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Local News 26 Feb, 2024 Follow News

Premier Hon. Julianna O’Connor-Connolly

Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia, Cayman Islands Representative and new Chair of UKOTA (right) joined by Richard Hyslop, outgoing President of UKOTA and UK Representative to the Falklands Government and Hon. Te

The Cayman Islands has taken over the chairmanship of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA), succeeding the Falkland Islands in the role which rotates each year.

Hon. Premier Hon. Julianna O’Connor-Connolly stated: “It is an honour to be elected as the new President of UKOTA. The Cayman Islands is committed to upholding the strong relationships that connect our global British family, and working collaboratively to address issues of common interest. We look forward to using our tenure to bolster initiatives that benefit all overseas territories and further strengthen our partnership with the UK.”

The Cayman Islands was previously elected as President and Chair of UKOTA in February 2018.

UKOTA describes its main work as “representing the collective view of the Overseas Territories through dialogue and contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and through other UK Government Departments; both at official and Ministerial level. UKOTA also engage with other bodies in relation to protecting the critical biodiversity of the OTs which collectively account for 90 per cent of the UK’s biodiversity.

The organisation also says that for almost 30 years it has ensured that the Overseas Territories, regardless of their size, have an equal voice and that their interests are represented in the United Kingdom.

Among its achievements on behalf of the OTs, it lists “securing full British Citizenship for the people of the Overseas Territories, facilitating visa-free entry to Europe, and establishing home fee status for Overseas Territories students studying in the United Kingdom.”

Cayman Islands Government Representative to the United Kingdom, Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia, said: “Assuming the Chairmanship of UKOTA is a profound honour and responsibility, and I wish to express my gratitude for the exemplary leadership of Richard Hyslop over the past year. I look forward to building on this strong foundation and using the unique platform offered by UKOTA to further strengthen our united voice, and advocate for the collective interests of the Overseas Territories here in London.”

As President of the Political Council, Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly will convene the annual meeting of OTs political leaders in London, setting the stage for the next Joint Ministerial Council between the Overseas Territories and the United Kingdom Government.

The Cayman Islands taking over the chairmanship of UKOTA for the next year comes at a critical time when the relationship between the OTs and the United Kingdom is under review with far-reaching implications for the future.

Late last year in the wake of the annual Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) summit in London between the OTs and the British government, the UK announced plans to place the territories under a new oversight system.

A new Sub-Committee is being set up to address what has been described as “the unique challenges of the 14 Overseas Territories”.

It will mainly address how the British government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) handles the affairs of the islands under its portfolio.

The new UK Parliamentary sub-committee will also assess how the British government is performing against its priorities outlined in its 2012 Overseas Territories Strategy.

Currently, there are two other ongoing inquiries into the relationship between the UK and the OTs.

Among key issues of concern for many OTs are the continuing issues surrounding the matter of registers of beneficial ownership, particularly for territories reliant on the financial services sector, and the extensive powers vested in the British-appointed Governors in the islands.

Cayman was absent at Cabinet level from last November’s JMC due to political upheavals at home. That resulted in internal changes in the then PACT coalition government with Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly replacing Wayne Panton as leader of the rebranded United People’s Movement(UPM).

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