Those were some of the sentiments expressed by Bermuda’s Attorney-General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform, Hon Kathy L. Simmons.
The Bermuda AG was at the time addressing the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples held June 13 – June 14, 2022.
According to Hon Simmons, by all objective measures Bermuda remains an advanced society characterised by economic, social and political stability and for over 350 years the people have governed themselves with minimal interference by the United Kingdom (UK) in its domestic affairs.
“However, when the United Kingdom has and does involve itself in Bermuda’s domestic affairs, it undercuts the stability of our democracy and undermines and demoralises the collective desire for Bermuda to handle our own affairs.”
Hon Simmons further stated that the powers in the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968 reserved to the Governor, when exercised in the United Kingdom’s interests, effectively “stifle Bermuda’s growth” and dampen the legitimate aspirations and the manifest will of the people.
“Moreover, fault-lines emerge routinely where the domestic interests of Bermuda and the express democratic will of the people are at odds with the interests of the United Kingdom’s own domestic political positions. Yet, Bermudian citizens have no vote, nor any direct representation in the United Kingdom Parliament or the United Kingdom executive government,” Hon Simmons argued.
The Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform said Bermuda embraces without reservation the inalienable right of its people to self-determination which underpins the mandate of the UN’s Special Committee.
“However, notwithstanding this indisputable inalienable right and the declarations in support of its practical implementation, the Government of Bermuda shares the concern of the General Assembly that, more than 60 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, there still remain 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories, including Bermuda.
“I respectfully submit today that while progress has been made in Bermuda, decolonisation remains an elusive ideal which stands little chance of being realised unless the historical political polarisation surrounding the subject is displaced by the will of a populace emboldened with knowledge and appreciation of Bermuda’s present and future constitutional arrangements as they pertain to decolonisation.
Hon Simmons shared that the Government of Bermuda has expressed a renewed commitment to the development and execution of legal and diplomatic strategies aimed at achieving “long overdue constitutional reform” as a precursor to decolonisation.
Coincidentally, the sentiment in the Virgin Islands has always been that the UK has not been fulfilling its obligation to help the territory achieve independence but has recently been more willing to suspend its constitution and frustrate its efforts towards self-determination.