The world’s first formal stock exchange was established in Amsterdam in the early 1600s. The two major companies listed on it were the Dutch East India Company (founded in 1602) and the Dutch West India Company (1621), which supported the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Wild speculation on the value of rare tulips led to “Tulip Mania” in the mid-1630s, leading to the first recorded stock market crash.

Many investors today are growing fearful of a global stock market crash after 10 years of rising share prices. However, a minority, known as contrarians, face the prospect with equanimity, because they plan to buy shares low when the crowds rush to sell and sell them back into the market after they have risen again. However, they carefully evaluate their target shares in advance, as low prices might equate with failing companies, and they may consider some shares worth keeping for life.


2017 hurricanes

The “Irmaria” hurricanes of 2017 muffled a quiet acceptance that the Virgin Islands should aim for eventual independence, but the National Democratic Party administration terminated the Royal Navy’s assistance prematurely for fear of appearing to support neo-colonialism. However, academics have begun to belittle the United Kingdom’s assistance in recovering from the storms as insufficient, as a means of reviving a call for independence, believing it their patriotic duty to do so.

There is a noticeable rise of support in democratic elections for parties espousing policies popular with the public that are not necessarily the soundest financially, but more responsible leaders are willing to go against the tide and plan for the long term, allowing for unforeseen economic and environmental shocks. Premier Andrew Fahie hinted that he was prepared to do that when he announced there was method in his madness and has followed through with a related appointment.


UN committee

An astute businessman expressed a contrarian viewpoint in the Legislative Council over 30 years ago when he voiced strong concerns at the potential cost of the VI adopting all the trappings of an independent country. He decried any suggestion that the territory should cast off the economic benefits of British rule and have to bear the costs of establishing its own defence force, embassies around the world, and so on. He announced that he would “turn his back” on a delegation from the United Nations Decolonisation Committee if it approached him.

That committee, formally the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, was established in 1961 by the UN General Assembly to monitor implementation of its 1960 declaration on decolonisation.

Decolonisation transformed UN membership from 51 original members to 193 today, but there remain 17 “Non-Self-Governing Territories,” defined as colonies, ten of which are British OTs (listed in a recent commentary).

The UN committee annually reviews its list of territories and recommends on implementation and dissemination of information to mobilise public opinion in support of the decolonisation process, and observes the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing-Territories. It also hears statements from their representatives, dispatches visiting missions to them, and organises seminars on their political, social and economic situation.


Other colonies

Let us consider the statuses of other colonies around the world, their aspirations and their road maps, while examining the work of that committee. For example, in June 2018 it drew attention to Irmaria’s impact on Puerto Rico’s already serious economic and social challenges, unemployment, insolvency and poverty, and approved draft resolution calling on the United States to take responsibility to facilitate realisation of the right of Puerto Ricans to self-determination.

The past chair of the special committee, from Antigua and Barbuda, encouraged attendees at its session in Grenada on Feb. 21 to re-examine its approaches to decolonisation. She suggested that it could support the people they were serving by holding its 2019 Caribbean Regional Seminar in a British OT as the UK had proposed. However, it decided the session would be held in Grenada, on May 2-4.