly selected the status of "Autonomy within the Dutch Kingdom."  
In giving effect to the referendum results of both referenda, the present Elements" document has been written consistent with the constitutional arrangements presently in place in the other autonomous countries within the Kingdom, in particular Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. There are also specific differences reflected owing to Sint Eustatius's differential in population size with the other autonomous countries, the accompanying capacity building requirements, and the interest in achieving a genuine autonomous governance model free of democratic deficit.
The "Elements of a Draft Constitution" seeks to integrate the recommendations of the White Paper "On the Road to Autonomy" which sets forth specific aspects of an autonomous association that comply with international law and principles, in particular the minimum standards of the United Nations  (U.N.) Charter, relevant resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly, and the self-determination aspects of the core human rights conventions. Of particular  relevance are the minimum standards for full self-government under autonomy contained in Resolution 1541 (XV).
Accordingly, the "Elements of a Draft Constitution " is reflective of an arrangement which would place an autonomous country of Sint Eustatius as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the retention of Dutch Nationality in the same manner of the Caribbean partners of the Kingdom, with a Sint Eustatius citizenship, and a constitution of its own making with a unique government structure. The constitution would provide for the full exercise of executive and legislative authority over its internal affairs while providing ample space for relevant technical assistance, in particular that required in the building of capacity.
The "Elements of a Draft Constitution" also provides for the requisite transition to Sint Eustatius of those powers currently exercised by the Kingdom, and formally exercised by the autonomous country of the Netherlands Antilles of which Saint Eustatius was a part until 2010.  Additional features of the "Elements of a draft Constitution" include a dispute mechanism, an adjusted role for the Governor, and an Audit Chamber as a financial supervisory mechanism similar to the other autonomous countries in the Kingdom.
In line with the agreements with the Dutch Government to have dialogue, including a round table meeting, I will be having meetings in the Netherlands in the week of  April 17th. During my visit, I will provide the Dutch Government representatives with the documents approved today. I will also seek to receive a response to the letter sent to Prime Minister Mark Rutte formally protesting the embedding of Sint Eustatius in the Dutch constitution.
Also, my delegation will meet with other Dutch ministries in order to discuss their involvement with executing the economic development plan and the capacity building required to achieve an autonomous status.
The process moving forward will include local and regional engagement and dialogue, education of the population regarding the constitutional process, implementation of the economic development plan.
Besides those actions, it is always important that the government makes sure that continued improvements to the current functioning are being made, so that the organization is prepared for the future status.