10 July 1998


Press Release
GA/COL/2989



DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE SEEKS SAFEGUARDS FOR NATURAL RESOURCES IN COLONIAL AND NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES

19980710

Administering Powers Asked to Establish and Maintain Control; Other Texts Deal with `Exploitation', Problems Created by Military Bases

Administering Powers were urged to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of colonial and Non-Self-Governing peoples to their natural resources and to establish and maintain control over the future of those resources, as the Special Committee on Decolonization adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution introduced by its Acting Chairman this afternoon. In other action, it adopted a second draft resolution and a draft decision, also without a vote.

Acting on a draft resolution relating to economic and other activities affecting the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Special Committee reiterated that the damaging exploitation and plundering of the marine and other natural resources of those Territories by foreign economic interests were a threat to their integrity and prosperity.

Acting on a draft decision on military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in Territories under their administration, the Special Committee reaffirmed that military bases and installations in the Territories concerned could be an obstacle to the exercise by the peoples of those Territories of their right to self-determination. It reiterated that existing bases and installations should be withdrawn.

By other terms of that text, the Special Committee once again called upon the administering Powers to terminate such activities and to eliminate such military bases in compliance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

Adopting another text, the Special Committee welcomed the assurances of the Government of New Zealand that it would meet its obligations to the United Nations with respect to Tokelau and abide by the freely expressed wishes of the people of Tokelau with regard to their future status.

Further, the Special Committee noted that Tokelau remained firmly committed to the development of self-government and to an act of self- determination. It commended Tokelau's ongoing work in charting a distinctive


Decolonization Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/COL/2989 1495th Meeting (PM) 10 July 1998

constitutional course, reflecting its unique traditions and environment, noted the Territory's desire to move at its own pace towards an act of self- determination and acknowledged its efforts to establish clear channels of local responsibility and accountability in national and village government.

Also by that text the Special Committee acknowledged Tokelau's need for assurance, given that local resources could not adequately cover the material side of self-determination, and the ongoing responsibility of Tokelau's external partners to assist Tokelau in balancing, to the greatest extent possible, its desire to be self-reliant with its need for external assistance.

The Special Committee also took note of the draft report of a Pacific Regional Seminar held at Nadi, Fiji, from 16 to 18 June 1998.

Statements were made by a petitioner from New Caledonia and by the representatives of France, China, Papua New Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Fiji, Syria and New Zealand.

The Special Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 13 July.


Committee Work Programme

The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this afternoon to take action on three draft resolutions and a draft decision. The Committee was also expected to hear petitioners concerning New Caledonia and to take note of the report of the Pacific Regional Seminar held in Nadi, Fiji, from 16 to 18 June 1998.

It was also expected to continue its consideration of the question of the following Non-Self-Governing Territories: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands and United States Virgin Islands.

By the terms of a draft resolution on Tokelau (document A/AC.109/L.1875), submitted by Papua New Guinea, the Special Committee would welcome the assurances of the Government of New Zealand that it would meet its obligations to the United Nations with respect to Tokelau and abide by the freely expressed wishes of the people of Tokelau with regard to their future status.

Further, the Special Committee would note that Tokelau remained firmly committed to the development of self-government and to an act of self- determination. It would commend Tokelau's ongoing work in charting a distinctive constitutional course, reflecting its unique traditions and environment.

The Special Committee would also commend Tokelau for current initiatives and endeavours, based on wide consultation with its people, to construct a true "house of Tokelau", acknowledging the role of the village as the foundation of Tokelau, as well as the need to continue the process of strengthening the basis of national self-government. It would also note Tokelau's desire to move at its own pace towards an act of self-determination. The attention being given to broader matters of governance, including Tokelau's efforts to establish clear local channels of local responsibility and accountability in national and village government, would be acknowledged.

By other terms of the text, the Special Committee would note the desire of Tokelau, in consultation with the Government of New Zealand, to take over responsibility for the Tokelau Public Service and the willingness of the New Zealand Government to make the necessary legislative changes, reflecting its already well-advanced policy of devolving that part of government which dealt with the interests of all in Tokelau.

The Special Committee would acknowledge Tokelau's need for assurance, given that local resources could not adequately cover the material side of self-determination, and the ongoing responsibility of Tokelau's external partners to assist Tokelau in balancing its desire to be self-reliant to the


Decolonization Committee - 3 - Press Release GA/COL/2989 1495th Meeting (PM) 10 July 1998

greatest extent possible with its need for external assistance. The administering Power and United Nations agencies would be invited to continue their assistance to the people of Tokelau with regard to the social and economic development of Tokelau.

By the terms of the draft resolution on New Caledonia (document A/AC.109/L.1878), introduced by Fiji and Papua New Guinea, the Special Committee would recognize the significant developments that had taken place in New Caledonia as exemplified by the signing of the Noumea Accords of 5 May 1998, between representatives of New Caledonia and the Government of France. It would request the Secretary-General to consider positively any request by the administering Power for United Nations supervision of the referendum for ratification and implementation of the Noumea Accords.

The Special Committee would call upon the administering Power to take steps to control immigration and the influx of settlers to prevent the dilution of power for the Kanaks, and would invite all parties involved to continue promoting a framework for the peaceful progress of the Territory towards an act of self-determination in which all options were open and which would safeguard the rights of all New Caledonians according to the letter and the spirit of the Matignon and Noumea Accords.

Further, the Special Committee would urge all the parties involved, in the interest of all the people of New Caledonia and building on the positive outcome of the review of the Matignon and Noumea Accords, to maintain their dialogue in a spirit of harmony.

By the terms of a draft resolution introduced by the Acting Chairman on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/L.1876/Rev.1), the Special Committee would reiterate that the damaging exploitation and plundering of the marine and other natural resources of those Territories by foreign economic interests, in violation of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, were a threat to their integrity and prosperity. It would affirm the need to avoid any economic and other activities which adversely affected the interests of the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

By other terms of the draft, the Special Committee would reaffirm its concern about any action aimed at the exploitation of natural resources that were the heritage of the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, including the indigenous populations in the Caribbean, Pacific and other regions, as well as their human resources, to the detriment of their interests, and in such a way as to deprive them of their right to dispose of those resources.

The Special Committee would reaffirm the responsibility of the administering Powers under the Charter to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and


Decolonization Committee - 4 - Press Release GA/COL/2989 1495th Meeting (PM) 10 July 1998

would reaffirm the legitimate rights of their peoples over their natural resources.

Also by the draft, the Special Committee would affirm the value of foreign economic investment undertaken in collaboration with the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories and in accordance with their wishes in order to make a valid contribution to the socio-economic development of the Territories. It would affirm the need to avoid any economic and other activities which adversely affected the interests of the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Also under the resolution, the Special Committee would urge the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of the colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources and to establish and maintain control over the future of those resources, and would request the administering Powers to take all necessary steps to protect the property rights of the peoples of those Territories.

By the same draft, the Special Committee would call upon the administering Powers concerned to ensure that no discriminatory working conditions prevailed in the Territories under their administration and to promote in each Territory a fair system of wages applicable to all the inhabitants without any discrimination.

By the terms of the draft decision submitted by the Acting Chairman relating to military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in Territories under their administration (document A/AC.109/L.1877), the Special Committee would reaffirm its strong conviction that military bases and installations in the Territories concerned could constitute an obstacle to the exercise by the peoples of those Territories of their right to self- determination. It would reiterate its strong views that existing bases and installations, which impeded the implementation of the Declaration on decolonization should be withdrawn. The Special Committee would urge the administering Powers concerned to continue to take all necessary measures not to involve those Territories in any offensive acts or interference against other States.

By other terms of the draft decision, the Special Committee would reiterate its concern that military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers might run counter to the rights and interests of the colonial peoples concerned, especially their right to self-determination and independence. Once again, it would call upon the administering Powers to terminate such activities and to eliminate such military bases in compliance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

Also by that draft the Special Committee would reiterate that the colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories and areas adjacent to them should


Decolonization Committee - 5 - Press Release GA/COL/2989 1495th Meeting (PM) 10 July 1998

not be used for nuclear testing, dumping of nuclear wastes or deployment of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

By other terms of the draft, the Special Committee would deplore the continued alienation of land in colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories, particularly in the small island Territories of the Pacific and Caribbean regions, for military installations. The large-scale utilization of the local resources for that purpose could adversely affect the economic development of the Territories concerned. The Special Committee would take note of the decision of some of the administering Powers to close or downsize some of those military bases in the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Also under the draft the Secretary-General would be requested to continue to inform world public opinion of those military activities and arrangements.

Statements

ROCH WAMYTAN, of the Front de libération nationale Kanak socialiste, speaking on the question of New Caledonia, said the Special Committee had been the spokesperson for decades for the people who had been exploited and trampled upon. The hopes it inspired at the end of the second millennium among those who had gained their freedom was well known.

New Caledonia had suffered colonization since 24 September 1953, he said. In attempts to gain lost liberty, its people were repressed. It was time for their political emancipation and the restoration of their independence and lost sovereignty. The Kanak people had become minorities in their own country, one which had indeed resumed its place in the international arena as evidenced by its seat in the General Assembly. Yet the Kanak people found themselves to be a minority in the electoral body as well.

Despite the call by the United Nations for Member States to adopt the necessary measures to prevent the arrival of foreign immigrants into the Territory, those commitments remained unfulfilled, he said. France persisted in turning the Territory into a "Switzerland in the Pacific". In the last 10 years, some 20,000 more people arrived, essentially from metropolitan France. It became clear that a referendum, therefore, would risk a political and social explosion. Thus the idea was generated for a different solution that was in keeping with the majority logic, particularly concerning the question of a nationalist reclamation by the Kanak people, who were the Territory's political driving force.

He said the Kanak drafted a framework to enable them to reconcile their legitimate and inalienable right to self-determination. That arrangement was intended to lay the groundwork for a shared future of peace and prosperity. France must accompany the economic, social and cultural development of the Kanak as the process advanced towards their emancipation. It was time to


Decolonization Committee - 6 - Press Release GA/COL/2989 1495th Meeting (PM) 10 July 1998

close that painful page of common history, and award the Kanaks their dignity at the dawn of the third millennium.

The resulting Noumea Accords of 5 May 1998 between representatives of New Caledonia and the Government of France represented a chance for the Kanak people to grasp their full sovereignty. Moreover, it governed the question of citizenship, international immigration, and the right to vote. Recognition of the Kanak identity would, after 20 years, allow them to emerge fully in exercise of their responsibilities. However, the United Nations must maintain its vigilance over that process.

HU ZHAOMING (China) said his country was concerned about the situation in New Caledonia and at the same time had good relations with France, the administering Power. It was hoped that a referendum would be effective in meeting the aspirations of all the Territory's people.

JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said his country had very good relations with France and was happy to see that the three parties involved were cooperating to achieve the objectives that members of the Special Committee had been working for. It was a positive sign as the end of the century approached.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d'Ivoire) said the information provided by the petitioner from New Caledonia had helped the Special Committee to trace the pattern of events in New Caledonia, especially the partnership between the administering Power and the representatives of the Territory.

He said the Committee had always called for the development of partnerships such as those displayed by the representatives of the New Zealand Government and Tokelau at its last meeting, and the representatives of France and New Caledonia today, although the representative of France was yet to speak.

SAKIUSA RABUKA (Fiji) said that the partnership between France and New Caledonia embodied the successful path to the development of Non-Self- Governing societies.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said the Noumea Accords was a very positive development and the Special Committee congratulated the people and representatives of New Caledonia. Once the parties reached such an agreement, it was imperative for the Committee to support them. Other administering Powers who had not come to understand the needs of non-self-governing peoples should learn from that example.

PASCAL TEIXEIRA da SILVA (France) said that in the spirit of transparency his country had striven to disseminate the fullest possible information on the situation in New Caledonia. The act of taking the floor


Decolonization Committee - 7 - Press Release GA/COL/2989 1495th Meeting (PM) 10 July 1998

during the current session reflected the important development that had taken place, namely the Noumea Accords.

He said the situation was satisfactory to all parties, and the Accords reflected a consensus which was a product of reconciliation. They also represented a greater recognition of the Kanak identity in New Caledonia, and they established a shared sovereignty and provided for a significant phased transfer of powers. Further, they enabled the Kanaks to exercise certain jurisdiction in international and regional affairs. They also provided for a system of elections. Moreover, a new constitutional law made it possible to approve the Accords next November. Through informal contacts during the year between the parties, it had been possible to craft consensus amendments to the draft, which hopefully would receive the Committee's support.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ-PARILLA (Cuba), Acting Chairman, drew attention to the draft resolution on Tokelau and invited the representative of Papua New Guinea to introduce it.

Mr. OVIA (Papua New Guinea), introducing the draft, said it was a product of negotiations and direct talks between the Government of New Zealand and representatives of the people of Tokelau. It was hoped that the consensus language used in the draft would not create any problems for members of the Special Committee.

He said it was not often that the Special Committee had the opportunity to consider resolutions that were based on cooperation between an administering Power and the people of a Non-Self-Governing Territory. The Committee was thankful to New Zealand for the cooperation it had shown on the question of Tokelau.

Mr. MEKDAD (Syria) said the draft resolution was acceptable to both parties. The agreement between the Government of New Zealand and the representatives of the Tokelau people was a big success for the Committee, since it was not often that such consensus was achieved.

The draft resolution was adopted without a vote.

TREVOR HUGHES (New Zealand) thanked the Committee and said that the Ulu of Tokelau, who addressed the last meeting of the Special Committee, had left the United Nations confident that his petition had been well received.

Mr. MEKDAD (Syria), Rapporteur, then presented the draft report of the Pacific Regional Seminar (document A/AC.109/2121) held at Nadi, Fiji, from 16 to 18 June 1998. It was attended by 45 representatives of Non-Self- Governing Territories. The seminar heard a message from the Secretary-General as well as statements by Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka of Fiji, Berenado Vunibobo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, and Bruno


Decolonization Committee - 8 - Press Release GA/COL/2989 1495th Meeting (PM) 10 July 1998

Rodriguez-Parilla, Acting Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization. At its closing meeting, the seminar adopted a number of resolutions.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ-PARILLA (Cuba), Acting Chairman, then suggested that the Committee take note of the draft report.

The Special Committee then took note of the draft report on the Pacific Regional Seminar.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ-PARILLA (Cuba), Acting Chairman, then introduced a draft resolution on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/L.1876/Rev.1).

That text was adopted without a vote.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ-PARILLA (Cuba), then introduced a draft decision relating to military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in Territories under their administration (document A/AC.109/L.1877).

That draft decision was adopted, also without a vote.

* *** *


Decolonization Committee - 9 - Press Release GA/COL/2989 1495th Meeting (PM) 10 July 1998

GACO2989