Sue Onslow of the University of London interviewed Sir Ronald Sanders as part of the Commonwealth Oral History Project. The entire interview available to read online at Commonwealth Oral Histories, or you can download the PDF at the bottom of this post.
Sir Ronald was a diplomat starting in the 1980’s and was part of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group reporting in 2011. The first Eminent Persons Group included Barbados future Governor General, Dame Nita Barrow, who famously dressed in African garb to sneak into Soweto in South Africa and also met with Nelson Mandella in jail.
The interview covers a wide range of topics where Sir Ronald gives the perspective of someone right in the middle of the chaos that is international politics. Topics include South Africa (people, politics and apartheid), the US invasion of Grenada, the Falklands War and stories and opinions about famous people including then Barbados Prime Minister Tom Adams and lessor public figures like Reagan and Castro. 😉
It’s a good read for anyone interested in history or politics.
Here’s a passage about how the Caribbean had decided to side with Argentina in the Falklands, but then Sir Ronald decided to convince the leaders that our collective interests favoured the UK…
“I was away for a part of that period and came back to New York to find that the Caribbean High Commissioners had more or less agreed that they, the Caribbean Ambassadors at the UN, were going to be supportive of Argentina in this matter. This was for geographical reasons and the fact that there was a view that it was an anti-colonialist effort. When I went into that meeting with that decision more or less made, I questioned it seriously in terms of my own country’s interests. I put it to the group that our countries all spoke English, not Spanish; that our historical relationship was with Britain, not Argentina; that our diaspora lived in the United Kingdom, not Argentina; that our tourists and investors came from Britain and not Argentina; and that I could see no economic, political, cultural or historical benefit in supporting Argentina in this matter. Whatever the merits of the discussion, the point was – from a strictly domestic stand point – there was nothing in this for the Caribbean to support Argentina.
In any event, on the facts of the case, the merits were entirely on the side of Britain because the people of the Falklands had decided that they wished to be British and we had all become independent on the right of self determination. And we could not, in my view, deny the Falklanders the very thing that we insisted upon, that made us become independent countries. So if they, the Falklanders, had decided they wished to remain British, we should respect that position. So both in terms of International law and in practice and our own interests, I thought the Caribbean should support the United Kingdom and my view eventually prevailed. And the Caribbean did support Britain in that UN vote.”
Download the entire interview (PDF) here: Ron_Sanders_transcript_1-2
… or read the interview at Commonwealth Oral Histories