Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley recently thanked fellow leaders of British overseas territories for their support in the aftermath of the Commission of Inquiry report, and he offered to help them seek support from the United Nations on their sustainable development plans and other efforts, according to Government Information Services.

Dr. Wheatley was speaking about the importance of OT cooperation while virtually attending a Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting on June 10, GIS stated in a June 17 press release.

“The strong advocacy of my OT colleagues, particular in the Caribbean territories, made a difference in the outcome of the United Kingdom government’s decision to not partially suspend the Constitution in response to the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry report,” Dr. Wheatley said. “They have also generously offered technical assistance as the Government of National Unity implements reforms.”

On June 20 during a community meeting at Elmore Stoutt High School, the premier added that the UK has also offered technical assistance in carrying out the COI reforms according to the agreed timeline.

He also said his administration is reviewing the implementation plan to determine where the UK, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, and others who have promised their support can help.

EU assistance

OT leaders at the June 10 event also discussed how the loss of development assistance from the European Union has affected them, according to the press release.

Dr. Wheatley said the Virgin Islands has focused on securing funding from the UN instead, especially to support technical assistance for sustainable development. He added that the territory has formed a “strong relationship” with the UN while evaluating its 2030 goals.

He also noted other collaborations: the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean recently helped the territory develop a National Sustainable Development Plan; the UN Development Programme worked on disaster risk reduction and socio-economic recovery from the pandemic; and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Barbados helped the VI participate in a joint programme for social protection and youth empowerment.

“My administration will support our sister territories in engaging the UN as they seek similar assistance,” Dr. Wheatley said.

November JMC

UK/OT relations, environmental issues, education, financial services, and economic resilience were also key topics of discussion for JMC members from Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, St. Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Pitcairn Islands, according to the press release.

In November, the leaders will meet with UK ministers to discuss issues affecting the territories.

During last year’s JMC meeting, then-Premier Andrew Fahie said he advocated for a “modern partnership” with the UK that paved the way toward self-determination for the territory. He also discussed national security and law enforcement, while then-Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone contributed to discussions about Covid-19, mental health, and protecting vulnerable community members.