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Thursday, April 17, 2014

ON POLITICAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED STATES
UN adviser: Periodic reassessment is good

Dr. Carlyle Corbin, a visiting international adviser on governance and multilateral diplomacy, noted with interest the renewed push to assess the CNMI’s political relationship with the United States at a time when other areas in the world with political relationship with bigger countries are doing the same thing.

Corbin, who has served as a United Nations expert on governance, and independent expert for the U.N. Development Programme, reiterated yesterday that his “observation” remains the same—that it is always good to assess the CNMI’s political status periodically.

This comes weeks after the CNMI House of Representatives passed Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro’s (R-Saipan) bill creating a Second Marianas Political Status Commission that would examine “whether the people desire continuing in a political union” with America under the Covenant. The bill is now under Senate review.

This year marks the CNMI’s 38-year political relationship with the United States through the signing of the Covenant.

“Periodic assessment is always beneficial and this is something which is very well laid out in the legislation, and it’s something that doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be any major change. It could very well be that that that is the determination…” Corbin said in an interview, in the presence of Ogumoro and former House speaker Pedro Paduna Deleon Guerrero.

Former representative Stanley Torres pushed the creation of the Second Marianas Political Status Commission for years but the effort proved futile. Ogumoro resurrected the proposal.

Corbin said the legislation is “spot on in terms of the way in which the assessment process can be taken forward.”

Corbin said a periodic assessment of a political relationship benefits the parties involved—to see whether the arrangement meets the current needs of the parties involved, or whether the relationship needs updating or “modernizing,” among other things.

“One of the things I found since I made that observation is that a number of areas in the world are doing just that and they are looking at their political arrangements, constitutional arrangements that they may have with larger countries, and in some cases, neighboring countries,” he said.

Corbin cited Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, as well as the Dutch Antilles, which he said has undergone “a major fragmentation, with five islands separating or becoming new entities.”

The Netherlands Antilles, an autonomous Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was dissolved on Oct. 10, 2010, and the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba became special municipalities of the Netherlands proper, while Curaçao and Sint Maarten became constituent countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Corbin is currently in the CNMI at Ogumoro’s invitation to discuss issues related to the CNMI’s political relationship with the U.S. and an upcoming international women’s conference.

When asked whether the CNMI should strive for more autonomy from the U.S., Corbin said this is a decision for the CNMI people to make.

“I think the main point of the legislation is to assess the relationship as it is operating today and then determine whether that is in fact the way to continue, [or] whether it needs some tweaking into it, whether it needs a major change, whether some of the differences of interpretation can be resolved, minimized or narrowed…” he added.

Corbin also reiterated that the CNMI has one of the best political relationships with the United States.

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