28 May 1999


Press Release
GA/COL/3005



DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE'S CARIBBEAN REGIONAL SEMINAR CONTINUES IN SAINT LUCIA

19990528
Speakers Criticize Administering Powers Lack of Cooperation, Emphasize United Nations Decolonization Efforts Not Complete

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

CASTRIES, Saint Lucia, 27 May -- The abstention by the administering Powers from the current regional meeting was just another indication of how some of them intended to deal with the eradication of colonialism, the representative of Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, told the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples this morning, as it met to continue consideration of the substantive issues on the agenda of its regional Seminar.

He said the administering Powers had failed to respond to the United Nations mandate to provide assistance to the Territories under their jurisdiction in order to have a smooth and orderly transition. The biggest problem for small, undeveloped nations was the immigration of its people to the more prosperous States. Colonizing Powers in the past and the administering Powers today had made immigration considerably easier. As a result of those policies, many Non-Self-Governing Territories were depleted of their young working force and the demographics in many of those places had been alarmingly altered.

Rafael Dausa Cespedes (Cuba), Vice-Chair of the Committee, addressing the Committee during the exchange of views, said that taken as a whole, the achievement of the United Nations in the field of decolonization was among one of the most remarkable in the entire history of the Organization. The actions taken had helped to give birth to so many nations which were now Member States. Serious misunderstandings, however, had arisen. One such case was that decolonization was over and the United Nations and the Special Committee had nothing left to do. Cuba believed that the role of the Committee continued to be that of ensuring that the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories exercised their right to self-government.


The representative of Guam, also addressing the Committee during the exchange of views, said the continued existence of the Special Committee was a much talked about and speculated issue. Decolonization was the unfinished business of the United Nations and the international community. The decade was ending, but decolonization had not ended. The Special Committee was very vital to Non-Self-Governing Territories. It represented the only recourse outside of the colonial world for the voices of the people of Non-Self- Governing Territories to be heard. The Committee must not abandon the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories and condemn them to eternal colonization.

An observer at the Seminar said he had little doubt that the United Kingdom, through the people of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), used self- determination not as a legal basis for British sovereignty over the colony, but as a political argument to maintain the Islands under British dominion in the foreseeable future. Almost four decades had passed since the adoption of two United Nations resolutions on the issue. If four decades of fruitless effort was the only visible result, then it was time to study the possibility of the cooperation of other world organizations, capable of providing the key to the issue. His personal choice was the International Court of Justice, since it had the expertise and the experience.

A statement was also made by the representative of New Caledonia.

The Committee will meet again this afternoon to conclude its seminar and review the recommendations that were put forward during the Seminar.

(For background see Press Release GA/COL/2998 issued 19 May.)

Statements

VLADIMIR ZAEMSKY (Russian Federation), Vice Chair of the Special Committee, said his country was one of the States that strongly supported the work of the Special Committee. As a member of the United Nations Security Council, it also addressed the issue of decolonization in that forum. He cited the cases of Western Sahara and East Timor as two specific issues that were before the Council. The situation of those two Territories was very critical and every effort should be taken to resolve them.

AHMED ALI JARROUD (Libya) reaffirmed his country's position to eliminate all forms of colonialism. He hoped the seminar would achieve its objectives and end the colonial era.

MENELAOS TZELIOS, of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, said the administering Powers had failed to respond to the United Nations mandate to provide assistance to the Territories under their jurisdiction in order to have a smooth and orderly transition. Their abstention from the


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current regional meeting was just another indication of how some them intended to deal with the eradication of colonialism. Since most of the islands were small and isolated, their safety and true independence was always threatened. Unless the international community mobilized its forces to help those Territories, it would be an impossible task for them to be free of outside interference.

He said interferences could come from other large and economically prosperous nations, which had a strong presence and interests in the area. He cited multinational corporations which could control, influence and exploit the labour market, the natural resources and the environment, as well as influence the political establishment for their own gains. The small islands could also become havens for drug trafficking and money laundering. Tourism could provide a substantial income for most of the Territories, provided that the development of that industry did not have an adverse effect on the environment and the culture of the people. Agriculture should be developed mainly to provide food for the inhabitants and make them self-sufficient in agricultural products.

He said substantial revenue for the Territories could be provided from the fishing industry. The biggest problem of any small, undeveloped nation was the immigration of its people to the more promising and prosperous States, especially the immigration of its future -- the youth. Colonizing Powers in the past and the administering Powers today had made immigration considerably easier. As a result of those immigration policies, many Non-Self-Governing Territories were depleted of their young working force and the demographics in many of those places had been alarmingly altered. The indigenous populations had become minorities in their own land. That could only be reversed with the creation of employment opportunities, along with a safe and secure environment.

MACHA IBOUDGHACEM (New Caledonia) said the year 1998 was a turning point in the political history of New Caledonia. The Noumea Accord was signed on 5 May 1998, and was ratified by a referendum on 8 November 1998. During that interval, the French Constitution of 1958 was revised -- in July 1998 -- in order to incorporate key elements of the agreement. The Kanak people whom she represented had been a minority in their own country, by the unchanging policy of settlement orchestrated by France since the 1970s. The aim of the Noumea Accord was to find a constitutional solution that would reconcile two things: the legitimacy of the Kanak people and their right to self-determination; and consideration of the other communities that had developed during the process of colonization, so that they could continue to live in a country which they had made their own.

The reconciliation, she continued, must result in the restitution of the sovereignty of the Kanak people, the indigenous colonized people -- a sovereignty that they were willing to share with others in order to build a


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common destiny, for a future based on peace and prosperity. The Noumea Accord received strong support from New Caledonians and was ratified by 72 per cent of voters. Throughout the vote, the Kanaks and other communities showed their desire to turn the page on colonization.

Unfortunately, the optimism that arose from the 8 November 1998 very quickly dissipated during the development of the draft organic law, she said. During that process, the partners of the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste -- which represented the Kanak peoples -- the French State and the Rassemblement Pour La Caledonie dans La Republique, insidiously tried to misrepresent the spirit and the letter of the agreement. Through that process, fundamental provisions of the Accord had been placed in doubt today.

She said the Kanak people were tired of the manoeuvres by the French State, which excelled in taking away with one hand, that which was given by the other. The Front had never ceased to denounce that typically colonial attitude, which bode ill for the good relations between a trusteeship authority and a country on the path to emancipation. The Front called on the vigilant support of the United Nations during the process of implementing the Noumea Accords. It was absolutely fundamental to the success of the process that all the partners respect the spirit and the letter of the Accords.

ALEJANDRO BETTS, an observer, said both the Government of the United Kingdom and the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had invoked self-determination as being the only feasible condition acceptable to resolve the bilateral sovereignty question. They adopted a misleading criteria that the United Nations Charter and resolutions 1514 (XV) and 1541 (XV) provided an unconditional right to self-determination. Those resolutions did not stipulate self-determination as being of paramount importance to any particular community, but drew a carefully balanced relationship between self- determination and the importance of national unity and territorial integrity. Furthermore, a brief glance at the United Nations Charter was sufficient to indicate that self-determination was intimately coupled with another international principle -- the equal rights of States.

He said he was simply analysing the possibility that self-determination could be superseded in special and individual circumstances by national unity and territorial integrity. The existence of the sovereignty claim made the unilateral application of self-determination impracticable. Paragraph 6 of resolution 1514 (XV) was more than explicit in stating that "any attempt at partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations". The operative clause was a safeguard against situations in which a given Power violated that precept and later refused to recognize the territorial amputation it had committed against the original State.


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He said that another United Nations document that must be taken into consideration in conjunction with the Falkland Island (Malvinas) issue was resolution 2065 (XX). That text admitted that the dispute was a colonial situation, as defined in resolution 1514 (XV). It classified the issue as a sovereignty question between the Argentine and the United Kingdom Governments, and invited them to proceed without delay in bilateral negotiations that took into account the interests of the Islands' population.

He said there was no mention of self-determination anywhere in the text of 2065 (XX). The United Kingdom did not vote against that resolution, it had merely abstained. His reservations about the legitimacy of the British commitment to self-determination were further strengthened by the fact that the United Kingdom Government was one of the nine abstentions recorded on the General Assembly vote adopting resolution 1514 (XV). He had little doubt that the United Kingdom, through the Islanders, used self-determination not as a legal basis for British sovereignty over the colony, but as a political argument to maintain the Islands under British dominion in the foreseeable future.

He noted that 34 years had passed since resolution 2065 was adopted, and 39 since 1514 (XV). Renewed efforts had been made each year by the United Nations to bring both sides to the negotiating table. If four decades of fruitless effort was the only visible result, then it was time to study the possibility of seeking the cooperation of other alternative world organizations, capable of providing the key to answering the issue. His personal choice was the International Court of Justice, since it had the expertise and the experience.

General Exchange of Views

RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said the achievement of the United Nations in the field of decolonization taken as a whole was among one of the most remarkable in the entire history of the Organization. The actions taken had helped to give birth to so many nations which were now Member States. Serious misunderstandings, however, had arisen. One such case was that decolonization was over and United Nations and the Special Committee had nothing left to do. Cuba believed that the role of the Committee continued to be that of ensuring that the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories exercised their right to self-government. Only then would the task of the United Nations be completed. The administering Powers had not responded positively to the requests of the Committee.

He said the Committee should increase contact with peoples of the Non- Self-Governing Territories, so that their concerns could be heard directly. It was sad that visiting missions to the Territories were often perceived as collecting information to use as tools against the administering Powers and not seen as gathering information to assist the Territories. Decolonization


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had been and continued to be a fundamental responsibility of the United Nations. The Organization and its Special Committee had to play a sustained and consistent role in helping colonized people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence.

YASHVARDHAN KUMAR SINHA (India) said eradicating the remaining examples of colonialism was even more important today. The complexity of the situation of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories was diverse. As the world moved towards the end of the decade, he called on all involved to approach the task with commitment, understanding and flexibility. Everyone, including the administering Powers, the Special Committee and the peoples of the Territories, had obligations to fulfil in the process of decolonization.

The desires of the peoples of the Territories must remain paramount, he said. The Organization could not shirk its collective responsibility to those people, since it was the only forum to which they could turn. What was being dealt with was the future of people, nations and fundamental constructs to decide issues. He hoped that the wave of human rights and equality of opportunity that had emerged as a global trend would also assist in washing away the vestiges of a bygone era.

RONALD F. RIVERA, of Guam, said the continued existence of the Special Committee was a much talked about and speculated issue. Decolonization was the unfinished business of the United Nations and the international community. The decade was ending, but decolonization had not ended. The Special Committee was very vital to Non-Self-Governing Territories. It represented the only recourse outside of the colonial world for voices to be heard. He implored the Committee not abandon the peoples of the Territories and condemn them to eternal colonialism.

CARLYLE CORBIN, of the United States Virgin Islands, said while the faces and names in the seats of Member States at the meetings changed, the faces of the representatives from the Non-Self-Governing Territories remained the same, necessitating a reiteration of common positions held since 1990. He endorsed the recommendation for a second decade to eradicate colonization. It was unfortunate that more Member States could not hear the statements and arguments that took place at the seminars, as it might make them more responsive to the need to keep decolonization on the United Nations agenda.

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