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Substantive responses received by the Small Islands Voice global forum to the posting on the theme Disputed Islands, 20 July 2007

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Matthew and Hunter Islands and the Pacific
From Vili Baledrokadroka, Fiji
From Sarimin J. Boengkih, New Caledonia
From Myriam Chambault
From Myriam Chambault
From Leonie Crennan
From Tony Deamer, Vanuatu
From Tony Deamer, Vanuatu
From Caroline Tu’ipulotu Dubois, Tonga
From Francesco Emmanuel
From Fred
From Maria Grech, St. Lucia
From Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, Samoa
From Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, Samoa
From Sabra Kauka, Hawaii
From Sabra Kauka, Hawaii
From Makereta Komai, Fiji
From Barbara Kwiatkowska, Netherlands
From S D Limaye, India
From Donna Lucero, Hawaii
From Roger and Kura Malcolm
From Maraea
From Barbara Moore, Hawaii
From Barbara Ann Moore, Hawaii
From Eloi Leye Najap, Vanuatu
From Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu
From Bernadette Secco, Canada
From Janine M. H. Selendy
From Tetoaiti Tabokai
From Wendy Tafla, New Zealand
From Jacques Gédéon Taritong, Vanuatu
From Jacques Gédéon Taritong, Vanuatu
From George J Toka, Fiji
From Willy Uan, Kiribati
From Mali Voi, Samoa
From Writer
From Writer
From Writer, Australia
From Writer, Federated States of Micronesia

From Writer, Netherlands

Chagos Archipelago and Indian Ocean
Abdool, Mauritius
Abdool, Mauritius
Katy Beaver, Seychelles
John Bungitak, Marshall Islands
Nico Kux, Mauritius
Nico Kux, Mauritius
Marvelle, Seychelles
Jacques Gedeon Taritong, Vanuatu
Vikash Tatayah
Celia Whittaker, Uk
Writer, Seychelles
Writer, Seychelles

Isla Aves and the Caribbean
J Charles, St. Lucia
Corine Duffis, St. Andres Archipelago
Bernhard Grdseloff, Grenada
Jean James, Dominica
Anthony Richards, Antigua & barbuda
Rosemarie Thomas, Trinidad & Tobago

Benito Wheatley, British Virgin Islands

Other responses
Jan Collander
Thomas Goreau
Santi Hitorangi
Karleen, Federated States of Micronesia
Livinai Masei, Fiji
Darmanin Michael, Malta

Riyad M Mistry, Marshall Islands
Otto S.R. Ongkosongo
Lea J. Parker, USA
Soodhakur Ramlallah

Frank Sabatano, Cook Islands
Tim Shaw

Matthew and Hunter Islands and the Pacific

From Vili Baledrokadroka, Fiji

We regret and at the same time have to fight hard to regain our Independence from colonization and the networks that still over-hang our small island economies for total freedom, independence and justice.

From Sarimin J. Boengkih, New Caledonia

Dear Friends,
Thank you for raising the issue of Matthew and Hunter islands. I am a Kanak from Kanaky-New Caledonia, long time human rights defender and activist for the decolonisation of our country. To my point of view, the dispute between France and Vanuatu is simply part of the colonial situation Kanaky-New Caledonia is maintained under.

Although nothing justifies its pretension, France keeps claiming its sovereignty over the two islands, Paris will not give up.

Without being a scientist, from reading in the ORSTOM-IRD atlas the map of the structural features of the South-West Pacific one can see that:

- The limit between the Australian plate and the Pacific plate is a complex zone with a series of secondary plates;

- The Matthew and Hunter islands are well part of the New Hebrides arc of islands;

- The New Hebrides arc is separated from the Norfolk ridge (comprising New Caledonia) by the NH Trench and the Hunter ridge;

- Between the NH arc and New Caledonia are the Loyalty chain of islands and the Loyalty Basin.

Nevertheless, according to the article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a coastal state may claim rights over an area beyond 200 miles from the territorial sea baseline (the breadth of the exclusive economic zone). This claim must be based on the satisfaction of bathymetric and geophysical criteria supporting the idea that the claimed area is the natural prolongation of the land territory of the coastal state.

Last year, I found that few years ago France, Great Britain and Ireland claimed before the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) United Nations the right to extend their Economic Exclusive Zone from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles.

To face the challenge that represents a claim for its continental shelf and extend its area of sovereignty, France launched a program named EXTRAPLAC, whose tasks are to evaluate the possibilities of extension, achieve the necessary surveys and elaborate a submission to be presented to the United Nations commission on the limits of the continental shelf. The EXTRAPLAC program is run by IFREMER (French Institute for exploitation of the sea), IFP (French Oil Institute) and SHOM (French Navy hydrographic et oceanographic Department). The Extraplac program components for New Caledonia are called NOUPLAC 1 and NOUPLAC 2 that nobody has heard of in New Caledonia. Even when the country leaders are informed about the program, their lack of reaction indicates their lack of interest for one more move by the administering power to strengthen its control over New Caledonia. The only program France had communicated on is called ECOZONE, a program to study the different possible maritime routes that ships can take when coming to or leaving from any ports of New Caledonia.

On 22 May 2007, France submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, information on the limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured in respect of the areas of New Caledonia.

My guess is that in the case France's claim is accepted by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, one of the consequences would be that it will become much harder for Vanuatu to gain back its two islands.

And one also has a clear view on France’s reluctance to see Kanaky-New Caledonia becoming an independent nation and a clear indication that the illegal exploitation of New Caledonia natural resources just started.

From Myriam Chambault

To Mr. Jacques Gedeon. According to the law they indeed belong to France. If Vanuatu wants to fight back you can find an elite international lawyer or write to the International Court of Justice, European headquarters in Strasbourg, United Nations committee of Decolonisation or UNESCO, they can do a thorough research for you. Good luck to you and keep cool under the coconut trees in the small island of Tana. From Paris, Pacific islands House member.  One tok!

From Myriam Chambault

From One Tok in Paris, hello. It’s part of intangible heritage. Now New Caledonia and Vanuatu can share 50/50 of the land and sea. Please no war. Both islands are in Spearhead Group. Tanoa of Kava and islands ceremony will do for Peace Keeping Right From the Bureau of Pacific Islands House in Paris. God bless all small island states.

From Leonie Crennan

Very interesting discussion re Matthew and Hunter islands and Vanuatu v France. Was a bit surprised by the final comment from a respondent that this topic was too complex and sophisticated for the Small Islands Voice forum. Is that to imply that only simple and unsophisticated topics can be discussed/understood by readers of the forum? Most of the topics are very complicated and I think that’s why it is such a good service that the forum provides a venue to unravel the complexity from many points of view.

Leonie Crennan (I live in Australia but have been working in the Pacific Islands for the last 15 years and look forward to every edition of the SIV, thanks).

From Tony Deamer, Vanuatu

Re Matthew and Hunter.
I met a man who claimed Matthew and Hunter years ago when they were not claimed by any one and as he was living in New Hebrides under British Law he registered his claim though   the Brits and I understood it was accepted. Before Independence he handed it over to the New Hebrides Government or Vanuatu as it is now. So I have no Idea how the French have any claim at all on the two islands.

From Tony Deamer, Vanuatu

The Brits' should have something to say on this (Matthew and Hunter), as it was I understood registered by them to a Mr. Bob Paul in the years before Vanuatu came into being.  I believe he then handed them over at Independence! You could ask him I believe he lives in Mt.  Tambarine in QLD.

From Caroline Tu’ipulotu Dubois, Tonga

Hello All

We are a small island and the difference is our country/island has never been colonised as we are the only Kingdom in the Pacific. The presence of westerners is there but is restricted under the list of business activities allowed by our King and Government (Foreign Investment) to protect his subjects. All land is crown land and foreigners can never own land except lease. I am sure all Tongans agree with me that we are very lucky in that sense. Even though we are a decade or more behind most developed islands in the South Pacific but its what makes my little island nation so special.

The above is probably irrelevant to your cause and believe me we had a riot 16/11/06 which wiped out our town centre and business lost and that changed our lives. I personally am afraid of the plans to rebuild our little nation. Will it be Tonga or have we bowed to the pressures of the western world. 
Ofa atu

From Francesco Emmanuel

Hi Jacques, maybe if we can get everyone on those islands to sign a petition and present it to the UN, also getting everyone to sign on this forum, maybe you can show France and the UN that these decisions must include the natural inhabitants that live there.
Hope it's not a silly idea.
Best Regards.

From Fred

Thanks for this story.

The Banabans whose island (Ocean Island - Mid Pacific) was rich with phosphate were also exploited of their lands (first it got annexed into a British colony, then cheated on pricing and contracts, then forced to another island so the British can mine the rest of phosphate) Today the land is just a moonscape but like you mentioned it’s nothing like your homeland which is the foundation of your roots culture traditions and identity. With the possibilities now available to us (such as UN, Human Rights and International bodies) we will raise these severe violations and damages which should be put right.

I will be happy to hear any successful stories on this kind of cases. Thanks

From Maria Grech, St. Lucia

This query is in response to your last email. Matthew and Hunter appear to be just two rocky outcrops that are at the tail end of the group of islands that make up Vanuatu. I would like to ask Mr. Gedeon why were they not transferred with the rest of the territory when The New Hebrides (then I believe controlled by the British and the French) became Vanuatu in 1980? What is France's interest in these 'two stony islands' and what activities, if any, were ever conducted on them? Would it have anything to do with the earlier French nuclear tests?

From Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, Samoa

Dear Jacques,
I have read and understand your problem and it is a national question that your government plus NGOs should raise this worldwide using all the network that you could come about to raise awareness against France.

As far as I am concerned colonialism had ended long time ago therefore France has no right to claim any islands or land in the Pacific Ocean except Europe. We must stand together as Pacific Islanders and fend away all these intruders and leave the Pacific alone.   You should take it up with the Pacific Forum, United Nation and all the similar bodies for support against France.

I am Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson . Vice President of the Samoa Umbrella of NGOs and Civil Society.   You must never give up.

From Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, Samoa

Dear Friends and Members of the Advocacy Network in the Pacific including
Small islands for the information

Although my special thanks and congratulation to all those who had worked
hard for a difference to safe the Pacific and the small islands,

Faafetai and Praise the Lord.

From Sabra Kauka, Hawaii

Excellent comments by all. Toni Tevi, however, really hit the nail on the head. This move by France is all about grabbing resources.

From Sabra Kauka, Hawaii

Aloha Jacques Gideon,
This is the year 2007. It is not 1807, 1607 or 1407. We native people are awake and vigilant, and we will not allow the large, industrialized nations of the world to simply stake their claim to our lands whether they be rocky outcrops, verdant islands, or our seabeds.

France is, of course, looking to extract and use for its own purposes the natural resources around your islands and under the sea. They have no right to those islands. They have no right to your sea. Surely there are people on this list who know the procedure for a small country such as yours, to fight this France.

Band together. Be strong.
Get France out of the Pacific.

Ku'e - Stand up for our rights.

From Makereta Komai, Fiji

I am a journalist with PACNEWS in Suva, Fiji. I was in Port Vila last week and interview PM Ham Lini on France's claim on Matthew and Hunter. He said that President Nicolas Sarkozy had written to him withdrawing its claim on the two uninhabited islands. President Sarkozy didn’t like the idea of being summoned to the UNCLOS in New York and urged Vanuatu to try and resolve the issue bilaterally with New Caledonia. PM Lini maintains the two islands belong to Vanuatu and will try and resolve this dispute 'without hurting France’.

From  Barbara Kwiatkowska, Netherlands

Please kindly send me e-mail address of Mr. Jacques Gedeon for further contact.

From S D Limaye, India

Dear all, 
Geology / Geography hardly help in settling political borders. If the islands are habited, the best solution would be to have a referendum from the local people about their choice to stay with Vanuatu or France.

From Donna Lucero, Hawaii

Aloha Jacques,
Is Vanuatu an independent settlement outside of France?  If so, is there a decree stating these islands as part of the territory of Vanuatu?  If not, is there a procedure under the United Nations by-laws that will allow you imminent domain of these islands in order to place them under your stewardship?  Hope these questions are useful.

a hui hou, Donna

From Roger and Kura Malcolm

Suggest you make it an issue for your leaders at the South Pacific Forum.  The French have observer status and wish to become full members but are excluded because of their continued control of their colonies. Be provocative.  Apply to the Pacific Conservation and Development Trust (the fund established after the French sank Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour, email Dalpat.Nana@dia.govt.nz) for a grant to study the flora and fauna of the islands or something similar.  Make sure you have a recognised international film crew with you. Establish paid caretakers on the islands with warrants from the Vanuatu Government.

The French application for an expansion of its colonies in the Pacific should be easy to knock down with the right publicity.  Involve Greenpeace.

From Maraea

How does France support this claim that the islands belong to them all the way from Europe to the Pacific?

From Barbara Moore, Hawaii

Islanders deserve the right to live on their island without being told to leave so military people of another country can play out their war game. We are all trying to reverse this military take over of islands - including Hawaii. You have our support.
Aloha from the Big Island. We are praying for your right to live your lives on your land.

From Barbara Ann Moore, Hawaii

The US military is taking over the Hawaiian Islands, turning it into a nuclear dump. We have to work together to reverse the out-of-control military/industrial complex Ike warned us of in the 50's. My heart goes out to all the small voices, hoping that they will be heard when they join together and figure out a way to combat this criminal activity. There is no reason to create war. If we can instead, use all that war-wasted money to create harmony, this would be a safe and peaceful world for everyone.
Sending you my Aloha and my prayers.

"In the Sweetness of Friendship, let there be Laughter and the Sharing of Pleasures "
Khalil Gibran

From Eloi Leye Najap, Vanuatu

Directement concerné par l'avenir de ces patrimoines naturels et culturels que sont les deux rochers appelés matthew et hunter, je voudrai exprimer ici ma gratitude envers tout ceux qui, de près ou de loin, ont activement contribué à la décision prise du Président Sarkozy à ce dossier. Merci également et surtout à Gédéon qui bien entendu eu l'initiative d'en faire sur ce site. Excellente idée puisque le résultat et là. David a fait plier Goliath...
Le concept d'appartenance à un terroir reste chez les habitants de mon île Anatom, reste un héritage d'une terre qui appartient déjà à nos petits enfants. Nous n'avons là-dessus jamais nié et nous sommes près à continuer toutes discussions à ce sujet avec le gouvernement français ou le gouvernement de kanaky avec qui nous entretenons déjà depuis la nuit des temps des relations culturelles étroites.
Nous comptons toujours énormément sur vos points de vue experts en la matière. Nous savons qu'il reste un travail de fond à mener et nos politiciens s'en occupent mais nous demandons tout de même une certaine vigilance de la part de tous pour la suite à venir.
Si la France reconnaît des droits inaliénables des terres coutumières de la kanaky approuvés au sénat coutumiet de NC, nous devons le faire comprendre et accepter qu'avant leur arrivée, ces droits et concepts d'apprendre coutumiers occupaient déjà cette espace du pacifique sud.
Nos droits légitimes de peuples autochtones reconnu par l'ONU sont également notre arme de lutte.
Merci encore de nous soutenir pour la défence de ce patrimoine naturel et culturel. Il en va également et surtout de l'intégrité d'un pays souverain indépendant.
Bravo à tous pour cette première étape et à la prochaine!
Amicalement votre

Directly interested by the future of the natural and cultural heritage of the two rock islands known as Matthew and Hunter, I would like to express my gratitude towards all those people who directly or indirectly have actively contributed to the decision taken by the President Mr. Sarkozy. I would also like to thank Gédéon who proposed the discussion for the website. This showed that it was worth doing it …… David has managed to beat Goliath.

This concept of belonging to a land is printed in the mind of the people and the heritage belongs to our grand children.

We have never denied this and we are ready to continue all discussions on this subject with the French government and the government of Kanaky with whom we have maintained a cultural relationship since the midst of time.

We rely greatly on your expert point of view on this matter .We know that there’s a lot to do and that our politicians are dealing with it but however we need to take precautions on what will come.

If France recognizes its inalienable right for the land of Kanaky which is approved by the senate of NC, we should try to make them understand and accept that before they came to the island, the legal rights of the people were already established this area of the South Pacific.

The legal rights of the Indigenous people recognized by the UN will be our weapon to fight against them.

We thanked you once again for helping us in the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage. And it is important for a country to be independent specially for its sovereignty.

From Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu

France just withdrew its claim to the islands, after Vanuatu objected.

From Bernadette Secco, Canada

Where can I find the document by Jacques Gedeon.  I'm interested to read the French article. I may be able to help.

From Janine M. H. Selendy

Regarding Vanuatu, Pacific, Horizon has a case study on the Horizon Solutions Site at http://www.solutions-site.org for which I would appreciate update information, photographs and related material such as references to recent information. Here is the summary and link to the full article:
Biodiversity Government-supported, village-based management of marine resources in Vanuatu http://www.solutions-site.org/artman/publish/article_38.shtml
Through "cooperative management," in which the government fisheries department provides scientific information and advice, while coastal villages assume the bulk of the responsibility for local management, fisheries are being effectively managed and protected. Vanuatu villagers are widely putting aside opportunities to earn quick cash from their marine resources in exchange for the greater long-term benefits of conserving them.

Apr 28, 2003, 12:07pm
Chairman and President, Horizon International
Yale University

From Tetoaiti Tabokai

Colonisation is the key word there, a means to an end and effective means to subjugate and exploit the weak in the name of civilization and progress.  And while we are on that topic, we must never forget too that Irian Jaya which is also a part of the Pacific is still a colony but unlike the French colonies have no choice and say in the process and running of the country. Irian Jaya is a part of the Pacific that we should also be concerned with and make headlines similarly to the French case.  The power versus the weak struggle is a thing of the past but power hungry nations still cling on islands forcing them to be so dependent that they will prefer to be colonised than to forfeit all the benefits of such a relationship. Irian Jaya is controlled with the point of a gun with Australia turning a blind eye. And that is the kind of complication that is being talked about.  It is complicated because certain powers with vested interest have made a pact to commit a felony to a weaker country.  All these made in the interest of their respective states. Hope everything turns around for the better for the Pacific we believe in.

From Wendy Tafla, New Zealand

I agree with Jacques. I am living in Tanna Tafea Province where the islands of Matthew and Hunter would/do belong. The custom and culture has always includes these islands and it would be timely to find a way to settle the dispute through a custom procedure also.

From Jacques Gédéon Taritong, Vanuatu

Hello and Pacific greetings to everyone of you, writes Jacques Gedeon. I am a regular reader of the issues discussed on this forum. I am from the Republic of Vanuatu and I have a strong request to formulate to the forum readers so that an open discussion can take place in order to help Vanuatu settle an important issue concerning two stony islands in the far South of Vanuatu. Namely, Matthew and Hunter islands. In geographical terms these two islands belong to Vanuatu. They are situated on the tectonic plaque where Vanuatu is, but with the developments so far. France is claiming these two islands and has deposited at the United Nations in New York a dossier to possess them. Hoping the readers can come up with concrete discussions to help Vanuatu fight back.

From Jacques Gédéon Taritong, Vanuatu

Pacific greetings to everyone.

I am seizing this occasion to just thank everyone of you who in one way or the other have greatly contributed in the discussion around Mathew and Hunter Islands situated far down South of the Democratic Republic of Vanuatu. I have made a request through this network and glad to read your reactions concerning the two islands.

Thank you for the people in St Lucia particularly Maria Grech for your opinion. Thank you also to Sarimin Boengkih from Kanaky who has rightly pointed out the interest of France in keeping those two rocky islands.

The voices from different parts of Vanuatu are welcomed. Thank you for taking your time and respond to an issue which concerns every Vanuatu Citizen and not only TAFEA Province or Futuna and Anneityum Islands.

We all can now rejoice to note that France has withdrawn its claims at the United Nations over these two islands. It is really wise to do so...I am seizing this opportunity to congratulate France's President Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy for that humble decision. This action proves that through dialogue and mutual understanding the two countries can amicably solve the issue out bearing in mind the culture and customs which surround Mathew and Hunter.

Can France come out clear and relate to everyone the custom stories which relate to those two islands? I am asking the Kanaky people to respond to this question. I am asking the French Nationals living in Metropolitan France which connections they have in relation to these two islands? Are their forefathers, ancestors (Gaulois) know that far at 22 000 km from their homeland there are two little islands which belong to them? It is ridiculous of course for the Gaulois to claim those two islands because they are part of New Hebrides, now an Independent Nation - the Democratic Republic of Vanuatu.

In the coming days, weeks, and months we the Citizen of Vanuatu are affirmative that Mathew and Hunter are our islands and they should be given back to us...

Let every Vanuatu citizen stand tall and say: "Yes Matthew and Hunter form the last two islands from reading the map of the structural features of the South-West Pacific one can see, among other things, that the Matthew and Hunter islands are well part of the New Hebrides arc of islands, and that the latter is separated from the Norfolk Ridge (comprising New Caledonia) by the New Hebrides Trench and the Hunter Ridge" as rightly pointed out by Sarimin Boengkih.

From George J Toka, Fiji

I am not sure if the 200 nautical miles has been accepted in this case by considering also the land area, ocean area and socio-cultural features of the mentioned island nations. I would be more satisfy to learn about the prehistorical evidence of either Vanuatu or New Caledonia that contributed to any decision on territorial boundaries.

From Willy Uan, Kiribati

Thanks for this email and living in a country that was once owned by British - it is no good for the bigger countries to state to the world that they owned small island nations.

From Mali Voi, Samoa

The issue of the political boundaries should be a matter between Vanuatu and France.

By the way, what is the view of Kanaky people of New Caledonia on this issue?
Anyway since disputes such as this could end up into "war", it is in the interest of UNESCO to promote peaceful dialogue between the two UNESCO Member States namely France and Vanuatu and to seek resolution on this issue through consensus culture of UNESCO between them.

From Writer

I oppose this effort. After seeing how France has managed the Tahitian Islands - no more. Let's take Bora Bora their "Tourist gem" as an example. There is completely inadequate sewage treatment for what was originally a pristine coral lagoon. The government has persisted in the construction of more and more over the water hotel rooms but have done nothing to improve the water quality of the lagoon. The reason is not money because they get plenty per night for the hotel stays. The reason is greed. The fish life within the Bora Bora lagoon is pretty limited except for certain "snorkeling spots" where tourist feed a limited number of species. Best management practices should be required of lands France holds in the Pacific before they are allowed to control more. They say they have superior technology, let's see them use it!

From Writer

I oppose this effort. After seeing how France has managed the Tahitian Islands - no more. Let's take Bora Bora their "Tourist gem" as an example. There is completely inadequate sewage treatment for what was originally a pristine coral lagoon. The government has persisted in the construction of more and more over the water hotel rooms but have done nothing to improve the water quality of the lagoon. The reason is not money because they get plenty per night for the hotel stays. The reason is greed. The fish life within the Bora Bora lagoon is pretty limited except for certain "snorkeling spots" where tourist feed a limited number of species. Best management practices should be required of lands France holds in the Pacific before they are allowed to control more. They say they have superior technology, let's see them use it!

From Writer, Australia

Matthew and Hunter may be used as French garbage dumps
Written by Vanuatu Independent 
Wednesday, 13 June 2007

It’s official. The government of France has officially deposited 7 May 2007 a claim to extend its continental shelf along part of the French territory of New Caledonia to the United Nations Committee on the Law of the Continental Shelf, UNCLOS. During Condominium times, Matthew and Hunter islands were administered from Port Vila. Maps of the time mark Matthew and Hunter on the Vanuatu side of the sea boundary between the two countries.

The southern Vanuatu islands all have customary and traditional ties with the two volcanic outposts. The first administrative tour since Independence led by the late Joe Joseph saw the raising of the Vanuatu flag on Hunter island on March 9, 1983. Two postage stamps commemorated the event.

The head of the French diplomatic mission in Port Vila, the Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon, confirmed this week that Paris had already deposited its submission at UNCLOS in New York.

A member of the technical committee appointed by the government, Tony Tevi says that starting from the date of the deposition of the French claim, Vanuatu has three months to submit its claim and if the government fails to do so, Matthew and Hunter will become automatically part of the French territory of New Caledonia.

“It is frightening. We people in Vanuatu have to know that between the islands of Matthew and Hunter, there is a trench seven thousand meters deep and there is a potential for France to use it as its garbage dumping site in the Pacific,” Tevi says.

Tony Tevi says that during the last two decades, Vanuatu has condemned the use of the Pacific region as a waste dumping site and the people of Vanuatu must be mindful that if Matthew and Hunter become part of New Caledonia, France can do what it wants.

Tevi says that in and under the sea, there are riches yet to be discovered.

“There is a potential of fish stocks, minerals, gold, petroleum and sovereign rights, but I think what France wants to do in claiming the extension to its continental shelf is to expand its economic zone in order to have more fish and more minerals,” says Mr. Tevi.

Vanuatu now has only two months to make its counter claim.

The Indy understands that government officials have prepared a dossier to be submitted to the council of the ministers to address the issue.

But Ambassador Mayaudon early on made the position of France very clear: that there is a document which was deposited by Vanuatu in the United Nations in 1982 which defines its maritime borders, and Matthew and Hunter are not included.

He said that the intervention of Vanuatu in the UN will not have the effect of putting into question that Matthew and Hunter are part of the French territory of New Caledonia.

For Mr. Mayaudon the claim of the extension of the continental shelf will only bring the opportunity for Vanuatu and France to resolve once and for all, their maritime borders to avoid illegal fishing in the area east of the Loyalty Islands and the southern part of Vanuatu.
From Writer, Federated States of Micronesia

France is good at that. They still claim St. Pierre and Miguelon just off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

From Writer, Netherlands

I am not interested to engage into any exchanges on Hunter and Matthew Islands disputed by Vanuatu and France within Small Islands Voice (SIV) at: http://www.sivglobal.org/ because this otherwise valuable socio-economic and environmental SIV is unsuitable for professional exchange on sophisticated legal and political matters involved in that dispute. Appeal of this Mr. Jacques Gedeon from Vanuatu and his hope that "the readers can come up with concrete discussions to help Vanuatu fight back" testify that he is not a lawyer, perhaps some journalist or NGO. Even if you informed the readers - as he did not do - what is it about, they could still not come up with any sound discussions, because they require participation of sophisticated international lawyers and high-class geographers, which Vanuatu Ambassador to the United Nations and their other officials know how to find if they intend to pursue their case against France effectively.

For sake of completeness, I note that the issue of Vanuatu's claim over Hunter and Matthew Islands has now resurfaced in the context of: France's Partial Submission [French Guyana and New Caledonia] to the CLCS of 22 May 2007 - see page 8 at screen - Sec.4: Absence of Disputes!! (this formulation shows that France either does not consider that it has any territorial dispute with Vanuatu or that it considers that Hunter & Matthew are not relevant to France's Outer CS in this area) and page 10 at screen - Map [not marking Hunter & Matthew or any coastlines] of New Caledonia South East at: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/fra07/fra_executivesummary_2007.pdf and in French at: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/fra07/fra_resume_2007.pdf and Vanuatu's Letter of 11 July 2007 to the CLCS Chairman Protesting France's Submissions at: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/fra07/van_0701306.pdf and France's Reply [bravo to Vanuatu!!] of 18 July 2007 at: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/fra07/fra_letter_july2007.pdf  [via: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/submission_fra.htm via: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/clcs_home.htm]

Any further comments would require analysis of treaty practice of France [inter alia, with Fiji, when France used one of these Islands as belonging to itself and Vanuatu failed to protest it] and Australia [which will likely not support Vanuatu but France and will likely prolong Australia/France Boundary beyond 200 Miles as if Hunter/Matthew were French] and many other details, which I have on my file since many years and which as noted, are unsuitable for SIV discussions.

**Details added on 26 July 2007: See http://www.indexmundi.com/vanuatu/disputes_international.html & Matthew & Hunter at: http://www.425dxn.org/dc3mf/matth_e.html & Map where You can see them lower in the right bottom corner at: http://www.iomoon.com/australia.html via down line of "Return to Map of Australia" at: http://www.iomoon.com/matthew.html & http://islands.unep.ch/CLR.htm linking to http://islands.unep.ch/ILR.htm#1306; Vanuatu at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu & https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html & http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/a2z/26411.htm & http://www.pacificmagazine.cc/pmalmanac/pmprofile.php?pmalmanacid=0023

Small volcanic uninhabited Matthew and Hunter Islands lie some 150 miles east of Noumea, with Hunter having been used as a French basepoint under 1983 Fiji/France (New Caledonia, Wallis & Futuna) Agreement in exchange for full effect given by that Agreement to Fiji's famous potential Article 121(3) rock of Ceva-i-Ra, IMB Vol.I, Report No.5-6, at 995-1001 and Vol.V, Report No.5-6/Add.1/Corr.1, at 3729-3732 [at: www.brill.nl/product_id21989.htm]

France's Prospective Submission to the CLCS [http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/clcs_home.htm] at: http://www.extraplac.fr/FR/extensions/Nouvelle_caledonie.php & http://www.extraplac.fr/FR/extensions/Wallis.php & http://www.extraplac.fr/FR/extensions/Futuna.php, all three saying under Maps that there is no France/Vanuatu Delimitation in Hunter & Matthew area (via: www.extraplac.fr/FR/extensions/geographie.php) and France's d'outre mer at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_divisions_of_France 

1982 Australia/France Delimitation Treaty, IMB Vol.I, Report No.5-1, at 905-913 & www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1983/3.html [see also their 2003 Subantarctic Heard & Macdonald Islands Treaty at: www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/2005/6.html; as followed by 2006 Australia/France/New Zealand Joint Declaration at: http://www.foreignminister.gov.au/releases/2006/fa023_06.html via: http://www.foreignminister.gov.au/releases/index.html

2004 Australia's Submission at: www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/submission_aus.htm also including Letter of France at: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/aus04/clcs_03_2004_los_fra_en.pdf [via: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/clcs_home.htm] - In the Australian CLCS Submission's region of Three Kings Ridge (enclosing 48,420 square km), which is a submerged island arc system lying to east of Australia's Norfolk Island, the above 1982 Australia/France boundary might be extended east of its ending Point R22, provided uninhabited Hunter and Matthew Islands - also claimed by Vanuatu - are awarded to France - A. Serdy, Australia's Submission to the CLCS, 36 Ocean Dev't & Int'l Law 201-217 (2005) at: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/tf/00908320.html says [at p. 213] that between Point TKR-ECS-347 and the Australian 200-mile line drawn from Norfolk Island, the outer CS limit is defined by the 200-mile line constructed from Walpole Island (France) and Hunter/Matthew Islands, from which an unspecified number of turning points may be inferred that are the intersections of arcs drawn 200 miles from and concave to basepoints on these islands.

If UNESCO - as your email shows - is so supportive of Vanuatu's claim, you could surely help by designating Hunter or Matthew or both these Islands as World Heritage Sites of Vanuatu what would formally strengthen its claim to sovereignty. But for reasons mentioned above, SIV discussions cannot - in my view - make any difference for this otherwise very interesting dispute.



Chagos Archipelago and the Indian Ocean

From Abdool, Mauritius

I am Abdool of Mauritius, found in the Indian Ocean, previously our island was colonised by the French and later by the British, in 1968 we obtain independence (political) still the British kept one of our island called Diego Garcia and it’s surrounding islands (Peros Banos and another small island called Salomon). Later Britain hired Diego Garcia to the Americans to build a military base, they expelled many of our citizens from there, these people are still living in extreme poverty in Mauritius. Refugees have taken legal action against the British government; the higher court of England has even accepted that the British government should let these refugees back to their homeland. May be one day. Unfortunately the French took one of our island called Tromelin, may be one day we will obtain our island back. By the grace of God.

From Abdool, Mauritius

I am happy that you published my comments on the above subject, may be this article will help in one way or other to help my people to have their right to return to their home land. Thank you very much again.

From Katy Beaver, Seychelles

Anyone who writes in about the Chagos situation and wants more information could perhaps be sent this flyer from the UK support group - which gives a good summary of recent happenings.

From John Bungitak, Marshall Islands,

My name is John Bungitak from the Marshall Islands. I read about the situation of the people from the islands in the Chagos Archipelago and I would like to share my viewpoints on the issue. I think the British Government is morally and legally responsible to compensate these people for the sufferings they had endured since removed from their islands. It is hard to understand how a country that first established the common laws system that many parts of this world today practice, but still ignore the rights of these people to their homeland or to at least provide some sort of compensations for as long as they are being deprived of their rights to return to settle on their islands?  The situation is almost the same where our people from the atolls of Bikini and Enewetak were removed from their islands because of the fallout from the nuclear and hydrogen bombs that were tested in their respective atolls. These dislocated people since then had received at least some sort of compensation from the U.S. Government for being responsible for their relocation. The amount is of course seen as inadequate as it will take many years before safe human resettlement would be allowed on the whole parts of these atolls.

From Nico Kux, Mauritius

Hi Guys.
Hi Abdool from Mauritius.
Just a note concerning the "selling" of Chagos islands.
Mauritius gained independence in 68, and your writing about the eviction of Chagossians say that this happened from 67 to 71. What did the government at the time do about it?
Or is it a case of backing out of a contract now, that at the time (1968) was beneficial to the island?
This is a common trend here, and to be clearly seen with the guaranteed sugar prices that came to term recently, and also the new land lease agreements that are being forced upon Mauritians today by an ever-greedier government.
What’s the moral here?
There are always two sides to a story and small islands are not always as innocent as they would like to portray.

From Nico Kux, Mauritius

I have the strange sensation that the last topic (islands for the military) is not at all well researched and that we are hearing the plight of the people who have been evicted only, and not the full background of how this situation has come about. I do not believe that the British or any other government will just remove people from an island without having some sort of agreement, sale or rental deed from the rightful owners of these islands. It would otherwise be an act of war and world opinion/UN would be hell bent on setting things right. I also would not tolerate to be chucked of my island, but lets put the blame where it belongs and not where it seems to be.
Just my 2 cents.

From Marvelle, Seychelles

I am Marvelle from Seychelles.  My neighbour is from the Chagos islands.  They are a great family and I love having them as my neighbour.  However, when I listen to their story of how they were treated and dragged by force to be put on a boat to another country I can't help feeling angry at those responsible.  But then, this could have happened to the Seychellois who were living on some of our beautiful islands which the British had marked for their B.I.O.T project.

While the Chagos people are well integrated in our society, there is no place like home.  People migration should always be a choice.  Forcing anyone out of their homeland is a severe violation of human right.  The British government can never put right the damage the have done, but they could at least rebuild the infrastructure so that the people can return to their homeland if they so wish.

The case of the Chagos islands should be taken very seriously and should never happen again.  So should situations where foreigners buy properties on beach-fronts and then deprive the locals access to the beach.  No one should be deprived the right to enjoy something that is rightfully theirs.  Maybe this is a topic that can be discussed in the future.

From Jacques Gedeon Taritong, Vanuatu

Dear faithful readers and contributors to this forum,
I am deeply concerned to read about Abdool's plea. I know to challenge giants like UK, France, United States it is not an easy task to do but I strongly believe in dialogue. Our small voices must be heard loud and clear that we do not accept being oppressed by elephants. The UK and the United States must lead by example. Let us look what is going on in Iraq at the moment...poor innocent people are dying each day from their decision in invading Iraq without the UN's approval. Diego Garcia must be surrendered to Mauritius as an independent nation. The United States must relocate their military base and set up near Mr Bush's private property in the States. We the small island nations do not want to become their dumping sites whether it is military or else. What I suggest is that the Mauritius government approaches the UK government and let them know of the situation and take the case to the next UN Assembly to formally make a claim of getting Diego Garcia back.

From Vikash Tatayah

Following the response from Mr Abdool concerning the very interesting case of Diego Garcia, where human rights have been violated by the World's most powerful nations, I would also like add to the discussion the case of Tromelin Island.  This island is in principle owned by Mauritius, but is occupied by France, who have installed a meteorological station on this island.  In this case, the island was uninhabited.  Mauritius has asked for these disputed islands to be given back to its lawful sovereign owner in all international fora, but has received very little in return.

Meanwhile the plight of the Chagossians continue, and they are now torn between the Chagos, Mauritius and more recently, in a divisive strategy, have been offered British Passports.  The recent rulings of the British high court is the victory of the world's feeblest community against the two most powerful nations, Britain in particular.  Again, delaying tactics are being employed and the West says 'we will give back when we no longer need the islands'!!!

From Celia Whittaker, UK

Thank you for your e-mail.
I live in England and am secretary of the UK Chagos Support Association. I  have attached our August Update to this e-mail. If you like, you can get these (free) every month - and any other Chagos-related information - you might like to share it with your neighbour? May I use some of your mailing in our next newsletter please?
Best wishes.

From Writer, Seychelles

I have been doing some research, and reading lots of literature about the Chagos islands, and what always comes up is that Chagos forms part of Mauritius. Is that claim really true. It has come to my knowledge that when the British created the British Indian Ocean Territory (B.I.O.T) it took also some islands in the Seychelles Archipelago, but the Seychelles government fought back and did not accept the situation, and the British returned these islands to the Seychelles. But it seems that Mauritius ceded these islands to B.I.O.T, and received 3 million pound sterling for it, so did Mauritius knowingly sell the Chagos islands to the British? At that time its potential resource was not taken into account and it was probably a financial burden on Mauritius's budget. That is just a statement - can someone who knows the subject more than me help?

What I will love to see is if the British finally in 2016 gave the islands back to the islanders, I will love to see the Chagossians to have their own independent island, like the Seychelles, but not to become second class citizen on their own islands, after all its properties has been bought out by the elite capitalist in Mauritius. They will be back to square one, just this time there will be no British to put the blame on. I think all Chagossian should have the right to return to their island and have their own self-determination they will definitely survive with help and compensation from the British to start with and tourism and fishing and also may be oil in their waters. I will hate to see them being second-class citizen in their own islands as they are now in Mauritius. Which has really never accepted them, just have a look at their situation and you will know what I am talking about. The ones in the Seychelles has fared much better because the Seychelles has accepted them as brothers and they have never been discriminated against - they are Seychellois as we are.  

From Writer, Seychelles

Hi I come from the Seychelles, and have been reading the different posts, and it
has been very interesting reading. My heart goes out to the Chagossians. I know it’s
wrong what the British has done to them, but I think we are a little bit naive if we think that tomorrow morning the British will tell the Americans to up and go and give back Diego Garcia to the Chagossians. We live in a complicated world where the great powers do not give a hoot about what people say; it is their geo- strategic and military convenience that comes first. I think the Chagossians will have to try and negotiate the best deal that they can have. You might tell me that its not fair and there is no justice, who said that life was fair and there is justice?

Check out the story of the 5 Cuban detainees who is rotting in American jail for doing nothing against the law, but the justice system still find a way to condemn them to life imprisonment. Type the Cuban five on google and you will get the story. It is good and Cuba is a small island also.

The earth is controlled by a small group of old, white haired men in the American senate and the house of lords, with a still very powerful old lady who is in her 80's now.  Can you guess who she is? A clue, her grandson was a couple of weeks ago enjoying on a private island in the Seychelles. I would love to have asked him what he thinks of the Chagossians living in the slums in Mauritius.

Isla Aves (Bird Island) and the Caribbean

From J Charles, St. Lucia

I live in a small island St. Lucia, these stories are not unique as I hold Britain responsible for all our undevelopment/underdevelopment that exist in our country today.

There is often discussion on repatriation for the Caribbean island in general.  Britain took everything we had and left us alone to fend for ourselves.  To date they offer very little assistance in terms of our overall development.

I understand the concerns fully and wish to lend my support in this regard.
All the best.

From Corine Duffis, San Andres Archipelago

I am sending you information from this archipelago in the Caribbean, we are struggling for our Independence, am also sending documents. You can visit our web page: www.amensd.org.

From Bernhard Grdseloff, Grenada

Where exactly is this island located?

From Jean James, Dominica

Thank you for informing us.
I am happy for the people of the small islands Matthew and Hunter Fiji.  It has given me hope that the President of Venezuela might consider letting Dominica have its Bird Island back. As a young reader when I was 6 years old I remember the stories that the fishermen would tell us and so I have been a disappointed adult to find out that our beautiful Bird Island (Where Anansi the Spider would row to) was no longer Our Very Own?   I am sad as I see on the Internet that Venezuela is making economic gains from Eco-tourism from what should be ours. I thought the oil in Venezuela belongs to the people. I am lost. Bird Island surely belongs to the people of Dominica.  Isn't it?

From Anthony Richards, Antigua & Barbuda

These land claims and counter-claims have been part of Caribbean life for centuries.   St Lucia changed hands between Britain and France some 16 times and St Lucians are fully bilingual.  Venezuela has recently laid claim to Isla de Aves, which Caribbean island people consider to be part of the island Commonwealth of Dominica http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isla_Aves. (NB. Dominica is NOT pat of the Republica Dominicana, also known as Hispaniola). To strengthen its claim, Venezuela has started to carry out official wedding ceremonies on Aves.  Some years back, my country of Antigua & Barbuda strengthened its claim to the nearby uninhabited island of Redonda by locating a branch of the Post Office there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redonda
Redonda was in the world news during June, 2007 when the "King of Redonda" attempted to establish diplomatic relations with the UK. http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=54760&in_page_id=34 
See also :
Pub 'embassy' dodges smoking ban 
Landlord Bob Beech (L) and Edward Elder have visited Redonda
A pub landlord hopes to get round the new smoking ban by turning his premises into the official British embassy of a remote Caribbean island. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hampshire/6246006.stm

From Rosemarie Thomas, Trinidad &Tobago

I am Rosemarie Thomas, living in Tobago West Indies.  I read with some amusement the comments about the Chagos people being compensated in some way by the British for the suffering they have endured since being forcibly removed from their island. 
I say amusement because I am the descendent of the Africans who were also 'forcibly removed' by the British traders from their homeland and taken across the Atlantic to be slaves in the West Indies...and I don't recall anyone ever compensating us!  Unfortunately the way of this world is 'Might is Right' and most imperialist countries like Britain who got their riches through the sweat and blood of others don't really care about moral or legal responsibility to anyone.

From Benito Wheatley, British Virgin Islands

Dear Sir/Madam:

I would like to submit the attached article to the discussion board.  It is entitled "Progress and Development in the British Virgin Islands."

Thank you.

Progress and Development in the British Virgin Islands
By Benito Wheatley

The British Virgin Islands is at a critical phase in its development, where a close examination of its future direction is required.  The political and economic development of the Territory since the mid-twentieth century has allowed it to grow at an unprecedented rate that could not have been imagined fifty years ago.  The quality of life widely enjoyed in the islands today can be attributed largely to the political leadership of the British Virgin Islands, which has thus far effectively managed the internal affairs of the Territory and its relationship with the United Kingdom.

While the political system has remained relatively stable, the economy has reached a tipping point where in order for greater economic growth to be achieved, further economic expansion is necessary.  The options available to the Territory in achieving this goal are few and must be considered carefully.  One option is to expand existing industry and build upon the foundation already laid in the tourism and financial services sectors: the two great pillars of the economy.  There is ample opportunity for the expansion of both, despite intense competition from regional and global competitors, and increasing external pressure from various international bodies and countries. 

Another option is to explore underdeveloped and undeveloped sectors of the economy that have the potential to yield high rates of return on investment in industry.  One such sector is agriculture, where industry can be set up in farming and food processing. The development of alternate sectors of the economy can potentially generate high revenue streams for the Territory, which in time would become viable engines of economic growth.  Finally, a third option is to adopt a broad approach to economic growth, wherein multiple sectors of the economy are expanded and developed simultaneously, providing sustained and balanced economic growth over the long run.  This is the point at which the British Virgin Islands presently finds itself in regard to its future development.
In the public sphere, debate on the issue is taking place on what model of development is most appropriate for the Territory.  On one side of the debate is an argument for internally driven development that emphasizes government supported local enterprise, traditional values, and environmental sustainability.  On the other, is an argument for externally driven development that relies heavily upon the private sector and foreign direct investment.  Yet still, there are others who argue for a more balanced approach, calling for the incorporation of elements of both models into what would amount to a mixed economy. 

What is important to note, is that regardless of which model one supports, each will engender its own host of benefits and costs.  Internally driven development may not produce the rapid economic growth that is desired in the short-term by many people within society, considering the constraints of capital, technical expertise, and manpower.  However, it may result in greater business ownership and opportunities for local investors and entrepreneurs over the long-term.  Externally driven development may produce significant short-term gains, but result in greater control over the economy by outsiders and long-term losses to local businesses.  Regardless of one’s position, it can generally be agreed that the Territory requires a form of development that produces the greatest number of benefits and opportunities for the broadest number of people.  To be at any extreme of the debate is to promote a form of development that may very well lead to an undesirable outcome and only moderate gains.  An approach must be found that leads to the continued health and prosperity of the British Virgin Islands, while mitigating the social disruption and negative environmental effects that inevitably result from development and change. 

The development strategies that have been employed thus far in the Territory have nearly run their course.  In the tourism sector, small and medium sized hotels and resorts and their ancillary services have met their carrying capacity.  In the financial services sector, the offshore banking industry faces the threat of action by various countries and international bodies, that demand a change in the very financial system which allows the industry to flourish.  Moreover, the BVI faces increasing competition from other offshore jurisdictions that are amending and restructuring their laws to attract business to their shores.  Further complicating matters, BVIslanders themselves face high bureaucratic hurdles and financial and social barriers to their advancement in the offshore banking industry. 

In terms of local business, small and medium sized enterprises have captured what share of the market is available to them given the size and scale of the economy.  The existing marketshare has already been cornered by a few enterprising individuals who seized the opportunity to engage in commerce early.  There is little room for further expansion considering the demographic limitations of the Territory.

The hands of time cannot be turned back and it must be accepted that the day of the smallholder society is over.  In order to sustain the standard of living and quality of life enjoyed by BVIslanders today the economy must continue to grow.  In stimulating this growth, careful consideration must be given to the carrying capacity of the islands infrastructure, which is already under heavy strain.  The options available to achieve the economic growth desired at present are limited and must be managed effectively.  Foreign direct investment cannot be blanketly demonized, considering that it is foreign direct investment (i.e. Little Dix Bay) that jumpstarted tourism in the BVI and set the stage for the Territory to become the thriving tourism and financial center it is today, for better or worse.  Tourism and financial services are the crucial links that connect the British Virgin Islands to the world economy, which in turn has allowed for the modernization of the society and its high standard of living.

While both sectors are essential sources of revenue and income, they cannot be overemphasized to the neglect of local business.  Otherwise, what is the purpose of development, if not for the expanding of opportunities and services for the people of the Territory?  It is highly undesirable for the major sectors of the economy to grow, while wages stagnate and inflation spirals out of control, making life difficult for middle and lower income families struggling to keep up with the soaring costs of food, rent, clothing, and gas.  It is also alarming for foreign owned businesses to receive major tax incentives and other benefits for start-up, while local businesses receive only moderate government assistance, and disproportionately bear the cost of payroll tax and duty on imported goods. 

It can be argued that an effective development model for the British Virgin Islands is one that places BVIslanders at the heart of that development, as opposed to the periphery.  When and where possible, BVIslanders should have every opportunity to participate in, and benefit directly from, the economic growth of the Territory.  This means in effect reserving contracts for local businesses in areas where they have the core competencies to provide quality services.  It also means assisting and supporting businesses involved in infant industries (i.e. farming, food processing), where the competency, expertise, and infrastructure must be developed and boosted by government support.  Where outside assistance is required, foreign companies should not have indefinite or excessively lengthy contracts or monopolies in any sector of the economy.  When and where possible, they must enter into partnerships with local entrepreneurs, if they wish to conduct business in the Territory.  The overall goal of such an approach is to ensure that British Virgin Islanders capture as large a share of the national economy as possible.  In the end, if the Territory is to prosper, its development must be an inclusive process that brings local enterprise and initiatives into partnership with the public and private sectors.  It is only when such an approach is adopted that the BVI will achieve the development its people so greatly desire.

Other responses

From Jan Collander

Yes, I want Small Islands e-forum to remain. Kindest regards from Jan Collander, Swedish citizen living in the Philippines since 14 years. 

From Eloi

Can I share with you in French?

From Thomas Goreau,

I don't think there has ever been controversy over Redonda as long administered by Antigua. There are no islands anywhere that are large enough for someone to stand on at high tide that are not already long claimed, and any such new claims must be taken with a grain of salt, probably proposed by people who are not familiar with their history.

The issue of Isla Aves is not as ambiguous as is implied. This island has been historically occupied by Venezuela for a very long time, which maintains a naval base and lighthouse on the island. As far as I know Dominica has never occupied it. More controversial issues of occupation are related to the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea claimed by China, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan. However these islands were historically occupied by China as trading posts in ancient times until foreign trade was terminated in the mid 1400s, when they were abandoned. In recent years they have been used as fishing camps but are now occupied by military outposts. The same issue arises with rocks around which Japan claims 200 mile EEZs, but which China does not recognize on grounds that the Law of the Sea recognizes only "natural" islands on which human economic activity can take place, not rocks.

More relevant is the way in which the US Guano Act in the late 1800s was used by the United States to seize any unoccupied island anywhere in the world on which birds had pooped. The island of Navassa between Haiti and Jamaica, long recognized as Haitian, was occupied and has never been returned, along with the Swan Islands between Honduras and Cayman, and a large number of islands in the Pacific that rightfully belong to their historical owners, the people of Kiribati, Samoa, and other states. France and Britain similarly occupy numerous "uninhabited" islands in the Indian Ocean, most notoriously the Chagos Archipelago of Mauritius, all of whose native people were forced off their island into exile so that Britain could lease it to the US as a bomber base. In effect uninhabited islands have been treated with "might makes right", and "possession is nine tenths of the law".

On the other hand, the issue of new or artificial islands is very interesting one that is undefined legally. The technology now exists to build and grow such islands were there were none, to expand existing ones, and to create tethered or free-ranging floating islands. Mara Haseltine and I are preparing an exhibition on the possibilities to be held at the next UN Commission on Sustainable Development in May 2008. We believe that such islands can play a key role in protecting coastlines from global sea level rise, compensating low lying island nations that will be drowned, and in greatly enhancing fisheries in coastal and open ocean waters.

From Santi Hitorangi

Rapanui has been fighting the government of Chile for the return of their rights to their natural resources in order to curve their social programs independently from government monies.  Sea exploration for resources is what Chile and China are in the works...???

From Karleen, Federated States of Micronesia

Is this Marie's site?

From Livinai Masei, Fiji


From Darmanin Michael, Malta

Hi, Can you put me in touch with Stephen Why in the Marshal Islands?

From Riyad M Mistry, Marshall Islands

I would like to share some thoughts on J Bungitak, Moore et als comments about military takeover of islands.

Of course the military takeover of smaller islands by larger military-enabled foreign nations invokes a moral response about human rights. The communities Bungitak refers to have had to seek redress for displacement and land and social issues through the legal system of tribunals and US courts set up by the U.S. to deal with those islanders, i.e. they are "fighting" for it and while awards have been made compensation has not. Indeed it was only after their nation (and others in the region) sought and received independence as a republic did compensation for nuclear fallout become a legally negotiated - and an actually compensated- issue.   Displaced Palestinians, Hutus, Tibetans...the list can go on. 

Actually displacement without compensation by military regimes such as the Japanese in the Pacific was commonplace.  Indeed, the Indian subcontinent was the subject of one of the largest displacements by the British military colonial powers- Indians transported-half voluntarily-as was the case with Bikini islanders-to various places in the Indian, Caribbean and Pacific oceans. Didn’t US and Australian and South American "whites" displace and take over native lands.  Common law is rarely invoked under the cannon or the gun -that's  a common theme in human history.   While the emotive "there is no place like home" rings true, it is also commonly seen that a couple of generations removed the "displaced to" home becomes home -  with or without compensation. Small communities are easily absorbed in similar island communities. Then there is the question of whether compensation in the form of cash is actually equivalent to the loss.  At that stage, compensation without work more often than not leads to generational dependence in many communities. These then spend generations and hundreds of millions struggling with dependence.   I am tempted to suggest that life doesn't remain on pause for compensation and the rich n big as Oliver Stone said in Platoon have always sc... the poor; such communities would bring out the best in them to overcome the event they could not prevent and get on with survival and competition rather than making compensation the central theme of their nation.  Most displaced Jewish and recently some Muslim communities have proven so.  Sometimes as has been the case of East African Indians, historical events may reverse the displacement in the lifetime of a generation.

From Otto S.R. Ongkosongo

Dear Colleague,
I am a coastal researcher. Please send me information about your definition and classification of island, and other related subjects. Thank you very much. Regards,

From Lea J. Parker, USA

Dear Small Islands Voice,
I am an environmental communication professor and researcher at Northern
Arizona University. I am planning a research trip to George Town, Grand Cayman to visit the Cayman Turtle Farm and to follow up on my observations of beach littering. In addition, I would like to research the prospective impact of global warming as perceived by residents of the Cayman Islands.  Could you provide me with the name of those I might contact and/or offer any information you might have on this subject.  Thanks in

Kind Regards.

From  Soodhakur Ramlallah, Mauritius

Neither a lap-dog, nor an attack-dog, but a watch-dog.
Dear Friends,
Thank you for sending me your bulletin for the first time.
I am the Assistant Editor of the Mauritius Times. Our newspaper, was founded in 1954 to fight primarily for the independence of the country which was attained in March 1968.
I shall be most grateful if you will kindly put our name on your mailing list to receive your publications regularly.

From Frank Sabatano, Cook Islands

Kia Orana from the Cook Islands,

Can you tell me if there has been any discussion on the topic of problems resulting in health of people in island countries as a result of the testing of nuclear devises in our Oceans. A woman and her husband have taken up this matter to New Zealand and local Cook Islands government to see if any of those responsible will admit to problems from aftermath of nuclear testing, and to see if compensation can be had. A group of New Zealand military personnel have a class action suit as a result of testing nuclear bombs in the South Pacific, and I wonder if there are others out there who can offer their
story or advise.

I can provide more details and also have video DVD of the interview on One News New Zealand with the Cook Island woman who was just a little girl when tests off Christmas Island caused effects to be felt on Rakahanga island of the Cook Islands. Any assistance would be appreciated.

From Tim Shaw

Good to hear as I'm now in Trinidad at UWI!

From Writer

Dear  Friends,
It is hard to discuss such a clear, concise and logical issue like this, and to be claimed by younger generations of our time. The only main problem faced by the earth today is greed. This immoral act had breed evils of all kinds on our peaceful planet.
The same old question should be sent and applied to their own children in the motherland. Would you like your children left stranded like yours? Tell us now!

Comments will be welcomed.



To get involved, contact :


Coastal Regions and Small Islands Platform
UNESCO, Paris, France
fax: +33 1 45 68 58 08

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