The British Overseas Territories, especially those in the Caribbean, are experiencing a period of significant uncertainty. There is the still unresolved issue of ‘Brexit’, and the likely impact on the territories in regard to trade, aid, and political cooperation. Pressure is also coming from the UK Parliament on three fronts. First, the requirement to have public registers of the beneficial owners of companies. Second, the legalization of same-sex marriage. Third, the call for diluting ‘Belonger’ status to allow legally-resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office. So the territories are being placed under significant pressure, and they must respond. There are real challenges here, but some opportunities too. The responses that are required fit in well with the theme of this year’s seminar – accelerating decolonization via renewed commitment and pragmatic measures. In order for the territories to not only better withstand the uncertainties facing them, but also to move towards greater autonomy, both the territories and the UK must act firmly, but also with realism. The territories should take measures to fortify their political structures: so for example the franchise should be widened, and they should implement the suggested changes made by various observer missions to improve the transparency of their elections. On the other hand the UK must ensure that the territories receive sufficient funding to strengthen their economies; and more support is given to help territories in key areas, such as managing immigration (hence complementing any expansion of the franchise).
Clegg, P. (2019, May). Establishing a pragmatic path to greater autonomy and decolonization. Paper presented at United Nations Regional Seminar Caribbean 2019