Decolonisation seminar examines nation building

| 24/05/2010

(CNS): The issue of nation building was a key part of the discussions at last week’s United Nations Seminar in Noumea, New Caledonia. During the three-day annual regional conference of the Special Committee on Decolonisation, committee chair Donatus Keith St. Aimee of Saint Lucia said it was an essential prerequisite to successful self-determination. He said economic and social development, as well as education about self-determination processes and options, should be in place before any decision on self-determination was taken, according to a release from the seminar. The Cayman Islands was represented at the gathering by local attorney Steve McField. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

“If this process hasn’t taken place before you exercise your right to self-determination, then you may spend an enormous amount of resources undertaking that task afterwards,” St Aimee cautioned. “That is why sometimes it may not be a bad idea to have a period of reflection to see if all the people who live in the territory are all on the same track and committed to that process.”
McField reportedly agreed with the sentiments and said that a nation-building process must take place for the exercise of self-determination to be successful. Outlining the history of the Cayman Islandsunder various forms and degrees of colonial administration, he said that, due to careful and forceful negotiation among the people and with the administering power, the territory now had “one of the best arrangements” in the world.
Joseph Bossano, an observer from Gibraltar, said the real problem with the territories remaining on the United Nations list was that, for many of them, neither full independence nor full integration with another state was a feasible option, which left free association as the only available one. Given the many different forms that free association could take, it was worth asking how to define a form of free association that could demonstrate a territory’s readiness for a full measure of self-government.
The chairman noted that a major problem was a lack of indicators and benchmarks to show what stage of the decolonization process a territory had reached. The Special Committee could begin thinking about that, he said.
While holding a referendum was one physical manifestation of progress towards decolonisation and the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) may be one manifestation of economic development, there may be a need for a more formal structure to allow the Special Committee to measure more accurately the readiness of a particular territory and its people as they moved along the path to self-determination, he said.

Amiee noted that a great deal of discussion on decolonisation focused on the political role of the administering power, which, while obviously important, should not be seen as the only facet of the process. Encouraging private sector actors in a territory to be good corporate citizens was also vital. “If they don’t reflect a sense of goodwill, it makes the job of the administering power and the local authorities much more difficult,” he said. “If we can encourage the private sector to become good corporate citizens, and if the population can see that resources are being used for their benefit, then this contributes to a sense of trust and nation-building.”

The chairman noted that all participants had made valuable contributions, with many of their suggestions laying down challenges of thinking and method for the Special Committee. “You have thrown down the challenges and we have given an undertaking to respond,” he added. The seminar’s conclusions and recommendations would be refined in light of the morning discussions for consideration at the Special Committee’s next substantive session in New York in June, he said.

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  1. Dr. Carlyle Corbin says:

    I was one of the four independent experts at the UN Seminar in New Caledonia, and the lone Caribbean expert. The Cayman Islands Government is to be commended for its participation in the UN sponsored session which was designed to heighten the understanding of the territories on their options of political and constitutional advancement, and various processes which would facilitate it. The attendance of the UK Government at the seminar was also well appreciated. 

    Self-determination and the resultant decolonisation are fundamental human rights for the people of the territories. Remaining in perpetual colonial status serves no redeeming interest – not for the territories, nor for those in the cosmopolitan countries which administer them. Citing the extreme examples of some countries which are experiencing difficulties after decolonisation conveniently fail to make reference to the external factors which are at the root of certain crises (i.e. Haiti). 

    Reference to those decolonised former territories which remain stable, and continue to be prosperous and successful in running their own affairs is rarely cited. Think Barbados, Singapore, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, etc, rather than the often cited extreme examples.

    Cayman, BVI and other territories are progressing with new constitutions and are moving toward an increased measure of self-government. This is the proper approach for small non-independent countries whose ultimate level of political development will be determined over time by the people of the territory.

    The case of New Caledonia which provides for devolved (and irreversible) powers and competencies to the elected government of the territory from France over a defined period is an excellent model for medium to long term progress in constitutional and political advancement into this new century.

    Any new UK policy to be formulated by the new coalition government in the UK for the UKOTs should be informed by the French model which is ongoing in New Caledonia.


  2. Anonymous says:


    Just because The United States encourages decolonization does not mean that it is good for the countries that embrace it, nor does decolonization guarantee success for those territories that have been entrapped by it.. It has already proven to be a disaster. The UnitedStates as an opportunist  very often intervenes into their internal affairs, pretending to be doing something good  for the poor victimized people; like sending financial and emergency aid to these independence failed victim counties STICKING ITS  UNITED STATES CHEST OUT AS " THE SUPER POWER" don’t be fooled. The US will not intervene if the Cayman Islands fail as other Caribbean nations who ran into disgrace like Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti,  they will say its the UK’s responsibility.  To date has the UK cared for it’s territorial children or shown any interest whatsoever in their success? But rather they have envied the Cayman Islands for its financial success and the skill and expertise with which the experts handle its financial Industry making it one of the top world leaders in the business.


    The Cayman Islands nor any other island in the West Indies DO NOT NEED INDEPENDENCE. WE WILL BE THE NEXT LAUGHING STOCK OF THE UK and the world  WHEN WE DO!  This is what they are waiting on for us to fail, and make this stupid dumb move  so that all the financial Industry that we now have in our control can BE SHIFTED TO THE UK AND the finger pointed  with tongues wagging ‘I TOLD YOU SO!

    If the financial industry is one of the only two industries besides tourism keeping this country afloat, When did you all you ignorant morons come up with the idea to throw it all away? Isn’t your brain big enough to think of something that make some sense at least? 

    Anyone pushing the Cayman Islands into independence needs Him or Her Head EXAMINED, YESTERDAY! BY A WORLD RENOWNED PSYCHIATRIC EXPERT!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps I will stand to be corrected but most of the former colonies are not current success stories as far as I am aware.

    Many former colonies are clearly in trouble and Jamaica to our East is currently in the news but others clearly abound.

    There are those who are gung ho to have the Cayman Islands go independent but I am uncertain.

  4. Just Sayin says:

    Seems as though nobody really cares and the UN would have been better served spending their money on the poor people somewhere.

  5. My2cents says:

    The US, ever since WWII has actively encouraged the decolonalisation of the world. Looking back the question is – is it wise? Has the decolonisation caused more wars or less…..did it cause stronger countries or weaker countries. Just look at the difference between Jamaica today and the Cayman Islands today for your answer.