UN Decolonisation Committee to Visit Montserrat

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has agreed to a visiting Mission to Montserrat by the United Nations (UN) Decolonisation Committee. This UN Visit was first called for by Premier Donaldson Romeo, in his June 2018 Presentation to the UN.

According to a release from the Government Information Unit, in a letter dated 10 May 2019 addressed to H.E. Ms. Keisha A. McGuire, Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonisation, the Premier was officially notified in copy of the UK Government’s approval. Following this approval, Premier Romeo, with the assistance of the Director of External Affairs, Debra Lewis, has moved ahead with arrangements to facilitate the Committee’s visit to the island later this year.

Premier Romeo is of the view that a Visiting Mission to Montserrat, including the diaspora in the UK and Antigua, will provide the UN with all the necessary knowledge and access to see firsthand the impact of the volcanic eruption as well as the longer-term social, economic and political challenges facing Montserrat.

Montserrat is one of 17 seventeen remaining territories recognised by the international community as needing to be fully decolonised under the legal force of ‘Article 73’ of the United Nations Charter.

On 7th December 2018, the 193-Member United Nations, at a Meeting of the General Assembly at Turtle Bay, New York, adopted resolution A/RES/73/114 regarding Montserrat.

In that resolution, they first recognised:
– “that [based on a June 2018 request by Premier Romeo] the previous request made [in 2012, by Premier Reuben Meade] for the removal of Montserrat from the agenda of the Special Committee should be reversed,” also

– “the importance of improving the infrastructure and accessibility of Montserrat, as conveyed by the Premier of Montserrat to the Chair of the Special Committee in their meeting on 11 May 2015,”
-“the request made by the Premier [Romeo] for a Visiting Mission of the Special Committee to the Territory”
– “that securing funding for rebuilding key infrastructure lost and helping evacuees from the 1995 volcanic crisis required an intervention from the Special Committee as a neutral partner.”

The United Nations Decolonisation Committee, also called the ‘Special Committee’, ‘Committee of 24’ or ‘C-24’, has a mandate under Article 73 to monitor the situations of Non-Self-Governing Territories like Montserrat, in their progress towards self-determination and the achievement of political equality. This mandate is based on Resolutions 1514 and 1541 of the UN General Assembly which set out three options for decolonisation, namely:

1. Independence
2. Free Association with an independent State; or
3. Integration into an independent State.

Once it is agreed that one of these three options has been achieved, a territory is removed from the United Nations List of Non-Self Governing Territories; otherwise called, the List of Territories Still to be Decolonised.

It is therefore with much optimism that the Honourable Donaldson Romeo, welcomes the long-awaited approval of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office in allowing a United Nations Mission to Montserrat in 2019; even whilst he continues to lobby for missions to Montserratians overseas, mostly in the UK and Antigua.

Further details on the actual date for the Committee’s visit will be announced when the necessary arrangements, have been made.