The 43rd British Islands and Mediterranean Region Annual Conference (BIMR) of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, hosted by the Falkland Islands Government, opened in Stanley Tuesday morning. The theme of the two-day conference is “Self-determination and its role in self governance and devolution”.
Delegates from around the world arrived in the Falkland Islands on Saturday.
Following an open ceremony which included entertainment by the Falkland Islands combined school choirs, the Plenary Session 1(‘Self-Determination and its role in Self Governance and Devolution’) was chaired by Margaret Mitchell MSP with the lead speaker being The Rt Hon The Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC.
Baroness Scotland is the former Shadow Attorney General and former Attorney General of England and Wales. The Baronness responded to questions from delegates from Scotland, Ireland and other represented countries and examined such questions as 'what makes a people'.
The Plenary Session 2 (‘Arguments about Self-Determination’) was chaired by MLA Mike Summers (FI) with Professor Michael Keating as the lead speaker. Michael Keating is Professor of Politics at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh and is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Academy of the Social Sciences. He is the author of numerous works on nationalism, devolution, self determination and public policy.
Represented at the conference are Canada, Anguilla, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Malta, Northern Ireland, Scotland, St Helena, the UK and Wales.
On Wednesday Plenary Session 3: “The Right to Self Determination is not curtailed by Sovereignty Claims”, begins at 0900 chaired by MLA Sharon Halford and will include a speech written by Fabian Picardo Chief Minister of Gibraltar and delivered by the Hon Samantha Sacramento MP.
At 13:45 the Open Plenary: “Experiences in the Development of Greater Regional and National Autonomy” will begin. MLA Dick Sawle will Chair with Hon Isobel Ellul-Hammond (Gibraltar) as Rapporteur. Delegates will be given five minutes to speak by show of hands.
At 1500 there will be a round up of key points from conference with MLA Jan Cheek as Chair and Rapporteurs the Hon Juan Watterson MHK (IoM), the Hon Tony Wild MLC (IoM) and the Hon Isobel Ellul-Hammond (Gibraltar).
The closing session will be at 1530 with speakers Keith Biles, MLA Dick Sawle and The Rt Hon Sir Alan Haselhurst MP.
The Falkland Islands Branch has been a member of the CPA for many years, and regularly sends delegates to the Annual Plenary and Regional Conferences. The BIMR is made up of branches from Alderney, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, CPA UK, St Helena, Cyprus, Malta and the Falkland Islands.
In addition, the BIMR Annual General Meeting will also take place during the week, and Members of the Legislative Assembly will also meet privately with the delegation from UK.
The Regional Conference is hosted on a rotating basis, with this being the second time the Falkland Islands has hosted it. A total of 37 delegates are in the Falklands plus Representatives from Canada and Anguilla that will observe. The delegate’s respective branches meet travel costs, with the Falkland Islands responsible for local costs. (PN).