10 August, 2010


Have you had a look at Kate Sullivan's Initial Recommendations for Changes to the Constitutional and Electoral Arrangements in the Turks & Caicos Islands?  I have, and I have sent the Editors of the TCI Journal my preliminary views.  It might be as well to re-publish them here, with such amendments as seem appropriate for Anguilla.  We do not know when similar proposals will be put forward for us.  It appears to me that unless I am very mistaken that will not be long in coming.  Constitutional and electoral reform in Anguilla is long overdue.  These then are some of my preliminary views:
[1]        The FCO has now published Ms Sullivan's initial recommendations for constitutional and electoral reform for TCI as a discussion paper.  I have reservations about some of her Recommendations that I would like to express.  She starts off her Recommendations by giving the following useful background:
Background to this review
1. In 2008 an independent Commission of Inquiry was set up to look into possible corruption or other serious dishonesty by elected members of the TCI legislature. The final report made over 60 recommendations covering systemic weaknesses; criminal sanctions; civil recovery; integrity in public life and the management of Crown Land. Some of the Commission’s recommendations focused on deterring or preventing corruption and other serious dishonesty while others looked at the broader constitutional and statutory framework of government.
2. In August 2009, United Kingdom (UK) Government Ministers instructed the Governor of TCI to bring into force an Order in Council suspending ministerial government and the House of Assembly. The UK Government also announced that during the period of suspension a review of the 2006 Constitution would be undertaken, as had been suggested in several of the Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations.
[2]        The relationship between Britain and the Overseas Territories is governed by a 1999 social contract.  This contract is titled Partnership for Progress and Prosperity.  It is an FCO Report and it commences with a foreword by Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook.  He sets out the three principles that underlie the partnership between Britain and the Overseas Territories.  He describes them as follows:
n       First, our partnership must be founded on self-determination. Our Overseas Territories are British for as long as they wish to remain British. Britain has willingly granted independence where it has been requested; and we will continue to do so where this is an option. It says a lot about the strength of our partnership that all the Overseas Territories want the constitutional link to continue. And Britain remains committed to those territories which choose to retain the British connection. 
n       Second, the partnership creates responsibilities on both sides. Britain is pledged to defend the Overseas Territories, to encourage their sustainable development and to look after their interests internationally. In return, Britain has the right to expect the highest standards of probity, law and order, good government and observance of Britain’s international commitments.
n       Third, the people of the Overseas Territories must exercise the greatest possible control over their own lives. We are proud that our Overseas Territories are beacons of democracy. We applaud their achievements, and want them to have the autonomy they need to continue to flourish.
[3]        The Foreign Secretary gave us to understand that the three underlying principles of our partnership are “self-determination”, “responsibilities”, and “the greatest possible control” over our own lives.  It is mutually agreed that we the Overseas Territories have a fundamental right to self-determination and control over our own lives while accepting our responsibilities for good governance.
[4]        The next major statement on the constitutional principles that underlie the relationship between Britain and the Overseas Territories occurred in the year 2006.  At the annual Overseas Territories and Countries conference the FCO issued a White Paper on Good Governance.  The first paragraph of this white paper explained what we mean by good governance:
1. Although it is a phrase that has gained currency in recent years, the concept of governance has been with us as long as there have been systems within societies which determine the process of decision making; and the process by which decisions are, or are not, implemented. Good governance is simply doing this well.
In ten short paragraphs the white paper sought to set out some of the issues we should look for in good governance.  It highlighted the need for the rule of law, transparency, accountability, the responsiveness of institutions, and effectiveness and efficiency in securing good governance. 
[5]        The reader takes away from this white paper the idea that good governance means doing the processes of decision making and implementation well.  That notion expressed in 2006 was an underlining and a reinforcement of the need for the rule of law, transparency, accountability and the rest of the principles set out in the 1999 Report.
To be continued …
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