OECS opposes additional powers for UK Governor in the BVI

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In response to the current situation in the British Virgin Islands, Heads of Government of the OECS:  

Noted with alarming concern, the evolving situation in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), regarding the request by the Governor for additional powers which will allow him to bypass the Territorial Government, and implement unilaterally, the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) for governance reforms in the BVI;

Condemned strongly any efforts to undermine the legitimate Government of the BVI and expressed solidarity with the Government and people of the BVI in the undertaking of the process for reforms;

Commended the considerable diligence exercised by the democratically elected government and people of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the progress made thus far in implementing governance reforms which have no doubt strengthened the BVI systems and institutions, following the elections which were successfully held in April 2023;

Noted, however, their acute awareness that much work remains to be done in the process for the reforms as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry, and called on the United Kingdom to provide the Government of the British Virgin Islands with any required technical assistance to support the process;

Noted with deep concern that efforts to bypass the elected Government of the BVI demonstrate a flagrant disrespect for fundamental principles of democracy which aim essentially to preserve and promote the dignity and rights of the individual, respect the will of the majority, foster economic and social development, strengthen cohesion of society and to maintain/enhance national tranquility;

Noted the further concern that the Governor’s request for additional powers is undemocratic, and unwarranted; such powers could only serve as a deterrent in the ongoing reforms process and would jeopardise the progress that has been achieved; and undermine the democratically elected government of the BVI.

Concurred with the views expressed by the Government and people of the BVI, that granting additional powers to the Governor is a ‘Colonial Act’ and one which has no place in modern democratic governance in the OECS region;

Reiterated that the historical responsibility for strengthening governance in the BVI must rest on the shoulders of the elected representatives and the people of the BVI; that ultimately will be the guarantee of good governance, and full and transparent accountability; and that the inalienable right of the people of the British Virgin Islands to self-determination, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, must be preserved;

Reiterated further that a decision to grant the Governor this request would contravene the democratic principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights – Declarations and Conventions to which the United Kingdom is Party;

Endorsed the UN resolution on the Question of the British Virgin Islands (A/RES/78/79) adopted by the 78th General Assembly that expresses deep concern that the United Kingdom (UK) is holding an Order in Council in reserve that can suspend the islands’ constitution and calls for the democratic and human rights of the people of the British Virgin Islands to be respected, including their rights to self-governance and self-determination.

Urged that the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) continues to work constructively and collaboratively with the democratically elected Government of the BVI to support completion of the ongoing reforms process;

Strongly urged that the Government of the UK refrains from granting the undemocratic powers requested by the Governor. This act will hinder democracy in the BVI and destroy existing trust between the Government and people of the BVI and the United Kingdom.

Reaffirmed the OECS’ willingness to provide technical and other support to the BVI (as an Associate Member of the Organisation), in its governance reforms process.

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