S.Atlantic : Why a Caveat on the South Atlantic Federation?
Submitted by SARTMA.com (Juanita Brock) 07.03.2010 (Article Archived on 21.03.2010)
I am not so certain about including the British Overseas Territories from the Caribbean in the scheme, given their assent to Argentina’s trade sanctions against the Falklands, agreed by the Rio Group, of which they are associated.
WHY A CAVEAT ON THE SOUTH ATLANTIC FEDERATION?
An Editorial and Personal View by J. Brock (FINN)
Though St Helena’s Home and International Committee are looking into something I hold dear to my heart – closer ties between Ascension, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and the Falkland Islands, I am not so certain about including the British Overseas Territories from the Caribbean in the scheme, given their assent to Argentina’s trade sanctions against the Falklands, agreed by the Rio Group, of which they are associated.
Such a federation needs to support each other’s trade aspirations and I foresee tensions if part of the group agree to block sea trade between Argentina and the Falklands. Pressure could be put on them to blockade the Falklands as well.
We need to stick together in order to improve communications, trade, employment and capital projects, etc. In saying that, I foresee any South Atlantic federation working as a cohesive group for at least a decade before including members from north of the Equator. This would give the British Caribbean Islands a chance to change their minds about sanctioning Falklands’ trade. It would also allow the group to make a name for itself before expanding to other British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.
Working together for an extended period would also give the federation time to iron out glitches and resolve anomalies that typically plague new alliances.
Another South Atlantic Island that has not been mentioned is that of South Georgia which, along with the Falkland Islands has one of the best managed fisheries in the world. Seeing that each of the other Islands in the proposed federation has a fishery, South Georgia could help with some practical advice on Fisheries management, etc. especially with Tristan da Cunha, with which it also shares a rich wildlife heritage. It would be worth exploring what kind of participation would be beneficial for that Island with the rest of the federation.
By all means, let’s pool our resources, trade, have joint capital projects and share knowledge but this needs to be done without a known spanner in the works. There are plenty of unknown pitfalls a new federation will negotiate before hitting resonance with its members.
If we are successful others will want to join us and we can set the terms. If we go cap in hand at this stage to the Caribbean Islands it will be them determining terms that might not be to our liking.
South Atlantic Islands to join together
(As Published in the St Helena herald on Friday, 05 march 2010)
The Home and International Committee are currently in the process of establishing an inter-island link between the Atlantic Islands of St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Ascension Island and the Falklands. The St Helena Herald set up an interview with Councillor Derek Thomas, Chairman of the Home and International Committee to find out what this means and what the benefits are of this interisland connection.
Attendee of the December Overseas Territories Consultative Conference in London, Councillor Cyril Gunnell, reported that representatives from the Caribbean as well as the South Atlantic Overseas Territories saw it in their best interest to join conferences. With this initiative in mind the Home and International Committee, the most appropriate portfolio holder has taken in hand to see this initiative through.
Derek said: "Initially we want to link the Islands in the South Atlantic; St Helena, Falklands, Ascension and Tristan but we're hoping to expand that to the Caribbean Territories as well."
This inter-island link will mean that the said islands will be able to share information, resources and knowledge and also join up capital projects that will benefit not only St Helena but all of the Overseas Territories.
Derek said: "It will also provide support when we attend conferences with our Ministers. If we joined up a working relationship in the South Atlantic we will have prior knowledge of one another's problems. As a result when we go to conferences and to Ministers with issues affecting the islands we will hopefully get general support as opposed to St Helena fighting in isolation. It will add more clout to ministerial decision thus bringing it all together."
To make this initiative reality the Home and International Committee are in the process of contacting all relevant Councillors in the Overseas Territories pointing out the concerned objective and collating ideas as to how to drive the project forward.
Once there is a general agreement and understanding within all Overseas Territories an initial approach will be made to DfID as to how they can offer support.
Derek said: "DfID have indicated they will give support but they are waiting for something from us now as to how we can take this initiative forward."
The benefits of an inter-island connection would mean teleconferences between the Island as well as a Conference in the South Atlantic on an annual basis. This however is subject to funding. If this had to happen Ascension Island would be the preferred place for Representatives to come together and share information.
In terms of time frame Derek said that hopefully the South Atlantic link will be up and running within the next 3 months. Once that is on the way there is hope to branch out next year to other Caribbean Islands.
Derek said: "There's a good advantage to the timing because we have Councillor Tara Thomas in the UK, Councillor Mervyn Yon is going next week they will meet with the UK Rep and the South African Rep to discuss our objectives and to collate ideas from them as to how we're going to form our policy. They will bring those ideas back to the Committee."
The Home and International Committee has oversight of the legal system, the constitution, non-government organisations, the media, disaster awareness, advising the Governor on overseas relations and the Diaspora.
The committee consists of Chairman, Derek Thomas, Deputy Chairperson, Tara Thomas and members Mervyn Yon and John Cranfield.