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CARICOM concerned about political crisis in Turks and Caicos

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2013 | 12:12 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 13, CMC – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has reiterated its deep concern about the political crisis in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Speaking on behalf of CARICOM, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Rodney Charles, told the UN’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) annual debate that the political crisis, precipitated by the three-year suspension of elected governments in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2009, has been the subject of “particular concern at the highest political level of CARICOM.

“A fact-finding mission sent to the Islands has found that the conduct of a referendum was vital,” he said.

“The report of the fact-finding mission has affirmed that it was the responsibility of the administering Power to provide the means for full self-determination and to ensure that the same standards of democracy that prevail in the United Kingdom should be extended to the Territory,” he added.

Charles noted that the Committee heard petitioners every year about democratic deficiencies in the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, adding that the resumption of formal cooperation between the administering Powers and the Fourth Committee was “crucial to achieving the goal of decolonization.”

Concerning the situation in the Western Sahara, the Trinidad and Tobago diplomat said CARICOM maintains its principal support for the people and commended the efforts undertaken by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s envoy.

He said decades of colonization point to “irrefutable lessons,” urging the United Nations to “refine approaches and facilitate supportive mechanisms to minimize the legacies of colonialism, such as ethnic tensions and economic exploitation.

“Adequate follow-up by the United Nations is necessary, as are more interactive dialogue and requisite political analysis,” he said.

Charles said CARICOM has long maintained that a Special Rapporteur or Independent Expert on decolonization “would be most useful.”

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Kitty Swebb, Suriname’s ambassador to the UN, said the issue of decolonization is an “important priority, as colonialism violates the fundamental tenets of democracy and freedom, as stated in General Assembly resolution 1514.”

She said the question of the Malvinas Islands, or Falkland Islands, has been considered by South American countries in several forums of special importance.

She also reiterated the region’s “abiding interest” in an agreement by the United Kingdom to resume negotiations with Argentina “in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful and definitive solution to the sovereignty dispute, in accordance with relevant resolutions and declarations of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.”