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Consulting Britain’s Overseas Territories

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Meg Munn, Overseas Territories Minister, hosted the ninth meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC) in December in London. Premiers, Chief Ministers, Councillors and other representatives from Britain’s Overseas Territories attended. The Council is held annually in London and provides a forum for consultation with British Government Ministers.


 


Meg Munn said:


 


’This was my first Overseas Territories Consultative Council and the first occasion I have had to meet the leaders of the Overseas Territories. We have had two days of wide-ranging and productive discussions. I was struck throughout by the unique nature of each of the Territories and for the issues of common concern to both the British Government and the Overseas Territories.”


 


’The agenda for this year’s Council was set largely by the Overseas Territories. This was a welcome development and gave the leaders of the Territories the opportunity to lead discussion on issues of particular concern to them. For my part, I was able to set out my priorities, including the importance of respect for human rights.”


 


“On the UK side, I was delighted to be joined by my Ministerial colleagues Jim Fitzpatrick, John Hutton, Jane Kennedy and Baroness Scotland who spoke about air safety, combating international corruption, international tax co-operation and criminal justice. I was pleased to join the Hon Paula Cox, the Deputy Premier of Bermuda, in signing a Tax Information and Exchange Arrangement between the UK and Bermuda. This is a good example of the partnership and co-operation that exists between the UK and the Overseas Territories.”


 


The UK and the Overseas Territories represented at the Consultative Council agreed the following:



  • target dates of June 2008 for the extension of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, and December 2008 for the extension of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, to all the Overseas Territories,

  • to continue to work together on constitutional modernisation to strike a balance between the aspirations of individual Territories for greater autonomy and the need for the UK Government and the territories to work together to protect against contingent liabilities and to ensure that HMG can meet its international obligations,

  • to extend the UN Convention Against Corruption to all the Overseas Territories at the earliest opportunity,

  • to work together to address the potential impact of climate change in the Territories and to promote sustainable environmental policies in each of the Territories.  

The UK and the Overseas Territories also discussed a range of issues including:



  • continuing to work together to take forward our shared responsibilities on disaster management,

  • the role and cost of ASSI in view of NAO recommendations that it should be self-funding, and the need for the Overseas Territories aviation regulations to be fully gazetted in the Overseas Territories by March 2008,

  • working together to improve existing arrangements for security and surveillance to control drug and people smuggling,

  • considering issues relating to immigration and human rights during constitutional review negotiations, as necessary,

  • access by Overseas Territories citizens to specialist health services in the UK,

  • working closely together to drive forward the criminal justice agenda.  

The Overseas Territories Consultative Council was established in 1999 as a forum for discussion of key policy issues between British Ministers and Heads of Overseas Territories’ Governments. The Council meets once a year in London. Meg Munn currently is the FCO Minister with specific responsibilities for Overseas Territory issues. The territories represented at this year’s OTCC were:


Anguilla,
Bermuda,
British Virgin Islands,
Cayman Islands,
Falkland Islands,
Montserrat,
Pitcairn,
St Helena,
Turks and Caicos Islands.


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