By Linton Leonard
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) will host the 40th annual conference of the Caribbean, Americas and the Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
Over 70 parliamentarians drawn from member states of that body are expected to arrive in the BVI in July as delegates and observers to this annual event. The opening of the conference will take place on July 27, 2015 under the theme: ‘Promoting Democracy and Good Governance: A Unified Approach’. Deliberations will take place from July 25 until August 1.
According to the clerk of the House of Assembly and conference coordinator, Phyllis Evans, the theme is relevant, given the challenging democratic circumstances being currently faced by member states.
Evans said, “It will allow parliamentarians to get together to share perspectives, which may well be different, given their unique circumstances. I believe we can learn from each other and explore ways of tackling these problems.”
Evans stated that the CPA conference is also being held at a critical point in the history of the BVI, at the implementation of the National Youth Policy that includes the creation of the Virgin Islands Youth Commission, the National Youth Council and the National Youth Parliament.
The 40th annual conference will include the eighth conference of Commonwealth women parliamentarians, the regional executive committee meeting, plenary sessions, the annual general meeting and the regional youth parliament.
A two-day meeting of the regional sub-group of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) will precede the main conference. The female parliamentarians will discuss topics including ‘Strategies to Increase Women’s Representation in Parliaments.’
Delegations to the regional CPA will include participants who will also participate in the annual session of the Caribbean Youth Parliament.
During the launch of the National Youth Policy on April 27, 2015, minister for education and culture, Myron Walwyn, stated that, as early as July, the youth of the territory will have the opportunity to take ownership of the youth policy as they participate in the upcoming sitting of the Commonwealth Youth Parliament at the CPA meeting to be held in the BVI.
The minister added that the youth parliament will enable young people across the territory to develop their skills and advocate meaningfully on different platforms and themes that impact them.
Walwyn further stated, “The Parliament contributes to a strong and secure territory by developing our young people and by their participation, allowing them to mature as politically accountable and responsible citizens, grounded in a civic consciousness, national identity, democracy and the rule of law, and respect for rights and diversity."
The purpose of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association branches of the Caribbean, the Americas and the Atlantic Region is to provide a forum to promote the aims and objectives and implement the activities of CPA CAA and the branches in the region.
The aims and objectives of the association are to promote knowledge of the respective constitutions, as well as the legislative, economic, social and cultural aspects of parliamentary democracy, with particular reference to the Commonwealth countries in the region.
Member states of the CPA include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.