Categorized | Features, General

De Ole Dawg – Part 7:2017 – The UN Charter Article 73 and the way forward post Brexit

What about the UN Charter: “ENSURE  . . .

political, economic, social and educational advancement”?

BRADES, Montserrat, Feb 16, 2017 – The November 2016 Premier’s Office Update[1] highlights how:

“. . . under the FCO’s acknowledgement of the legal force of the UN Charter Article 73 [in its 2012 White Paper on Overseas Territories, pp. 13 and 17], “reasonable assistance needs of overseas territories” hold “a first call” on the UK aid budget. Under the same legal force, in order to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned . . . political, economic, social, and educational advancement,” DfID is also committed to supporting sound, economy-transforming investments such as the £285 million St Helena airport.

The UK was one of the founders of the UN, back in 1946, so: this legal commitment was binding before it joined the EU and remains binding even as it leaves the EU. Where, Brexit is expected to possibly be as early as March 2019 (if Article 50 is triggered next month as has been planned).  Article 73[2] was also in place long before the UK put in place the goal of investing 0.7% of Gross national Income in development aid, and it will still be there even if the UK repeals the law that sets that target.

That means that this legally binding commitment to ensure . . . political, economic, social and educational advancement” is the bedrock on which we must build our hopes for redevelopment. For, ensure is a very strong word indeed.

“But, that sounds like a begging mentality!”

No.

Contrary to the false impression recently created by certain Tabloid newspapers in the UK, Montserrat has been under the British Flag for almost four hundred years. We have a reasonable right to expect British standard support as we rebuild from the devastation caused by the volcano disaster, and as we look to getting back up on our own two feet economically. (As we stood up from the 1980’s on until the volcano eruption hit us, hard.)

So, let us now bear that legal commitment in mind as we hear DfID itself, again, in the 2012 MDC Business case:

“Little Bay and Carr’s Bay are the only  developable sites left on the island capable of offering access by sea, providing a base for new FDI in tourism and other sectors, providing new commercial space and civic amenities and housing the critical mass of population and business necessary to stimulate local private sector development. Whilst some infrastructure provision and construction has occurred on the Little Bay site, it has not yet generated significant momentum and is hampered by poor physical access, an impractical master plan, fragmented and unprofessional marketing and promotion, and an unsupportive policy environment . . . . [S]upport . . . will help to (i) develop a tourism-driven capital town within the . . . Little Bay estates site as the principal location for new foreign direct investment, tourism, housing and civic facilities; (ii) improve physical access to Montserrat through the development of a port and breakwater at Carr’s Bay; (iii) improve and sustain access through investments in air and sea access assets; all aimed at moving Montserrat to financial self-sustainability, and (iv) strengthen the PSD technical capacity within GoM and the MDC to maximise the economic benefits arising from the UK investments . . .”

Change the dates to 2017 – yes, five years later – and this would still be “good to go.”

No wonder the Premier’s Office November 2016 Update continues:

“However, while we must acknowledge a lot of good work by DfID over the years, it is also fair comment that many credible development projects for Montserrat have been unduly delayed through a pattern of starts and stops, and re-starts. Some necessary projects have simply sat there, mysteriously deadlocked and not moving forward for months or even years on end. (Some projects that did finally get through were cut down to an inadequate level.)”

Yes, in the same document DfID spoke of MDC’s “failure,” and set about trying to fix it, only to have even deeper trouble in 2014 when whistleblower reports surfaced and hit the UK Tabloids[3] by 2015.  Yes, Montserrat lacks key components of capacity and there have been challenges with transparency, governance and accountability. All of that makes little difference: “ensure” is still a very strong word.

The challenge before us – DfID, FCO, GoM, longsuffering Montserrat public alike – is to see how we can fulfill that charge:  “ensure . . . political, economic, social and educational advancement.

Of course, we may ask, why hasn’t it happened after over twenty years.

The first bit of the answer is that the UK and local authorities were most likely not so sure of the volcano until, say, about 2007 – 8. The next bit of the answer will have a sour taste, for at that time they set up a trade and investment promotion agency that should have worked. This was also at just the time when the UK development aid budget was growing to meet the 0.7% target, even as other UK budgets were being cut due to the 2007 – 9 great recession. Unfortunately, by 2012, when DfID was asking for a further EC$ 5 – 6 millions, it felt that that was needed to reverse a disappointing “failure.” Then, by the time we hit 2014 – 5 we saw whistleblowers and Tabloid press exposes.

We have to come back from that hard punch to the belly.

From what the recent Premier’s Office Update says, the current effort is based on “a Policy Agenda” and highlights “ ‘catalytic’ development projects” (while noting the urgent need for “ ‘shovel-ready,’ jobs-creating projects that will help ‘kick-start’ strong growth in our economy”). It seeks to “work in partnership with FCO, DfID and other Departments of HMG,” and will “negotiate a new Development Partnership Memorandum of Understanding,” which will identify “a list of agreed priority projects with committed funds and a timeline that will help to guide us in working together to rebuild and redevelop Montserrat.” As action-arm, there will be  “[a] Programme Management Office.” This will work under the Montserrat Transformation Programme as a key mechanism “for promoting and strengthening aid effectiveness, policy-making, project management, strategic decision-making, prudent risk management and value for money in allocation of funds,” all working towards “sound, sustainable development.”

How well will this second try work out?

The answer to that question lies in our hands.

[1]           https://www.themontserratreporter.com/from-office-premier-building-montserrats-future/

[2]           http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-xi/

[3]           http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3084557/400m-foreign-aid-fiasco-paradise-Bribery-kickbacks-tax-money-siphoned-pet-projects-tiny-Carribean-island-British-worker-blew-whistle-paid-devastating-price.html

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What about the UN Charter: “ENSURE  . . .

political, economic, social and educational advancement”?

BRADES, Montserrat, Feb 16, 2017 – The November 2016 Premier’s Office Update[1] highlights how:

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“. . . under the FCO’s acknowledgement of the legal force of the UN Charter Article 73 [in its 2012 White Paper on Overseas Territories, pp. 13 and 17], “reasonable assistance needs of overseas territories” hold “a first call” on the UK aid budget. Under the same legal force, in order to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned . . . political, economic, social, and educational advancement,” DfID is also committed to supporting sound, economy-transforming investments such as the £285 million St Helena airport.

The UK was one of the founders of the UN, back in 1946, so: this legal commitment was binding before it joined the EU and remains binding even as it leaves the EU. Where, Brexit is expected to possibly be as early as March 2019 (if Article 50 is triggered next month as has been planned).  Article 73[2] was also in place long before the UK put in place the goal of investing 0.7% of Gross national Income in development aid, and it will still be there even if the UK repeals the law that sets that target.

That means that this legally binding commitment to ensure . . . political, economic, social and educational advancement” is the bedrock on which we must build our hopes for redevelopment. For, ensure is a very strong word indeed.

“But, that sounds like a begging mentality!”

No.

Contrary to the false impression recently created by certain Tabloid newspapers in the UK, Montserrat has been under the British Flag for almost four hundred years. We have a reasonable right to expect British standard support as we rebuild from the devastation caused by the volcano disaster, and as we look to getting back up on our own two feet economically. (As we stood up from the 1980’s on until the volcano eruption hit us, hard.)

So, let us now bear that legal commitment in mind as we hear DfID itself, again, in the 2012 MDC Business case:

“Little Bay and Carr’s Bay are the only  developable sites left on the island capable of offering access by sea, providing a base for new FDI in tourism and other sectors, providing new commercial space and civic amenities and housing the critical mass of population and business necessary to stimulate local private sector development. Whilst some infrastructure provision and construction has occurred on the Little Bay site, it has not yet generated significant momentum and is hampered by poor physical access, an impractical master plan, fragmented and unprofessional marketing and promotion, and an unsupportive policy environment . . . . [S]upport . . . will help to (i) develop a tourism-driven capital town within the . . . Little Bay estates site as the principal location for new foreign direct investment, tourism, housing and civic facilities; (ii) improve physical access to Montserrat through the development of a port and breakwater at Carr’s Bay; (iii) improve and sustain access through investments in air and sea access assets; all aimed at moving Montserrat to financial self-sustainability, and (iv) strengthen the PSD technical capacity within GoM and the MDC to maximise the economic benefits arising from the UK investments . . .”

Change the dates to 2017 – yes, five years later – and this would still be “good to go.”

No wonder the Premier’s Office November 2016 Update continues:

“However, while we must acknowledge a lot of good work by DfID over the years, it is also fair comment that many credible development projects for Montserrat have been unduly delayed through a pattern of starts and stops, and re-starts. Some necessary projects have simply sat there, mysteriously deadlocked and not moving forward for months or even years on end. (Some projects that did finally get through were cut down to an inadequate level.)”

Yes, in the same document DfID spoke of MDC’s “failure,” and set about trying to fix it, only to have even deeper trouble in 2014 when whistleblower reports surfaced and hit the UK Tabloids[3] by 2015.  Yes, Montserrat lacks key components of capacity and there have been challenges with transparency, governance and accountability. All of that makes little difference: “ensure” is still a very strong word.

The challenge before us – DfID, FCO, GoM, longsuffering Montserrat public alike – is to see how we can fulfill that charge:  “ensure . . . political, economic, social and educational advancement.

Of course, we may ask, why hasn’t it happened after over twenty years.

The first bit of the answer is that the UK and local authorities were most likely not so sure of the volcano until, say, about 2007 – 8. The next bit of the answer will have a sour taste, for at that time they set up a trade and investment promotion agency that should have worked. This was also at just the time when the UK development aid budget was growing to meet the 0.7% target, even as other UK budgets were being cut due to the 2007 – 9 great recession. Unfortunately, by 2012, when DfID was asking for a further EC$ 5 – 6 millions, it felt that that was needed to reverse a disappointing “failure.” Then, by the time we hit 2014 – 5 we saw whistleblowers and Tabloid press exposes.

We have to come back from that hard punch to the belly.

From what the recent Premier’s Office Update says, the current effort is based on “a Policy Agenda” and highlights “ ‘catalytic’ development projects” (while noting the urgent need for “ ‘shovel-ready,’ jobs-creating projects that will help ‘kick-start’ strong growth in our economy”). It seeks to “work in partnership with FCO, DfID and other Departments of HMG,” and will “negotiate a new Development Partnership Memorandum of Understanding,” which will identify “a list of agreed priority projects with committed funds and a timeline that will help to guide us in working together to rebuild and redevelop Montserrat.” As action-arm, there will be  “[a] Programme Management Office.” This will work under the Montserrat Transformation Programme as a key mechanism “for promoting and strengthening aid effectiveness, policy-making, project management, strategic decision-making, prudent risk management and value for money in allocation of funds,” all working towards “sound, sustainable development.”

How well will this second try work out?

The answer to that question lies in our hands.

[1]           https://www.themontserratreporter.com/from-office-premier-building-montserrats-future/

[2]           http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-xi/

[3]           http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3084557/400m-foreign-aid-fiasco-paradise-Bribery-kickbacks-tax-money-siphoned-pet-projects-tiny-Carribean-island-British-worker-blew-whistle-paid-devastating-price.html