OTs are an integral part of Global Britain and benefit from a confident UK, Liz Truss
At the conclusion of a two-day meeting at the Foreign Office, the Joint Ministerial Council, JMC, which brings together UK ministers and Overseas Territories leaders agreed on a joint communiqué which included the agenda of issues addressed. Previous to the JMC the Overseas Territories Association held a meeting of their Political Council.
Over the course of the meetings plenary representatives discussed a range of topics, including the wide-ranging effects of COVID-19, the protection of the OTs extraordinary natural environments, ongoing security and law enforcement collaboration, and economic resilience.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who attended one of the meetings said, I am proud of the UK and the British family, and the real value the Overseas Territories bring to our family. As Foreign Secretary, I believe we have a positive proactive role to play in the world – promoting freedom, free enterprise, democracy and the rule of law. I want to ensure the Overseas Territories are an integral part of Global Britain and benefit from a confident UK, with an active presence across the globe.
I want the Overseas Territories to know they can rely on the UK, just as we have shown during the pandemic. So let’s strengthen our partnership for the years ahead”
The Joint Communiqué reads as follows,
1 The Minister for the Overseas Territories, Minister for Europe and Americas, elected leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories met as the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) on 16-17 November 2021. Ministerial colleagues from across the UK Government, including Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Department of Transport, the Home Office, HM Treasury, Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department of Education also joined.
2 We welcomed the newly elected Leaders of the Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, St Helena and the Turks and Caicos Islands. We acknowledge a new form of Ministerial Government in St Helena.
3 Ministers, Territory leaders and elected representatives were also pleased to welcome representatives from the International Maritime Organization, UK Health Service Agency, National Police Chiefs’ Council and West Midlands Police, and senior officials representing the UK Government.
4 Delegates gave particular thanks to The Duke of Cambridge, whose closing remarks highlighted the need to tackle climate change. The Duke also met a selection of inspiring young people and climate advocates, who are working to protect the environment and tackle environmental issues in their territories.
5 They also thanked the Foreign Secretary for her attendance and welcomed her and the Prime Minister’s messages of support, which reaffirmed that the Overseas Territories are an integral part of Global Britain, and benefit from a confident UK, with an active presence across the globe.
6 The JMC is the highest forum for political dialogue and consultation between UK and elected leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories for the purposes of providing leadership and promoting cooperation in areas of mutual interest. It provides a forum for the exchange of views on political and constitutional issues between the governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK Government: to promote the security and good governance of the Territories and their sustainable economic and social development; and to agree priorities, develop plans and review implementation.
7 The principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the UN Charter, applies to the peoples of the Overseas Territories. The UK and Overseas Territories reaffirmed the importance of promoting the right of self- determination for the peoples of the Territories, which is a collective responsibility of all parts of the UK Government. We will continue to explore ways in which the Overseas Territories can maintain international support in countering hostile sovereignty claims. For those Territories with permanent populations who wish it, the UK will continue to support requests for the removal of the Territory from the United Nations list of non-self-governing Territories.
8 The UK set out its commitments to the Overseas Territories in the paper Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. In addition, there is a shared commitment by the UK and the Overseas Territories to work together as partners to address challenges, from climate change to investment in physical infrastructure. The UK government will in consultation with the territories improve co-ordination across Whitehall departments, through regular ministerial meetings and a standing cross Whitehall programme board, and ensure Territories are regularly consulted on all relevant policy issues.
Climate Change Environment and Oceans
1. The Overseas Territories are custodians of internationally important habitats, which span the globe from the Antarctic to the Caribbean, the South Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Together with the UK, we represent the world’s fifth largest marine estate, over 90% of the UK’s biodiversity, and are essential to the UK meeting its pledge by 2030 to protect 30% of the world’s oceans. Climate change has a profound impact upon our environments, economies and societies, and failure to act impacts our present population and generations to come. To overcome the climate crisis facing our communities we must increase global solidarity and align our actions. The UK warmly welcomed the ongoing interest from some Overseas Territories in being covered by the Paris Agreement, and confirmed that the UK stands ready to support these Overseas Territories. The Overseas Territories formally extended their appreciation to the UK Government for facilitating their presence at the COP26 summit. COP26 provided an opportunity to showcase the precious and vulnerable natural environments in the Overseas Territories, and to generate high level engagement on environmental protection. We agreed that a greater level of engagement will continue for all Overseas Territories at future Convention on Biological Diversity and Climate Change summits.
2. We welcomed the UK’s acknowledgement that the Overseas Territories are on the frontline of the effects of climate change. The UK committed to work closely with Overseas Territory Governments where technical expertise was requested and to prioritise climate change and environmental issues in future funding for the Territories. The Overseas Territories committed to continuing to formulate ambitious climate targets and policies.
International Maritime Organization III Code
1. We discussed the successful outcome of the III Code audit. The UK reiterated that the representation of the UK and Overseas Territories in the international maritime arena is undertaken as a single entity by the UK on behalf of all and compliance with conventions is a shared collective responsibility.
2. The UK and the Overseas Territories agreed on the need for OTs to continue to work on their maritime obligations and have the ability to pursue full cost recovery from third parties in the event of a maritime pollution event in their waters.
3. We recognise how compliance with the III Code and other international maritime conventions will help Overseas Territories better manage the impacts of climate change. This includes zero-emission power generation on ships and will establish firm foundations for reliable maritime trade (Blue Economies).
4. We agreed to explore how Overseas Territories can manage emissions from their vessels and those of visiting ships in line with developing Climate Action Plans or decarbonization targets. We also agreed to consider how new maritime technologies might assist the Overseas Territories in managing issues around energy and waste.
5. The UK reiterated its commitment to support the Overseas Territories to complete the remaining mock audits, address gaps and build capacity and sustainability for the maritime sector. The UK and the Overseas Territories agreed to hold an initial round table discussion on the potential for transferring existing and emerging maritime technologies to land-based applications.
1 The UK Government is committed to supporting the Overseas Territories in building successful and resilient economies. We recognise that external shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, can lead to significant fiscal and economic challenges for the small and vulnerable economies of the Overseas Territories.
2 We discussed the importance of robust infrastructure, sound public financial management and effective fiscal planning in supporting recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK will continue to work with the Overseas Territories to explore opportunities for diversification of economies, building resilience and investment. The UK Government will consider the interests and needs of the Overseas Territories when designing programmes and policies to promote the sustainable economic development of the Territories.
3 The Overseas Territories will make full use of the Territories’ financial resources in the first instance. The UK will continue to consider further requests for financial support on a case-by-case basis. The UK remains committed to meeting the reasonable assistance needs of Territories where financial self-sufficiency is not possible, as the Overseas Territories are a first call on the aid budget.
4 The UK Government and the Overseas Territories will continue to cooperate on meeting evolving international regulatory and tax standards to support compliant financial services.
1 The UK and Overseas Territories noted the shared responsibility for ensuring the protection of our citizens across the Territories through the work of multiple agencies. The Overseas Territories welcomed the ongoing work by the UK Government through the Conflict Security and Sustainability Fund (CSSF) Justice Program and Border Security Program to help continue building, strengthening and modernizing law enforcement capabilities to fight crime and keep our borders safe. We recognize the importance of taking a holistic approach to crime prevention and recognize the growing threat of cyber crime.
2 Both the UK and Overseas Territories recognized that the underlying causes of crime are often complex and reaffirmed the joint commitment to build upon cross/multi-agency working to enhance co-operation and increase capacity within the Territories. We committed to sharing best practice and lessons learned by upholding the modern partnership between the Territory Governments, Governors and UK Government on areas of security and law enforcement.
1 The UK was delighted to support the Territories with the provision of COVID-19 vaccines, and congratulated the Territories on the dedication of their teams, and having some of the highest vaccination rates globally. Overseas Territories recorded their appreciation for the supply of all vaccines including boosters, which demonstrates the benefits of working in partnership for the wellbeing of the people of the Overseas Territories.
2 We also recognized that the impacts of COVID-19 were not yet over and we committed to continue to working together collaboratively to bolster the health services in the Territories through existing and new links with the UK. The Territories welcomed this, particularly the UK’s commitment to work with the Territories to access the limited supply of the UK’s therapeutics supply.
3 The UK Government and the Overseas Territories re-affirmed their commitment to addressing mental health, recognising that “there is no health without mental health”. The pandemic has brought common challenges to the mental wellbeing of our people, as well as common opportunities to consider how we can all look after our mental health and wellbeing. We recognise that poor mental health can affect anyone, but that those who have suffered trauma such as domestic violence are more likely to be affected.
4 During the pandemic young people are more likely to have experienced worsened mental health. Despite these challenges, there has been promising work carried out in the UK and in many Overseas Territories to improve mental wellbeing, and noted the opportunities to continue. The Mental Health webinars organized by the UK Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) in December 2020 and June 2021 brought together over 100 people from across the Territories. It is our ambition to continue the dialogue utilising UKOTA, with the next focus being Mental Health in the work place. Overseas Territories and the UK committed to continue the work to strengthen mental health systems to improve the lives of people with mental health problems, including children and young people, those who suffer from traumatic experiences, and those in the criminal justice system. 5 5 The Overseas Territories expressed regret for the delay in announcing the outcome of the NHS Quota Review and for pricing, and strongly encourage the UK Government to continue making progress in this area. The UK thanked the Overseas Territories for their input into the evidence-gathering phase of the Review and expressed commitment to progressing the Review.
1 The UK and the Overseas Territories acknowledged the importance of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in promoting and protecting children’s rights. In furtherance of this and our previous commitments to the highest standards of protection for children and a zero tolerance approach to abuse, the leaders of the Territories to which the Convention has been extended committed to:
a) continue to promote and protect children’s rights as set out in the UNCRC, and to fulfill their Convention obligations; and
b) in light of the UN’s previous concluding observations, conduct a review of the outstanding reservations to the Convention with a view to seeking their withdrawal.
2 The UK and Overseas Territories discussed the important role that governments can play in promoting inclusive societies, and recognised the benefits of greater inclusivity. We heard about the initiatives that several of the Territories have been taking forward in order to generate more inclusive societies, and recognised the importance of learning from each other’s successes and challenges in order to identify opportunities for improvement and to better promote more inclusive societies.
Finally, the UK Government and the Overseas Territories welcomed the opportunity to come together as a Joint Ministerial Council and the opportunity this afforded to have frank and open discussions on areas of mutual interest. The Overseas Territories welcomed the UK Government’s commitment to continue to champion the interests of the Territories. We reiterated our joint commitment to deepening our unique and modern partnership.