In the process of decolonization there is no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which is also a fundamental human right, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, and as stated in General Assembly resolutions 1514 (XV), 1541 (XV) and other relevant texts.
That statement was among the conclusions and recommendations adopted by the Caribbean Regional Seminar, of the Special Committee on decolonization, which concluded its deliberations in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda, on 23 May. The Seminar was attended by representatives of Member States, regional and international organizations, Non-Self-Governing Territories, non- governmental organizations and experts.
Other conclusions and recommendations of the Regional Seminar were that:
-- Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), is not yet complete as long as there remain Non-Self-Governing Territories that still have to exercise their right to self-determination; and
-- The United Nations has a valid ongoing role in the process of decolonization.
The Seminar emphasized that the mandate of the Special Committee is a major political programme of the United Nations and, therefore, Member States need to remain vigilant against all attempts to limit, jeopardize or eliminate its activities on the grounds of administrative reforms or by means of financial mechanisms. Also, there is a need for identifying and implementing innovative practical and pragmatic approaches in the search for a specific solution to each of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories in accordance with the freely expressed wishes of the populations concerned and in conformity with the United Nations Charter, General Assembly resolutions 1514 (XV), 1541 (XV) and other relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions.
The Seminar also pointed out that specific characteristics of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories should in no way prevent their populations from exercising their inalienable right to self-determination in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly resolutions 1514 (XV) and 1541 (XV) and that all available options for self- determination are valid as long as they are in accordance with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned and in conformity with the clearly defined principles contained in General Assembly resolutions 1514 (XV) and 1541 (XV). Therefore, the Seminar stressed that the views of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories should be ascertained through legitimate acts of self-determination under the supervision of the United Nations.
In its conclusions and recommendations, the Seminar also stated that:
-- Continued examination of the spectrum of options of self- determination by all parties concerned and dissemination of relevant information among the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories are important elements in achieving the goals of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Plan of Action;
-- Any negotiations to determine the status of a Non-Self-Governing Territory must not take place without an active involvement and participation of the people of that Territory;
-- The exercise of self-determination in the Non-Self-Governing Territories should be preceded by an education campaign to enable the peoples concerned to make their choice in full awareness of all available options, in full conformity with the principles of self-determination embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and other relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions.
The Seminar called for the United Nations, and in particular the Special Committee, to actively participate in monitoring and observing the evolution of the Non-Self-Governing Territories towards self-determination, as well as to certify to the General Assembly the compliance of those processes with the United Nations norms and practices.
The Seminar also stated that:
-- While recognizing the ongoing informal consultations between some administering Powers and the Special Committee, those administering Powers should re-establish their formal cooperation with the Special Committee, facilitate the United Nations visiting missions to the Territories under their administration to provide adequate up-to-date information on political, economic and social developments in their respective Territories, with
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particular emphasis on their constitutional, political and socio-economic evolution towards exercise of the right to self-determination;
-- The administering Powers should respect and pay close attention to the views and political will of the elected territorial governments in order to safeguard the interests of the peoples of the Territories, as called upon by the United Nations Charter and relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions.
The Seminar declared that:
-- Continued and sustained socio-economic advancement of the Non-Self- Governing Territories is an important element of self-determination;
-- Programmes of socio-economic assistance provided to the Non-Self- Governing Territories by the administering Powers, as well as by the specialized agencies and international organizations of the United Nations system and by regional and subregional organizations should be increased and streamlined in conformity with the needs and wishes of the peoples of the Territories;
-- Activities of foreign economic interests in the Non-Self-Governing Territories should be closely and effectively monitored by the peoples of those Territories and the Territorial Governments in order to ensure that they conform to the wishes and needs of the populations concerned and contribute to their socio-economic advancement towards self-determination.
With regard to the announced plans of the administering Powers to close or downsize some of their remaining military bases and facilities in the Non- Self-Governing Territories, the Seminar stated that they should be carried out by the administering Powers in cooperation with the territorial governments with a view to preventing or mitigating the possible negative effects of the socio-economic and environmental consequences of those closures.
The Seminar also took note of the vulnerability of the Non-Self- Governing Territories to illicit trafficking, money laundering and funds smuggling and emphasized that the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial governments, establish effective mechanisms for the protection of the vulnerable socio-economic structures of the Territories from those activities.
It also called on the Special Committee to assist the Non-Self-Governing Territories to be included in the programmes and projects of the United Nations system, particularly in those envisaged under the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction and other programmes designed to assist small island developing States.
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The Seminar further stated that:
-- All parties concerned should encourage participation of the Non-Self- Governing Territories in regional and subregional organizations, particularly those in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, with a view to assisting their socio-economic advancement towards exercise of the right of self- determination;
-- Regional organizations should strengthen their cooperation with the Special Committee aiming at providing a valid contribution to the goals of the International Decade for Eradication of Colonialism;
-- The United Nations should explore avenues to grant observer status to the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Special Committee on decolonization;
-- The Secretariat of the United Nations, and in particular the Department of Public Information (DPI), should disseminate information on the activities of the United Nations on decolonization, by all available means, including through the Internet;
-- The Special Committee should facilitate direct and regular consultations between the elected governments of the Territories and relevant United Nations organizations and bodies;
-- The Special Committee should review the situation in the Territories with respect to the status of the people's ownership, control and disposal of their land and marine resources, and to report to the General Assembly on the situation; and
-- The United Nations should commit the necessary human and financial resources to assist in the process of an act of self-determination by the peoples of the Territories.
The Seminar also issued specific conclusions concerning Bermuda, East Timor, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and Western Sahara.
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