British Virgin Islands

Friday, Apr 16, 2021

Section On 'Constitutional Relationship' Pulled From Agreement With UK

Section On 'Constitutional Relationship' Pulled From Agreement With UK

Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie has raised concerns during the Overseas Territories Joint Minister Council (JMC) meeting regarding language of the communiqué relating to a section on the Constitutional Relationship.
In making his final intervention during the JMC on Thursday, November 26, Premier Fahie said he is aware that the OTs (Overseas Territories) and Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) officials have been working tirelessly to reach joint agreement on this year's communiqué.

"We agree that the language needs enhancement to reflect our agreement of policy or intention. My Government had envisioned in good faith that outlining shared principles, managing competing interests and building consensus would ensure continued cooperation. Yet, despite the hard work of officials on all sides, we have been unable to reach agreement," the Premier stated.

He shared with his colleagues that throughout the process, the BVI Government has provided workable alternatives in the hope of achieving mutually agreeable positions.

"The BVI’s position remains unchanged, we cannot agree with the current language of the communique relating to the Constitutional Relationship. BVI would like to openly declare a reserved position regarding the Constitutional Relationship language. Our submissions to amend the wording in this area of the communique were based on the UK commitments to OTs as outlined in the White Paper of 2012 and in Article 73 of the United Nations Charter," the Premier stated.

He pointed out that the Government is of the view that the constitutional relationship between the OTs and the UK must be allowed to evolve as the territories mature.

"Each OT has changed their constitutional relationship with the UK based on their needs and circumstance over the past decades. Thus, illustrating that each territory's constitution as a living document. The UK being a signatory to the UN Charter, specifically article 73, commits the UK to help territories whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government; to work with us to develop the political aspirations of the people of the Territory," the Premier stated.

He also noted that the Virgin Islands encourages constructive and productive engagement whereby the UK listens, responds, and actively works with territories to find practicable solutions in order to advance the will of the people.

"These are very uncertain times and I hope that the people and Governments of the UK and OTs will successfully get through the COVID-19 crisis and handle any fallout from Brexit. The BVI will certainly be helpful where possible.”

In speaking with the Government Information Services, Premier said that even though the constitutional relationship section was in the end removed, all OTs did not agree that the entire section should be removed as the UK was not supportive of a reservation being entered on any aspect of the Communique.

Premier Fahie has been leading a delegation to the annual Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial from November 23. The meetings concluded Thursday.

This year’s JMC meeting was held virtually in light of restrictions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

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