No nation so small that its people forfeit the right to make sovereign determination: St.Vincent and the Grenadines

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

NAR: "There is no nation so small that its people forfeit the right to make a sovereign determination as to their own destiny and their relationship with colonial Powers."

That's what Prime minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told the opening of a three-day seminar, held under the theme of "Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism: goals and expected accomplishments".

Gonsalves told the Caribbean regional Seminar on Decolonization that for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, host of the seminar, the need to complete the decolonization exercise was fresh, relevant and urgent.

TAPE: Today, the overwhelming majority of Non-Self-Governing Territories are small, with the 500,000 people of Western Sahara and the 250,000 people of Guam being by far the largest of the remaining territories under the Special Committee's review. But to a small nation like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, whose 110,000 people achieved independence a mere 31 years ago, the need to complete the decolonisation exercise remains fresh, relevant and urgent. There is no nation so small that its people forfeit the right to make a sovereign determination as to their own destiny and their relationship with colonial powers.

NAR: According to Prime Minister Gonsalves, in the Caribbean region, the Special Committee has considerable work yet to complete. He noted that seven of the 16 non self-governing territories on the Special Committees agenda – Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands – are located in the Caribbean region.

TAPE: With the exception of the USVI, all of those territories are either members or associate members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the fundamental human rights of our neighbours, brothers and sisters are of paramount importance to our region. In recent years, CARICOM has expressed its particular concern with the decisions by the government of the United Kingdom to suspend the constitution, postpone elections, and impose direct rule on the peoples of the Turks and Caicos Islands, an associate member of our community. We remain hopeful that these issues can be swiftly and fairly addressed in the interest of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and we remind all involved of the words of the UN Declaration of 50 years ago: "Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence."

NAR: Prime Minister Gonsalves stressed that the continuing question of the fundamental human rights of 2 million people, scattered across 16 territories, was at the core of this week's meeting of the Special Committee.

TAPE: It is true to say that the heyday of naked colonialism is now thankfully behind us. Since the founding of the United Nations, populations numbering in the aggregate in excess of one billion people have freed themselves from the subjugation and exploitation of colonialism. Countless numbers of those people made the ultimate sacrifice for their country's freedom, and many chapters of our modern history are written in the blood of peoples whose nationalist struggles made them heroes in the global anti-colonialist struggle. However, sadly, colonialism has yet to recede completely into historical memory.

NAR: Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

duration: 3’43″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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