19 September 2017

PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION WORKS TO RESTORE HEALTH SERVICES IN CARIBBEAN FOLLOWING IMPACT OF HURRICANE IRMA





Washington, DC, September 14, 2017 (PAHO / WHO) - Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) experts are supporting efforts to restore health services in the islands most affected by Hurricane Irma, with the deployment of health infrastructure experts, sanitary engineers, epidemiologists, and others, in collaboration with the affected countries.


Health authorities on the affected islands have identified their needs for drug supplies, and PAHO is sending in the necessary supplies, as well as supporting the mobilization of health personnel to support national teams that have been working non-stop since the passage of the hurricane.

The islands of Barbuda, St. Maarten and St. Bartholomew, Sint Maarten, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos reported serious damage to infrastructure, hospitals, and health centers, along with the loss of electricity and limited access to clean water. Hurricane Irma also hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Saba, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts and Nevis, causing less serious damage.

READ THE FULL REPORT AT THE PAHO WEBSITE .
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OTR Editorial

"The PAHO contribution to the recovery of the health facilities in the affected countries and territories from Hurricane Irma is especially welcomed. OTR congratulates PAHO for its enlightened position - unlike some international organizations - to include most of the non autonomous territories along with the independent states in its coverage. 

Thus, OTR lauds PAHO's announcement of assistance to the BritishFrench, and Dutch dependencies, as well as to Puerto Rico (which has a formal status with PAHO).  The singular omission of reference to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the periodic PAHO Situation Reports , however, should be corrected given the extensive damage affecting its three main islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John

Perhaps there is a misunderstanding as to the political status of the U.S. Virgin Islands as related to its qualifications to receive external assistance. Such eligibility has been long clarified in decades of United Nations resolutions endorsing assistance to that territory from the international system of organizations such as PAHO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and others. 

Hopefully these agencies will take this into account in the aftermath of not one, but two, category 5 hurricanes which have devastated these islands in their recovery and reconstruction phases.
  





18 September 2017

KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMY NEEDED FOR GUAM - UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT



by


Robert Underwood
for the 
Pacific Daily News



Robert Underwood is president of the University of Guam and Guam’s former delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives

Guam’s economic future is dependent upon many factors, most of them external. For decades, we believed we were the tail end of trends from other places. Our economic life was decided elsewhere. We were the tail and the dog was either in travel bureaus in Japan or Pentagon planners near Washington, D.C. All we could do was try to reactively plan.

The most obvious disjuncture in this economy is that these two drivers are in conflict. Located in Guam is a huge military platform from which power and influence can be projected into Asia without having to consult anybody in Guam. We are the tip of the spear, but we are not guiding the spear and to date we have little influence over the spear holder. In fact, we usually ask for spear enhancements to grow our economy.

Is being the tip of the spear a tourist attraction? As a result of the North Korean threat, visitor numbers declined. Of course, tourism hasn’t increased tenfold, as suggested by President Trump.

There are other effects of being a target. Businesses on island have lost out in recruiting professionals who have decided that living at the tip of the spear is not attractive. The University of Guam’s English Adventure Program, which attracted 6,000 young people annually from Korea and Japan last year, has experienced a dip.

When you watch news accounts in Asia and you see military hardware is coming your way from Guam, you may feel comforted or you may be angered. I have experienced both as I have watched these reports with fellow educators in China and Korea. What you don’t experience is a desire to spend your family vacation on Guam.

America’s military strategic posture is to reinforce stability and the status quo. When there is instability, the military posture increases. It only ramps up in places like Guam, where we do not have a voice in negotiating a presence.

When a region is experiencing instability, travel suffers. We are left to make strategic coherence out of countervailing trends. While we procure sirens to warn ourselves, we send delegations to Asia to tell others there is nothing to worry about. The tail is wagging furiously and frankly getting tired.

We have to plan for an economic future that is more sustainable. We must plan for a knowledge-based economy that brings together research capabilities, capital and entrepreneurship to explore the creation of companies in information technology, biotechnology, agriculture and health care. This is the model that has been followed when government, businesses and higher education work together to create economic activity based on advanced knowledge. This is what made Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle in North Carolina possible.

We have that potential on a small, but beginning scale. We need to stop looking at higher education in Guam as simply providing a workforce for existing businesses. We have to start looking at research and private-sector connections via intellectual property protections and the power of Guam’s young minds. Instead of pushing more tax credits toward older forms of economic activities, let’s explore a knowledge based economy.

In this way, we can be our own dog. Not quite a big dog, but I am tired of being the tail. 


17 September 2017

CATALONIA REFERENDUM CALLED FOR 1st OCTOBER 2017


The President and the Ministers of the Catalan Government sign the decree calling for the self-determination referendum on October 1
  • The bill was approved with a majority of votes in the Catalan Parliament
Referendum called for October 1
The President of the Catalan Government, Carles Puigdemont, together with the ministers of the Executive Council signed on Wednesday the decree calling for the referendum on October 1. The Law on the Self-determination Referendum was approved by a majority in the Catalan parliament and came into force following its publication in the Official Gazette.
In a statement from the legislative chamber, President Puigdemont  said that “no one” has the power to seize the Catalans' right to decide. “We have the chance to decide on becoming a state. This decision does not belong to any administration or court” other than the people themselves, the President affirmed. “The world that progresses is the one which takes its own decisions, and Catalonia is part of this world. Therefore, it will democratically decide on October 1” through “ballot boxes, by listening to the people and accepting the verdict. That’s what democracy is”, he added.


16 September 2017

San Andrés en el Caribe oeste víctima de cambio climático

El Isleño

San Andrés, región más afectada por el cambio climático


San Andrés sería el departamento más afectado por cuenta del calentamiento global, según lo dio a conocer la Tercera Comunicación Nacional sobre Cambio Climático en Colombia. Vaupés, Amazonas, Guainía y Atlántico, son en su orden, son otros puntos geográficos con potencial amenaza.
Señala también el informe, que los 20 departamentos con mayor riesgo en el país representan el 69 % del PIB nacional y albergan al 57 % de la población.  Además, que Colombia estaría en riesgo de perder 23.000 hectáreas de línea costera en el Caribe y 26.000 en el Pacífico.
La Tercera Comunicación, fue construida colectivamente por el Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible; el Departamento Nacional de Planeación (DNP) y la Cancillería de Colombia, programa liderado por el Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales (Ideam); con el apoyo permanente del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) y del Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial (FMAM).
Leer el artículo completo en El Isleño.

15 September 2017

UK territories devastated by Irma ‘too wealthy’ for foreign aid


British territories devastated by Hurricane Irma cannot tap into the £13 billion foreign aid budget because they are “too wealthy” under official international criteria.

Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) criteria enshrined in UK law means that the British Treasury will have to foot the aid bill to Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands, rather than the Department for International Aid.

Total UK aid has reached £57 million so far. Officials claim many millions more will be needed to help with reconstruction.


The Department for International Aid denied that its response to the crisis had been affected by any budgetary considerations. In a statement to the BBC, it said: “This is an unprecedented disaster. It is absolutely right that the UK responds immediately to the people affected.

“This has been our primary focus and continues to be our priority. We are looking at how current overseas aid rules apply to disasters such as this one.”

There are very strict international rules around what officially counts as foreign aid, making it clear that only the poorest countries can receive what is known as official development assistance or ODA.

The OECD has confirmed that Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands do not qualify for this official aid as their national incomes are too high.

A minister told the BBC that this has made it harder for the government to raise funds needed, and claimed five times as much money would have been available if the official pot of aid could have been used.

“These millions [announced by the government] are non-ODA, therefore they come from rather scanty resources. This great pot of ODA, necessary for development, needs to be spent on crises like this and we have to find a way of doing it,” the source said.


13 September 2017

CARIBBEAN OFFICES OF U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME MOVE INTO ACTION IN WAKE OF HURRICANE IRMA

The U.S. Virgin Islands is among the few Caribbean overseas terrritories not serviced by UNDP despite repeated U.N. General Assembly resolutions calling for the U.N. body to include the territory in UNDP programmes, most recently by way of U.N. Resolution 71/118 of 6 December 2016:

"(The U.N. General Assembly) reiterates its call for the inclusion of the Territory (of the U.S. Virgin Islands) in regional programmes of the United Nations Development Programme, consistent with the participation of other Non-Self-Governing Territories."  
  



KINGSTON, Jamaica — United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country offices in the Caribbean region have joined forces and allocated resources to immediately implement a regional recovery strategy for island nations impacted by Hurricane Irma.

This regional recovery strategy, including debris and waste removal, short term employment and rehabilitation of community infrastructure, will be developed and implemented in support to national authorities and other partners, and under the leadership of the resident representatives stationed in Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Barbados.

Bruno Pouezat, UNDP resident representative assigned to Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, said the strategy’s main objective is the swift recovery of affected communities by debris/waste removal and reactivation of local economies through livelihoods opportunities.

UNDP has established a menu of recovery activities which includes, subject to specific need:
Debris management of damaged houses and community infrastructure (removal, reuse and recycling).
Waste management of palm trees or other waste left by the strong winds.

Cash for work (CfW): short term employment opportunities for families affected. This will inject cash in the communities, tools, equipment, training and technical capacity of professionals such as engineers and architects).
Rehabilitation of community infrastructure including provision of required materials and basic services.
Support to micro and small enterprises to resume their economic activities.
Support to core government functions and coordination, depending on the needs and the official requests.

Recovery activities will immediately kick off in most affected areas with initiatives showing quick tangible results that can be easily replicated in other areas as needed.

UNDP is establishing a technical team that will provide direct support to country offices and affected countries. Implementation could start in the next two weeks depending on government engagement, community interest and logistics.

One of the three pillars of UNDP’s work is climate and disaster resilience including crisis and disaster response. UNDP works with government on the ground in more than 170 countries.

12 September 2017

CARIBBEAN GOVERNMENTS, INSTITUTIONS MEET TO ADDRESS CRITICAL NEEDS IN THE WAKE OF HURRICANE IRMA

A number of the overseas territories which are associate members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) would be assisted by the relevant regional organisations.




GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met in special emergency session on Saturday to receive an update on the effects of the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Jose on the region and progress on the co-ordinated response to provide relief for those affected.

The meeting, presided over by CARICOM chairman, Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada, received a full briefing on the situation from representatives of the affected countries, the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA), the Community’s lead agency for disaster response, CARICOM secretary-general, Irwin LaRocque, and regional institutions.

Premier of the British Virgin Islands Dr Orlando Smith, the prime minister of The Bahamas Dr Hubert Minnis, the foreign minister of Haiti, Antonio Rodrigues and a representative of the Turks and Caicos government provided the latest information on their countries. Prime minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerritt provided information on the situation on the island of St Maarten where a significant number of CARICOM nationals are currently located and prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet alerted the meeting to the situation in St Kitts and Nevis.

The executive director of CDEMA, Ronald Jackson, addressed the situation in Antigua and Barbuda and Anguilla as well as giving an update on the Community’s co-ordinated response to all the countries affected. Immediate needs were identified for those worst affected, particularly, Barbuda, BVI and Anguilla. These included water, food items, materials to aid in providing temporary shelter such as plywood and tarpaulins and especially cash to purchase items to help with the cost of immediate recovery efforts in the affected countries. An evacuation of Barbuda was well advanced due to the potential impact of Hurricane Jose.

Earlier this week, CDEMA activated the Regional Response Mechanism (RRM) which co-ordinates relief action and includes regional institutions, international agencies, and representatives from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. CDEMA’s advance team has been waiting in Antigua to go in to the affected countries in that area as soon as conditions permit, given the proximity of Hurricane Jose and the severe damage to ports of entry.

The hurricane caused massive damage to property and infrastructure including sea and air ports which has hindered access to the islands, therefore affecting the arrival of assessment teams and the relief efforts. Limited access has been established to Anguilla and BVI with the aid of the United Kingdom. A team is also in Jamaica waiting to proceed to the Turks and Caicos Islands, The Bahamas and Haiti.

They expressed their sympathy to the bereaved of those killed by Hurricane Irma. So far four deaths have been confirmed in the BVI, one in Barbuda, one in Anguilla and one in Haiti due to Hurricane Irma, which also caused fatalities on the islands of St Maarten and St Barthelemy.

Heads of government expressed concern about the long term psychological effects of the situation, given the serious dislocation and sense of loss of the populations of the affected countries. They also stressed that these disasters emphasised the economic vulnerability of the region given the cost of recovery and the impact on economic activity of the affected countries.

They mandated the CARICOM Secretariat and the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to continue working with CDEMA to co-ordinate recovery efforts.

11 September 2017

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT REQUIRED IN WAKE OF HURRICANE IRMA'S EFFECTS IN CARIBBEAN

OTR EXPRESSES HEARTFELT SOLIDARITY TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CARIBBEAN, AND ESPECIALLY THOSE IN THE NON INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES (NICCs) WHOSE INTERESTS ARE THE PRIMARY FOCUS OF THIS SITE. WE PRAY FOR A SPEEDY RECOVERY, AND STRONGLY ENCOURAGE THE MAXIMUM SUPPORT FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO ASSIST THE PEOPLE OF THE AFFECTED COUNTRIES IN THE DAYS AND MONTHS AHEAD AS THEY  WORK TO RECOVER AND RESTORE THEIR COUNTRIES.THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF OVERSEAS TERRITORIES REVIEW(OTR) EXPRESSES ITS DEEP CONCERN FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE AFFECTED COUNTRIES OF THE CARIBBEAN IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE DESTRUCTION AND LOSS OF LIFE EXPERIENCED IN THE REGION WITH THE PASSING OF HURRICANE IRMA -  THE MOST POWERFUL STORM IN RECORDED HISTORY TO DIRECTLY HIT THE AREA.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________


NON INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY HURRICANE IRMA





UK DEPENDENT TERRITORIES

SINT MAARTEN - AUTONOMOUS COUNTRIES WITH THE NETHERLANDS


SINT EUSTATIUS, SABA - "PUBLIC ENTITIES" OF THE NETHERLANDS



SAINT MARTIN AND ST. BARTS - OVERSEAS COLLECTIVITES OF FRANCE



PUERTO RICO, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS - U.S. DEPENDENT TERRITORIES 



______________________________________________________

UNITED NATIONS (U.N.) SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE AFFECTED BY THE HURRICANE IRMA

Saddened by Destruction, Loss of Life as Hurricane Irma Hits Caribbean, Secretary-General Commends Response, Pledges United Nations Solidarity.The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

"The Secretary-General is saddened by the reports of immense destruction and loss of life in the Caribbean region since Hurricane Irma made landfall on Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday.  He extends his condolences to the Governments and peoples of all the island countries and territories in the region impacted by Hurricane Irma. The Secretary-General expresses the United Nations’ solidarity and commends the leadership of the respective Governments for their preparedness and response to the needs of the affected communities.  The United Nations system is already working to support national relief efforts."
____________________________________________________________

U.N. MANDATES TO ASSIST NON-INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES 


(Excerpt from) 






"9. Requests the specialized agencies and other organizations and institutions of the United Nations system and regional organizations to strengthen existing measures of support and formulate appropriate programmes of assistance to the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, within the framework of their respective mandates, in order to accelerate progress in the economic and social sectors of those Territories;  

Requests the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system concerned to provide information on: 

(a) Environmental problems facing the Non-Self-Governing Territories

(b) The impact of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, and other environmental problems, such as beach and coastal erosion and droughts, on those Territories..."


(Excerpt from)

"Disaster risk reduction

51. We recognize that small island developing States continue to grapple with the effects of disasters, some of which have increased in intensity and some of which have been exacerbated by climate change, which impede their progress towards sustainable development. We also recognize that disasters can disproportionately affect small island developing States and that there is a critical need to build resilience, strengthen monitoring and prevention, reduce vulnerability, raise awareness and increase preparedness to respond to and recover from disasters.

52. In consideration of the special case of small island developing States and their unique and particular vulnerabilities, we are committed to supporting their efforts:

(a) To gain access to technical assistance and financing for early warning
systems, disaster risk reduction and post-disaster response and recovery, risk
assessment and data, land use and planning, observation equipment, disaster
preparedness and recovery education programmes, including under the Global
Framework for Climate Services, and disaster risk management;

(b) To promote cooperation and investment in disaster risk management in
the public and private sectors;

(c) To strengthen and support contingency planning and provisions for
disaster preparedness and response, emergency relief and population evacuation, in particular for people in vulnerable situations, women and girls, displaced persons, children, older persons and persons with disabilities;

(d) To implement the Hyogo Framework for Action 23 and work for an
ambitious renewed international framework for post-2015 disaster risk reduction
that builds on previous achievements, prioritizes prevention and mitigation and
incorporates implementation frameworks to address implementation gaps if and
when they exist;

(e) To mainstream policies and programmes related to disaster risk
reduction, climate change adaptation and development, as appropriate;

(f) To harmonize national and regional reporting systems, where applicable,
to increase synergies and coherence;

(g) To establish and strengthen risk insurance facilities at the national and
regional levels and place disaster risk management and building resilience at the
centre of policies and strategies, where applicable;

(h) To increase participation in international and regional disaster risk

reduction initiatives."

______________________________________________________________________________


U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME PROVIDES 
RELIEF/RECOVERY HELP

Now is the time to help Irma-affected people get back on their feet, UNDP


UNDP is also working closely with national authorities in Turks and Caicos, St. Martin and Bahamas to provide support and immediate and long-term recovery measures.



32 million people in the Caribbean live in areas exposed to high-speed wind zones (excess of 60km/h). Photo: UNDP Haiti
Online donations platform to help women, men and children rebuild lives
New York – The most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean has battered several Caribbean islands, leaving Barbuda and St. Martins near “uninhabitable”, according to national authorities. Hurricane Irma has also left catastrophic damage as it passed over Turks and Caicos, southern Bahamas, northern Dominican Republic and northern Haiti.
To help countries and communities respond, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has immediately made available US$300,000 from its core resources to support assessments, coordination and recovery planning in Irma-affected countries.
Ahead of the Hurricane UNDP deployed crisis response experts to several Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and Haiti, where nine UNDP staff members are supporting crisis coordination in impacted communities in the north. UNDP is also working closely with national authorities in Turks and Caicos, St. Martin and Bahamas to provide support and immediate and long-term recovery measures.
Across the impacted countries, housing, community infrastructure and the livelihoods of millions of people have been severely damaged.
“In the wake of such disasters those who own so little are the hardest hit,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Jessica Faieta. “In addition to the terrible casualties, they lose their houses, their small businesses, their boats, their livelihoods. Now is the time to help Irma-affected people get back on their feet.”
To help women, men and children rebuild their lives, after Irma’s devastation UNDP has activated an online donations platform. https://Give.undp.org/Irma
Caribbean vulnerability in numbers
  • 32 million people in the Caribbean living in areas exposed to high-speed wind zones (excess of 60km/h)
  • 2 million people in the Caribbean living in areas exposed to extreme high-speed wind zones (excess of 120km/h)
  • 13 people reported dead across affected territories
  • 3 hurricanes currently active in the Atlantic Ocean: Irma and Jose over the Caribbean, and Katia in the Gulf of Mexico

07 September 2017

FULL MEMBERSHIP OF FRENCH COLONIES POSES LINGERING QUESTIONS FOR PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM

"Since France controls foreign affairs of the non self-governing territories of French Polynesia and New Caledonia, full membship of these colonies (in the Pacific Islands Forum) now provides for France - and by extension the European Union - to be directly involved in the decision making of the institution and its subsidiary organs. These colonies have no real legal nor political authority in international decisions, and effectively represent the interests of France who is their administering power under international law. It is a classic case of political surrogacy, and amounts to the acceptance of France and the EU as full members of the group. Using the leaders of the French colonies to enter the Forum was a shrewd tactical move on the part of France, and it is surprising that it was permitted to go forward. The previous associate membership category was designed exactly for colonies which do not exercise autonomous power. This is the proper category for non-sovereign territories in international organizations which limits their influence in the decision-making process. In the final analysis, the ultimate losers are the Pacific small island states who may have compromised the integrity of the Forum." a Pacific scholar.


_________________________________________________________________



PACNEWS

By Pita Ligaiula in Apia, Samoa


The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is expected to get a clear explanation from the Forum Leaders Meeting this week on the implication of New Caledonia and French Polynesia becoming a member.

Concerns have been raised by some quarters that FFA strategic and confidential positions on the management and conservation of tuna have been compromised with the inclusion of France – through its Pacific territories -- into its membership. 

Image result for Pacific Islands ForumWhen questioned at a regional media workshop in Apia, Director General of Forum Fisheries Agency, James Movick said any new member of the Pacific Islands Forum qualifies to become a member of FFA.

“The implications of New Caledonia and French Polynesia becoming members of the Forum is that any country that is member of the Forum has the right to automatically accede to the FFA convention. 

“In this case it appears that New Caledonia and French Polynesia may have the right to automatically accede the convention.

“The issue for the Pacific Island countries for any new member coming in is the degree of compatibility and coherence between the general fisheries framework which is applied by the FFA member countries- which is one of the very strong zone rights based management and of the rights of coastal states to have allocation rights with regard to that resource.

“What we are trying to ascertain now is the extent to which fisheries management laws and regulations that apply in French Polynesia and New Caledonia would be compatible with the general FFA approach, the FFA member approach, legal approach, the policy approach, so that is still not yet fully understood in all aspects. We are having ongoing discussions,” said Movick.

He stressed that the French Territories are not pushing to become a member as soon as possible.

“French Polynesia and New Caledonia have taken the position that they also have much to learn about what it would take to be a member of FFA and so they’ve not pushed strenuously for membership at this stage. They have engaged with us at the last Forum Fisheries Committee with the view to try and understand better the implications.


In the meantime we don’t yet know whether the process of New Caledonia and French Polynesia full accession to the Forum Agreement itself has yet to be competed, so these are some of the issues we are looking forward to get some response here at this Forum from our leaders,” said FFA DG.

05 September 2017

CARIBBEAN ISLANDS PLEAD FOR INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT AGAINST IMPENDING DUTCH ANNEXATION

"...most of all the wealth and richness...possess(ed by the Dutch) today has been acquired through piracy, smuggling, slave-trading, slavery and illegality, with the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors..." - James Finies, Bonaire

LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT 
OF THE SECOND CHAMBER 
AND MEMBERS 
OF THE DUTCH PARLIAMENT 


from


James Finies 
Foundation Nos Kier Boneiru Bek


Bonaire, September 5, 2017

Subject: Objection to second reading amendment of the Constitution to embed the BES islands equals illegal annexation of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius

Dear President and members of the 2nd chamber,

We have taken notice that your new parliament in your first meeting will discuss and decide on the amendment of the Constitution embedding the BES islands. The second and definite reading according to your unjust laws will unlawfully annex the territories of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius, violating their self-determination rights, violating their human rights, violating and not respecting their peoples democratic decisions rejecting of this illegal imposed status in their referendums of 2014 and 2015 and violating your own signed agreements in the United Nations. Hypocrisy at the highest level, now you are contending to take a seat in Security Council of the UN , whose objective is to defend human rights of the ones who cannot defend themselves.

Your new parliament should by now be under the full understanding that the peoples of Statia and Bonaire never choose and never accepted this imposed status and that only the peoples holds the exclusive right to self-determination. This inalienable right does not belong to the Dutch parliament and politicians, nor the island councils and neither governments and by continuing the anchoring process you are on the path to deliberately committing human rights violations and a crime against humanity by annexation and re-colonization of these in-defensive humble peoples.

You are at a crossroad now to decide whether you learned the lessons from our common colonial history and do the right thing to show humanity and brotherhood to the peoples of Bonaire and Statia. 

It is understandable and we are willing to forgive you because you have never been taught and consciously been mis-educated about your colonized peoples and their human values. We understand that you do not know that most of all the wealth and richness you possess today has been acquired through piracy, smuggling, slave-trading, slavery and illegality, with the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors and more important for us that you have to be aware that the Bonerian and Statian peoples are as human as yourselves. 

We inherited and acquired the rights to be as equal and free as yourselves. We have the right to a new beginning, the right to dream, the right to continue our emancipation, the right to be supported in the empowerment of our peoples, and the right to build our own nations. Bonaire and Statia will never be a municipality or anything else in your constitution, because we are nations, same as you, with our own language, culture, values, identity and the right to decide our own destiny.

I herewith object to your violation of our self-determination and human rights by your illegal unilateral intention and decision of annexation through embedding of our island territory Bonaire in your Constitution.

The decision is in your hands now to reconcile and continue the healing process by showing humanitarian solidarity to the in-defensive humble peoples of Bonaire and Statia. You whether give them back their island, their joy of life and their political freedom and equality or continue the annexation and expose once more the inhuman nature and cruel legacy of the Dutch colonizer to the world.

______________________________________________________

cc. Island Council of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius
Government of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius
Parliament and government of Curacao
Parliament and government of Aruba
Parliament and government of St Maarten
COPPPAL
Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations
United Nations Security Council 

31 August 2017

NEW U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR WESTERN SAHARA NAMED


Secretary-General Appoints Horst Köhler of Germany Personal Envoy for Western Sahara

Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Horst Köhler, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara.

The new Personal Envoy succeeds Christopher Ross of the United States who completed his assignment on 30 April 2017. The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Ross’ tireless efforts and dedication to facilitate negotiations between the parties in order to achieve a just, durable and mutually acceptable political solution, which would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Mr. Köhler brings more than 35 years of experience in Government and international organizations, including as President of the Federal Republic of Germany (2004-2010), Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, D.C. (2000-2004), and President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London (1998-2000). Mr. Köhler also served as State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance (1990-1993) before being appointed President of the German Savings Bank Association (1993).

Mr. Köhler graduated from the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany, with a diploma in public economics and political sciences in 1969. He also obtained his doctorate degree in economics in 1977 and has been an Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen since 2003.

Born in 1943, Mr. Köhler is married and has two children.

30 August 2017

POLISARIO demands immediate implementation of UNSC recent resolution on Sahrawi issue







Boumerdes, August 23, 2017 (SPS) - The President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO, Mr. Brahim Gali, called on the UN Security Council to implement the latest resolution No 2351 concerning the Sahrawi issue.

Gali insisted on the need for the immediate implementation of the recent UN Security Council resolution, particularly with regard to resuming the direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict, the Frente POLISARIO and the Kingdom of Morocco and addressing the problems resulting from the blatant Moroccan breach of the Military Agreement No. 1 and ceasefire Agreement in the Guergarat region.

" UN is responsible for the decolonization of the last colony in Africa and for the implementation of the 1991 African Union settlement plan, which calls for the organization of a referendum to determine the fate of the Saharawi people," he said in his speech during the closing ceremony of POLISARIO and SADR officials Summer University.

President voiced the willingness of the Saharawi party to cooperate with international efforts on this basis , went on "We hope that the oppointment of former German President Horst Koehler as the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Western Sahara is a good opportunity to accelerate the implementation of that mission,"

On the other hand, SG of POLISARIO reiterated the responsibility of the Spanish state for its colony of Western Sahara, a responsibility that will remain in place unless the conflict ends by enabling the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence.

It is important to emphasize the responsibility of the French state, which, unfortunately, has adopted a biased and supportive attitude towards the Moroccan colonial thesis over decades. It should take a position consistent with France's status as a platform for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as UNSC permanent member to achieve security, justice, peace, stability and respect for international legitimacy and international humanitarian law in the region and the world. 

27 August 2017

International Day Against Nuclear Tests 29 August

Also read:

French Polynesia Opposition Says French Nuke Testing Was 'Crime Against Humanity'

Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream
Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

Since nuclear weapons testing began on 16 July 1945, nearly 2,000 have taken place. Early on, having nuclear weapons was seen as a measure of scientific sophistication or military might, with little consideration given to the devastating effects of testing on human life, let alone the dangers of nuclear fallout from atmospheric tests. Hindsight and history have shown us the terrifying and tragic effects of nuclear weapons testing, especially when controlled conditions go awry, and in light of the far more powerful and destructive nuclear weapons that exist today.

The human and environmental tragedies that are the result of nuclear testing are compelling reasons for the need to observe the International Day against Nuclear Tests – a day in which educational events, activities and messages aim to capture the world’s attention and underscore the need for unified efforts to prevent further nuclear weapons testing.

The international instrument to put an end to all forms of nuclear testing is the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), unfortunately, this has yet to enter into force.

READ MORE HERE.
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25 August 2017

On Day of Remembrance, UN says history of slave trade can help combat social injustice

U.N. NEWS CENTRE


Shackles used to bind slaves. UN Photo/Mark Garten

23 August 2017 – Remembering the universal demand for freedom that led to the 1791 insurrection by slaves in what is now Haiti, the head of the United Nations cultural and educational agency today marked the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition by underscoring the importance of teaching this history to young people.
“We are counting on the teaching of this history to place tomorrow's citizens on the path to peace and dignity,” said Irina Bokova, in a message to mark the Day, which is observed annually on 23 August.
Ms. Bokova is the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has played a leading role within the UN system in fostering understanding and recognition of the slave trade.
“Everyone must know the scale of the crime of the slave trade, the millions of lives broken and the impact on the fate of continents up to this very day. Everyone must be fully informed of the struggle that led to its abolition, so that together we can build societies that are fairer, and thus freer,” the senior UN official said.
She pointed to modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as ongoing social injustices, racism and racial discrimination, and said the legacy of the 1791 insurrection offer hope to eradicating those scourges.
Ignorance is our enemy: it is used as an alibi by the indifferent who state that 'we cannot change anything'UNESCO chief Irina Bokova
“Freedom of rights, hardwon by force, must be translated into real freedom through public policies that guarantee to people of African descent the full exercise of economic, social and political equality, and full and equal participation in society,” Ms. Bokova said.
“The 1791 uprising, like so many others across the world, shows us the way, but the path ahead is still long, she said, adding: “Ignorance is our enemy: it is used as an alibi by the indifferent who state that 'we cannot change anything,' and sanctions the lies of those who claim that 'they did not know.'”
Everyone, continued the UNECSCO chief, must know the scale of the crime of the slave trade, the millions of lives broken and the impact on the fate of continents up to this very day. “Everyone must be fully informed of the struggle that led to its abolition, so that together we can build societies that are fairer, and thus freer.”
To honour the history of the slave trade and its abolition, UNESCO earlier this year added to its World Heritage List the Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo (Angola) and the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site (Brazil), as an acknowledgement of their “outstanding universal value.”
In 2015, the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site was recognized as a site of memory associated with the UNESCO Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage. Recognition of this heritage is decisive in raising the awareness of the general public, educating young people and in the processes of conciliation and social cohesion.
The Slave Route project, established in 1994, consists of creating opportunities to promote mutual understanding and international reconciliation and stability through consultation and discussion. It also raises awareness, promotes debate and helps build consensus on approaches to be taken on addressing the issue of the slave trade and slavery.
This year, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is also part of the International Decade for People of African Descent, which began in 2015, and seeks to help boost political commitments in favour of people of African descent.

24 August 2017

SINT EUSTATIUS RESPONDS TO VISIT OF DUTCH OUTGOING MINISTER



Leader of Government of St. Eustatius 
clarifies territory's position.

 Clyde van Putten about Plasterk’s visit
Open Letter

I have taken note of the statements made in the local and Dutch press by outgoing (Dutch) Minister Plasterk about his discussions with the Executive and Island Councils of Sint Eustatius during his farewell visit to the island on August 14th.

First of all, I would like to state that I was pleasantly surprised by the reconciliatory content and tone of Mr. Plasterk’s message during the meetings and in his press statements. I would like to think that this is due to the fact that Sint Eustatius has been countering and continues to counter the allegations and actions by the Dutch government with sound legal arguments and visible positive efforts towards improvements and progress for the entire island and its population under difficult circumstance.

That being said, I would like to rectify a number of false perceptions which Mr. Plasterk continues to create in his press statement.

Unlike Mr. Plasterk and his civil servants, who bluntly refuse to receive (members of) delegations to talk about certain topics because they don’t wish to be confronted and pointed to their misdeed, the government of Sint Eustatius has always been, and continues to be willing to have an open and frank dialogue with the government of the Netherlands about any subject. This has been reaffirmed in all Island Council motions and letters to the Dutch government, all of which are on public record.

Moreover, the government of Sint Eustatius in its letter of February 14th, 2017, was the one who first proposed to have said dialogue and who proposed a joint committee of wise men charged with preparing a round table conference between parties.

Mr. Plasterk then broke the agreements which were made between the coalition and his Secretary-General Mr. Van Zwol during two visits earlier this year, and confirmed to me directly by the latter, and decided to unilaterally appoint two persons to prepare an investigative report.

The “lack of communication, collaboration and respect” of which Mr. Plasterk speaks in his press statement is therefore solely applicable to him and his ministry. The Government of Sint Eustatius can certainly not be accused of this.

The same goes for: “sitting down and listening to each other, within the confines of the law and the context of our Constitution, to find ways to improve the lives of the people”, “… be polite, pragmatic, practical and willing to collaborate.”, “…work within the constitutional status they have right now and be constructive in that context.

While making this statement, Mr. Plasterk again purposely fails to mention a number of things. The first one is that the Dutch government, whenever it is convenient, arbitrarily ignores the same “our Constitution” in which the people of Sint Eustatius were place against their expressed wishes and therefore illegally. Examples are the $714.000 payment to KPMG without the approval of the Island Council and condoning the behavior of the acting Governor which conflicts what that same Constitution.

Secondly, the “Constitution” and related legislation clearly prescribe the rules and regulations regarding the appointment of Governors, including the role of the so-called vertrouwenscommissie. It is therefore unacceptable and incomprehensible that Mr. Plasterk has decided that the appointment will depend on the advice of the two “Wise Men”.

Thirdly, Mr. Plasterk continues to deliberately ignore the context of international law, being the UN Charter and relevant resolutions, which are superior to-, and therefore overrule “our Constitution” in cases of conflicts between the two legislative systems.

Fourthly, Mr. Plasterk should know that it is not “polite” to talk about Sint Eustatius and it’s Government in a derogatory manner in the press, in the Dutch Parliament, and on the island while visiting, instead of talking with the Government of Sint Eustatius.

Finally, I would like to correct Mr. Plasterk’s statements about the Plan of Approach (PoA). This Plan of Approach was not based on the Spies report. It was used as an excuse to impose higher supervision in June of 2015. Interestingly, Mr. Plasterk selectively “shops” around in the Spies report. The report contains many other recommendations benefitting the islands which Mr. Plasterk chose ignore, while only picking out the parts he wishes to use.

Furthermore, the Plan of Approach stalled because it was not needed nor realistic in the first place, because the process manager appointed by the Kingdom Representative did not function and suddenly disappeared from the island without notice or reason, and because the Dutch government failed to live up to its promise to fund the entire program.

Interestingly, those he same actions outlined in the PoA, when being implemented by the Government of Sint Eustatius independently, continue to be stagnated and stalled by the lack of cooperation on the side of the Kingdom Representative and BZK.

At the end of his meeting with the Island Council, which was recorded for future reference, Mr. Plasterk handed me his private phone number and asked me to contact him to talk.

I will comply with Mr. Plasterk’s request, and trust that he and his successor will be willing to dialogue, listen to-, and cooperate with the proposals of the Government of Sint Eustatius in order to structurally improve the relationship between parties and the lives of the people of Sint Eustatius.

Clyde I. van Putten
Leader of Government of St. Eustatius