Following the Joint Ministerial Council meetings last month in London, the British overseas territories and the United Kingdom have issued a joint declaration to pursue a more “collaborative” partnership with each other. (Photo: Provided)

In line with discussions about the evolving relationship between the United Kingdom and its overseas territories in recent years, officials have put in writing their commitment to promoting a “modern, collaborative partnership.”

A joint declaration of the UK and OT governments, which was published Dec. 14, was the main focus of the Joint Ministerial Council meetings last month in London, according to Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley.

The declaration commits the UK government to supporting the territories in becoming autonomous if they wish, while the territories agreed to measures like becoming more financially independent where possible.

“As members of the British family, we will all practise the highest standards of governance, including in the areas of human rights, rule of law, integrity in public life and financial management,” the declaration states.

It adds that the signatories “reaffirm the unique and intricate bond between our communities” and seek to affirm “equal rights and self-determination” for the people of the territories.

Who’s involved?

During the Nov. 14-15 JMC in London, UK representatives met with several territorial leaders to craft the joint declaration.

They included Dr. Wheatley and representatives from Anguilla, Ascension, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

After the meetings, each of the territorial leaders had to bring the declaration to their own government for approval, Dr. Wheatley said during a Dec. 8 press conference.

UKOT Minister David Rutley — who Dr. Wheatley has described as an integral connection for the VI — said last Thursday that the joint declaration should “support OTs to take on more responsibility where they wish and are able to.”

This includes bolstering their public sectors and reviewing how the UK provides financial support, he said.

Mr. Rutley also touted the agreement’s undertaking to give territories a stronger voice on UK legislation that affects them.

“OTs’ elected leaders and representatives welcomed the declaration’s commitments to strengthen the relationship while ensuring that it is responsive to the needs and aspirations of the OTs,” he added.


As part of that aspirational support, the declaration commits the UK to helping OT governments “accept additional responsibilities and greater autonomy, alongside accountability, where they wish to.”

The agreement did not offer further details about what form this accountability would take, but it added that the UK will continue to support any OT requests to be removed from the United Nations’ list of non-self-governing territories.

The UK also pledged in the declaration to continue offering financial support to territories that are not financially self-sufficient as they seek to develop their own economies.

The OTs, meanwhile, agreed to “reduce their reliance on UK aid where there are viable options to do so.”


Mr. Rutley stressed that the joint declaration doesn’t focus solely on the blanket relationship between OTs and the UK.

“OT leaders and representatives also welcomed the commitment set out in the declaration for the UK to seek to develop bilateral compacts with each territory,” he stated. “The compacts will improve transparency of responsibilities — of the elected government, governor and UK government departments — and set out mutual expectations to achieve shared priorities and objectives.”

The declaration also commits the UK to support the development of such compacts.

“Where appropriate, the UK will support territories to enter into bilateral agreements with independent nations and other bodies, and to strengthen links with regional and international organisations,” the declaration adds.

Published strategy

The UK government also agreed to publish a strategy, developed in consultation with the territorial governments, for delivering on the proposed commitments. The declaration did not include a proposed timeline.

“We will work together to achieve our collective ambition through our global partnership to deliver a prosperous and secure future for our people,” the declaration concludes.

Following the Joint Ministerial Council meetings last month in London, the British overseas territories and the United Kingdom have issued a joint declaration to pursue a more “collaborative” partnership with each other.