THE INTER-VIRGIN ISLANDS CONFERENCE
A Study of a Microstate International Organization
The Caribbean Research Institute
College of the Virgin Islands
The Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida
UNIVERSITY PRESSES OF FLORIDA
FAMU / FA U / FIU /FSU / UCF / UF / UNF / USF / UWF
Copyright 1980 by the College of the Virgin Islands
Printed in U.S.A.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
The Inter-Virgin Islands Conference
1. Inter-Virgin Islands Conference. 2. Inter-
national economic integration. 3. British Virgin
Islands. 4. Virgin Islands of the United States.
HC155.H37 338.91'729'72 79-22116
University Presses of Florida is the agency for
scholarly publishing of the State of Florida's
1. International Organization: An Overview 5
2. The Background to Cooperation 15
3. The Framework for Consultation 27
4. Promise and Performance 39
5. Old Problems, New Prospects 53
4. Joint Memorandum Establishing the Inter- 67
Virgin Islands Conference
'2. Reciprocal Fisheries Agreement between the 71
United States and the United Kingdom Relative
to the Virgin Islands
3. Agreement Establishing the Caribbean 75
Selected Bibliography 85
Being a large fish in a small pond has its disadvantages, but it
also has definite advantages if one is able to discern them. I
am in a position to know since a substantial part of my career
has been spent working in small islands in education and
government, rising eventually to occupy high public office. I
have quite often been troubled by the decision-making at the
policy level when many of the decisions were based on
assumptions totally irrelevant to local conditions. The hard
fact remained, however, that except for this measurement
with someone else's yardstick there was little except intuition
or conventional wisdom on which those decisions could be
I retired at a comparatively early age from the British
Colonial Civil Service in the post of Secretary to Government
and senior member of the Executive Council of the British
Virgin Islands. It occurred to me that perhaps the time had
come to attempt to call a halt to the professional and
academic horsemen who gallop through the area with
ready-made solutions for every conceivable problem and who
leave it with only one certainty-that after solutions have
been proposed and the horsemen have galloped away the
problem, like the poor, would still be with us.
It was my good fortune to have been able to join the
Caribbean Research Institute of the College of the Virgin
Islands and to interest a small group of people in the
problems of the Microstate, which I have defined as "small
states with limited land area, limited resources and
populations usually incommensurable with both, politically
independent or internally self-governing, having the
determination to be recognized as separate and distinct
entities and the urge to move as far and as fast as possible
into the category of 'developed.' "
This journey for many is the impossible dream; so there
appears a need to ask, and if possible answer, other questions
and to blaze new trails if there is to be any hope of evolving a
distinctive identity by a recognition of their limitations and a
restructuring and redesigning of their institutions. It seems,
then, that we need to know in greater detail where we are
and how we got there before we can decide where we are
going. The Caribbean Research Institute is attempting to
concretize this thrust with respect to the Virgin Islands; the
present work is one tentative step in that direction.
For assistance in the preparation of this study I wish to
thank Mrs. Leona Bryant, who was serving as an official in
the Government Secretary's office and managed to rescue the
Conference files from the dim recesses of the storeroom
where they had been dumped in cardboard boxes (I have
often reflected on their subsequent whereabouts); Dr. G.
James Fleming, now chairman of the Board of Regents,
Morgan State University; Dr. Thomas Mathews, professor of
history at the University of Puerto Rico; and Dr. S. B.
Jones-Hendrickson, coordinator of the Social Research
Center at the Institute, for reading the manuscript and
making valuable suggestions. Dr. Pearl Varlack, senior
research fellow at the Institute, stood behind this effort from
beginning to end-from the conception of the idea through
data collection and final editing-and to her I owe my
greatest debt of gratitude.
Caribbean Research Institute
College of the Virgin Islands
In 1966 the University of the West Indies sponsored the first
Caribbean Conference on International Affairs. In the intro-
duction to the conference report Professor Neal stated that
the world of international affairs is in flux and turbulence
as never before in modern times. Powerful nations with
long experience behind them stand confused and fearful.
In such a maelstrom the plight of smaller, less powerful
nations is even more difficult, especially those nations just
emergent and emerging into independent statehood. And
in addition there are those even smaller territories, still
adjusting their relationship with the colonial powers. To
some of them the siren call of independence is at the same
time very attractive and very terrifying; for others "com-
plete and absolute independence" is clearly an impossibil-
ity, even though oldstyle colonial rule is dying
1. F. W. Neal and G. E. Mills, The Role of Small Countries in a Big
World (Jamaica, W.I.: University of the West Indies, 1966), p. iii.
More than a decade earlier the Virgin Islands, colonial
dependencies of the United Kingdom and the United States,
through constant reciprocal and inevitable interaction had
come to accept the fact that the whole fabric of modern life
speaks to the issue of interdependence. Although the islands
constitute two discrete political entities they had long since
been regarded as a single ecosystem. In addition, as has been
from the beginning of the last half of this century, at least,
the islands were faced with accommodating to a character
that is shaped by the difficulties of managing the prob-
lems of economic development, the social and psycho-
logical strains produced by the incompatibilities of ambi-
tion and resources and the constrictions of physical and
Accordingly, steps were taken to erect an institutional frame-
work that would seek a working relationship on the basis of
similarities and seek a compromise to the problems that were
It is to the credit of the Americans, Englishmen, andVlfirgin
Islanders that the question "We are so small what can we do?"
was not answered by the traditional "Nothing!" It is unfortu-
nate, however, that like other cooperative efforts in the
Caribbean, individual interests weakened their resolve and led
to the dissolution of an organization that might have held great
potential for the "diminutive" ecosystems (perhaps of the
world) quite apart from the benefits that could accrue to two
groups of small islands interacting between themselves and
with their neighbors.
2. Norwell Harrigan, "Higher Education in the Microstate: A
Theory of Raran Society" (Ph.D. diss. University of Pittsburgh, 1972),
Perhaps it might be useful to review this experiment of the
not-too-distant past and look at it in terms of the present and
the future. This study, therefore, is an attempt
1. to analyze the economic forces that, outside of the context
of power and security, compelled nonsovereign territories to
structure the Inter-Virgin Islands Conference as an inter-
2. to describe the machinery and processes of the conference
and examine its points of strength, its limitations, and the
problems that attended its establishment and functioning.
Because of small scale and the unavailability of a more
suitable model to be used as an analytical tool, the concepts
of "institution building"3 (a methodology that considers
the institution as a vehicle of social change) have been used
to assist in achieving these objectives; and
3. to forecast the prospects for future cooperation along
The Microstate has not been the subject of study to any
appreciable degree in any field. As President Johnson put it
when he signed the law conferring the right to elect their own
governor on the people of the United States Virgin Islands,4
"we do not know today-and we would not predict-what the
ultimate status of the Virgin Islands will be." But as Microstates
they have already demonstrated the potential for cooperation
across national boundaries at the subregional level.-This may
well illuminate one area of a neglected aspect of the inter-
3. Milton J. Esman and Hans C. Blaize, Institution Building
Research: The Guiding Concepts (Pittsburgh: Inter-University Program
in Institution Building, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of
Public and International Affairs, 1966).
4. U. S. Congress, Virgin Islands Elective Governor Act, Public Law
90-496, 90th Congress, 2d Session.
International relations are as old as autonomous political
communities; as an academic discipline, international relations
can be briefly described as the study of the behavior of states in
relation to each other. One working hypothesis of this study
(of course other theories exist) is that
mankind is loosely organized into an international society
of sovereign states which rely mainly, although not
exclusively, on power in their relations.... Inevitably, this
international society is subject to repeated crises and to
the constant danger of a major war, although the slowly
growing cooperation among states gives some hope of
ultimate international order.1
A multiplicity of pressures have led, ever since the advent of
the multistate system, to the search for ways and means of
working together. These pressures include the danger of war
and the need to delineate boundaries and spheres of influence,
1. Joseph Frankel, International Relations (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1964), p. xi.
6 / Norwell Harrigan
to administer natural resources such as rivers, and to delimit the
direction of trade. But the proliferation of nation-states,
modern communications and transportation, education, and
travel, and the rising expectations of large sections of humanity
seeking a better way of life, have put considerable emphasis on
cooperation in the socioeconomic field.
"International organization is a process; international organ-
izations are representative aspects of the process which has
been reached at any given time" and "represent an attempt to
adapt the institutions, procedures and rules of international
relations to the conditions of international interdependence."2
Before a descriptive analysis of the Inter-Virgin Islands Con-
ference as a tentative international institution is undertaken, it
might be of interest to review, very briefly and without
becoming involved in technicalities, the historical development
of international organizations. This effort is intended to place
the conference in context and to move from the global to the
subregional, from the macro to the micro.
The multistate system came into being following the
breakup of the unity of medieval European Christendom. In
the early years of the nation-state "wily diplomacy" on a
bilateral level was practically the sum total of international
organization; it was not until the nineteenth century that the
growth and solidification of states, pushed by nationalism and
technology, made the world situation ready for anything more.
International organization as it is understood today devel-
oped historically in three major directions, the modern state
system being a prerequisite. States based on the ethnic concept
of a nation were not firmly established until the Congress of
Westphalia (1648) set up in Europe a new foundation of peace,
which was later elaborated by the Congress of Utrecht (1713).
But these were in effect only a gathering of diplomats for the
facilitation of bilateral diplomacy.3
2. Inis L. Claude, Jr., Swords into Ploughshares, 3d ed. (New York:
Random House, 1964), p. 4.
3. Norman Hill, International Organization (New York: Harper &
Brothers, 1952), pp. 27-28.
International Organization-An Overview
Multilateralism took the form of conferences in time of
peace. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 can be regarded as the
beginning of what has been called the "conference system" and
produced the Concert of Europe as an exclusive club for the
"great powers," whose members were self-appointed guardians
of the European community and the managers of its affairs.
And whatever may be said about this political conference
system, it made a substantial contribution to an awareness of
international collaboration and the possibilities of multilateral
diplomacy. Diplomacy by conference became an established
fact of life.4
The second direction constituted a new type of international
conclave instituted in 1899 by the "Hague system," a leading
feature of which was its movement toward universality. The
first conference comprised twenty-six nations, mostly Euro-
pean. The second in 1907 comprised forty-four, including most
of the Latin American republics; it was "the first time that the
representatives of all constituted States (had) gathered to-
gether to discuss interests which they have in common and
which contemplated the good of all mankind."5 The world had
achieved its first general assembly.
The third major stream of development in the organization
of international life arose from the public international unions
-various international river commissions of Europe, the Inter-
national Telegraph Union (1865), the Universal Postal Union
(1874)-agencies concerned with problems in essentially non-
political fields. These were followed by other agencies dealing
with diverse fields of human endeavor.
While the Concert of Europe dealt with particular aspects of
war and disputes, the Hague system was concerned not only
with abstract international problems but with institution-
building -"the creation of devices and agencies that would be
permanently at the disposal of states."6 The international
4. Claude, pp. 21-22.
5. J. B. Scott (ed.), The Report to the Hague Conference of 1899
and 1907 (Oxford: Humphrey Milford, 1917), p. 201.
6. Claude, p. 26.
unions were concerned with problems outside of the field of
politics. "Whereas both the Concert and the Hague reflected
the significance of the quest for security and the importance of
high political issues, the third phenomenon was a manifestation
of the increasing complexity of the economic, social, technical,
and cultural interconnections of the peoples of the modern
Together, the three directions in which international organi-
zation moved in the nineteenth century laid the foundations
for the developments of the twentieth. The most important of
these were the formation of the League of Nations in 1920 and
the United Nations Organization in 1945.
Between the bilateralism of the early years and the universal-
ism of today, there were organizations confined to limited
segments of the globe. The first of these concerned with a large
number of subjects was the Organization of American States
established on a permanent basis in 1889. Arguments for and
against the theory of "regionalism" are many and often
furious. However, both the Covenant of the League of Nations
(Article 21) and the United Nations Charter (Article 52)8
permitted regional groupings to flourish unimpeded by the
universalism of these organizations and both types do exist side
Internatiorta-organizations are primarily means to coopera-
tion. Security and socioeconomic progress are operative words
in all their constitutional instruments, and although these
organizations are presumably founded on the assumption that
states are sovereign, there was a felt need for cooperation
among nonsovereign states as well. This resulted in the estab-
lishment of "regional commissions," which operated on a more
7. Ibid., p. 30.
8. Article 52 reads as follows: "Nothing in the present Charter
precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing
with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace
and security as are appropriate for regional action, provided that such
arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the
Purposes and Principles of the United Nations."
International Organization-An Overview
The Caribbean Commission9 was one of these regional organi-
zations. It had its genesis in awakened concern for and interest
in the area on the part of both the United Kingdom and the
United States. A series of labor riots in British colonies led to
the creation by royal warrant of 5 August 1938 of the West
India Royal Commission under the chairmanship of Walter
Edward Baron Moyne. Resulting from the commission's report
was the establishment of a development and welfare organiza-
tion under a comptroller supported by expert advisers and
financed by the United Kingdom treasury.1 0
Concurrently there appeared in the United States a new
interest in its Caribbean territories. Evidence of this is seen in
the recommendations of the conference of Foreign Ministers of
American Republics held in Havana in July 1940, which clearly
indicated that the United States recognized the inherent rights
of dependent peoples to enjoy many of the same economic,
social, and political advantages with which its own citizens
were blessed.11 The territories, following the experiment of
Mufioz Marins "Little New-Deat"-in- Puerto Rico, received
substantial financial support to assist in bringing about re-
In the dark days. of 1940 when Italy entered the Second
World War on the German side, President Franklin Roosevelt
declared that the United States would "extend to the oppo-
9. For a full account see Bernard L. Poole, The Caribbean
Commission (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1951). See
also Herbert Cochran, Patterns of International Cooperation in the
Caribbean (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1942). Another
was the South Pacific Commission created by the governments of
Australia, France, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom,
and the United States in 1947.
10. West Indian Royal Commission, Report, presented by the
Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament-Cmd. 6607. London:
His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1945.
11. Arthur Norman Holcombe, "America Looks Ahead," Depen-
dent Areas in the Post-War World, Pamphlet Series No. 4 (Boston:
World Peace Foundation, 1941), pp. 91-93.
nents of force the material resources of this nation." To aid
Britain after the fall of France, and mindful of isolationist
sentiment in the country, he adopted various arrangements for
the transfer of military surplus. One such arrangement was the
acquisition of the right to lease naval and air bases in six British
Caribbean colonies in exchange for fifty old destroyers.
Inevitably, as United States personnel arrived to man the
leased stations, the interests of the two nations grew to include
efforts to preserve order, the fostering of mutual understand-
ing, and the improvement of living standards.1 2 Security thus
emcompassed socioeconomic problems as well as the purely
military aspects of defense. This investigation of ways and
means to give practical effect to those common concerns led
ultimately to the establishment of the Anglo-American Carib-
bean Commission by means of a joint communique issued by
For the purpose of encouraging and strengthening social
and economic cooperation between the United States of
America and its possessions and bases in the area known
geographically and politically as the Caribbean, and the
United Kingdom and the British colonies in the same area,
and to avoid unnecessary duplication of research in these
fields, a commission, to be known as the Anglo-American
Caribbean Commission, has been jointly created by the
two Governrients. The Commission will consist of six
members; three from each country, to be appointed
respectively by the President of the United States and His
Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom-who will
designate one member from each country as co-chairman.
Members of the Commission will concern themselves
primarily with matters pertaining to labor, agriculture,
housing, health, education, social welfare, finance, eco-
nomics, and related subjects in the territories under the
12. In The Growth of the Modern West Indies (London: MacGibbon
Kee, 1968), p. 350, Gordon Lewis argues that the main purpose of the
commission was "political, to maintain stability, in the Caribbean
during the war period."
International Organization-An Overview
British and United States flags within this territory, and
on these matters will advise their respective Governments.
The Anglo-American Caribbean Commission in its studies
and in the formulation of its recommendations will
necessarily bear in mind the desirability of close coopera-
tion in social and economic matters between all regions
adjacent to the Caribbean. 3
Subsequently, two auxiliary bodies were created. The Carib-
bean Research Council was the answer to the obvious need for
technical and scientific advice to assist the commission in its
pursuit of socioeconomic advancement.14 The West Indian
Conference was created to serve as a nontechnical counterpart
to the council for, as was observed in ajoint communique,
it remained ... to broaden the base for approach to
Caribbean problems to include consultations with local
representatives-not necessarily officials-of the terri-
tories and colonies concerned. The value of such counsel
is recognized and provision has now been made for its
expression through a regular system of West Indian
Conferences, which, by agreement between His Majesty's
Government in the United Kingdom and the United
States Government is to be inaugurated under the aus-
pices of the 'Anglo-American Caribbean Commission to
discuss matters of common interest and especially of
Social and economic significance to the Caribbean
Although the commission was based on the theory of nation
states in international organization, it has moved another step
in that it provided for a conference of dependent territories as a
13. Poole, p. 186.
14. Report of the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission to the
Governments of the United States and Great Britain for the Years
1942-1943 (Washington, D. C., 1943), p. 37.
15. Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, Report of the West
Indian Conference Held in Barbados 21st-30th March 1944, West
Indian Edition (Barbados: Advocate Co., n. d.), p. 1.
/ 1 1
regular means of consultation on matters of common interest.
As a basis for approaching cooperative action on Caribbean
problems on a total regional basis the governments of France
and The Netherlands in 1945 were invited to join the commis-
sion. The first meeting of the four-power Caribbean Com-
mission superseding the bilateral Anglo-American Caribbean
Commission was held in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, from 23
February to 13 March 1946. It approved the text of the
agreement (a much more formal and elaborate document than
the executive agreement under which its predecessor body
functioned) in which the signatory powers were described as
Being desirous of encouraging and strengthening coopera-
tion among themselves and their territories with a view
toward improving the economic and social well-being of
the peoples of those territories, and
Being desirous of promoting scientific, technological, and
economic development in the Caribbean area and facili-
tating the use of resources and concerted treatment of
mutual problems avoidingduplication in the work of
existing research agencies, surveying needs, ascertaining
what research has been done, facilitating research on a
co-operative basis and recommending further research,
Having decided to associate themselves in the ork
heretofore undertaken by the Anglo-American Caribbean
Having agreed that objectives herein set forth are in
accord with the principles of the Charter of the United
The commission was to act as "a consultative and advisory
body" and to have "such legal capacity as may be necessary for
the exercise of its functions and the fulfillment of its pur-
poses," which were confined to matters of social and economic
16. For complete text of the agreement see Appendix 3.
International Organization-An Overview
concern. The Caribbean Research Council was to continue to
recommend, facilitate, and undertake research assignments;
and the objectives of the West Indian Conference were limited
to providing "a regular means of consultation with and be-
tween the delegates from the territories on matters of common
interest within the terms of reference of the Commission" and
"an opportunity to present the Commission recommendations
on such matters."
In 1961, the commission underwent a structural transforma-
tion and became the Caribbean Organization. A conference
format was adopted and the system of metropolitan-appointed
commissioners serving in an advisory capacity, abolished. Here
full membership included nation states (France, since the
French Antilles are integral parts of metropolitan France),
internally self-governing territories (Puerto Rico and the West
Indies Federation, the latter having units in varying stages of
constitutional development), and colonies (the British .and
United States Virgin Islands). The United Kingdom and the
United States had "observer" status. Socioeconomic problems
remained the thrust, and security had no part in the arrange-
SCooperation in the Virgin Islands, a subregionn" in the
Caribbean, was undertaken at still another level of organiza-
tion. The Inter-Virgin Islands Conference, modeled on the
Caribbean Commission, was established in 1951 by the two
dependent territories with the "blessing" of the metropolitan
powers, the United Kingdom and the United States. It returned
to first principles-bilateralism and a conference system-and
was concerned only with matters of common interest in the
socioeconomic field with which the larger and more sophisti-
cated regional body (of which the Virgin Islands were both
members) could not adequately deal because of their purely
The Inter-Virgin Islands Conference was perhaps unique
since it operated at the lowest level and smallest scale thus far
devised (in that it was purely local in scope and involved two
island territories of less than 200 square miles and fewer than
14 / Norwell Harrigan
60,000 people) for the resolution of problems of interdepen-
dence across national boundaries. But it demonstrated that
even at this level the need for cooperation clearly exists and
that the challenge of interdependence can be met..
THE BACKGROUND TO COOPERATION
Background information on the Virgins archipelago is available
in a number of published works.' For the purposes of this
study, therefore, it is necessary only to present a brief account.
The islands of the Virgins archipelago that now form the
colony of the British Virgin Islands were annexed to the Crown
of England after the capture of Tortola from the Dutch in
1672. In the same year Denmark took possession of St. Thomas
and later (1684) St. John. St. Croix was bought from France in
1733. The Danes sold their islands to the United States in 1917
when they became the Virgin Islands of the United States. The
group comprises seven main islands-St. Croix, St. Thomas, St.
1. The most comprehensive of these are, for the U. S. Islands, Gordon
Lewis, The Virgin Islands: A Caribbean Lilliput (Evanston, Ill.:
Northwestern University Press, 1972); for the British, Norwell Harrigan
and Pearl Varlack, The Virgin Islands Story (Essex, England: Caribbean
Universities Press in Association with Bowker Publishing Co., 1975).
Two well-documented sources are Isaac Dookhan, A History of the
United States Virgin Islands, and A History of the British Virgin Islands
(Essex, England: Caribbean Universities Press in Association with
Bowker Publishing Co., 1974 and 1975).
16 / Norwell Harrigan
John (United States); Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, and Jost
Van Dyke (United Kingdom)-and some 100 cays and rocks.
They lie between latitude 170 40' and 18 51' north and
longitude 64 7' and 650 6' west, thirty-five miles east of
Puerto Rico (from which they are separated by the Virgin
Passage), some 140 miles northwest of St. Kitts, 1,400 miles
from New York, and 3,800 miles from London.
Bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean and on the
south by the Caribbean Sea, the islands cover a land area of
nearly 200 square miles; the United States islands account for
132, the British for 59. From Anegada in the north to St. Croix
in the south is sixty-seven miles, the west-to-east extent being
about fifty miles. Most of the islands which make up this tiny
archipelago rise precipitously from the sea so that very little
arable land is available. In addition, the soils are poor and, there
being no rivers and few perennial streams, water for both
agriculture and human consumption is a serious and recurring
problem. The white sand beaches lapped by clear, blue waters
and salubrious subtropical climate, however, provide an ex-
ploitable economic resource.
Lying as they do on the eastern extremity of the Greater
Antillean submarine plateau, the islands constitute a geographi-
cal unit. And geography has undoubtedly played an important
part in their relations. This accounted for the rise of St. Thomas
as the "Keystone of the Caribbean"; and the proximity of the
other less-endowed islands to St. Thomas made them what
might fairly be called satellites.
As early as 1790 British settlers on Virgin Gorda had begun
to trade their cotton with the Danes in St. Thomas (where it
fetched a higher price than in St. Kitts) for Dutch linen and
slaves, which were cheaper there.2 By 1702 a substantial
"clandestine contraband trade" had been established.
2. Calendar of State Papers (C.)S. P.) 1696-97, No. 1347. The first
consignment of slaves from the Guinea Coast arrived in St. Thomas in
1673, and the island subsequently became a wholesale center of the
The Background to Cooperation
It was common practice for Barbadians, Leeward Island-
ers and North Americans to clear for Spanish Town,
Virgin Gorda, in the Virgin group, take certificates of
entry there and then reship their cargoes to St. Thomas.
By this means the French and Spaniards were supplied
with naval stores.3
In addition, quantities of St. Thomas sugar were exported to
England as the produce of the British islands in the group. This
illegal trade continued until smuggling could fairly be described
as "a national sport."
Movement of people among the various islands of the group
also began in the early days of colonization and was usually
prompted by economic factors. In 1718, for example, drought
conditions on Virgin Gorda led to a petition by some of the
inhabitants to move to French St. Croix. In 1734 some of the
planters ruined by a slave insurrection on St. John moved to
Tortola; and with the purchase of St. Croix in 1733, many of
the poorer people on Virgin Gorda determined (in 1735) to
move to that island and become Danes.4 The British occupa-
tion of the Danish West Indies for ten months in ri 1- and from
1807 to 1815 led to the ownership of property by planters
from the British islands. Even the slaves reportedly swam across
the channel in the face of Danish warships to Tortola where,
upon reporting themselves to the British authorities, they
There were, too, instances of mutual assistance. Volunteers
from Tortola attempted to put down the insurrection in St.
John in 1733, and the Danish government in St. Thomas sent a
warship to Tortola in 1831 to foil a slave plot to kill all the
white men and abscond to Haiti with the women.
3. Frank W. Pitman, The Development of the British West Indies,
1700-1763 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1917), p. 227.
4. C. S. P. 1717-18, Nos. 40, 298, and 442.
5. George Truman, John Jackson, and Thomas B. Longstreth,
Narrative of a Visit to the West Indies (Philadelphia: Merrihew and
Thompson, 1844), p. 21.
Up until the end of the eighteenth century the trade of the
British islands was largely with the "mother country." Between
1756 and 1792 exports fluctuated between 21,000 and
161,000. As the nineteenth century moved forward trade
declined and the direction turned steadily toward nearby St.
Thomas.6 Following the abolition of slavery in 1834, the
economy took an irreversible downturn. With the extinction of
the staple exports (sugar and cotton), the planters abandoned
their estates, which gradually passed to the former slaves and
their descendants. By 1847, the last of the major British
holdings was withdrawn, severing the final economic link with
Britain. The relationship of interdependence among the islands
of the Virgins archipelago was therefore able to develop
without significant countervailing British influence.
The small-holder economy which followed plantation agri-
culture produced nothing to sell except a small surplus of
livestock and a large surplus of labor. The demand for these
existed only in St. Thomas, and it was not long before.the
British islands came to regard "this flourishing foreign mart" as
their "real centre of business and interest'7 (although this was
officially deplored). St. Thomas had offered ample encourage-
ment to the islands' population so that "no industrious man
need ever want the means of existence"8 and it provided
employment in the coalyards or as house-servants, grooms,
porters, and boatmen. Over 90 percent of the export and
import trade-which was small enough-was with St. Thomas;
and even when the decline of shipping affected the fortunes of
this island and made conditions in the British islands "deplora-
ble" it remained their principal means of support. Movement
6. In 1825, for example, of imports totalling 5,080, "approxi-
mately 2,806 came from "Foreign Colonies" (the reference is
primarily to St. Thomas). See Montgomery Martin, History of the
British Colonies, vol. 4 (London, 1834), p. 494.
7. Colonial Office Papers (C. O.), Dispatch from Governor, Leeward
Islands to Secretary of State, dated Antigua, 30 April 1853.
8. C. O. Dispatch from Governor, Leeward Islands to Secretary of
State, dated Antigua, 21 May 1855.
The Background to Cooperation / 19
was free and unfettered and this movement of people together
with the trade relations was responsible for a high degree of
The advent of the United States on the Virgin Islands scene,
following the purchase of the islands from Denmark in 1917,
had no immediate effect on inter-island relations. Indeed, the
United States authorities appeared to have given tacit recogni-
tion to the close social and economic ties existing between the
two groups of islands. In spite of the extension by the United
States of the Federal Immigration Act to its new possession,
the British islanders continued to sell their produce and obtain
employment as a result of federal expenditures on a scale
unprecedented by West Indian standards. The coming into
operation of the National Prohibition Act of 1919 (the
Volstead Act) permitted them to profit considerably by their
If conditions in the United States islands at the time of their
purchase could be described as "a full-grown social and
economic problem rearing on its haunches, kicking, snorting
and waiting for the cowboy with rope and saddle,"9 on the
British side they could fairly be regarded as dead and waiting
for the resurrection. The "last trump" failed to sound, and
before the cowboy got into his stride, conditions became really
serious when the Great Depression of the thirties hit the world.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the situation
was vastly improved. The governor of the United States Virgin
Islands jubilantly declared that
by reason of their strategic location, not only as the most
eastern outpost of the United States but also as the
keystone of the arch protecting the Caribbean Sea ap-
proaches to the vital Panama Canal .. such has been the
scope of defense plans and their fulfillment that perhaps
9. J. Antonio Jarvis, Brief History of the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas,
Virgin Islands: The Art Shop, 1938), p. 112.
in no other place under the American flag has the normal
economic and social structure of community life been so
The resources of St. Thomas are commercial and the
increase in trade stimulated by defense activities (made it)
possible for the municipality for the first time to be
financed without Federal deficit appropriations Em-
ployment, which is the first known measure of economic
health, was at its peak. .. Military preparations gave
remunerative employment to every employable male.' 0
And a report from the other side stated in terms somewhat
more restrained that
the only period of comparative prosperity that the British
Virgin Islands have known since the decline of sugar were
the years 1940-1945. The American naval construction
projects then undertaken in St. Thomas affected the
Presidency in two ways. Large numbers of the inhabitants
were able to find remunerative employment there and the
demand for British Virgin Islands produce increased
considerably. ... the value of the export trade was higher
than in any of the preceding years since about 1820.1
The benefits accruing to the islands were not without their
costs, however. Not only Virgin Islanders but West Indians
from the British, Dutch, and French islands flocked to St.
Thomas to seek employment on the defense projects there. In a
wartime situation the federal bureaucracy naturally took a
much firmer control, and for the first time in almost two
centuries the British islands found their traditional links with
St. Thomas threatened and their freedom of movement sharply
In an effort to seek relief the British Virgin Islands Welfare
Committee was organized with the specific objectives of
10. U. S. Virgin Islands Annual Report of the Governor to the
Secretary of the Interior, 1942, p. 3.
11. British Virgin Islands Development Plan, 1951, pp. 17-18.
The Background to Cooperation
presenting the islands' grievances to the Anglo-American Carib-
bean Commission, which had been established in the previous
year. Although this matter was probably outside of the
jurisdiction of the commission, the co-chairmen, Sir Frank
Stockdale (United Kingdom) and Charles Taussig (United
States), received H. A. Abbott, a representative of the commit-
tee, for discussions when the commission visited St. Thomas
for its fourth meeting in August 1943.
This initiative had at least the effect of bringing the question
of Virgin Islands interrelationships to the highest levels in
Washington. In a memorandum to the commission the follow-
ing month Mr. Coert duBois of the State Department (a United
States commissioner) stated:
It is hoped that steps may be taken to do away with all
forms and procedures in connection with inter-island
traffic among the Virgin Islands that are not absolutely
essential to war time controls and the collection of taxes
and customs duties. Although the area is small and the
number of people affected not large we have an opportun-
ity at this frontier where our territories touch those of the
British Empire to furnish an example of rational treat-
ment and encouragement of trade and intercourse be-
tween the islands on both sides of the line which may
point the way to colonial and other governments in the
Caribbean area." 2
DuBois also made a report to the Secretary of State relative
to an investigation of the matter of trade and travel between
the islands, and it was recommended to the Secretary of the
Treasury that the regulations applicable to Virgin Islands
vessels "be re-examined and if necessary Congress be requested
to enact legislation which will permit their elimination or
simplification." In support of this request it was pointed out
that "in many respects the political boundaries in this Carib-
12. U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Interior and Insular
Affairs, Virgin Islands Report (Washington: Government Printing
Office, 1954), p. 56.
bean Sea are inconsistent with the actual homogeneity and
interdependence of the islands."' 3
There were no observable results from this activity. Indeed,
the situation deteriorated; for with the cessation of hostilities,
the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service
undertook a vigorous campaign to remove all aliens from the
islands in 1945 with considerable success. In 1949 the St.
Thomas Labor Union made representations that resulted in
another expulsion campaign. This drive particularly affected
British islanders and an estimated 500 were deported.'4 In
1950 another heavy blow was inflicted with the imposition of
an $8.00 head tax on every visitor to the United States islands.
Although temporary solutions were found to some of the
problems on an ad hoc basis, federal legislation had imposed
serious restrictions on inter-island relationships. These were
summarized by the governor of the Leeward Islands, and read
into the Congressional Record as follows: is
(a) British Virgin Islanders are only allowed to enter St.
Thomas for periods of 29 days at a time, and then only at
--theLiscretion oftheimmigration authorities;
(b) British Virgin Islanders are not permitted to accept
employment in St. Thomas unless the consent of the
Departments of Labor and Immigration is obtained-
consent which is only given in rare circumstances;
(c) In fact, St. Thomas employers have always looked to
the British Virgin Islands for domestic servants; and a
large number of British Virgin Islanders have always
worked illegally in St. Thomas. This has resulted in much
work for the immigration authorities who try and find out
these illegal workers, with the result that immigration
13. Inter-Virgin Islands Conference Files: Government Secretary's
Office, St. Thomas, U.S. V.I. Letter from the Secretary of the
Treasury to Secretary of State, dated Washington, 11 May 1944.
14. The population of the B. V. I. at this time was 6,000.
Deportation therefore represented 8.3 percent.
15. The B. V. I. was a Presidency of the Colony of the Leeward
The Background to Cooperation
control over bona fide visitors coming to visit relatives or
to attend school is at times extremely strict;
(d) Small sailing boats plying between the British Virgin
Islands and St. Thomas are subject to more or less the
same regulations regarding entry and clearance as an
ocean liner entering New York Harbour;
(e) Equally serious is the way in which other federal
legislation can by chance disrupt relations between the
two groups of islands. For example:
the export of livestock from the British Virgin Islands
(hitherto the main source of income to the islands) has
been prohibited ... by the application of Bureau of
Animal Industry Order 379. This order which prohibits
the import of cattle from fever-tick areas to the United
States, has been applied in spite of the fact that St.
Thomas is itself a fever-tick area and is the probable
source of any infection which may arise in the British
The situation had now reached crisis proportions insofar as
the British islands were concerned for, as an official report
stated, there was "constant apprehension as to what steps in
restraint of their trade their neighbours might take next, the
most dangerous possibilities being quarantine regulations for
stock or produce which it would be impossible, to comply
with."' 7 This reaction was natural in view of the fact that it
was freely admitted that
the most important of all the problems of the Presidency is
the state of its relationship at any given moment with its
American neighbour. On this the prosperity of the islands
depends and even their means of egress to the outer world.
The relationship has not always been as close and cordial as
it should be.' 8
16. U. S. Congress, Virgin Islands Report.
17. B. V. I. Development Plan, p. 18.
18. Ibid., p. 8.
In an attempt to resolve the problems of intercourse be-
tween the two groups of islands several approaches were taken.
In 1949 the British Virgin Islands Progressive League, the first
formal political organization in the colony, petitioned the
Caribbean Commission for its assistance in finding a way "to
give genuine British Virgin Islanders easier access to the
American Virgin Islands even though they may not be permit-
ted to go further afield in United States territory." As a result
of this action the British Embassy in Washington requested the
State Department to consider the question. In 1950 the State
Department replied that sympathetic consideration was being
given but that immigration for purposes of employment
presented serious difficulties.
Another approach was initiated at the official level and
included informal discussions between Embassy and State
Department officials, presentation of the problems of the
British islands by the Comptroller for Development and Wel-
fare in the West Indies to a meeting of British and United-States
officials, and frequent meetings in St. Thomas between the
governor of the Leeward Islands (Sir Kenneth Blackburne,
K.C.M.G.) and the governor of the United States Virgin Islands
(Morris F. De Castro) and their staffs.
These combined efforts apparently led to an understanding
of the relations between the two groups of islands by the
authorities in Washington. The Department of the Interior, for
example, in a letter to the Immigration and Naturalization
Service drew attention to the effect on trade relations by the
drop in persons entering St. Thomas from an average of 500 to
222 in a month. Purchases by the British islanders, estimated at
$200,000 per annum, also dropped by 30 to 40 percent. It was
pointed out that Canadians, Mexicans, and Cubans were
exempt from an administratively imposed head tax and that as
a matter of justice this privilege should also be extended to
British Virgin Islanders in view of the close relationship
between the islands. The letter also raised the question of
hardship caused by an entry requirement of a physical examin-
ation for persons from the British islands where there was only
The Background to Cooperation / 25
one resident physician and which "does not contribute in any
material way to safeguarding the health of the people of the
United States islands and abolition of the requirement would
have no adverse effect."' 9
This attitude led to some of the difficulties being smoothed
out. The Immigration and Naturalization Service, for example,
supported the abolition of the head tax; arrangements were
made for the consul-general in Trinidad to make periodic visits
to Tortola and to issue visas to properly qualified aliens.2 o The
United States commissioner of customs made concessions
calculated to "substantially solve" the problem of the use of
customs forms.2 1 The head tax, which was reestablished by
federal legislation, 2 could not be abolished without amending
legislation but arrangements were made for officials to be
Since it was obvious that no permanent solutions had been
found to many of the problems (although progress was being
made), and there were a number of outstanding matters
relating to intercourse between the islands, it was proposed
that review machinery should be established at the local level.
19. Conference files: Letter from Department of Interior to
Immigration and Naturalization Service (date unclear).
20. Conference files: Letter from Immigration and Naturalization
Service to Department of Interior, dated Washington, 25 March 1951.
21. Ibid. See letter from Governor De Castro to Collector of
Customs, dated St. Thomas, 20 April 1951.
22. S. 716 and H. R. 2379.
23. "Official" was defined as an officer or official in a
policy-making or implementing position and excluded clerks,
stenographers, nurses, teachers, etc. This did not suit the Britishers,
however, since it was pointed out that junior officers were often
required to visit the U. S. V. I. in order to save officials' time. See
Conference files: Letter from Commissioner B. V. I. to Governor
U. S. V. I., dated Tortola, 10 April 1951.
THE FRAMEWORK FOR CONSULTATION
The Inter-Virgin Islands Conference (a micro model of the
Caribbean Commission, which by this time included the
French an dDutch, in-addition-to-its Anglo-American co-
founders) was established by a joint memorandum issued on 9
May 1951, by the government secretary (equivalent to lieuten-
ant governor) of the United States Virgin Islands and the
commissioner (the resident representative of the governor of
the Leeward Islands) of the British Virgin Islands, primarily to
discuss matters of mutual concern. Membership consisted of
the commissioner of the British Virgin Islands, the government
secretary of the United States Virgin Islands, one representa-
tive of each legislature, and up to three additional persons,
officials of the government or other persons resident in the
islands. Quarterly meetings were laid down to be held at Cruz
Bay, St. John (the halfway point between the two capitals),
with special meetings being called at the request of either side.
The senior official of the host government would preside at
meetings except if one governor were present he would preside;
if both were present the governor of the United States Virgin
Islands' would be accorded precedence. With the abolition of
the office of governor of the Leeward Islands and the assump-
tion of gubernatorial powers by the administrator of the British
Virgin Islands in 1960, the joint memorandum was amended to
provide for the permanent membership to include the governor
of the United States Virgin Islands, the administrator of the
British Islands, the government secretary of each group, the
administrative assistant for St. John, one legislative representa-
tive from each group, two other persons from the United States
Virgin Islands and three from the British Virgin Islands, being
officials or residents. Advisers and observers were permitted to
join each delegation.2
The inaugural meeting of the Inter-Virgin Islands Confer-
ence was held in St. Thomas on 3 July 1951 with the
government secretary of the United States Virgin Islands, Hon.
Daniel Ambrose, presiding. Other members of the American
delegation were Hon. Weymouth Rymer (legislative representa-
tive), Mr. Darwin Creque (Office of Price Stabilization), Mr.
George Seaman (wildlife supervisor), Dr. Eric O'Neal (Depart-
ment of Health), and Mr. George Simmons (administrative
assistant for St. John). The British delegation was led ythe
Commissioner, His Honour J. A. C. Cruikshank, and comprised
Hon. I. G. Fonseca (legislative representative), Hon. C.
Brudnell-Bruce (member, Legislative Council), Mr. Robinson
O'Neal (from Virgin Gorda, engaged in inter-island-shipping),
Mr. A. LaFontaine (from Peter Island, a fisherman). The
1. This was indicative of the crucial position of the U. S. V. I.
governor as perceived by the British officials. In practice, however, he
deferred to his British opposite number when meetings were held in
2. The question of procedure for amending the provisions of the
joint memorandum was raised at the Third Meeting (January 1952) in
order to regularize the rotation of meetings. Action was not taken until
1960. At the Sixth Meeting (February 1953) another amendment was
proposed to "achieve closer relationship between, on the one hand, the
legislatures of the two groups and, on the other, the Conference
delegation." The only action that flowed from this was the holding of
two informal luncheon meetings of the legislatures.
The Framework for Consultation / 29
administrative assistant for St. John was designated conference
secretary.3 Following the reading of messages from both
governors, an experiment in small-scale international relations
got under way.4
The Work of the Conference
At the time when the conference was established solutions
were being sought to a number of outstanding problems and
very early in its life new ones were added. Among these were
(1) the actual imposition of the Federal Plant Quarantine
Regulations in 1952, the ultimate effect of which would have
been to kill the export trade in fruit and vegetables from the
British islands (the importation of poultry was also pro-
hibited); (2) the application in 1953 of the statute set forth at
Title 48 United States Code 1946 edition, which prohibited the
importation of certain manufactures into the United States,
thereby destroying a promising small home industry for manu-
facturing slippers, which was established in the British islands
by an American citizen, and (3) the deportation (in 1953) of
ninety-seven British Virgin Islanders who had been resident in
tSt.Thomas for from three to twelve years, many married to
United States citizens, but who failed to apply for nonquota
In fifteen years between 1951 and 1965 (by which time
interest had waned to the point where it ceased to be an
effective instrumentality for all practical purposes), the confer-
ence held twenty-one meetings as set out in table 3.1.
3. In the 1960 Revision of the Memorandum, responsibility for
Conference affairs was given to the Government Secretary on each side
and the Assistant Government Secretary of the U. S. V. I. was made
Secretary of the Conference.
4. An interesting development at the inaugural meeting was a
request from the St. Thomas Labor Union for permanent
representation. This was seen purely as a political ploy and the request
was not granted.
5. See U. S. Congress, Virgin Islands Report, pp. 56, 57.
Meetings of the Inter-Virgin Islands Conference
Year Date of Meeting Meetings
1951 3 July, 6 November 2
1952 8 January, 8 April* 3
1953 3 February* 2
1954 16 March, 13 July 2
1955 11 March 1
1957 31 January 1
1958 10 June 1
1959 22 January, 14 July, 13 October 3
1960 18 February, 17 August 2
1961 7 February, 12 July 2
1962 20 November 1
1965 11 February-------1---- 1
Source:- Compiled from minutes of the conferences.
*An additional meeting for which no record appears to have been kept.
The requirement of quarterly meetings, set out in the joint
memorandum, was never adhered to. Indeed, at the third
meeting (January 1952) Government Secretary Ambrose sug-
gested semiannual instead of quarterly meetings "as the confer-
ence might eventually run out of an agenda and find itself with
nothing to discuss." The two legislative representatives (Mr.
Rymer and Mr. Fonseca) opposed the suggestion on the
grounds that there were "a number of subjects which have not
been considered yet." The conference continued to proceed on
what became in effect, if not intent, an ad hoc basis.
The conference at its first meeting also changed the provi-
sion of the joint memorandum requiring meetings to be held in
The Framework for Consultation / 31
St. John and decided to rotate the meetings among St. Thomas,
Tortola, and St. John. Of the twenty-one meetings held during
the life of the conference, nine took place in St. Thomas, seven
in Tortola, and five in St. John.
Conference delegations were led in the early days by the
commissioner on the British side and the government secretary
on the United States side. The governor of the United States
Virgin Islands attended several meetings before and nearly all
meetings after 1960. The governor of the Leeward Islands
attended very few meetings. Delegates, other than the per-
manent members, were chosen on the basis of matters to be
discussed and were usually officials of the local government
and, in the case of the United States islands, of the federal
government as well. The British vice-consul in St. Thomas was
often a member of the British delegation; on a few occasions
the consul from Puerto Rico was included as an observer.
Federal officials from Puerto Rico and the United States were
occasionally present. The delegations, particularly on the
United States side, were often unwieldy;6 and on both sides a
lack of planning was sometimes displayed by the omission of
persons who were vital to the discussion of a subject. An
official resident in St. Croix attended only one meeting.7
The matters taken up for consideration of the conference
were more often than not of mutual concern. The British
islands had to sell their produce and find employment for their
surplus labor; their United States neighbors needed both.
Figure 3.1 sets out under fourteen broad heads the major
subjects discussed and their relative importance as indicated by
the number of meetings at which they were raised.
6. At the Fifteenth Meeting in October 1959 the British delegation
comprised sixteen persons, the United States twenty. The United States
islands often had many more delegates than the British.
7. Mr. Alva McFarlane, Administrative Assistant. The question of a
St. Croix representative had been raised by the U. S. Department of
Agriculture in commenting on the joint Memorandum. The Department
of State pointed out that the governor's appointees represented all the
U. S. islands. See Conference files.
Attention Paid to Certain Subjects at the Twenty-one
Meetings of the Conference
Disaster Coordination 14
Immigration and Labor 10
Medical Care, Health, Welfare 10
Public Works 1
Safety at Sea 8
Trade and Passenger Facilities 10
Wildlife Preservation 5
From the very first meeting of the conference, trade and
passenger facilities were agenda items, and topics pertaining to
these subjects were raised at every subsequent meeting until the
thirteenth (January 1959). In addition to the continuing
problem of the importation of cattle and poultry, attention
was paid to location of landing facilities,8 special harbor
arrangements to avoid the payment of overtime fees by British
sloops, and a shelter for passengers from the British islands
awaiting customs and immigration service. Representations
were also made to obtain a rise in the limit of the value of goods
exported to the British from the United States islands without
an export license from $250 to $500 in one consignment
8. In 1951, B. V. I. sloops made 1,574 and motorboats 235 entries
into St. Thomas. There was a problem of differentiating cargo and
passengers in a port catering to a developing "tourism" from cruise
The Framework for Consultation
Of equal importance were the topics under immigration and
labor raised at thirteen meetings, seven of which were in
connection with contract workers. Easing of immigration
restrictions was a goal that the Britishers strove hard to attain.9
The certification of the workers once they had been ad-
mitted and their protection against unfair employment prac-
tices and outright exploitation were also matters of serious
concern. 0 These workers could not join the labor union
because of their temporary status (although the union ap-
peared willing to represent them).1'
Medical and health services also received a great deal of
attention. Useful exchanges took place on the question of the
control of communicable diseases and there was much talk
about the eradication of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito in
recognition of the fact that expenditure in one group of islands
alone would be a dead loss since it must shortly be reinfected
from the other. But perhaps the most acrimonious meetings
were concerned with services rendered at the St. Thomas
hospital. Reciprocity in medical attention had obtained for
many years, but the influx of alien workers put a heavy strain
on the medical facilities, particularly where specialization was
required. The United States side charged the British islanders
with responsibility for some 25 percent of hospital admissions,
30 percent of the maternity cases, and a high percentage of
surgical and venereal disease cases. These services, they
claimed, were "subsidized care" for foreigners since few paid
the hospital bills. Pregnant women, determined under any
9. Even the two resident B. V. I. physicians of Austrian nationality
were not allowed to land either for private or professional reasons.
10. The State Department was pressing for workers who were U. S.
citizens. Continental labor was out of the question for economic
reasons, and local employers preferred not to have Puerto Ricans
because of language and/or cultural differences.
11. The Employment Service claimed that if exploitation had
occurred it was because the workers did not understand their rights and
failed to make reports on the matter. This was hardly a reasonable
expectation since, as the workers put it, "they had the handle and we
had the blade."
circumstances to have their children born under the United
States flag, posed an intractable problem, and the departure of
parents (usually involuntarily) leaving the children in St.
Thomas, as well as children whose fathers were United States
Virgin Islanders and could not be made to support them in the
British islands, created other difficulties.
Islanders would naturally show a lively interest in the sea.
The need for a buoy on Johnson Reef off St. John on the
inter-island route was raised on no fewer than five occasions.
The United States Coast Guard could admit no responsibility in
the matter since United States flag boats in the area were few.
But several British sloops had been wrecked over the years.
Control of traffic in the sea lanes, obstruction to boats by
fishpot markers, and the application to British passenger
launches of United States laws dealing with safety at sea were
also discussed. The latter point was of sufficient importance to
necessitate that the conference pass the following resolution:
Resolved that the Inter-Virgin Islands Conference hereby
requests the Government of the American Virgin Islands
to address a communication to the Secretary of the
Interior bringing to his attention the extreme hardship
that will result in economic interdependence between the
American Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands
from the implementation of Public Law 519, which
would make it impossible for vessels now linking the
islands to continue operation. Further, that the Secretary
of the Interior be requested to investigate the possibility of
having this law amended or suspended so as to bring relief
in this very critical circumstance; in the alternative that
Presidential Executive Order be sought as a means of
alleviating this hardship.1 2
On agricultural matters there were, in addition to plant
quarantine and tick eradication, questions of animal health.
The building of an abattoir on Tortola, to circumvent the
12. Conference files: Minutes of Twelfth Meeting, 3 June 1958.
The Framework for Consultation / 35
importation of stock on the hoof as well as to assist price
stabilization, and small-scale farming were also of some con-
Most of the other general subject headings indicated were
not matters of vital concern. Some of these recognized areas in
which joint efforts would be useful. For example, under
tourism there was the question of establishment on a reciprocal
basis of special border crossing or entry and departure proce-
dures for tourists at places other than recognized ports of entry
as well as special entry and clearance for recognized yachts. In
education there was the constant moving of students from one
school system to the other and the need for finding an
equitable method of adjusting grades of the one school system
to fit the other at all educational levels. Wildlife preservation
included the passage of appropriate legislation to save from
extinction the native dove (Zenaida) and to control the hunting
of game birds and the taking of turtles and lobsters.
Others were purely exploratory as, for example, the possibil-
ity of double taxation relief, 3 and the purchase of electric
power by the British from the United States. Still others were
matters for mention, such as United States-"pleasure" boats
fishing in British waters and other items of general interest on
The conference worked in committees as well as plenary
sessions. Several ad hoc committees were established including:
1 Committee on Game Laws (Tenth Meeting, March 1955).
2 Committee on Shelter for Federal Inspection. This commit-
tee suggested a change in the location of government offices
to place the immigration and public health services in the
same building on the waterfront.
3 Committee to Review the Joint Memorandum (Eleventh
Meeting, January 1957).
13. B. V. I. citizens paid income tax on their U. S. V. I. income but
were not taxed in the B. V. I. For purposes of the U. S. tax, however,
they were unable to claim dependents in the B. V. I., as the double
taxation agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom
did not apply to the colonial dependencies.
4 Committee on Entrance and Clearance of Yachts (Thir-
teenth Meeting, January 1959).
5 Wildlife Protection Committee (Fourteenth Meeting, July
This last committee (5) prepared a comprehensive report on
wildlife conservation problems and accepted as the primary
objective the need for conservation legislation to be as nearly
the same as possible in both groups of islands. Legislation was
specifically proposed for the hunting season for birds and for
the protection of turtles and lobsters.
The committee reported to the full conference usually at the
next meeting. There were few written reports. Standing com-
mittees were also appointed.14 These included:
(1) Joint Committee on Health (Tenth Meeting, March
1955).15 At its first meeting this committee considered
the admission and treatment of British Virgin Islands
patients in St. Thomas. It recommended medical irisur-
ance to relieve the patient and/or the government of total
responsibility for medical bills. It also recommended
restriction (with the cooperation of the Immigrant De-
partment) of admission of visibly pregnant women except
when referred by a medical practitioner. The committee
subsequently made recommendations for specialist assis-
tance for the British islands (at their expense) by the
United States islands, procedures for pregnant women
entering St. Thomas, legislation making prenatal care
mandatory, and a health education program to which the
United States islands would contribute. A comprehensive
report was issued in 1964.
(2) Joint Committee on Education (Fifteenth Meeting, Octo-
ber 1959). This committee considered comparative stan-
dards of education. Pertinent materials were exchanged
14. A Committee on Employment was established in 1964.
15. Although established in 1955 it was designated a permanent
committee in 1963 to create plans for health activities in both groups.
The Framework for Consultation / 37
and preliminary work was done on statements regarding
the nature of secondary school curricula, the variety of
course offerings, and such concepts as a definition of what
secondary school graduation really meant.
The conference was, however, a purely consultative body.
Its decisions were normally passed up to the governors, who
would initiate action at the local or metropolitan levels or
would be dealing with existing problems, keeping the confer-
ence informed of progress. The governors held informal discus-
sions in Antigua, St. Thomas, and Tortola. The governor of the
Leeward Islands visited Washington on two occasions for
discussion of British Virgin Islands affairs with officials of
various departments concerned; and the governor of the United
States Virgin Islands appeared before several congressional
committees on matters related to intercourse between the two
PROMISE AND PERFORMANCE
Like larger and more sophisticated organizations with an
international orientation, the Inter-Virgin Islands Conference
produced a wide discrepancy between promise and perfor-
mance. It is, of course, impossible to measure the difference
adequately, but the conference was established because of
needs that had emerged, for the satisfaction of which no
institution was in operation, and which had to be met in large
measure by technological and ideational transformations that
had to take place in and through organizations.' In these
circumstances it might be fruitful to attempt an evaluation (the
analytical objective being to recognize the difficulties and
identify "reasons" for them in a tentative application of the
guiding concepts of institution building) by mapping the
1. See Jiri Nehnevasja, Methodological Issues in Institution Building
Research (Pittsburgh: Inter-University Research Program in Institution
Building, The Graduate School of Public and International Affairs,
1964), p. 4.
variables in relation to institutional "blueprint" operations and
While the theoretical formulation is somewhat tentative as
an analytical tool and may not indeed be entirely applicable for
the Microstates under study, it has been utilized in the absence
of a model constructed expressly for this purpose. The guiding
concepts of institutionalization appear susceptible to modifica-
tion to suit the sociopolitical realities of the Microstate.
Institutionalization is defined as "the process by which
normative relationships and action patterns are established."
The concept subsumes (1) institutional variables, which refers
to "those elements which are necessary and sufficient to
explain the systemic behavior of an institution"; (2) linkage
variables, which refers to "the interdependencies which exist
between the institution and other relevant parts of the soci-
ety"; (3) transactions, which refers to "the exchange of goods
and services and the exchange of power and influence"; and (4)
the indicators of the institutional character of an organiza-
tion.3 Two at least of these parameters appear to have
relevance-as-a model-for attempting to illuminate the perfor-
mance of the conference as an institution.
Five institutional variables should apparently be considered.
The first is doctrine, regarded as one of the independent
variables of the institution-building process and defined as "the
specification of value objectives and operational methods
2. Milton J. Esman and Han C. Blaize, Institution Building
Research: The Guiding Concepts (Pittsburgh: Inter-University Research
Program in Institution Building. The Graduate School of Public and
International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, 1966). All conceptual
material in this chapter, except otherwise indicated, is taken from this
3. See Milton Esman and Fred C. Bruhns, Institution Building in
National Development: An Approach to Induce Change in Transitional
Societies (Pittsburgh: Inter-University Research Program in Institution
Building, The Graduate School of Public and International Affairs,
University of Pittsburgh, 1965).
Promise and Performance
underlying social action." The main doctrinal theme of the
conference was a specification of the joint memorandum that
the Conference may discuss any subject of mutual con-
cern to the American and British Virgin Islands and make
recommendations thereon to the Governments con-
cerned. It will have no executive authority. When a
recommendation is not agreed to unanimously, a note
shall be made in the minutes of the names of those voting
in favour, those voting against and those abstaining from
At the inaugural meeting Secretary George Simmons pointed
out that "it may well be the foundation for the development of
improved conditions and better relations between the two
groups of islands." Press releases also indicated the specifica-
tion of doctrine. At the last meeting attended by Merwin and
Bornn, the following statement was made:
The British delegation paid tribute to Governor Merwin
and Government Secretary Bornn for the sincere interest
which they have shown in getting action on many of these
mutual problems and in showing the good spirit of the
people of the American Virgin Islands towards the people
of the British Virgin Islands.5
And even in the final days of the life of the conference the
doctrine theme was being publicized in the news media.
Following his first meeting it was reported that
Governor Paiewonsky stressed the importance of con-
tinued inter-island cooperation in working out our varied
mutual problems and the value of the conference in
bringing understanding not only between the respective
governments but also between the people of these islands.
4. Paragraph 1 (h) of Joint Memorandum issued 1 May 1951.
5. Conference Files: Press Release issued after Conference Meeting
of February 1961.
He pledged the support of his administration in seeking
solutions. Administrator Bryan endorsed Governor Paie-
wonsky's statement and pledged his government's sup-
port in continued cooperation.6
Closer association and improved working relationships be-
tween the two groups of islands were the justifications of the
conference. Both these and the methods of operation were
expressed and implied in the joint memorandum as well as in
the recorded statements of the decision-makers. It appears
from the available evidence that the doctrine clearly projected
within the organization and its environment an image and
expectation of the institutional goals. It was vague enough to
attract support from several publics, imprecise enough to be
strategically manipulated, and yet specific enough to sustain
credibility and to be an effective guide to action. It seems to
have fulfilled the function of a reference point of the institu-
tion and its interaction with the environment.
The second cluster of variables is leadership, regarded as the
other independent variable and defined as "the group of
persons who are actively engaged in the formulation of the
doctrine and program of the institution and who direct its
operation and relationships with the environment." Professor
Nehnevasja has identified two types of leadership, the initiators
and the executors, and the central attributes of leadership
include technical and organizational competence and their
degree of continuity.
The leadership function of the initiators resided primarily in
the heads of the two governments and the conference was off
to an auspicious start in the holders of these offices. Morris F.
De Castro was the first Virgin Islander to be named governor of
the islands by the president of the United States. He had risen
from a messenger and was thoroughly familiar with the islands,
their people and problems. Sir Kenneth Blackburne was an
Englishman but unusual for these parts. His interest in the
Virgin Islands while governor of the Leeward Islands was
6. Conference Files: Press Release issued after Conference Meeting
of July 1961.
Promise and Performance
evidenced in so many ways that I. G. Fonseca was led to declare
that he was "the first governor the British Virgin Islands had."
The idea of the conference originated with these men, and
during their tenure the conference recommendations received
serious consideration. And De Castro moved forcefully on
many occasions to project and maintain the interdependence
of the two political entities.7
The successors to Governor De Castro from 1955 to 1958
were continentals who, although they were black like the
majority of the population, had neither his knowledge nor his
commitment.8 But with the appointment in 1958 of John D.
Merwin as governor (with Dr. Roy Bornn as second in com-
mand, creating a local leadership team on the United States
side) the conference assumed a more active role, although this
was primarily on the local level, which continued under Ralph
M. Paiewonsky, who was appointed governor in 1961.
Following the appointment of Martin S. Stavely as
administrator on the British side in 1962, the conference had
two meetings in four years before it finally expired. Governor
Paiewonsky had a long record of friendship toward the British
islands,9 and prominent British islanders foresaw a period of
real progress. But Governor Paiewonsky had also declared that
political union of the islands was "inevitable." There was no
apparent quarrel with this sentiment among the local people,
but Administrator Stavely was, rightly or wrongly, charged
with being anti-American1 o since he appeared to disapprove of
the idea of union.
7. Mr. De Castro was governor from 1950 to 1954, Sir Kenneth
Blackburne from 1950 to 1956.
8. Only three meetings were held, none in 1956. It should in
fairness be stated, however, that the vital pressures had to some degree
9. Mr. H. R. Penn, a longtime member of the B.V.I. Legislature,
recalls his assistance as a delegate to the Caribbean Conference in
obtaining favorable terms for B.V.I. membership.
10. See, for example, remarks by the Hon. Dr. Q. W. Osborne, The
Island Sun (British Virgin Islands), 10 May 1969.
Serving as executors in the leadership function were the
government secretaries of the two groups and the secretary of
the conference. The latter office was always filled by natives,
the first secretary being a well-known advocate of closer
association. The government secretaries after 1957 were also
always natives who appear to have accepted the goal of Virgin
Islands cooperation. The difficulty appears to lie in the fact
that all three were senior officials having the conference as one
of the multitude of subjects with which they had to deal, and it
was not often accorded the highest priority.
Professor Blaize has pointed out that leadership is without
doubt the crucial variable in institution-building. The central
attributes of the leadership function were usually positive in
the conference leaders. The exception was possibly the degree
of continuity. It must be observed, however, that the personal
relations between the two heads of government were a factor of
considerable importance1' and were reflected in the number
of conference meetings and the action that flowed therefrom.
There were also informal contacts at lower levels of the
hierarchy and these made surprise action at both the executive
and legislative levels most unlikely.
The third variable, program, is defined as "those actions
which are related to performances and services constituting the
output of the institution," that is, the operationalization of
doctrinal elements. There seems to be little doubt that the
program was consistent both with the specifications of the
doctrine and among the programmatic elements.
The problems that the conference tackled were always those
of "mutual concern" to the two groups of islands, and the
output was entirely feasible within the constraint of its
nonexecutive authority. It must, however, be pointed out that
when the Americans were as deeply involved as the British they
went to great lengths to seek solutions; but once the vital
problems of trade and immigration had become less pressing by
11. There was a close working relationship between Mr. Morris De
Castro and Sir Kenneth Blackburne (1950-54), and Captain G. J. Bryan
and Mr. John D. Merwin (1960-61) enjoyed a close personal friendship.
Promise and Performance
reason of the increased availability of frozen foods imported
from the mainland and a supply of labor from all over the
Caribbean, they appeared less concerned with problems
weighted heavily toward the British side. But even in the face of
these limitations, the conference made contributions through
program actions toward satisfying specific needs. In 1954, for
example, Governor De Castro summarized matters in progress
as a result of previous meetings as follows:
1. The Immigration Passenger List had been modified and
manifest forms reduced both in size and in the number of
2. Workers were now entering legally for farm, hotel, and
construction work, though a shortage of labor still existed in
3. An amendment had been drafted to the Organic Act to allow
resumption of cattle importation from the British Virgin
Islands (suspension was due to tick infestation).
4. Attempts were being made to relieve the difficulties created
by the restriction of poultry importation from the British
Virgin Islands.1 2
Other specific program action included:
1. 1957: Arrangements for American medical specialists to
visit the British islands on a regular basis at the cost and
expense of the British side.
2. 1959: (a) Participation of British teachers in a summer
school organized by the United States Education Depart-
ment; (b) passage by the British Legislature of the Wildbirds
Protection Ordinance and Bird Sanctuaries Order.' 3
3. 1960: (a) Amendment to British legislation to facilitate
entry and clearance of United States pleasure yachts:
(b) admission of British nurses to a United States vocational
12. Conference files: Minutes of Eighth Meeting, 16 March 1954.
13. B.V.I. Ordinance No. 7 of 1959.
4. 1962: Establishment of a British corner in the United States
Tourist Office in New York for distribution of tourist
literature for the British Islands.
It is difficult to judge the exact effect of the conference on
the erection of a navigation light on Johnson Reef and the
erection of a passenger shelter at Charlotte Amalie. Both these
projects were discussed perennially and were ultimately under-
taken, one if not both after the conference was no longer in
Programmatic action appeared to suffer from an organiza-
tional deficiency in the inability of the conference to under-
take meaningful follow-up work. Many items were left hanging
which should have enriched the program outputs.
Resources, the fourth category of variables, is defined as
"the physical, human and technological inputs of the institu-
tion." This element includes not only the resources at-the
disposal of the institution but the identification of actual and
alternative sources of the resource flows.
This is an area in which the conference appears at a serious
disadvantage. It had no budget of its own, and funds (except
for $1,000 in the B. V. I. annual estimates) were not specifi-
cally earmarked for its use in government budgets. As a result
its recommendations were not based on properly researched
data. Indeed, several issues were raised purely on hearsay with
little or no investigation to determine the facts. Lack of money
affected also the recruitment of staff and dependence was on
the offices of the government secretaries to produce essential
paperwork, which was often done cursorily or not at all. The
conference was therefore without the ability to obtain and
disseminate information essential to its capacity to function
Funds should not have presented a difficulty, however, since
they could have been made available. Both groups contributed
to the budget of the Caribbean Organization, for example. In
addition, considerable human resources in the form of ex-
Promise and Performance
pertise of various kinds could have been utilized cost free as
The final cluster of institutional variables to be considered,
international structure, is defined as "the structure and pro-
cesses established for the operation of the institution and for its
maintenance." Here the stress is on function, authority, com-
munication, decision-making, and the characteristics of the
Internal structure is a matter of prime importance and one
on which the conference performance depended most heavily.
Structure and procedures were set out in general terms in the
joint memorandum, but no effort appears ever to have been
taken to spell these out in detail and to assign responsibility in
an effective manner.
The linchpin of the organization should have been the
secretary. Initially he was on St. John and the "co-chairmen"
were on St. Thomas and Tortola. There was, therefore, the
problem of communication. This was not insurmountable on
the American side, but it posed difficulties for the British. In
addition, as a senior administrative official in the United States,
the secretary had access to his own government but was never
given the right of direct contact with the British. Even when the
secretaryship was moved to the office of the government
secretary for reasons of geography, effective communication
lines were not established.
The records give the impression of a certain confusion:
agenda appeared difficult to construct, meetings were con-
stantly postponed either in the face of more pressing commit-
ments or because of unreadiness, letters remained unanswered
for long periods. Without specific staff assignments conference
work had to wait its turn in the general rush of government
business. Position papers were few and far between, and these,
together with the agenda for a meeting, were usually circulated
after the participants had assembled. Few delegates were
thoroughly briefed even on matters put forward by their own
delegation and about which they were concerned (many were
not briefed at all and some had merely come along for the ride).
There were occasions when the leaders of the delegations
appeared unaware of what was to take place. When the heads of
government were present, however, invested as they were with
the enormous executive powers of colonial governors, they
were often in a position to make on-the-spot decisions, issue
directives, or give assurances relative to an agenda item.1 4 They
were also able to obtain expressions of support for particular
issues from the legislative representatives, who would lobby
among their colleagues if necessary, having made a commit-
ment. These actions expedited conference business and served
the maintenance of good relations. But the hierarchy remained
that of the government concerned.
The committee system also produced less than might have
been expected, as is indicated by the following extract:
The greatest drawback to progress in the past has been
that committees never met and reports could not be
properly studied by delegates to conference meetings. I
am sure you will agree that this is most undesirable and
that we should make every effort to ensure that com-
-mittees-domeet and reportin good time. 5
Of the linkage variables, which specify the interdependenciess
which exist between the institution and other relevant parts of
the society," two would appear to have utility in this analysis.
The first is enabling linkages or "the linkages with organiza-
tions which control the allocation of authority and re-
sources needed by the institution to function."
Linkages existed between the Inter-Virgin Islands Confer-
ence and the two territorial governments concerned as super-
14. Governor Merwin, after the matter had been raised at a
Conference meeting, directed the Commissioner of Health to admit two
student nurses from the British islands to the United States islands'
nursing training program.
15. Conference files: Letter from Government Secretary, British
Virgin Islands, to Secretary, Inter-Virgin Islands Conference, dated 20
Promise and Performance
ordinated agencies. The establishment and maintenance of the
conference was a matter for their executive branches. Funds
and personnel, however inadequate, were provided by them,
and their executive departments produced the material on
which program activities were based. Although there was
usually a desire to seek understanding and find solutions it was
not always smooth sailing.
Frequent changes of personnel, particularly among English
contract officers on the British side, reduced rapport; and there
were sometimes personality clashes which created policy dis-
agreement. On the perennial problem of medical services, for
example, the commissioner of health from the United States
I rather doubt that there would be any dramatic break-
through on this matter even though we place it on the
agenda again. The attitude of the (British) Senior Medical
Officer, Dr. Parker, was really one of disclaiming responsi-
bility for most of these problems and even one of
challenging our definitions of what constitutes medical
This kind of exchange was, fortunately, the exception rather
than the rule. Governmental linkages also included the two
legislatures. They were both represented at the conference, and
Weymouth Rymer of the United States islands was an indefat-
igable worker for mutual understanding as well as maintaining
support for the conference among his colleagues. Even where
funds were not specifically voted for the work of the confer-
ence, no question was ever raised as to indirect expenditure
from other sources (a matter which was well within their power
to take). And cooperation in implementing proposals of the
conference involving legislation appeared to have been readily
16. Conference files: Letter from Dr. Melvin Evans to Government
Secretary, United States Virgin Islands, dated 23 July 1963.
Superordinated at a higher level were the two metropolitan
governments. Many, if not most, of the problems with which
the conference had to deal were completely outside of its
competence. The British islands, although only a colony, had a
government theoretically separate and distinct from that of the
United Kingdom; and it is true that its freedom of action was
circumscribed, particularly insofar as finance was concerned.
The United States islands, on the other hand, had to deal with
policy and legislation which were federal in scope, alteration to
which by so much as a jot or tittle could involve the president
of the United States, the Congress, or any of a number of
executive departments. While those circumstances seriously
militated against progress in certain areas, the metropolitan
governments did take an interest in what was being done and
held an umbrella over the heads of the two tiny dependent
The other linkage variable is diffused linkages, which refers
to public opinion and relations with the public. Press releases
were issued to the media following each meeting of the
conference. On a few occasions, aspects of the work of the
conference were the subject of editorial comment. If the public
was not enthusiastic about the conference, it was at least aware
of it; and, in societies where only the spectacular is likely to
convert apathy into action, if active support was not forth-
coming, neither was active opposition.
The image of the Inter-Virgin Islands Conference was dif-
ferent among different people. That it was a "great success" or
even a "success" was an extreme view held by a tiny minority
and only among the leaders. Equally extreme (and extremely
pessimistic) is the view that it was a "sheer waste of time,"
although this assessment would receive some public support.
More acceptable to a significant number of people, "influen-
tials" as well as the public,1 7 was the view expressed by Henry
L. O'Neal, the British consul in St. Thomas: "A bunch of
17. By influentialss" is meant those individuals in the society who
have no authority over the institution but whose behavior relative to it
has a significant effect. The public is a residual category.
Promise and Performance
people who met as a talkfest and a social club that was not well
directed," notwithstanding that the record clearly indicates
that talk and social occasions constitute a large part of the stuff
of most organizations of this kind.
Perhaps the assessment that best sums up the performance of
the conference, and which is supported by the majority of
persons who understood the doctrine, was made by Lt. Col.
Henry Howard (Commissioner of the British Virgin Islands
The fruits of these meetings are not always evidenced by
their results, though these have not been inconsiderable,
but by the fact that officers of both governments are able
to sit around a table and discuss our common
problems in an atmosphere of cordiality and under-
The lapse of the conference is a matter of general regret, and
the resumption of its activities generally desired.
The Inter-Virgin Islands Conference was an experiment in
institution building around common problems (which did not
include security) between two dependent territories, with the
tacit understanding of the sovereign nation states of which they
formed an inconsequential "part." In the face of a number of
circumstances which militated against it (including the "depen-
dent" status of the territories concerned), there were definite
accomplishments-a general appreciation of problems facing
both groups of islands and their interdependence, requests
made and concessions given by both sides, and cooperative
action in several fields. These would make reasonable the
assumptions that (1) political status and philosophies notwith-
standing, attempts will be made to meet the felt needs of
human communities and institutions designed to do so, and (2)
within the framework of universalism and regionalism in
18. Conference files: letter from Commissioner Howard to
Governor Gordon, dated 22 October 1955.
52 / Norwell Harrigan
international organization there may well be room for the
development of patterns and techniques which would enable
human communities that can never become sovereign in the
classical meaning of the term to accept the reaffirmation of the
"faith in fundamental human rights, in dignity and worth of
the human person, in equal rights of men and women"
proclaimed by the United Nations charter.
OLD PROBLEMS, NEW PROSPECTS
If these theoretical assumptions and the practical consensus in
favor of reconstituting the Inter Virgin-Islands Conference are
accepted, there-appears-to-be a need for a reexamination of the
premises on which the conference was established as well as
Trade and migration are historically the two pillars on which
inter-Virgin Islands relationships have been built. The position
of trade between the two groups of islands following the entry
of the United States on the Virgin Islands scene is shown in
In 1926, the governor of the United States Virgin Islands
reported that "a large part of the population, especially that of
St. Thomas, is composed of aliens from the British Virgin
Islands (estimated to be about 21 percent of the inhabitants of
St. Thomas. Probably 50 percent have relatives there)."' In
1960, the position was virtually unchanged. The census returns
1. Report of the governor to the Secretary of the Navy, 1926. A
1968 survey showed on some islands primary relatives as high as 99
British Virgin Islands Trade Statistics,
Value of Imports
from U.S.A. and
Value of Exports
to U.S.A. and
1918 $ 37,832 72.6 $16,378
1938 27,596, 69.7 36,804
1948 121,620 81.8 82,219
1950 146,874 78.0 74,648
Source: Leeward Islands Blue Books and British
Development Plan, 1951.
showed 2,086 persons as having been born in the British Virgin
Islands. In addition, a high proportion of British islanders were
always employed in the United States islands. Table 5.2
indicates the position in recent years.
The movement of people led to significant social interrela-
tionships. Intermarriage has a long history but it assumed large
proportions within the past three decades and reached a peak in
1950 when 34 percent of the marriages in St. Thomas were
between St. Thomas or St. John and British Virgin Islands
couples. The number of children born of these unions (and of
others without benefit of clergy) is also significant. In 1956, for
example, of the total births of British Virgin Islands women, 26
percent were in the United States islands. This reached 38.4
percent in 1960 and 45.7 percent in 1964.2
The economic ties, then, were varied and mutually binding
and these, together with the social interrelationships, brought
about a high degree of integration. The normalization of this
2. A study of the interrelationships between the two groups of
islands has been undertaken by the Caribbean Research Institute,
College of the Virgin Islands. The foregoing statistics are taken from the
Old Problems, New Prospects / 55
Estimate of British Virgin Islanders Employed in
United States Virgin Islands,
B. V.I. Percentage in B. V.I. Population
Year Population U.S. V.I. in U.S. V.L
1960 7,340 16 734
1962 8,000 12 960
1964 8,619 13 1,120
Source: B.V.I. Report 1960-64.
integration was the rationale for the establishment of the
conference; it was intended to preserve and extend this
economic and social integration, particularly by the British
By the second half of the decade of the sixties, conditions
had changed to the extent that there appeared to be a prima
facie case to argue that the conference was no longer necessary
-and this, no doubt, contributed to its demise. The growth of
the tourist industry in both groups, but particularly the United
States islands, severely curtailed the traditional agriculture on
which the economy of the British islands was based. This was
due to the migration of British agricultural workers to fill the
needs of the growing tourist sector in the United States islands.
While the United States islands remained the principal export
market, the volume of trade continued to decline even though,
3. The records show, for example, the British delegation taking a
strong stand against a charge that the islands were infecting their sister
islands with venereal disease, arguing that a substantial number of the
alien admissions were West Indians who had passed through the British
islands and used them as their point of departure. In 1959, another
British delegation felt that "the special status which British Virgin
Islanders enjoyed with respect to employment in the United States
Virgin Islands has diminished or is being reversed" and suggested
preference for their people by requiring a longer bond.
due to inflation, there was a substantial increase in monetary
terms. In fact the British islands had very little to offer to their
neighbors. Table 5.3 illustrates the position in relation to the
chief items of production.
British Virgin Islands Exports to U. S.
Virgin Islands by Value,
(in $000 U.S.)
Commodity 1957 1963 1965 1967 1970 1973
Livestock 109 89 69 30 6 0
Vegetables 4 2 1 .5 2 2
Charcoal 4 3 2 .5 .4 2
Sources: British Virgin Islands Biennial Reports, 1957-67. Statistical
Abstract of the British Virgin Islands 1974, No. 1.
The downturn-in productibn,-and- consequently in exports,
was due to the acceleration of the pace of development in the
British islands. As bulk purchases became necessary to meet the
demands of development, imports shifted directly to Puerto
Rico, the United States, and Europe, as well as other Caribbean
countries which became commodity sources. In addition, the
inclusion of Road Town (Tortola) as a port of call for
steamship lines resulted in the British islands becoming a
transshipment point for goods destined to the United States
islands. In this particular, at least, there was increasing reciproc-
ity, and St. Thomas was converted into little more than a
"shopping center" for the Britishers. In fact many items could
be bought cheaper and some not available in St. Thomas were
obtainable in Tortola. Imports from St. Thomas dropped from
16.8 percent in 1965 to 14.9 percent in 1973. The United
States islands barely continued to hold their own in the British
import market. Table 5.4 illustrates the new direction of
imports, and table 5.5 the balance of trade.
Old Problems, New Prospects
Direction of Imoorts in the British Virgin Islands
(in $000 U. S.)
1965 1967 1971 1973
U.S.V.I. 494 572 850 1,416
Puerto Rico 572 751 1,249 1,800
United States 698 1,260 2,163 2 2,284
United Kingdom 639 743 2,184 1,548
Norway 419 158
Holland 268 240
Trinidad 483 723*
Sources: British Virgin Islands Reports, 1965-1969. Statistical
Abstract of the British Virgin Islands 1974.
* The shift in the import trade to Europe and the Caribbean is due to
the increase in tourism activities and the electrification of the islands.
As will be seen from the table, the U.S.V.I. imports were less than the
U.K. and only nearly twice as much as those from Trinidad, with which
there had been little or no trade in former years.
Balance of Trade
(in $000 U. S.)
1965 1967 1971 1973
Imports 57 3,890 8,850 9,467
Domestic Exports 182 88 104 98
Re-exports 9 12 267 343
Total Exports 191 100 371 441*
Source: Statistical Abstract of the British Virgin Islands 1974, no. 1.
It will be noted that in 1971 and 1973 re-exports were almost the
total volume of exports. This substantiates the claim of growing
interdependence in trade relations.
The position relative to labor had also changed. A survey in
1968 indicated that "bonded aliens" from the British Virgin
Islands accounted for only 1.3 percent of the labor force in the
United States islands.4 But by this time a relatively large
number of British islanders had either become United States
citizens or were admitted to the United States as permanent
residents.5 A substantial number of these were still to be found
in the Virgin Islands with a secure place in the economic
structure. Indeed the pace of development in the British islands
has caused one-third of the labor force of 3,270 to be
expatriates6 and in the United States islands "bonded" British
Virgin Islanders became a mere 0.55 percent of their labor
In fact the proposition that the entire Virgin Islands "geo-
graphically, economically and ethnologically constitute a close
well-defined unit"8 was as valid as it ever had been. But the
islands had failed to adapt an instrument that had proved useful
in one set of circumstances to the realities of change.
A good example is found in the television dispute. In 1969
the government of the British islands licensed an American
company under international authority to telecast from Tor-
tola using two channels for which the government of the
United States Virgin Islands were negotiating with the Federal
Communications Commission. (One of these channels was to
be used in both cases for public television.) But, on the United
States side, strong exception was taken to the decision. The
4. See Social, Educational Research and Development Inc., Aliens in
the United States Virgin Islands: Temporary Workers in a Permanent
Economy (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands: College of the Virgin Islands,
1968), p. 16.
5. Between 1963 and 1967, 1,330 nonquota immigrant visas were
issued to British Virgin Islanders. The present quota is 600 a year.
6. British Virgin Islands Report, 1975, p. 16.
7. The figure is based on the 1975 estimate of 221 workers in a
labor force of approximately 40,000.
8. John P. Augelli, "The British Virgin Islands: A West Indian
Old Problems, New Prospects
governor called the action "legally questionable, economically
indefensible in terms of the economy of the British Virgin
Islands, and .. a disguised effort to introduce a signal into the
United States Virgin Islands and possibly Puerto Rico from
outside American territorial limits. The purpose is obviously to
exploit the American market."9 He threatened to adopt any
means to stop the channels being used as planned.
While much of this may have been true, the decision was still
within the right of the British to take. And, although many
people were concerned about the mysterious nature of the
expected sources of funding, those sections of the community
which had interests in the matter, and/or strong feelings about
it, were infuriated. The whole thing left, even if only for a short
period, a nasty taste in British mouths. In happier times the
Inter-Virgin Islands Conference might well have been the
means of bringing about the establishment of a partnership
venture in education which could only have benefited all
From Anegada in the north to St. Croix in the south, sixty-
seven miles of water studded with islands, islets, and rocks
contain the potential for continued experimentation in
methods of minimizing the conflictual and maximizing the
cooperative aspects of their relationships.
Anomaly" Geographical Review, 46 (January 1951), p. 43.
9. Letter from Governor Paiewonsky to Administrator Thomson,
St. Thomas, 10 January 1969.
10. More recently the extension of the territorial waters of the
United States to two hundred miles for the purpose of fishing (an
action which was never intended to affect two dependent island
territories less than two miles from each other) has been the subject of
high level negotiations between the State Department of the United
States and the British Foreign Office at meetings held in Washington. A
recommendation hammered out by a body such as the Inter-Virgin
Islands Conference would have provided the negotiators with at least
the realities of the local situation as seen by both sides working
The history of Virgin Islands interrelationships tends to
suggest that the British islands were "subjectively dependent"
on their Danish and later United States neighbors. (They
resented their dependent relationships but felt incapable of
doing anything to change them.) Subsequently they experi-
enced "counter dependence" (the process of altering a relation-
ship from one in which they felt dependent to one in which
they felt equal). The present status may now properly be called
"interdependence" (where more or less equality exists but
there is the recognition of reciprocal dependence).1 1 Some of
the ties-historic (including the effects of slavery, imperialism,
and colonialism), linguistic, religious, racial, and cultural-
which bind individuals and groups together in both juris-
dictions can be dealt with, if necessary, by those concerned.
Others require official action.
A former president of the United States Virgin Islands
Legislature, John L. Maduro, has declared that "we are facing
the most critical period of our development with our greatest
growth still before us."' 2 The political leaders in the British
islands consider that they are in a similar position.13 If
integration is viewed from another perspective, new problems
will soon become apparent but these point to new prospects for
inter-Virgin Islands cooperation.
Two illustrations may suffice. In the United States islands all
the evidence would indicate that the options open to them for
continued prosperity are tourism, with added facilities which
would cater particularly to the traveling convention business,
the continued attraction of "retirees" as residents, and the
present industrialization program to which light industries and
petrochemicals are likely additions.1 4 The British islands have
11. The concepts are modifications of Marshall R. Singer, Weak
States in a World of Powers (New York; The Free Press, 1972), pp.
12. See Home Journal (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands), 1 May 1969.
13. Interview with Hon. H. L. Stout, Chief Minister, British Virgin
Islands, 25 June 1969.
14. Interview with Dr. Albert Prendergast, Commissioner of
Commerce, United States Virgin Islands, 12 May 1969.
Old Problems, New Prospects
much the same choices. "It is the Government's intention to
make every effort for this vital industry (tourism) to progress
for the continuing betterment and benefit of the peoples of
these islands."' 5 To bolster the tourist trade a fiscal committee
has also drawn attention to the desirability of "attracting
retired persons as residents (which) results in the stimula-
tion of servicing industries which are eminently suitable for
businessmen with only a limited amount of capital at their
In the "American Paradise" and the "Crown Jewels of the
Caribbean," as their respective tourist slogans denominate the
United States and British Virgin Islands, governments, devel-
opers, investors, and operators of tourist-related businesses are
all engaged in planning for expansion. Airports, hotels and
condominiums are under construction. And the foreseeable
problems (including the place of the "bonded-alien" of the
United States side and the British equivalent "nonbelonger," as
well as the cry of the locals for a "piece of the action") are
identical. With complimentarity rather than competition the
Virgin Islands could erect a tourist complex second to none.
The other area is conservation. Queen Elizabeth, on her visit
to the British islands in 1966, made the first comprehensive
public statement about conservation when she said:
As more and more tourists come here I hope that you will
see that nothing is done to spoil the heritage of nature of
which you are so proud. You should never allow this
heritage to be squandered in the quest for quick returns
for investment.1 7
15. Report on the Activities of the Tourist and Investment
Promotion Department, 1967-68, Chief Minister's Office, British Virgin
16. Report of the Fiscal Review Committee, Administrator's Office,
British Virgin Islands, 1968, p. 4. See also editorial in Island Sun
(British Virgin Islands), 8 March 1969. Although seven years have
passed since this and the two foregoing positions were stated, all the
available evidence indicates no change in policy.
17. Reply by Queen Elizabeth II to an Address of Welcome, British
Virgin Islands, February 1966.
. Norwell Harrigan
In the United States islands, Senator Maduro spoke for the top
leadership when he said:
We must make the choice now between unrestrained
development which would easily despoil the landscape,
thus destroying the very thing which makes our islands
attractive, or planned development which will conserve
and preserve the beauty of the land so that we and our
children may enjoy it.1 8
Conservation, however, does not relate only to the natural
environment; fisheries, historical buildings, archeological arti-
facts, and the cultural heritage of the islands can also be
included in the term.1 9
In addition, there are other problems which might be
susceptible to joint solution. It has been pointed out, for
the Virgin Islands society is indeed plagued by factional
disputes; racism does exist; economic exploitation is a
fact of daily island life; poverty abounds in many quar-
ters; functional illiteracy is assuming alarming propor-
tions; and the opportunity to participate fully in our
economic and social life is not open to all members of the
Since all this is so vital to the future of tourism-the economic
resource on which most people agree that "development"
depends-joint conservation education programs, planning,
research and development would contribute not only to
18. Home Journal, 1 May 1969.
19. The Reciprocal Agreement between the United States and
British governments on fishing rights in the Virgin Islands is striking
evidence that Inter-Virgin Islands relationships are an ongoing process.
See text of Agreement at Appendix II.
20. Phillip A. Gerard, "Social Configuration and Some Problems,"
in Virgin Islands: America's Caribbean Outpost, ed. James A. Bough
and Roy C. Macridis (Wakefield, Mass.: The Walter F. Williams
Publishing Co., 1970), p. 156.
Old Problems, New Prospects / 63
economic progress but, more important, to bringing about the
kind of awareness that is required to save the islands from the
utter catastrophe toward which, in the eyes of some, they
appear to be heading. It is generally conceded that tourism
contains the seeds of its own destruction. This discussion could
open the whole question of the future of the Microstate in the
world order, Microstates being defined as
small states with limited land area, limited resources and
populations usually incommensurable with both, politi-
cally independent or internally self-governing, having the
determination to be recognized as separate and distinct
entities and the urge to move as far and as fast as possible
into the category of "developed."2 1
Using the College of the Virgin Islands as a mechanism for
research and development, these islands may focus on the
neglected phenomenon of the Microstate. The evidence seems
clear that the Microstates have the potential and capacity to
evolve a distinctive identity. This distinctive identity must
encompass a recognition of their limitations, reordering of
priorities, and restructuring and redesigning the institutions,
fundamental to their survival as Microstates in a new inter-
The comments offered above are intended to be neither
detailed nor exhaustive but, rather, illustrative. Apart from
identifying the type of emergent problems, they raise serious
doubts as to whether these problems are susceptible to solution
by a loosely structured organization as was the Inter-Virgin
Island Conference. It appears necessary, therefore, to think in
terms of a redesign. Some of the basic issues may be stated
First, there should be no change in the overall objective-
closer association between the two groups of islands. The
21. Norwell Harrigan, "Higher Education in the Microstate: A
Theory of Raran Society" (Ph.D. diss. University of Pittsburgh, 1972),
decision-making functions should be vested in a smaller group
(perhaps of no more than six members). This group should be a
commission rather than a conference, the title of which should
clearly indicate its concern with interrelationships.
Second, the commission should be advised by special-subject
conferences convened on an ad hoc basis. Membership should
consist of persons with the necessary competence drawn from
all sections of the community. Small scale should make
Third, the constitutional advance that has taken place since
the collapse of the conference would make it inappropriate for
the heads of government to serve as members of the new
organization. They should each, however, nominate a member
from the top echelon of the executive branch of the govern-
ment. The legislatures should continue to be represented, and a
third category of delegates should represent economic interests
such as chambers of commerce.
Fourth, personnel requirements should not again be ne-
glected. Provision should be made for proper administration,
with research and clerical assistance, to support the decision-
making processes. To liaise effectively with governments and
other institutions with enabling and functional linkages, the
administrative officer should not also be on the establishment
of either government.
Fifth, the metropolitan governments should be directly
involved. The position of the United States Department of
State that it "did not want a formal agreement and preferred
that the conference be kept on an informal basis"22 requires
reexamination in relation to any new initiative for closer
association of the islands.
Sixth, resource inputs should include funding from the two
metropolitan governments as well as the local governments.
Research should draw on the College of the Virgin Islands and
the University of the West Indies, with which the islands have
22. Conference files: Statement by Governor Merwin in Minutes of
Seventeenth Meeting, 17 August 1960.
Old Problems, New Prospects
formal links, and business and other interests should be invited
to contribute to the funding of research projects.2 3
If there is strong sentiment for the reestablishment of
machinery for closer association between the two groups of
islands,2 4 it might be desirable to conduct a feasibility study
which would make detailed recommendations relative to or-
ganizational format and reduce these to dollar terms.
Perhaps Dr. Roy Bornn had a vision of the future when he
In many ways our hopes and aspirations and oppor-
tunities are intertwined. I feel that in the long run we will
share a common destiny. May our efforts along the way be
marked by harmony, understanding and goodwill.2 5
The geography that made the islands neighbors and the history
that made their people relatives were circumstances beyond
their control. But the quest for a better way of life, which will
be largely determined by economics and which should make
them partners, is within their power to undertake. Small scale
may yet further illuminate the complexities of international
23. A study of fisheries potential undertaken by Caribbean
Research Institute, College of the Virgin Islands, for the United States
islands underscores the need for treating the islands as the ecosystem
which they form. No way has yet been found to tell the American fish
that they are in British waters.
24. Closer association was a plank in the platform of the United
Party which won the general elections in the British islands in 1967. It
has already been mentioned by the leadership of the BVI Democratic
Party which contested the 1971 elections. Several prominent people in
the United States islands have expressed interest in the idea.
25. Conference files: Letter from Dr. Roy Bornn to Captain Gerald
Bryan, dated St. Thomas, 4 May 1961.
Establishing the Inter-Virgin Islands Conference
Inter-Virgin Islands Conference
The Governments of the American Virgin Islands and of
the British Virgin Islands, having agreed that it is desirable to
arrange for periodic consultations between the two groups on
matters of mutual concern, propose to initiate regular
conferences as follows:
(a) The meetings which will be held as a result of this
agreement will be known as the "Inter-Virgin Islands
(b) The regular meetings of the Conference will be held at
11 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each quarter at Cruz
Bay, St. John, or any other place within the Virgin
Islands that the Conference may approve. The first
meeting will be held Tuesday, July 3rd, 1951. When in
any quarter the first Tuesday falls on an official
holiday, the meeting will be held a week later.
(c) At the request of either Government a special meeting
may be held at any other time.
(d) The membership of the Conference will consist of:
(i) on the American side:
The Government Secretary of the American Virgin
A member of the Municipal Council of St. Thomas
and St. John;
Up to three additional persons chosen by the
Government Secretary, being officials of the
Municipal Government of St. Thomas and St. John
or unofficial resident in those islands;
(ii) on the British side:
The Administrator of the British Virgin Islands,
An unofficial member of the Legislative Council of
the British Virgin Islands,
Up to three additional persons chosen by the
Administrator, being officials of the Government
of the British Virgin Islands or unofficial resident
in those islands.
(e) The additional persons who will complete the
delegations will be chosen by each Government in the
light of the agenda for each meeting. It is envisaged that
the officials most likely to be needed at the conference
(i) on the American side:
The Commissioner of Health,
The Extension Agent in charge of the Agricultural
The Chairman of the Price Control Commission;
(ii) on the British side:
The Medical Officer,
The Agricultural Officer,
The Administrative Assistant to the Administrator.
(f) It is envisaged that on special occasions, when in their
judgement the importance of the agenda makes their
presence at a meeting desirable, the Governor of the
American Virgin Islands and/or the Governor of the
Leeward Islands would lead their respective delegations
instead of the Government Secretary and the
Commissioner. The latter officials would, however, in
that event still attend as members of their delegations.
At meetings attended by both Governors, the Governor
of the American Virgin Islands will preside. At other
meetings the chair will be taken alternatively by the
Government Secretary of the American Virgin Islands
and the Administrator of the British Virgin Islands. The
Government Secretary will preside at the first meeting
on July 3rd: "The highest ranking member of either
government shall preside at meetings when held in
places under their own jurisdiction."
(g) Notwithstanding paragraph (d) above, the leader of
either delegation, if he considers it desirable to do so,
may increase his delegation for any particular meeting
or for the discussion on any particular item on the
agenda by not more than two persons, who may be
officials or unofficial. Such additional delegates shall
have no vote.
(h) The Conference may discuss any subject of mutual
concern to the American and British Virgin Islands and
make recommendations thereon to the Governments
concerned. It will have no executive authority. When a
recommendation is not agreed to unanimously, a note
shall be made in the minutes of the names of those
voting in favour, those voting against and those
abstaining from voting.
(i) The Administrator of St. John will be the permanent
Secretary of the Conference. The duties of the
Secretary will be
(i) to send the agenda of each meeting to the leaders of
the two delegations seven days before the meeting;
(ii) to keep the original minutes of the Conference and
to forward copies of the minutes to the leaders of
the two delegations as soon as possible after each
(iii) to issue statements after each meeting to the press
and radio, the substance of such statements to be
agreed by the heads of the two delegations.
(j) Not later than ten days before each meeting, the leaders
of delegations shall notify the Secretary of the subjects
which they wish placed on the agenda for that meeting.
Subjects shall be put on the agenda only at the instance
of the head of the delegation.
(k) If no specific subjects are set down for discussion at any
particular meeting, the meeting will nevertheless be
held; and, in such an event, the Conference will at that
meeting review inter-island problems generally.
1. The Conference may frame its rules of procedure,
and amend them from time to time as it may deem
fit, but no rules shall be adopted which are in
conflict with this memorandum.
2. In order to give effect to the above decisions the
Government of the American Virgin Islands is
inviting the Municipal Council to select one of its
members to be a member of the American
delegation and the Administrator of the British
Virgin Islands is inviting the elected members of the
Legislative Council to select one of their numbers
to be a member of the British delegation.
3. It is the hope of both Governments that this
organization may result in improved conditions
within the Virgin Islands and better relations
between the two groups.
Government Secretary's Office,
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands of the United States.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
May 1st, 1951.
Reciprocal Fisheries Agreement Between the
Government of the United States of America and the
Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland
The Government of the United States of America and the
Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Seeking to maintain the long-standing and cooperative
fisheries relations in adjacent waters which have formed a part
of the close ties between the people of the United States and
the people of the British Virgin Islands;
Desiring to ensure effective conservation of fishery stocks
in the exclusive fishery zones of the United States and the
British Virgin Islands;
Taking note of the United States Fishery Conservation and
Management Act of 1976, establishing a fishery conservation
zone contiguous to the territorial sea of the United States;
Taking note of the Proclamation by the Governor of the
British Virgin Islands of 9 March 1977 establishing a fisheries
zone contiguous to the territorial sea of the British Virgin
Recalling that the two governments have a common
approach based on the principle of equi-distance regarding the
limits of fishery jurisdiction as between the United States and
the British Virgin Islands;
Have agreed as follows:
For the purpose of this Agreement:
(a) the exclusive fishery zone of the United States refers to
waters subject to the fishery jurisdiction of the United States
beyond the territorial sea;
(b) the exclusive fishery zone of the British Virgin Islands
refers to waters subject to the fishery jurisdiction of the United
Kingdom contiguous to the territorial sea of the British Virgin
Commercial fishing by vessels of the United States may
continue in the exclusive fishery zone of the United States in
accordance with existing patterns and at existing levels. The
government of the United States extends access to its exclusive
fishery zone to vessels of the British Virgin Islands for the
purpose of conducting such fishing.
Commercial fishing by- vessels of the United States may
continue in the exclusive fishery zone of the British Virgin
Islands in accordance with existing patterns and at existing
levels. The Government of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland extends access to the exclusive
fishery zone of the British Virgin Islands to vessels of the
United States for the purpose of conducting such fishing.
1. The Government of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland shall have exclusive authority to
enforce the provisions of this Agreement and applicable
national fishery regulations with respect to fishing by vessels of
Appendix 2 / 73
the United States in the exclusive fishery zone of the British
Virgin Islands; provided that such national regulations as may
be applied shall not disturb existing patterns and levels of
2. The Government of the United States shall have
exclusive authority to enforce the provisions of this Agreement
and applicable national fishery regulations with respect to
fishing by vessels of the British Virgin Islands in the exclusive
fishery zone of the United States; provided that such national
regulations as may be applied shall not disturb existing patterns
and levels of fishing.
Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude either Party from
regulating recreational fishing within its exclusive fishery zone
in accordance with its applicable laws.
1. Consultations shall be held at the request of either Party
to this Agreement, when:
(a) there is reason to believe that vessels of the other are
fishing in a manner inconsistent with existing patterns and
levels of commercial fishing referred to in Articles 2 and 3;
(b) either Party seeks a change in existing patterns or levels
of commercial fishing referred to in Articles 2 and 3;
(c) either Party intends to introduce conservation measures
which may affect the existing patterns and levels of commercial
fishing referred to in Article 2 and 3;
(d) there is a need to discuss implementation of any
provision of this Agreement.
2. If such consultations result in a decision to amend the
terms of this Agreement, such amendments shall enter into
force by a subsequent exchange of diplomatic Notes.,
This Agreement shall enter into force when each Party has
notified the other by diplomatic Note that the necessary
domestic legal procedures for such entry into force have been
fulfilled, and shall remain in force until December 31, 1978,
unless terminated sooner by either Party following three
months written notice to the other Party.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, duly
authorized thereto by their respective Governments, have
signed this Agreement.
DONE in duplicate, at Washington on June 24, 1977, FOR
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF
FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF
GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND:
1. The representatives of the two governments agreed that
the following information reflected the existing patterns and
levels of commercial fishing by vessels of the United States in
the exclusive fishery zone of the British Virgin Islands as de-
fined in this Agreement:
(a) no fishing by vessels over fifty-five (55) feet in length,
(b) deep line fishing at or beyond the forty fathom curve
by six vessels per day between thirty (30) and fifty-five (55)
feet in length during April, May and June; and deep line fishing
at or beyond the forty fathom curve by four such vessels per
day during the remainder of the year;
(c) line and trap fishing by six vessels per day under thirty
(30) feet in length west of a line drawn due north of Mount
Sage (1789 feet) on Tortola; and west of a line drawn due south
from the eastern-most point of Peter Island.
2. The representatives of the two governments agreed that
the following reflected the existing patterns and levels of
commercial fishing by vessels of the British Virgin Islands in the
exclusive fishery zone of the United States as defined in the
deep line fishing by two vessels per day under forty (40)
feet in length, at or beyond the forty fathom curve.
An Agreement for the Establishment
of the Caribbean Commission
The GOVERNMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA, the FRENCH REPUBLIC, the KINGDOM OF
THE NETHERLANDS, and the UNITED KINGDOM OF
GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, whose duly
authorized representatives have subscribed thereto,
Being desirous of encouraging and strengthening co-
operation among themselves and their territories with a view
toward improving the economic and social well-being of the
peoples of those territories and
Being desirous of promoting scientific, technological, and
economic development in the Caribbean area and facilitating
the use of resources and concerted treatment of mutual prob-
lems, avoiding duplication in the work of existing research
agencies, surveying needs, ascertaining what research has been
done, facilitating research on a co-operative basis, and recom-
mending further research, and
Having decided to associate themselves in the work hereto-
fore, undertaken by the Anglo-American Caribbean Commis-
Having agreed that the objectives herein set forth are in
accord with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations
Hereby agree as follows:
Establishment of the Caribbean
Commission and Auxiliary Bodies
There are hereby established the Caribbean Commission
(hereinafter referred to as "The Commission" and, as auxiliary
bodies of the Commission, the Caribbean Research Council and
the West Indian Conference (hereinafter referred to as "the
Research Council" and "the Conference" respectively).
Composition of the Commission
1. The Commission shall consist of not more than sixteen
Commissioners appointed by the Governments signatory here-
to (hereinafter referred to as the "Member Governments").
Each Member Government may appoint four Commissioners
and such alternates as it may deem necessary. Each such group
of Commissioners shall form a national section of the Commis-
2. Each Member Government shall designate one of its
Commissioners to be the Chairman of its national section. Each
such Chairman, or in his absence, the Commissioner designated
by him from his national section as his alternate, shall be a
Co-Chairman of the Commission and shall preside over meet-
ings of the Commission in rotation according to English alpha-
betical order of the Member Governments, irrespective of
where a meeting of the Commission may be held.
Powers of the Commission
The Commission shall be a consultative and advisory body
and shall have such legal capacity as may be necessary for the
exercise of its functions and the fulfillment of its purposes.
Functions of the Commission
The functions of the Commission shall be as follows:
Appendix 3 / 77
(1) To concern itself witl economic and social matters of
common interest to the Caribbean area particularly agriculture,
communications, education, fisheries, health, housing, indus-
try, labour, social welfare and trade.
(2) To study, formulate and recommend on its own initia-
tive, or as may be proposed by any of the Member or Territorial
Governments, by the Research Council or the Conference,
measures, programs and policies with respect to social and
economic problems designed to contribute to the well-being of
the Caribbean areas. It shall advise the Member and Territorial
Governments on all such matters and make recommendations
for the carrying into effect of all action necessary or desirable
in this connection.
(3) To assist in co-ordinating local projects which have
regional significance and to provide technical guidance from a
wide field not otherwise available.
(4) To direct and review the activities of the Research
Council and to formulate its rules of procedure.
(5) To provide for the convening of the sessions of the
Conference, to formulate its rules of procedure, and to report
to the Member Governments on Conference resolutions and
Meetings of the Commission
(1) The Commission shall hold not less than two Commis-
sion meetings each year. It is empowered to convene and hold
meetings at any time and at any place it may decide.
(2) At all such meetings the four Co-Chairmen, or their
designated alternates, shall constitute a quorum.
Method of Arriving at Decisions
The Commission shall be empowered to determine the
method of arriving at its decision, providing that decisions
other than those relating to procedure shall not be taken
without the concurrence of the respective Co-Chairmen or
their designated alternates.
The Research Council
The Research Council, together with such Research Com-
mittees as the Commission may establish, shall serve as an
auxiliary body of the Commission with respect to scientific,
technological, social, and economic research for the benefit of
the peoples of the Caribbean area.
Composition of the Research Council
(1) The Research Council shall consist of not less than
seven and not more than fifteen members who shall be ap-
pointed by the Commission having special regard to their
scientific competence. At least one member of each Research
Committee shall be a member of the Research Council.
(2) The Research Council shall elect a Chairman from
among its members. A Deputy Chairman of the Research
Council shall be appointed by the Commission and shall serve
on the Central Secretariat.
(3) The present composition of the Research Council and
of its Research Committees shall be deemed to be effective
from the 1st day of January, 1946.
Functions of the Research Council
The Functions of the Research Council shall be:
(1) To recommend to the Commission the number and
functions of the technical Research Committees necessary to
provide specialized scientific consideration of Caribbean re-
(2) In the interest of the Caribbean area to ascertain what
research has been done, to survey needs, to advise concerning
desirable research projects, to arrange and facilitate co-
operative research, to undertake research assignments of a
special nature which no other agency is able and willing to carry
out, and to collect and disseminate information concerning
(c) To recommend to the commission the holding of Re-
search Council and Committee meetings and also of meetings
of scientific, specialist and extension workers, and to facilitate
an interchange of experience among the research workers of
The Conference shall be an auxiliary body of the Commis-
sion. The continuity of its existence shall be ensured by means
of regular sessions.
Composition of the Conference
1. Each territorial government shall be entitled to send to
each session of the Conference not more than two delegates
and as many advisers as it may consider necessary.
2. Delegates to the Conference shall be appointed for each
territory in accordance with its constitutional procedure. The
duration of their appointments shall be determined by the
Functions of the Conference
The sessions of the Conference shall provide a regular
means of consultation with and between the delegates from the
territories on matters of common interest within the terms of
reference of the commission as described in Article 9 hereof,
and shall afford the opportunity to present to the Commission
recommendations on such matters.
Meetings of the Conference
1. The Commission shall convene the Conference at least
biennially, on such date as the Commission shall decide. The
location of each session of the Conference, which shall be in
one of the territories, shall be selected in rotation according to
English alphabetical order of the Member Governments.
2. The Chairman of each session of the Conference shall be
the Chairman of the national section of the Commission in
whose territory the session is held.
1. The Commission shall establish, at a place within the
Caribbean area to be agreed upon by the Member Govern-
ments, a Central Secretariat to serve the Commission and its
2. A Secretary-General and a Deputy Secretary-General
shall be appointed by the Commission under such terms and
conditions as it shall prescribe. On the occurrence of a vacancy
in the office of Secretary-General the position shall not be
filled, except for special reasons approved by the Commission,
by a candidate of the same nationality as the outgoing Secre-
tary-General, regard being had to the desirability of continuity
in the administration of the Commission's business. It shall,
however, be open to the Commission at its discretion to re-
appoint any Secretary-General for a further term. The Secre-
tary-General shall be the chief administrative officer of the
Commission and shall carry out all directives of the Commis-
3. The Secretary-General shall be responsible for the
proper functioning of the Central Secretariat and shall be
empowered, subject to such directions as he may receive from
the Commission, to appoint and dismiss such staff as may be
deemed necessary to ensure efficient conduct of Commission
business, provided that the appointment and dismissal of the
Assistants to the Secretary-General shall be subject to approval
by the Commission.
4. In the appointment of the Secretary-General, officers
and staff of the Central Secretariat, primary consideration shall
be given to the technical qualifications and personal integrity
of candidates and, to the extent possible consistent with this
consideration, such officers and staff shall be recruited within
the Caribbean area and with a view to obtaining a balanced
5. In the performance of their duties, the Secretary-
General and staff shall not seek, receive or observe instructions
from any government or from any other authority external to
the Commission. They shall refrain from any action which
might reflect on their position as international officials respon-
sible only to the Commission.
6. Each Member Government undertakes to respect the
exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the
Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence
them in the discharge of their responsibilities.
7. Each Member Government undertakes so far as possible
under its constitutional procedure to accord to the Secretary-
General and appropriate personnel of the Central Secretariat
such privileges and immunities as are necessary for the indepen-
dent exercise of their functions, including inviolability of
premises and archives of the General Secretariat. The Commis-
sion shall make recommendations with a view to determining
the details of the application of this paragraph or may propose
conventions to the Member Governments for this purpose.
1. The salaries, allowances and miscellaneous expenditures
of the Commissioners and their staff, and of delegates and
advisers to Conferences, shall be determined and paid by the
respective governments appointing them.
2. The Secretary-General shall prepare and submit to the
Commission an annual budget and such supplementary budgets
as may be required covering all other expenditures of the
Commission, including those of the Research Council, the
Conference, the Central Secretariat, special research projects,
conferences, surveys and other similar activities under Commis-
sion auspices. Upon approval of the budget by the Commission,
the total amount thereof shall be allocated among the Member
Governments in proportions to be determined by agreement. A
joint fund shall be established by the Member Government for
the use of the commission in meeting the expenditures esti-
mated in said annual or supplementary budgets. Each Member
Government shall undertake, subject to the requirements of its
constitutional procedure, to contribute promptly to this fund
such annual and supplementary sums as may be charged to each
3. The fiscal year of the Commission shall be the calendar
year. The first budget of the Commission shall cover the period
from the date of the entry into force of this Agreement to and
including the 31st day of December, 1946.
4. The Secretary-General shall hold and adminster the
joint fund of the Commission and shall keep proper accounts
thereof. The Commission shall make arrangements satisfactory
to the Member Governments for the audit of its accounts. The
audited statements shall be forwarded annually to each Mem-
Authority to Appoint Committees and
The Commission is hereby empowered to appoint commit-
tees, and subject to the provisions of this Agreement, to pro-
mulgate rules of procedure and regulations governing the oper-
ations of the commission, its auxiliary bodies, the Central
Secretariat, and such committees as it shall establish, and
generally for the purpose of carrying into effect the terms of
Relationships with Non-Member Governments
in the Area
The Commission and Research Council in their research
projects and in the formulation of recommendations shall bear
in mind the desirability of co-operation in social and economic
matters with other governments of the Caribbean Area, not
members of the Commission. The issuance of invitations to
such governments to participate in conferences or other meet-
ings sponsored by the Commission shall be subject to approval
by the Member Governments.
Relationship with United Nations
and Specialized Agencies
1. The Commission and its auxiliary bodies, while having
no present connection with the United Nations, shall co-
operate as fully as possible with the United Nations and with
appropriate specialized agencies on matters of mutual concern
within the terms of reference of the Commission.
2. The Member Governments undertake to consult with
the United Nations and the appropriate specialized agencies, at
such times and in such manner as may be considered desirable,
with a view to defining the relationship which shall exist and to
ensuring effective co-operation between the Commission and
its auxiliary bodies and the appropriate organs of the United
Nations and specialized agencies, dealing with economic and
Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to conflict with
the existing or future constitutional relations between any
Member Government and its territories or in any way to affect
the constitutional authority and responsibility of the territorial
In this agreement the expressions "territories" or "terri-
torial governments" shall be deemed to relate to the territories,
possessions, colonies, or groups of colonies of the Member
Governments in the Caribbean area or to the administrations or
Entry into Force
1. This Agreement shall enter into force when notices of
approval thereof shall have been deposited by all four signatory
governments with the Government of the United States of
America which shall notify the other signatory governments of
each such deposit and of the date of entry into force of the
2. This Agreement shall have indefinite duration, provided
that after an initial period of five years any Member Govern-
ment may give notice at any time of withdrawal from the
Commission. Such notice shall take effect one year after the
date of its formal communication to the other Member Govern-
ments, but this Agreement shall continue in force with respect
to the other Member Governments.
In witness whereof the duly authorized representatives of
the respective Member governments have signed this Agree-
ment on the dates appearing opposite their signatures.
Open for signature in Washington, on October 30, 1946,
and done in quadruplicate, in the English, French, and Nether-
lands languages, each of which shall be equally authentic.
Initialled by representatives of France, the Netherlands,
the United Kingdom, and the United States, at Washington, on
15th July, 1946.
Signed by representatives of France, the Netherlands, the
United Kingdom, and the United States, at Washington, on
30th October, 1946.
Ratified by French Government, 18th November, 1946
Ratified by United Kingdom Government, 4th March, 1947.
Ratified by United States Government, 4th March, 1948.
Ratified by the Netherlands Government, 6th August, 1948.
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