30 April 1998

Press Release


The Special Committee on decolonization decided this afternoon to convene a special meeting in observance of the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of All Colonial Territories Fighting for Freedom, Independence and Human Rights, at Headquarters on Friday, 22 May.

The Chief Minister of Montserrat would be invited to the special meeting to brief participants on the humanitarian response to the recent volcanic eruption on the island. The Minister would also address what some Committee members regarded as its increasing isolation from the Organization of East Caribbean States.

Others expected at the meeting were the Chairmen of the Committees on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Also invited were: the Chairmen of various regional groups; the representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement, the South Pacific Forum and the Caribbean Community; and the Observer for Palestine. The Secretary-General was also expected to address the meeting.

The Committee also decided to hold the Pacific Regional Seminar in Nadi, Fiji, from 16 to 18 June. Invitations to the seminar were to be extended to representatives of the administering Powers of Non-Self-Governing Territories, all Member States, Non-Self-Governing Territories, non-governmental organizations, specialized agencies and United Nations bodies.

In another action, the Special Committee unanimously decided to authorize its Acting Chairman to attend the next Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, to be held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, from 19 to 20 May. The Special Committee Chairman had been invited by the Vice-Foreign Minister of Colombia, Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar.

Statements at this afternoon's meeting were made by representatives of Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, China, Cuba.

The Special Committee will meet again on a date to be announced.

Decolonization Committee - 2 - Press Release GA/COL/2975 1485th Meeting (PM) 30 April 1998


LAMUEL STANISLAUS (Grenada) said that islands in the southern Pacific were often struck by natural disasters such as hurricanes, volcanoes, floods and drought. Antigua and Barbuda was devastated by Hurricane Lewis not too long ago and Montserrat had been hammered by volcanic eruptions. The administering Power had been helpful in alleviating the suffering of the island's people, especially young children.

There was no doubt that in times of crisis, people's hearts went out to the sufferers, he said. It should be remembered that human beings had a common struggle and destiny. That was the reason why his delegation urged the Special Committee to accept the Bureau's recommendations to invite the Chief Minister to participate in the special meeting.

PATRICK ALBERT LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said that in the past two years, the Government of the United Kingdom had put much emphasis and input into Montserrat. The population of Antigua and Barbuda had increased by 5 per cent because it had absorbed people who had fled the natural disaster on Montserrat. Through the provision of schools, clinics and other social amenities for those people, the infrastructure of Antigua and Barbuda had been seriously strained.

As a result of the disaster, Montserrat no longer interacted as freely as before with the rest of the Caribbean States. The island's Chief Minister must be invited to come to the Headquarters meeting and express the concerns of his nation's people.

SOERYO LEGOWO (Indonesia) said his country shared the concern expressed by Grenada about the disaster on Montserrat. His delegation had no difficulty with the extension of an invitation to the Chief Minister as long as the Special Committee supported it.

JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said his delegation supported the decision to invite the Chief Minister of Montserrat. Papua New Guinea hoped that the Minister would address only humanitarian issues and not political ones. The administering Power should be made to realize that.

HU ZHAOMING (China) wanted to know if the invitation to the Pacific Regional Seminar was to all member States of the Special Committee or of the United Nations.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba), Acting Chairman, said all Member States of the United Nations were invited.

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