Full Disclosure
October 26, 2007
Constitutional Reform: A critical aspect of our Independence

As we approach another Independence Day, we must take time to acknowledge those who would have assisted us in securing such a colossal achievement. For those who have not been granted the privilege of witnessing this period in Vincentian history, we owe it to them to continue the legacy of autonomy in decision-making, freedom from control, direction and undue influence by others. Whilst as a society we have faced many challenges, we would have learned very important lessons throughout the twenty-eight years of independence from our Mother Country.{{more}}

As we seek to bolster our political independence and sovereignty, we will in effect be helping to lift this society to a level where each citizen has a greater sense of self-determination which forms the much broader concept of the consciousness of self-help. It is in these concepts that our people will find the necessary tools to translate the intended gains of political independence into our future advancement and a much desired personal independence. The transitions of our people through colonialism and emancipation were by no means unperturbed, and likewise the process of truly being independent must not be relaxed, as there might be more changes that we should endure in order to see a forward progression in our nation.

Independence in 1979 brought with it a fundamental document in the form of our written Constitution, which contains our essential political rights, civil liberties and stipulations for a Bill of rights. It is safe to conclude that the majority of our citizenry have never seen a copy of the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, far less read its contents. In a case as such, how does one fully understand and appreciate the value of it? Perhaps, it is timely that our nation be informed through ongoing public forums of the essence of the Constitution and the underlying power therein.

Our independence must always be viewed as an evolutionary process, which formally began in 1979. The hallmark of this evolutionary process involves the exercise of our authority to make our own laws which are binding on our people. It is in this regard that the Constitutional Reform pendulum has begun to swing in our nation. What will be the outcome of our nation if our Constitution remains unamended throughout our history? Just this year, the Prime Minister of Japan called their Constitution, which was never amended in their sixty-year history, “incapable of adapting to the great changes taking place.”

We are situated in a regional and global space, where great changes are taking place in trade, defense, education, agriculture, infrastructure and foreign policy. Any participatory role and function in the CSME will act as an expression of growth in our political sovereignty and independence. Therefore, Constitutional Reform is a critical aspect of our independence, and hence real changes can be affected and future independence celebrations will be more meaningful as our nation gradually develops into something more complex by taking greater form.

However, the dynamics of inheriting our present legal and political system, which has been molded from the systems which we fought and gained independence, goes far beyond our present Constitution and the real changes brought about by the “Independence” that we so fervently celebrate each year. Fundamental to the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is good governance. Our independence rests with the men and women of this nation, since it is removed from the hands of our mother country.

Constitutional reform is revolutionary in and of itself, in the sense that it will cause new and different major changes in our development. In its proper context, Constitutional reform has a greater purpose than just excising our power to make laws. Purposes of such entail firstly to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of our public institutions, secondly, to strengthen our democracy and public engagement with decision-making, and thirdly, to increase trust and accountability in public bodies.

Each Vincentian must be proactive in whatever sector they are placed, and must work together with the universal aspiration of perpetuating any progress, in an effort to secure the fruits of our independence. In view of this, each citizen has to be civil minded and committed to nation building to an extent that unequivocally expresses their desires to be aware of the critical nature of being an independent nation in the twenty-first century. Happy 28th Independence to our nation.