Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, Mar 27, 2023

COMMENTARY: The Virgin Islands Constitution and the greater good

COMMENTARY: The Virgin Islands Constitution and the greater good

Ironically, the Virgin Islands Constitution review was to be considered in 2017 as it is customarily up for review every 10 years. Ironically, in August and September of that year, the territory was rocked by the most destructive rainfall in recent memory and two catastrophic category 5 hurricanes recorded as the most powerful and destructive in the history of Atlantic hurricanes.
From that period on, the Virgin Islands has endured a series of other unprecedented events, including  the worst global pandemic in 100 years and the collapse of its governance system resulting in a Commission of Inquiry accompanied by an Order in Council, held in reserve by the Governor, to Suspend our Constitution.

It is almost as if the events of the past six years were designed to expose the vulnerabilities of the Virgin Islands for some purpose. Now that we are finally on the road to a new Constitution, we can conclude that the events of the past six years was to get us to address the core issues revealed to us during this period of trial and tribulation so that we can confront and address them in the new Constitution, to the extent possible, as we march on to the next stage of self-determination.

The Need to Focus on the “Greater Good”

In my brief stint as Permanent Secretary to the former Premier in 2019, I recommended that a nationally branded campaign was needed to rally Virgin Islanders behind the “greater good” cause of rebuilding the Territory following the hurricanes of 2017. I proposed a communication and community engagement campaign called “BVIdeal”.

It was intended to inspire and help Virgin Islanders see how each of us could contribute to the mission to build back the BVI as the “Ideal” place to live, work, invest and visit. The then Premier rightfully pointed out that the “deal” as part of the branding could be spun by our detractors to do further damage to our financial services sector by misrepresenting our industry as they continue to do. He proposed that we use “BVI Love” and so it was.

The original intent to promote the greater good among Virgin Islanders as part of our national rebuilding efforts.

Development at what Cost and for Whom

Under the Ministerial system of government, the Territory experienced enviable success in its development, thanks to greater autonomy achieved by the struggles of our ancestors and the vision and tenacity of our leadership. Many prospered individually from the success of our tourism and financial services industries but the collective society, the greater good of the Virgin Islands, did not experience an equal level of success. The Territory’s public service, infrastructure, environment, education, health and spiritual development lagged thus negatively impacting our quality of life.

The events of the past six years have provided an answer to the question many have asked in the past: Development for whom? The question indicated that the overall vision was not clear or articulated so that everyone could focused on the greater good. The past six years have awakened us as if to say, the greater good of the Virgin Islands needs your attention. The current Constitution review is the perfect time to infuse our Constitution with the foundation upon which laws, policies, practices and standards can be built to serve the greater good.\

Greater Good Provisions in the Constitution

A fellow Virgin Islander pointed me in the direction of the Cayman Islands Constitution which to me has many “greater good” provisions we can learn from. We share many commonalities such as environment, industries, culture and heritage, overseas territory status and other areas that makes them a good comparative nation. But our best reference of what is needed in our constitution comes from our best teacher, our experiences over the past six years. Here are some suggestions to consider when making your contribution to the Constitutional review:

  1. Spiritual Life: We say often that we are a Christian society but this important value is not encased our Constitution as it is in the Cayman Island Constitution where it mentions “Christian values”, “Christian heritage” and being a “God-fearing people” in its Oath and Affirmation section. Certainly we know that our ancestors endured great hardship to keep and build the Virgin Islands and it was their faith in God and their Christian values that sustained them. Should we not have this core value and foundation of our society encased in our Constitution?The Cayman Constitution also defines marriage as between the opposite sex and our current Constitution does not.  Do we want to share this value and do the same or do we want to have a “civil partnership” provision or some other definition that recognize the human and civil rights of all?
  2. Environment: Whilst our Constitution speaks to environment health in Clause 29, it is not as explicit as Cayman’s and does not hold Government accountable as does Cayman in its Clause 18 which says that “government should adopt reasonable legislative and other measures to protect the heritage and wildlife and the land and sea biodiversity ….”. Does our environment not need this provision?
  3. National Development Plan: Good, proper and relevant physical, educational, health and social service infrastructures should be treated as a fundamental right of Virgin islanders given our limited resources, small size, environment, economy and vulnerabilities. Our experiences have confirmed that we have challenges in these areas and our Constitution should guarantee that they must be guided by a long-term Plan. Should the current National Integrated Development Strategy, the need for there to always be an updated version every ten years and for the Plan to be implemented independent of political influence be a Constitutional provision?
  4. Education: Education of the history, culture, constitution and current affairs of the Virgin Islands will anchor our diverse and multicultural population in a common Virgin Islands identity which will strengthen social cohesion and foster a commitment to the greater good of the Virgin Islands. Should this not be a fundamental Constitutional requirement for all born, bred and given status in these Virgin Islands?
  5. Public Service: The public service is the engine that delivers on the political mandate of those elected by the people to look after their needs and aspirations. When it does not work effectively and efficiently, it is tantamount to stifling democracy. Greater clarity and specificity in the roles, responsibilities and qualifications for the leadership roles of the public service are needed as well as clarity of the role of Ministers relative to the Governor, Deputy Governor, Cabinet Secretary, Permanent Secretaries, Department and Statutory Board Heads and Chair of Committees and Statutory Board Chairs are needed to allow the public machinery to operate in the best interest of the Territory and its greater good. It is time to remove the conflicts within the system and roles. Should there not be a specific section of the Constitution that speaks to the Integrated Roles, Responsibilities and Rights of Public Servants listed aboveThis is not an exhaustive list of provisions for the “greater good” that should be in the next VI constitution but I hope it gets us to consider the importance of attending to the greater good of the Virgin Islands we mature as a democracy.

The Obligations of My Generation

The greater good of the past six years was to prepare us for this juncture in our development and advancement as a people. My parent’s generation was much more focused on the greater good than we have been in recent years. We have reaped the fruit of the labour of our forefathers who saw to it that we were educated both mentally and spiritually and preserved ownership of the land so that we may have a foundation upon which to build.

Their values were squarely more focused on the greater good of the society and as a result, many Virgin Islanders have prospered. We have an obligation at this juncture to do the same for our children, grandchildren and future generations. We can do this by ensuring we pass along a Virgin Islands better, or as good as it was given to us. We do that by sharing and passing on our knowledge, experience and wisdom and by ensuring that our next Constitution gives them a platform to master their own destiny.


Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
In a dramatic U-turn against His Government: Judicial Reform Legislation Must Be Halted, Says Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corporation, died at 94
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Powell: Silicon Valley Bank was an 'outlier'
BVI Freedom Song
Donald Trump arrested – Twitter goes wild with doctored pictures
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
NYPD is setting up barricades outside Manhattan Criminal Court ahead of Trump arrest.
Credit Suisse's Scandalous History Resulted in an Obvious Collapse - It's time for regulators who fail to do their job to be held accountable and serve as an example by being behind bars.
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours potential migrant housing in Rwanda as asylum deal remains mired in legal challenges
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Paris Rioting vs Macron anti democratic law
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
'Sexual Fantasy' Assignment At US School Outrages Parents
Hello Dolly
Credit Suisse to borrow $54 billion from Swiss central bank
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Russian Hackers Preparing New Cyber Assault Against Ukraine
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Jeremy Hunt insists his Budget will get young parents and over-50s back into work
Yes He Can
If this was in Tehran, Moscow or Hong Kong
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Nashville police officer, and a female driver shooting one another
TRUMP: "Standing before you today, I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Mexican President Claims Mexico is Safer than the U.S.
The Lord's Prayer
A brief banking situation report
Lady bites police officer and gets instantly reaction
We are witnessing widespread bank fails and the president just gave a 5 min speech then walked off camera.
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
Donald Trump's asked by Tucker Carlson question on if the U.S. should support regime change in Russia?.
Ramblin' Rose
Good news: The U.S. government is now guaranteeing all deposits, held by, Silicon Valley Bank, and the funds are available as of today
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
Silicon Valley Bank exec was Lehman Brothers CFO
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
In a potential last-ditch effort, HSBC is considering a rescue deal to save Silicon Valley Bank UK from insolvency
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
BBC Director General, Tim Davie, has apologized, but not resigned, yet, following the disruption of sports programmes over the weekend
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
A Mississippian man, who was once considered a “ticking time bomb,” has lost a whopping 165 kilograms! What motivated this incredible transformation?
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
Elon Musk Is Planning To Build A Town In Texas For His Employees
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse effect is spreading around the world, affecting startup companies across the globe
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
City officials in Berlin announced on Thursday that all swimmers at public pools will soon be allowed to swim topless
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
Fitness scam
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
Market Chaos as USDC Loses Peg to USD after $3.3 Billion Reserves Held by Silicon Valley Bank Closed.
Common, John Legend - Glory
A primitive judge in Australia sparked outrage when he told a breastfeeding woman to leave his courtroom for being “a distraction"
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
Barcelona is feeling the heat as they face corruption charges over payments to former vice-president of Spain's referees' committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Senator Tom Cotton: If the Mexican Government Won’t Stop Cartels from Killing Americans, Then U.S. Government Should
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Banking regulators close SVB, the largest bank failure since the financial crisis
BVI Freedom Song
The unelected UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, an immigrant himself, defends new controversial crackdown on illegal migration
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
Old clip of Bill Gates saying Ukraine is a big, fat, corrupt sinkhole is going viral
Man’s penis amputated by mistake after he’s wrongly diagnosed with a tumour
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
In a major snub to Downing Street's Silicon Valley dreams, UK chip giant Arm has dealt a serious blow to the government's economic strategy by opting for a US listing
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
JP Morgan Becomes First Bank to Predict UK Will Avoid Recession
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
JP Morgan Becomes First Bank to Predict UK Will Avoid Recession
Hello Dolly
How do stolen goods end up on Amazon, eBay and Facebook Marketplace?
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
It's the question on everyone's lips: could a four-day workweek be the future of employment?
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Is Gold the Ultimate Safe Haven Asset in Times of Uncertainty?
Yes He Can