July 21, 2003 – The territory has been designated to host and to chair the 20th session of the United Nations Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee, to be held next year.
According to a Government House release, the United Nations headquarters in recent days confirmed the decision taken by the U.N. Monitoring Committee at an April meeting in Puerto Rico. Spokesman Lee Vanterpool said on Tuesday that neither the dates nor the specific locale for the session have been decided.
The Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee comprises 23 nations, associated states and territories and "is the largest intergovernmental institution in the Caribbean," the release stated.
Among the 23 entities are all 15 full members of CARICOM — Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Along with the Virgin Islands, the other associated members are Anguilla, Aruba, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, the Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico.
The motion for the Virgin Islands to host the 2004 meeting was made at the Monitoring Committee meeting by Carlyle Corbin, the governor's representative for external affairs. Corbin will continue to represent the territory in working out plans for the session, Vanterpool said.
The committee functions under the U.N.'s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Sessions are held biennially; the most recent, the 19th, took place at Port of Spain, Trinidad, in March of 2002.
Among the topics addressed at that gathering were a proposal to promote an integrated approach to the Caribbean Sea area in the context of sustainable development; projects funded by the U.N. Development Programme to support the establishment of a human development agenda in Belize and to strengthen the civil registry system in Haiti; and projects funded by the Netherlands government to develop a regional marine-based tourism strategy ("a study of the yachting sector in the Caribbean") and support the development of trade in the Caribbean.
The Virgin Islands became an associate member of the U.N. Caribbean Committee in 1984 after being admitted to the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean earlier that year. The territory last hosted and chaired the U.N. Caribbean Committee in 1988, on St. Croix. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull noted that the Virgin Islands has chaired the Working Group of Caribbean Associate Member Countries since 1990.
"We continue to accelerate our work with regional institutions such as CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Committee and relevant United Nations bodies to ensure our role and our input in economic and social development policy in the Caribbean affecting the wider region," the governor said.
The United Nations (see Division for Sustainable Development lists the U.S. Virgin Islands among 16 "small island developing states" in the Caribbean and Latin America. The others are Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Of the 16, the Virgin Islands, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles are listed as "non-self-governing."
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