Greenpeace International has violated a code-of-conduct that it, and 10 other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), signed just 22 days ago. I am shocked and awed.
The much-touted Accountability Charter states that the NGO signatories will take all possible steps to ensure that there are no links with organisations, or individuals involved in illegal or unethical practices.
Nice words. But for the 39,129 citizens of the sovereign Caribbean island Federation of St. Kitts/Nevis, these words must be ringing a bit hollow.
According to government press statements and news reports, on 20 June a Greenpeace vessel, the MV Arctic Sunrise, violated the Federation’s territorial waters, illegally offloaded passengers and defied law enforcement officials by refusing to accompany them to police headquarters.
Ten members of the invasion force were arrested; six of them spent the night in jail, awaiting cash from Greenpeace to pay their fines.
The captain and crew of the mother ship apparently abandoned their comrades and sailed off in the direction of St. Eustatius.
The apparent objective of the Greenpeace expeditionary force was to disrupt a meeting of the International Whaling Commission being hosted by St. Kitts.
Their defence lawyer told the local magistrate that the activists had not intended to cause trouble on the island but only to engage in non-violent protest. Federation officials had a different opinion; they issued a national security release charging that Greenpeace had shown total disregard and disrespect for the government in utter contempt of its sovereign status.
The Federation release also noted that the Greenpeace vessel’s illegal manoeuvres had threatened the marine environment, jeopardising the barrier reef which protects the eastern Atlantic coastline of St. Kitts/Nevis and other fragile near-shore marine eco-systems.
Greenpeace International and the other Accountability Charter signatories claim the reason they signed the charter was to promote further values of transparency and accountability that we stand for, and commit our NGOs to respecting its provisions.
The charter states that its signers seek to advance international and national laws that promote human rights, ecosystem protection, sustainable development and other public goods.
Unless someone can make a compelling argument that violating national sovereignty, obstructing law enforcement authorities and jeopardising a fragile eco-system are not outright violations of the commitments made by those who signed the Accountability Charter, it seems to me that Greenpeace International has two options in the wake of the St. Kitts affair: either condemn the actions of the captain and crew of the MV Arctic Sunrise; or publicly jump ship from the Accountability Charter.
When Greenpeace wired money to pay the fines that were levied against the St. Kitts invaders, it may have clarified its true intentions. Only time will tell.
What is clear is that Greenpeace picks some really nice places to invade. Perhaps it’s their way of recruiting new rainbow warriors.
Join our merry band of sea scoundrels. Explore the beaches of picturesque islands. Drink your fill of mai tais. Have a whale of a good time.
While the attempted invasion of St. Kitts may not make the history books, this long-time observer of activist group shenanigans is shocked that it took Greenpeace nearly a month to depart from its charter commitments.
I expected a more rapid departure. And I’m awed by the actions taken by the government of St. Kitts/Nevis. Unlike other sovereign nations and many international corporations which have turned tail at the sight of the rainbow warriors, the Federation of St. Kitts/Nevis rejected appeasement and defended its sovereignty when the Greenpeace armada appeared on the horizon.
I would bet that the rainbow warriors won’t be returning to this Caribbean paradise anytime soon.
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