15 December 2023
- New Joint Declaration agreed by UK Government and elected leaders of British Overseas Territories (OTs).
- Declaration commits to a new, more collaborative and ‘modern partnership’ between the UK and the OTs.
- Includes plan to deepen bilateral partnerships, enhance transparency and support the OTs to take on more responsibilities should they wish to do so.
The UK Government and elected leaders of the British Overseas Territories have agreed a new Joint Declaration. The Declaration defines a new, more collaborative and ‘modern partnership’ between the UK and the OTs – one that’s based around our shared democratic values and respect for human rights.
As part of the declaration, the UK and OTs committed to; improve transparency and deepen bilateral partnerships; consult OTs on UK primary legislation that impacts them; and support OTs to take on more responsibilities where they wish to do so.
UK Minister for the Overseas Territories, David Rutley, said:
“The Overseas Territories are an important part of the British Family, and our shared values such as support for democracy and the rule of law underpin this close relationship.
“Our new Joint Declaration sets out more clearly than ever how the UK and Overseas Territories will work closer together on the opportunities and challenges of the modern world.”
The Joint Declaration was agreed during the UK and British Overseas Territories annual Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London on 14 – 15 November and has now been formally approved within the OTs.
Other commitments in the agreement include investigating improvements to how the UK provides financial support to OTs and agreeing to speak with one voice on the international stage, such as at the United Nations. It also creates more opportunities for the OTs to take on responsibilities where they want to, such as around transparency measures, and through the development of ‘Compacts.’
These ‘Compacts’ will set out roles and responsibilities on specific issues bespoke to each community. The UK will seek to agree these detailed bilateral agreements with each of the OTs.
Chief Minister of St Helena, Julie Thomas, said:
“St Helena welcomes this declaration, one which all of Legislative Council, both ministers and elected members, fed into. It was great to sit around the table, alongside UK and OT representatives, to set out and agree how we all want to work together in the future. I am pleased that the declaration reaffirms the need to continue to prioritise financial support for economic development to OTs such as ours. I look forward to working closely with UK colleagues to develop our bilateral Compact, which will define the way forward for St Helena.”
Notes to Editors
- View the Joint Declaration here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-overseas-territories-joint-declaration-a-modern-partnership-for-a-stronger-british-family
- Read the Written Ministerial Statement here https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2023-12-14/hcws125
- The Joint Declaration includes a number of key commitments by the UK, which will be a key part of the new UK Overseas Territories strategy announced by the previous Foreign Secretary earlier this year. The strategy will pave the way for the UK and British Overseas Territories to work more closely on shared opportunities and challenges.