The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon approved an omnibus draft resolution addressing the situation in 12 Non-Self-Governing Territories, as amended, as it concluded its work for the fifty-first session of the General Assembly.
The amended text, which was approved without a vote, was based on a draft submitted by the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (Special Committee on Decolonization).
Action on the Special Committee's draft had been postponed on 22 November 1996 to allow for continuing consultations between the Fourth Committee, the Special Committee, and the two administering Powers -- the United Kingdom and the United States. By today's action, the Committee approved the amended text that emerged from those consultations.
By its terms, the General Assembly would call for specific actions with respect to the following Territories: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands. It would also pronounce itself on broader issues applying to all the Territories.
In addition, the Assembly would ask the Special Committee on decolonization to continue its work and to recommend appropriate ways of assisting the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to exercise their right to self-determination.
Prior to today's action, Committee Chairman, Alounkeo Kittikhoun (Lao People's Democratic Republic) expressed appreciation to the President of the Assembly for his support, as well as to the Special Committee and its Chairman and to the administering Powers for their cooperation, goodwill and hard work.
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"Our deliberations have proven that all the participants have been aiming at protecting the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories as the most important principle motivating them in their action to achieve compromise and to allow the United Nations to fulfil its goal to eradicate colonialism by the year 2000", he said.
Speaking as Chairman of the Special Committee, the representative of Papua New Guinea said fundamental differences still existed with respect to issues covered by the draft resolution. However, the Special Committee had supported the amended text in the spirit of cooperation and with a view to further dialogue.
The representative of the United States said the agreement represented a milestone on a path on which there was still some distance to travel. Further good-faith negotiations must be undertaken. The representative of the United Kingdom expressed appreciation for the manner in which the Special Committee had approached the negotiations, putting cold-war rhetoric behind it.
Speaking for the European Union, the representative of the Netherlands said the amended draft represented a significant step forward in facing up to the realities in the Territories. The agreement reached demonstrated that dialogue was preferable to confrontation. The representative of Iran called on the administering Powers to invite the Special Committee to send visiting missions to the Territories
Also welcoming today's action were the representatives of Chile, Cuba, New Zealand, China, Trinidad and Tobago and Syria.
The General Assembly will meet to take action on today's draft resolution at a date to be announced.
Background on Draft Resolution
In addition to the Special Committee's omnibus resolution on the 12 Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/51/23 (Part VI)), the Fourth Committee had before it a report by its Chairman containing the agreed amendments (document A/C.4/51/8).
By the amended two-part draft resolution, the General Assembly would call on the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial Governments, to facilitate political education programmes to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination in conformity with legitimate political status options, including those in the Declaration on decolonization (resolution 1514 (XV)).
The administering Powers would be asked to include, in information submitted by them to the Secretary-General, reports on the wishes and aspirations of the peoples of the Territories regarding their future political status. It would reaffirm that United Nations visiting missions to the Territories, at an appropriate time and in consultation with the administering Power, are an effective means of ascertaining the situation in the Territories.
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Reaffirming the administering Powers' responsibility to promote economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territories, the Assembly would ask them to take all necessary measures to protect the Territories against environmental degradation and to counter problems relating to drug trafficking, money laundering and other offences.
In addition, the Special Committee on decolonization would be asked to continue its examination of the question of small Territories, and to recommend to the Assembly appropriate ways to assist the people to exercise their right to self-determination.
The second part of the draft resolution addresses conditions in each specific Territory.
In the section of the draft on American Samoa, the administering Power would be called upon to continue its assistance in the Territory's economic and social development, including strengthening the functions of the territorial Government.
Regarding Anguilla, the draft would call for the administering Power and all countries, organizations and United Nations agencies to continue to assist the Territory in social and economic development.
By the draft's section on Bermuda, the administering Power would be requested to elaborate, in consultation with the territorial Government, development programmes aimed at alleviating the economic, social and environmental consequences of the closure of military installations in the Territory.
Under the section of the draft on the British Virgin Islands, the administering Power, specialized United Nations agencies and all financial institutions would be requested to continue providing development assistance, bearing in mind the vulnerability of the Territory to external factors.
Regarding the Cayman Islands, the terms of the draft call for continued cooperation between the administering Power and the territorial Government to counter problems relating to drug trafficking, the smuggling of funds and other related crimes, and money laundering. Continued cooperation would also be requested in the expansion of employment programmes for the local population, particularly at decision-making levels.
In the section on Guam, the draft's provisions would call on the administering Power to take into consideration the expressed will of the Chamorro people, as endorsed by the people of Guam, and encourage continued negotiations on the matter. The administrative Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government, would be asked to continue the orderly transfer of land to the people of the Territory and to safeguard property rights.
The administering Power would further be asked to continue to recognize and respect the political rights and cultural and ethnic identity of the people of Guam, including the Chamorro people, and to respond to the territorial Government's concerns with respect to immigration.
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It would also be asked to cooperate in establishing programmes specifically intended to promote the sustainable development of economic activities and enterprises by the people of Guam, including the Chamorro people, and to continue to support appropriate measures aimed at promoting growth in commercial fishing, agriculture and other viable activities.
Regarding Montserrat, the administering Power, specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations, as well as regional and other organizations, would be called upon by the draft to provide emergency assistance in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption.
The draft would request Pitcairn's administering Power to continue its assistance for the improvement of economic, social, educational and other conditions in the Territory.
By the section on St.Helena, the Assembly would ask the administering Power to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of the people regarding their future political status, as ascertained through a democratic process. It would also ask the administering Power and relevant regional and international organizations to continue supporting efforts to address the Territory's socio-economic development.
Also by the text, the administering Power of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and other relevant regional and international organizations, would be called upon to continue to provide assistance for the improvement of social and economic conditions in the Territory. The administering Power would be further called upon to cooperate with the territorial Government to counter problems related to money laundering, smuggling of funds and related crimes, and drug trafficking.
In the section on the United States Virgin Islands, the administering Power would be requested to continue to assist the territorial Government in its political, economic and social goals. It would further be requested to facilitate the Territory's participation in organizations, especially the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Community.
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