Self Determination Panel Slated in D.C.

Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina will host a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., on self determination in U.S. territories, including the Virgin Islands.

The hearing will focus on the V.I., Guam and American Samoa, which are listed on the United Nations List of Non-Self-Governing Territories. It is scheduled to take place Feb. 23 in the nation’s capital, and will be live-streamed online at

According to a news release issued by the Department of the Interior, the last self-determination conference for the U.S. territories was held in 1993 in Washington, D.C.. Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina said, “I believe it is important to provide an updated context for federal policymakers and a new generation to learn about the status of self-determination in the respective territories as well as to understand what their rights are to self-determination under federal and international law.”

Kia’aina will give opening remarks at 1 p.m. EST (2 p.m. AST) to be followed by presentations and discussions among panelists from Interior, the State Department, the Universities of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam, and the American Samoa Community College. The session is scheduled to run until 4:30 p.m. EST.

Along with Kia’aina, people presenting at the session will be:

– Maria Lurie, attorney-advisor, Office of the Solicitor,
U.S. Department of the Interior;

– Meredith Johnston, attorney-adviser, Office of Legal Adviser for Human Rights and Refugees, U.S. Department of State;

– Malik Sekou, professor of political science and history,
University of Virgin Islands;

– Dan Aga, director of Community & Natural Resources,
American Samoa Community College; and

– Robert Underwood, president of the University of Guam. 

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