Tibbetts: Cayman will decide

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said last week that Cayman Islands citizens have no reason to fear either the Caribbean Community or the United Nations would interfere in the negotiation of a new constitution between Cayman and the United Kingdom.

The Cayman Islands is one of 16 remaining non-self governing territories world-wide that the UN has urged to embark on a process of self-determination. Cayman is reviewing its constitution with an eye toward giving locally elected legislators more autonomy. Such a change would need to be agreed upon with the UK.

‘No one is making any attempt to speak on our behalf in that regard,’ Mr. Tibbetts said during a press briefing last week. ‘They may make general statements and they will call the name the Cayman Islands simply because the Cayman Islands (are) part of that list.’

Mr. Tibbetts’ comments come on the heels of a recent speech made by Dominica’s UN Ambassador in New York in which the ambassador said it was time for those remaining territories to determine their political status.

‘There have been questions raised quickly since then whether CARICOM is speaking on our behalf, or negotiating on our behalf,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

Cayman is an associate member of the Caribbean Community, a status that allows it to attend meetings of the organisation, but that does not subject it to various economic and trade agreements made between full member states.

‘(Associate member status) does not mean for one second that either does CARICOM have the authority or do they have the inclination to go sitting down with anyone trying to tell them what the Cayman Islands want in the modernisation process with the constitution,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘It is ludicrous to even insinuate that.’

The United Nations sets forth four options for overseas territories in the process of self-determination. They are: independence, free association with the colonial nation, integration with that nation, or remaining a colony. The UN Special Committee of 24 on Decolonisation does not seek to order those territories’ independence; merely to ensure those territories are given all the options for self-determination.

Representatives from Cayman and other countries have previously argued to the UN that the UK had made misleading representations with regard to informing the territories about those options.

‘There’s a long-standing, if I may use the term, feud between the UN Committee of 24 and the United Kingdom with regard to those four options,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘People have picked it up — trying to use that as leverage in their expressions of how we should go forward.’

Officials with Cayman’s Constitutional Review Secretariat have expressed hopes that a referendum on a proposed constitution would occur by the end of next year. The draft revised constitution would then be taken to the UK for approval. Mr. Tibbetts said only those two countries will be involved.

‘Whenever negotiations are going to be taking place with the UK — those negotiations will take place with representatives of this country. There will be no go-betweens or in-betweens.’