CPA Wales Branch Post Conference Report 43rd British Isles and Mediterranean Region Conference
Falkland Islands, 11-15 February 2013
“Self-Determination and its Role in
Self Governance and Devolution”
Photo: Official Conference Photograph
Stanley Town Hall, Falkland Islands
Joyce Watson AM, Branch Chair and Delegation leader
William Powell AM, Branch Executive Committee Member
Al Davies, Acting Branch Secretary
The National Assembly for Wales has an active Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (1). The CPA meets in plenary conference each Summer/Autumn in its entirety and once each year also at a regional level. The Assembly is grouped within the British Islands and Mediterranean Region (2).
The National Assembly for Wales Branch of the CPA was invited to send a delegation of two Members and an accompanying Secretary, to attend the 43rd British Islands and Mediterranean Region conference hosted by the Falkland Islands Branch in Stanley 11-15 February 2013
Expressions of interest and (where appropriate) business cases, were invited from all Members and the delegation subsequently selected by the Branch Executive Committee.
There were 37 delegates and special guests from 11 of the BIMR’s 13 legislatures as well as observers from Canada and Anguilla. A full list of the delegates in attendance is attached in Annex B.
The theme for the Conference was ‘Self-Determination and its Role in Self Governance and Devolution’; a theme of particular relevance and interest to the Falkland Islands Government of course, due to their referendum in March 2013. The referendum question proposed by the Falklands Islands Assembly and adopted by the Executive Council was - Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?
The formal opening ceremony took place in the Town Hall and included performances by children from the Falkland Islands Community School. Hon Keith Biles JP, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, welcomed guests.
Plenary and Workshop Sessions
Guest speakers were invited to address 3 of the 4 plenary sessions which were:
Self-determination and its role in self-governance and devolution
Arguments about self-determination
The right to self- determination is not curtailed by sovereignty claims
Experiences in the development of greater regional and national autonomy
The Rt Hon Baroness Scotland QC addressed the first plenary session
“Self-determination and its role in self-governance and devolution”. In her speech she placed the right to self-determination within the international legal framework and gave examples of how fluid and varied a nation’s journey can be through different degrees of self-governance.
Professor Michael Keating addressed the second plenary session
“Arguments about self-determination”. He explained the different elements required for a nation to determine its own future, and the different ways in which this can occur. He concluded with a statement describing how, over time, a group can constitute itself as a people to determine their own future, so long as it can be demonstrated that there is a genuine desire to do so.
William Powell AM, as part of the subsequent Q & A session, asked Professor Keating about the role of Constitutional Monarchy within the context of self-determination as well as the importance of symbols, including national anthems, as part of this.
There followed two workshops, focusing on “The challenges of
governance in smaller territories and regions” and “Theories of self-determination: How have these theories been applied in recent years across the world and what are the international trends?”. Joyce Watson AM and William Powell AM attended and participated in each of these sessions.
On the second day of the Conference, The Hon Samantha Sacramento
MP delivered a speech on behalf of Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, prior to the third Plenary Session entitled “The right to self- determination is not curtailed by sovereignty claims”. The presentation described Gibraltar’s own journey of self-determination, and the challenges faced by small states in exercising their right to decide their own political future.
The final open plenary discussed “Experiences in the development of
Greater regional and national autonomy”. This session enabled delegates to set out the position in relation to their own legislatures and provided an interesting experience for delegates to be able to compare the varying levels of devolution within the UK.
The Wales Branch Chair addressed delegates to give a summary
account of Wales’ political journey since, and leading up to devolution,
in 1999; including the significance of milestones within this “process”
such as the successful 2011 referendum which had given enhanced
law-making powers for Wales.
Copies of the Plenary presentations as well as summary notes of the
Q&A and workshop sessions will be made available under 2013 BIMR
Report section of the CPA Wales Branch webpage.
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods MP (UK) and took place on 13 February. The AGM Agenda is presented in Annex C. The AGM Minutes are at this time unavailable but will be added to this report in due course.
The two main issues discussed during the AGM were:
CWP -The Regional CWP election and the proposed
Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Steering Group
Funding of future BIMR Conferences
The paper outlining a proposed e-voting process for the Regional CWP
Chair was agreed. The representative would serve a 3 year term from 2013-16.
In addition, delegates were asked to seek approval from their Branch
Executive Committees to support a CPA BIMR CWP Steering Committee.
It was recommended that each Branch should nominate a woman
Parliamentarian to join a Regional CWP Steering Committee (RCSC) in order to support the soon-to-be-elected Regional CWP Representative.
If agreed, by a majority of the 13 Regional Branch Executive
Committees, the first meeting of the RCSC was proposed for late April / early May 2013 at Westminster with a teleconference facility for those not able to travel to London. The purpose of this meeting would be to map out future plans and in particular to discuss candidacies for the election of the CPA CWP Chairperson which would be held at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) in Johannesburg during the first week of September 2013.
The other main issue discussed was in relation to funding of future
BIMR Conferences which was first raised at last year’s AGM at the 2012 Conference in Edinburgh.
Delegates agreed that each Branch should decide on one of two
options for the funding of future BIMR conferences to take effect for the BIMR conference to be hosted by Wales in May 2014, over a two day period, with an optional self-funding culture day.
The options were as follows:
Option A) The status quo - the host Branch pays for the conference.
Option B) Delegates fund their return travel to the conference and their bed and breakfast accommodation at the conference hotel (one hotel to be reserved for conference delegates by the host Branch), and the host Branch to meet all other conference costs.
The CPA Wales Branch stated its support for the second option which it
saw as a bridging compromise between the previously discussed options of “he who hosts pays” and “he who goes pays”. In making this point, the Wales Branch stressed however, that it was fully committed to hosting next year’s Regional conference irrespective of the decision reached on this matter and very much looked forward to welcoming delegates to Cardiff in May 2014.
All Branches were asked to formally notify the Secretariat of their
decision by 24 March and the Regional Secretary would announce the results on 28 March 2013.
Summary, Conclusion and Outcomes
The Conference was considered interesting and promoted a great deal
of debate regarding the various experiences of self-determination amongst delegates, both within and outside the formal sessions.
It was clear that the emphasis of the conference theme was focused on
the present situation faced by the Falkland Islands within the context of the imminent referendum to ascertain and make clear to the international community the wishes of the Islanders regarding their future sovereignty.
It was also interesting to note the evident interest from delegates in
the 2014 Scottish referendum on Independence and the significance that this might have on the future constitution of the United Kingdom.
It was surprising, and somewhat disappointing to note how little
reference there was to Wales as a devolved nation and its evolving political relationship with the United Kingdom. Furthermore, on occasions where devolution in Wales was referred to there were sometimes significant oversights and even blatant factual inaccuracies. It was therefore a very positive thing that the CPA Wales Branch was represented at the conference in order to raise awareness of Wales’ story and model of devolution within both a UK and International context.
Attendance at the conference also allowed the CPA Wales Branch
excellent networking opportunities both within the Region and beyond; and an important platform to promote the BIMR conference it will be hosting in May 2014.
The proposal of a future BIMR Commonwealth Women
Parliamentarians Steering Group was seen as a very positive development and would hopefully bring the Region in line with other Regions, such as in Africa and Canada, who had long placed just significance on Women’s issues within the work of the CPA.
The CPA Wales delegation wishes to acknowledge the generous
hospitality offered to them by the Host Branch, and in particular:
The Hon Keith Biles , CPA Falkland Islands Speaker of the House
Cherie Clifford, Deputy Clerk and Conference Assistant
Sukey Cameron MBE, Falklands Islands Government Representative
CPA Wales Branch
Acting Branch Secretary
(1) The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is an international inter-parliamentary organisation. Further information about the CPA may be found at http://www.cpahq.org and about the Wales Branch at
The British Islands and Mediterranean Region grouping comprises Alderney, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Northern Ireland, Scotland, St Helena, the UK and Wales.
The Rt Hon Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal PC QC
The Rt Hon Sir Alan Haselhurst MP
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods MP
Thomas Docherty MP
Andrew Rosindell MP
Joyce Watson AM
William Powell AM
Professor Michael Keating
Annex C ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 1100 WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2013
PORT STANLEY, FALKLAND ISLANDS AGENDA 1. Apologies for Absence.
2. Chair’s Welcome (Regional Rep CPA UK) and Opening Remarks.
3. Minutes of Regional AGM 12 June 2012 – Paper 01.
4. Matters Arising.
5. Commonwealth and CPA Matters, including report from CPA Chairperson, Rt Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, to include General Assembly issues.
6. CWP Matters, including agreement for election for BIMR CWP representative – Paper 02.
7. Funding of BIMR Conferences – Paper 03.
8. Regional Secretary's Report – with Regional Events.
9. Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences (CPC) and Regional Conferences:
• 59th in 2013 (South Africa)
• 60th in 2014 (CameroonTBC)
• 44th in May? 2014 (Wales)
• 45th in 2015 (CyprusTBC)
• 46th in 2016 (JerseyTBC)
• 47th in 2017 (TBC)
10. EU – Commonwealth Activities and Issues.
11. Reports from Regional Branches.
12. Dates of Next Meetings:
• September 2013 Meeting at 59th CPC in South Africa