The regional body has also supported the request of the Government of National Unity for a visiting mission to the Virgin Islands by the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation (C-24).
This was revealed in an OECS Statement on ‘Self-Governance and Reform in the British Virgin Islands' by the OECS Authority on Monday, October 24, 2022.
The strong statement comes on the heels of the Seventy-Second (72nd) Meeting of the OECS Authority held in Montserrat from Wednesday, October 19-20, 2022, under the Chairmanship of The Honourable Joseph Easton Taylor-Farrell, Premier of Montserrat.
Virgin Islands’ Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) attended the meeting and also delivered his maiden address to the OECS Authority.
According to the OECS Statement, it was at the 72nd Meeting of the OECS Authority, the Heads of Government and Political Representatives discussed the progress of reform in the [British] Virgin Islands.
It said the Authority commended Premier Wheatley and the Government of National Unity for their firm commitment to good governance and the ongoing successful implementation of the Framework for the Implementation of the Commission of Inquiry and other reforms.
The Authority also applauded the Government of National Unity for continuing to meet the needs of the people of the Virgin Islands while reforms are being implemented and the OECS pledged technical assistance to support the VI Governmenty’s implementation of the reform Framework.
The OECS Authority made it clear that it objects to the imposition of direct colonial rule over the people of the VI whose human rights and inalienable right to self-determination set out in the United Nations (UN) Charter and relevant UN resolutions should not be violated by any party.
According to the OECS, it “Supports the request of the Government of National Unity for a visiting mission to the Virgin Islands by the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation (C-24),” and calls for the United Kingdom (UK) Order in Council being held in reserve to suspend the British Virgin Islands constitution to be withdrawn without delay.”
According to the statement, the OECS Authority agrees to a common position at the relevant UN fora to support the self-governance and right to self-determination of the people of the British Virgin Islands.
It said it “Reaffirms the right of the people of the British Virgin Islands to democratic governance and to freely elect their representatives to the legislature (i.e., House of Assembly) within the constitutionally due period.”
Suspension of the Virgin Islands Constitution was the overarching recommendation of the lone Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Commissioner, UK national Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom.
While the UK has not suspended the constitution, due to fightback locally, regionally and internationally, the former Minister for Overseas Territories and former UK Prime Minister Mary Elizabeth Truss aka ‘Liz Truss’ instituted an Order in Council in the UK Parliament to be held in reserve. The Order gives the Governor the power to suspend the constitution at his discretion.
While the Government of the Virgin Islands agree that reform is needed and has committed to its implementation it has also objected to the Order in Council.
Many have described it was holding a gun to the VI’s head and is not symbolic of a modern partnership that the UK tends to tout about the VI.
A VI delegation led by Premier Wheatley will be in the UK next month and, among other things, intends to urge the UK to remove the Order in Council.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an International Inter-governmental Organisation dedicated to regional integration in the Eastern Caribbean.
The OECS, which came into being on June 18th 1981, when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty agreeing to cooperate and promote unity and solidarity among the Members, is now an eleven-member grouping comprising of the full Member States of Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
These members are part of the Economic Union and received the full benefits of Economic Union like free movement of people and goods, with the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Martinique and Guadeloupe as associate members of the OECS.
The [British] Virgin Islands became an Associate Member of the OECS on November 22, 1984.