BVI Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has taken the obvious and very needed step of reporting Governor John Rankin to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization, citing concerns over the UK's continued colonization of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the potential expansion of the Governor's powers.
During a session in the House of Assembly on June 29, Premier Wheatley revealed that he had travelled to the United Nations headquarters in New York to address the Special Committee on Decolonization, also known as the C-24.
He voiced his objections to the UK's maintenance of an Order in Council that grants the power to suspend the BVI's constitution at any time, a measure he deemed unnecessary. Premier Wheatley emphasized that UK parliamentarians, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the C-24 all support the BVI's stance on this matter.
Furthermore, Premier Wheatley expressed deep concern over Governor Rankin's recent statements regarding the potential acquisition of additional powers over the Virgin Islands
. He reiterated that such actions were unnecessary and not in the best interest of the BVI.
Governor Rankin had previously issued a quarterly update on the government's progress in implementing the good governance recommendations put forth by the Commission of Inquiry
. In his report, the Governor indicated that if substantial progress was not made by the next review, he would explore options for additional resources, powers, and technical expertise to expedite reforms.
Historically, elected leaders have taken offense when Governors exercise their powers without their approval. The Governor also highlighted that the UK's Order in Council remains in effect, serving as a reminder that significant progress in governance reforms is necessary for the removal of this measure, which poses a threat to the authority of local leaders.
Premier Wheatley's decision to report the Governor to the United Nations underscores the deep-seated concerns within the BVI regarding the continued colonization of the territory and the potential overreach of the Governor's powers. Critics argue that such actions by the UK represent a violation of international law and disregard the principles of self-governance and democracy.
The BVI has long been advocating for greater autonomy and the recognition of its right to determine its own future. The intervention of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization brings global attention to the ongoing struggle faced by the BVI and amplifies the calls for the UK to respect the territory's right to self-determination.
As the debate intensifies, it remains to be seen how the United Nations and the international community will respond to the BVI's plea for decolonization and the protection of its democratic rights. The outcome of this critical issue will shape the future of the BVI and have far-reaching implications for the broader discourse on decolonization in the modern era.