28 June 1999


Press Release
GA/COL/3012



SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF SMALL ISLAND NON-SELF GOVERNING TERRITORIES

19990628
Representative of U.S. Virgin Islands Says Recommendations to Further Decolonization Remain Unimplemented in Decade Dedicated to its Eradication

Recommendations that called for actions to further decolonization had not been implemented in the very decade during which colonialism was to be eradicated, the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples was told this morning.

As the Committee met to consider issues relating to a number of small island Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Minister of State and Representative for External Affairs of the United States Virgin Islands said that when recommendations were not implemented, proactive language either disappeared or was rewritten to be more passive and not action-oriented. Recommendations from past decolonization seminars, coupled with the implementation of decolonization resolutions, should serve as the basis for an enlightened plan of action on the self-determination of the remaining small island Territories. Such action would assist immensely in solving what was perceived as essentially a stalemate.

The representative of Syria said a number of the administering Powers had a very odd view of the Committee's work, claiming there were no colonies or Non-Self-Governing Territories and that, therefore, the Committee's work was not justified. It was necessary to convince the international community that there were still a number of Non-Self-Governing Territories that had not been able to enjoy self-determination. The administering Powers, the majority of which believed in democracy, must be convinced that the Non-Self-Governing Territories -- large or small -- had a right to self-determination.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda said the view of the Committee by the administering Powers was in part "caused by ourselves". There were too many contradictory positions after seminars. For the Seminars to serve a purpose, the outcomes should be authoritative. "We will not make any progress


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unless the Committee recognizes that its role is an independent one", he said. It must not be afraid of offending, if the cause was just.

The representative of Cote d'Ivoire said about two years ago, the Committee had been reproached about the same attenuation of its resolutions, which reflected more the pressure applied on the Committee by the administering Powers, rather than the aspirations of the peoples of the Territories. If it wanted to be true to its mandate, it must try to be as firm as possible and not let itself be swayed too much. Independence around the world had come about due to action, not mere texts.

Also this morning, Chairman of the Committee, Peter Donigi (Papua New Guinea), informed participants at the meeting that the Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia, Julian Hunte, had been appointed by the Committee to deal with issues of resolutions concerning the Caribbean Non- Self-Governing Territories. Questions were also raised by the representatives of Papua New Guinea and Grenada.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 29 June. It is scheduled to hear statements from the representatives of the Non-Self- Governing Territories of Guam and Tokelau, as well a representative of the Guam Decolonization Committee.


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 morning to begin its considerations of the questions of New Caledonia, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands. The Committee will also have before it the relevant working papers prepared by the Secretariat on those questions. The Secretariat working paper on New Caledonia (document A/AC.109/1999/6) states that, in a referendum on 8 November 1998, New Caledonians ratified the Nouméa Accord, which would transfer sovereign powers from the administering Power -- France -- to New Caledonia at the end of a 20-year period of transition. It states that the transfer of powers shall be a gradual process leading to full sovereignty for New Caledonia.

As a result of intensive consultations between the administering Power, France, and the main local parties, the Accord was signed on 5 May 1998. With its ratification and the codification of its provisions into French law, its implementation will proceed according to the following timetable. Elections were held on 9 May 1999 for the provincial assemblies and the Congress. The new assemblies and Congress were to be in place by 14 May. The Government will be elected by 18 June 1999. The customary councils and the customary senate will be designated by 28 August. The first meeting of the provincial assemblies will take place by 14 August.

In support of the Accord, the representative of France told the Committee last year that the Accord reflected a consensus that was a product of reconciliation. It also represented a greater recognition of the Kanak identity in New Caledonia -- a group of indigenous Melanesians that make up 42.5 per cent of the population. Further, it enabled the Kanaks to exercise certain jurisdiction in international and regional affairs.

Speaking before the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) in October 1998, a representative of the New Caledonian group FLNKS -- Front de libération nationale Kanak socialiste -- said the Accord provided for preparing New Caledonia for the attainment of independence. He added that the United Nations must be vigilant in monitoring the implementation of the Accord, while France must meet its obligations to implement it.

On 3 December 1998, the General Assembly adopted without a vote resolution 53/65, on the question of New Caledonia. In it, the Assembly welcomed the Nouméa Accord. It also invited all the parties to continue promoting progress of the Territory towards an act of self-determination in which all options are open and which would safeguard the rights of all New Caledonians. It also decided to keep the process under continuous review.


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According to a Secretariat working paper on American Samoa (document A/AC.109/1999/13), it is a Non-Self-Governing Territory of the United States and consists of six islands located in the South Pacific. It became an unincorporated Territory of the United States on 20 February 1929 and its first Constitution came into effect in October 1960. Since 1981, American Samoa has elected, by direct vote, a non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives. There is a bicameral legislature, known as the Fono, which may pass laws with respect to all local affairs, provided those laws are consistent with United States law in force in the Territory or with United States treaties or international agreements.

Addressing the position of the Territorial Government on future status, the paper reports that in 1993 the Lieutenant-Governor of American Samoa indicated that that Territory preferred to remain a Territory of the United States. That remains unchanged. On 3 November 1997, the omnibus draft resolution on small Non-Self-Governing Territories, approved without a vote by the Fourth Committee, included a preambular paragraph, as proposed by the United States, noting the report by the administering Power that most of the American Samoan leaders had expressed satisfaction with the island's present relationship with the United States.

According to the working paper, the administering Power, in February 1999, appointed former Hawaii Governor John Waihee to head an economic advisory commission to suggest policies for expansion and diversification of the Territory. Its primary task, the paper adds, is to develop a detailed plan that would bring self-sufficiency to American Samoa.

In its resolution 53/67 B, the General Assembly adopted without a vote a consolidated resolution on 10 Non-Self-Governing Territories that includes American Samoa. By the terms of that text, the Assembly welcomed the invitation extended by the Governor of American Samoa to the Special Committee to send a visiting mission to the Territory.

The Secretariat's working paper on Bermuda (document A/AC.109/1999/3) states that Bermuda is the United Kingdom's oldest colony. Governors are appointed by the Queen and the Government of the United Kingdom after consultation with the Premier of Bermuda. The United Kingdom remains responsible for defence, external affairs and internal security. Addressing the future political status of Bermuda, the paper states that an independence referendum was held in August 1995. According to the administering Power, 58.8 per cent of registered voters participated and the results were as follows: 25.6 per cent in favour of independence; 73.7 per cent against it; and 0.7 per cent abstained.

Detailing the position of the administering Power, the paper states that the United Kingdom in 1998 reviewed its stewardship of the Dependent territories to modernize its relationship with them. The result of that review was White


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Paper to the British Parliament entitled "Partnership for Progress and Prosperity; Britain and the Overseas Territories." Included among the key recommendations of the White Paper are the following: in future, the Territories would be known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories; British citizenship (and so the right of abode) would be offered to those people of the Overseas Territories who did not already enjoy it and who met certain conditions.

The White Paper also proposes a number of recommendations in the area of good governance. Included among those are: improved regulations of the financial industries in the Overseas Territories to meet internationally acceptable standards and to combat financial crime and regulatory abuse; measures to promote greater cooperation with international regulators and law enforcers so as to share information and improve worldwide financial regulation; and reform of local legislation in some Territories to comply with the same standards of human rights as those existing in the United Kingdom with regard to capital punishment, judicial corporal punishment and consensual homosexual acts. If local action is not taken, the British Government would then enforce the necessary changes.

Conveying the position of the Territorial Government, the Secretariat working paper states in September 1995, following the referendum, David Saul, the then Premier of Bermuda, said that independence was an issue that would not be raised again during the life of the current parliamentary session. According to the paper, however, with the publication of the British White Paper, the issue had again resurfaced. There had been no official reaction to the document, but it was being debated and discussed in the public media and the press. There was some concern that if Bermudians did not choose to accept what was being offered, the United Kingdom would effect the changes anyway. According to some, the White Paper was a tremendous threat to the social and moral fibre of the community and a retrograde step that would now put the independence issue back on the table.

Describing action by the General Assembly, the working paper states that in December 1998 that body adopted a resolution which, among others: requested the administering Power, bearing in mind the views of the people of the Territory ascertained through a democratic process, to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of those people regarding their political future. It also called upon the administering Power to continue its programmes for the socio-economic development of the Territory; and requested the United Kingdom to elaborate, in consultation with the territorial Government, programmes specifically intended to alleviate the economic, social and environmental consequences of the closure of the military bases and installations of the United States in the Territory.

The Secretariat working paper on Anguilla (document A/AC.109/1999/8) states that the Territory was colonized by British and Irish settlers in 1650. Between 1958 and 1962, the Territory was administered as a single federation


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with Saint Kitts and Nevis. However, Anguilla sought separation in the 1960s and came under direct administration by the United Kingdom in the 1970s. It became a separate United Kingdom Dependent Territory in 1980 and is now classified as a United Kingdom Overseas Territory.

The paper states that the Governor of the Territory is appointed by the Queen and is responsible for defence, external affairs and internal security, including the police and public service. He also holds reserved legislative powers under the authority of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom.

Conveying the current position of the Territorial Government, the paper states that, according to press reports, the Chief Minister of Anguilla has stated that the current constitutional status of the Territory does not provide adequate self-governance for the island. A more advanced constitutional status, such as that of Bermuda, would be more appropriate.

According to the Secretariat paper, the administering Power advocated a position consistent with the overall recommendations contained in its March 1999 White Paper on the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories. The Secretariat paper also states that in December 1998 the General Assembly adopted, without a vote, resolution 53/67 B, section II, which concerns the Anguilla.

By the terms of that text, the Assembly requested the administering Power, bearing in mind the views of the people of the Territory ascertained through a democratic process, to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of those people regarding their political future. It also requested the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations to continue to assists the Territory in social and economic development.

The Secretariat's working paper on the British Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/1999/9) states that the British Virgin Islands is a United Kingdom Overseas Territory. Under the 1977 Constitution , the administering Power appoints as its representative a Governor responsible for defence, internal security, external affairs and public service. The Governor retains legislative powers as necessary to exercise special responsibilities. It is reported that the United Kingdom, in consultation with the Government of the British Virgin Islands, has appointed a consultant for the redrafting of the Territory's Constitution.

Addressing the position of the Territorial Government, the paper notes that, according to information received from the administering Power, in September 1998 the governments of the United Kingdom and the British Virgin Islands signed a "Memorandum of Cooperation and Partnership". In that document, the Territorial Government stated that its objective was to achieve


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economic independence. The administering Power stated that it shared that objective and it remained committed to a policy of assisting its Overseas Territories to full independence when and if it was the clearly and constitutionally expressed wish of the people.

According to the Secretariat paper, the administering Power advocated a position consistent with the overall recommendations contained in its March 1999 White Paper on the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories. Conveying action by the General Assembly, the Secretariat paper states that in December 1998 that body adopted, without a vote, resolution 53/67 B, section IV, which concerns the British Virgin Islands.

By the terms of that text, the Assembly requested the administering Power to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of the people of the Territory regarding their political future. It also requested the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations to continue to provide the Territorial Government with all the required expertise to enable it to achieve its socio- economic aims. The Assembly called upon the administering power and the Territorial Government to continue to cooperate to counter problems related to money laundering, smuggling of funds and other related crimes, as well as drug trafficking.

The Secretariat working paper on the Cayman Islands (document A/AC.109/1999/4) states that the present Constitution of the Cayman Islands, which came into effect in August 1972, provides for the Government of the Territory as a colony under the sovereignty the United Kingdom. Under the revised Constitution of 1994, the Governor, who is appointed by the British Monarch, is responsible for external affairs, defence, internal security and public service. The Governor is the Chairman of the Executive Council. Constitutionally, the Executive Council is responsible for the adminstration of government.

Conveying the position of the administering Power, the Secretariat states that the administering Power advocated a position consistent with the overall recommendations contained in its March 1999 White Paper on the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories. Conveying action by the General Assembly, the Secretariat paper states that in December 1998 that body adopted, without a vote, resolution 53/67 B, section IV, which concerns the Cayman Islands.

By the terms of that text, the Assembly requested the administering Power, bearing in mind the views of the people of the territory ascertained through a democratic process, to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of those people regarding their political future. It also requested the administering power, the specialized agencies and other


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organizations of the United Nations to continue to provide the Territorial Government with all the required expertise to enable it to achieve its socio- economic aims. The Assembly called upon the administering Power and the Territorial Government to continue to cooperate to counter problems related to money laundering, smuggling of funds and other related crimes, as well as drug trafficking.

The Secretariat working paper on Guam (document A/AC.109/1999/14) states that Guam is an unincorporated Territory of the United States, since not all provisions of that country's Constitution apply to the island. The United States Congress enacted the Guam Organic Act in 1950 that established institutions of local government and made Guam an organized Territory. Guam is administered by the United States Department of the Interior.

The Territory, southernmost and largest of the Mariana Islands in the Pacific, has a locally elected government that comprises separate executive, legislative and judicial branches. In 1972, a new law enabled Guam to have one non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives.

With regard to the position of the Territorial Government, the Secretariat working paper states that, in a statement submitted by the Guam Commission on Self-Determination to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Resources on 29 October 1997, the Commission defined Guam's process of decolonization. The statement noted that the Territory's Commonwealth Act created a mechanism where the administering Power would approve of the Territory's Constitution. It also included a provision which recognized the right of the Chamorro (persons or descendants of persons born in Guam prior to 1 August 1950) to select an ultimate political status. Therefore, Guam's decolonization would result from the implementation of a status selected by the Chamorro people.

In their statements to the Fourth Committee in October 1997, the representatives of Guam emphasized that Commonwealth status for the Territory was an interim measure, as it did not meet the internationally recognized standards for decolonization. It was neither independence nor free association nor full integration. They stressed that the administering Power had rejected their proposal for a framework for decolonization and had rejected providing Guam with more autonomy.

According to the working paper, on 20 October 1997 the United States Interior Deputy Secretary clarified the constitutional and policy parameters of what the Administration could and could not support in Guam's Commonwealth proposal. He noted that Commonwealth negotiations had resulted in a creative and pragmatic approach towards the United States. However, the Administration could not support certain key concepts underlying the original bill. Those are concepts that would legally bind the Congress or the Executive Branch to seek the consent of the Commonwealth Government before modifying the act


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creating the Commonwealth and concepts that would transfer federal control over the adoption and enforcement of immigration and labour policies to the Commonwealth Government, among others.

In his statement to the Fourth Committee, the United States representative supported the right of the people of Guam to seek full self- government. He noted that that country also supported the stable development of all forms of economic activity by all residents of Guam, regardless of how long they had been permanent residents on the island.

The Secretariat working paper noted that the General Assembly, on 3 December 1998, adopted, without a vote, resolution 53/67 B, section VI, on Guam. By the terms of that resolution, the General Assembly requested that the administering Power continue to assist the elected Territorial Government in the achievement of its political, economic and social goals. It also requested that the administering Power continue to recognize and respect the political rights, and the cultural and ethnic identity of the Chamorro people and continue to transfer land to the people of the Territory. The General Assembly also requested that the Special Committee continue to examine the question of Guam and report to it at its fifty-fourth session.

The Secretariat working paper on Montserrat (document A/AC.109/1999/15) states that the island of Montserrat is mountainous and of volcanic formation, and is situated in the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean. According to information received from the administering Power, the United Kingdom, Montserrat is an internally self-governing Overseas Territory (formerly Dependent Territory) of the United Kingdom. It is administered by the United Kingdom under the Montserrat Constitution Order, which came into force in 1990.

The Constitution provides for a Governor appointed by the Queen and an Executive Council, that includes the Governor as President, the Chief Minister, three ministers, an Attorney General and Financial Secretary and seven members who are elected every five years based on universal adult suffrage.

In July 1995, the Mount Soufrière volcano erupted. That eruption caused the evacuation of more than one third of the island's population from the southern to the northern part of the island. Also, the Territory's population was drastically reduced –- from 10,581 in 1995 to an estimated 3,500 in February 1998.

According to the working paper, it was due to the economic disruptions caused by the ongoing volcano crisis that the Government of Montserrat and the administering Power signed a comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan and Country Policy Plan that established the framework and direction of development in Montserrat until 2002. The paper further states that these plans deal with the provision and improvements of: housing developments; water storage and reticulation; access to health services and nursery; and primary and secondary


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facilities. In addition, fiscal policies would be dealt with, as well as the initiation of privatization programmes and the establishment of internationally competitive inward investment legislation.

The position of the administering Power regarding the Territory is set out in the White Paper on the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories issued by the United Kingdom in March 1999.

In outlining the position of the Territorial Government, the working paper states that, during his presentation of the 1999 budget, on 30 March, the Territory's Chief Minister acknowledged the publication of the White Paper saying that it was a welcome opportunity for a full review of the constitutional relationship between the United Kingdom and the colony of Montserrat.

The working paper says that on 3 December 1998, the General Assembly adopted, without a vote, resolution 53/67, section VII, which concerns Montserrat. In that resolution, the General Assembly requested that, bearing in mind the views of the people of the Territory ascertained through a democratic process, the administering Power keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of the people regarding their future political status.

It notes further that on 16 December 1997 the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/169 J, entitled "Emergency assistance to Montserrat". This resolution called upon all States to contribute generously to the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

The Secretariat working paper on Pitcairn (document A/AC.109/1999/1) states that Pitcairn is located midway between Australia and South America. It was uninhabited when castaways from the HMS Bounty (nine mutineers and 19 Polynesians) arrived there in 1790. Today, Pitcairn is inhabited by their descendants. The population of Pitcairn has been declining steadily since 1937, when it was approximately 200. According to the administering Power, at 1 January 1999 the total population of the Territory was 66.

The office of Governor was established in 1970. The Governor is appointed by the Queen, acting on the advice of the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to whom he is accountable. In practice, the United Kingdom High Commissioner to New Zealand is appointed concurrently as Governor of Pitcairn, and the responsibility for the administration of the island is accordingly vested in him.

The report states that the administering Power, the United Kingdom, had launched a major review of its relationship with its remaining dependent Territories, including Pitcairn. Based on that review, a White Paper entitled "Partnership for Progress and Prosperity: Britain and the Overseas Territories" was created to set out its position towards the Territories.


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In its resolution 53/67 of 1998, the General Assembly requested the United Kingdom to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of the people regarding their future political status, bearing in mind the views of the people of the Territory. It also requested the administering Power and relevant regional and international organizations to continue to support the efforts of the Territorial Government to address the socio-economic development of Pitcairn.

The Secretariat working paper on St. Helena (document A/AC.109/1999/16), administered by the United Kingdom, consists of the main island, St. Helena, and two dependencies, the island of Ascension and a group of islands forming the dependency of Tristan da Cunha. Of the stipulations in the 17 March White Paper submitted to the British House of Commons concerning Territories administered by Britain, those specifically relating to St. Helena include the offer of British citizenship, the right to abode in the United Kingdom and a renewed commitment to assist St. Helena's economic development.

In its consolidated resolution on the Non-Self-Governing Territories, adopted without a vote -- 52/77, section IX -- the Assembly in reference to St. Helena requested the administering Power to report on the wishes of the Territory's people regarding their future political status. The Assembly also requested international support for addressing St. Helena's socio-economic development.

The Secretariat working paper on Tokelau (document A/AC.109/1999/17) states that the process of constitutional development in the New Zealand- administered Territory is continuing. Its inhabitants are Polynesians, with linguistic, family and cultural links with Samoa, and it is made up of three small atolls in the South Pacific.

According to information provided by the administering Power, on 3 August 1998, the General Fono (the national representative body) endorsed a comprehensive report that addressed the core issue in creating a constitutional framework for Tokelau -- how to construct a self-governing nation based on the village. In accordance with the recommendations of the report, a new electoral system was instituted for the General Fono resulting in elections in January 1999 geared towards its reform. The working paper states that the newly elected body reflects a generational change with younger and more formally educated delegates. That situation is expected to promote continuity in administration, as well as provide the basis for the development of a sense of professionalism.

In November 1998, the administering Power said the new governance arrangements, scheduled to come into effect on 1 July, demonstrate a good balance between Tokelau's instinctive wish to be more economically self- reliant and the fact that, as an economic unit, it is too small to be able to call on all the resources, skills and advice it needs to improve its standard of life. The Power noted that the central thought was that, after self- determination, Tokelau would not be cut adrift and that New Zealand, along with other partners, would help Tokelau succeed.

The working paper explains that the people of Tokelau have expressed a strong preference for a status of free association with New Zealand and that the issue of self-determination was under their active consideration. Their


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position was that, in order to exercise the right to self-determination, appropriate political, economic and administrative structures and arrangements needed to be put in place. They stressed that real self-determination for Tokelau was about economic independence, cultural affirmation, identity and the protection of the pristine environment. On 3 December 1998, the General Assembly adopted its resolution 53/66 on the question of Tokelau. Under the terms of that resolution, the General Assembly noted that Tokelau remained firmly committed to the development of self-government and to an act of self-determination, and commended the Territory for current initiatives and endeavours based on wide consultation with its people to continue the process of strengthening the basis of national self-government. That resolution also welcomed the assurances of the Government of New Zealand that it would abide by the wishes of the people of Tokelau with regard to their future status.

The Secretariat working paper on the Turks and Caicos Islands (document A/AC.109/1999/18) says that the Turks and Caicos Islands are described by the United Kingdom, the administering Power, as "an internal self-governing Overseas Territory". Under the provisions of the 1976 Constitution amended in 1998, executive power is vested in the Governor, who is appointed by the Queen. The Constitution also provides for an Executive and Legislative Council. While the Governor is responsible for foreign affairs, internal security, defence, the appointment of public officers and offshore finance, he is otherwise required to act on the advice of the Executive Council.

Addressing the future status of the Territory, the paper states that the representatives of the Territory stated in 1997 that there was a lack of adequate visible development of the process of self-determination in the Turks and Caicos Islands. They said that there was political will on the part of the territorial leaders for a more advanced constitution, which would enable an orderly transfer of power to the people of the Turks and Caicos islands.

The representatives of the Territory further stated that the administering Power should accelerate the process of equipping and preparing the people of the Territory to evaluate properly the available options of self-determination and, with that in view, emphasized that the advancement of the political, economic, social and educational institutions in the Territory was of paramount importance. In the 1998-1999 budget presentation, the Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands said: "while we welcome the new United Kingdom Government's White Paper on development ... we remain concerned that too many delays have affected the bilateral aid programme".


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According to the Secretariat paper, the administering Power advocated a position consistent with the overall recommendations contained in its March 1999 White Paper on the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories. Conveying action by the General Assembly, the Secretariat paper states that in December 1998 that body adopted, without a vote, resolution 53/67 B, section X, which concerns the Turks and Caicos Islands.

By the terms of that text, the Assembly called upon the administering Power and the relevant regional and international organizations to continue to provide assistance for the improvement of the economic, social, educational and other conditions of the population of the Territory. It also called upon the administering Power and the Territorial Government to continue to cooperate to counter problems related to money laundering, smuggling of funds and other related crimes, as well as drug trafficking.

The Secretariat working paper on the United States Virgin Islands (documents A.AC.109/1999/7 and Corr.1) states that the United States Virgin Islands are an organized unincorporated Territory of the United States. It is administered under the authority of the Office of Insular Affairs, a unit of the United States Department of the Interior.

The paper states that, following the adoption of the Organic Act of the Virgin Islands (1936), last revised in 1954, the Territory was granted a measure of self-government over local affairs. Addressing the future political status of the Territory, the paper notes that no significant action on the political status of the Territory had been taken since a referendum was held in 1993. In that ballot, 83.3 per cent of voters supported the existing status, 14.2 per cent voted for full integration with the United States, and 4.8 per cent voted for an end to United States sovereignty. Only 27.4 per cent of registered voters voted on the question, while the requirement for the referendum to be considered valid was 50 per cent.

Conveying the position of the Territorial Government, the paper observes that in a statement made before the Fourth Committee at the fifty-third session of the Assembly, the representative of the United States Virgin Islands had noted that independence was not the only legitimate political option for Non-Self- Governing Territories, but if other political alternatives were to be recognized as legitimate, they needed to provide a minimum level of political equality.

The paper goes to say, that in a statement made before the Fourth Committee also during the fifty-third session of the Assembly, a representative of the United States said that his country fully supported the right of people in Non- Self-Governing Territories to a full measure of independence, but noted that there was no single standard of decolonization. In particular, residents of a Territory should not have to choose one of three possible changes in status if they were happy with their current status.


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Conveying action by the General Assembly, the paper states that in December 1998 that body adopted a resolution which among others: requested the administering Power to bear in mind the views of the people of the Territory and to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of the people of the people regarding their political future. It also requested the administering Power to continue to assist the Territorial Government in achieving its political, economic and social goals, and to facilitate the participation of the Territory, as appropriate in, in various organizations, in particular, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Statements

CARLYLE CORBIN, the Minister of State and Representative for External Affairs, of the United States Virgin Islands, said it was important to emphasize that the very recommendations which called for actions to be taken in furtherance of the decolonization process were not implemented during the very decade designated by the international community for a proactive approach to the matter. When the recommendations were not implemented, proactive language either disappeared or was rewritten to be more passive and not action-oriented. He reiterated his argument that the recommendations of the past decolonization seminars, coupled with the implementation of decolonization resolutions, served as the basis of an enlightened plan of action on the self-determination of the remaining small island Territories. Such action would assist immensely in solving what was perceived as essentially a stalemate.

He said that on the one hand there were calls by the Territories for the implementation of what had already been approved. On the other, there were inordinate attempts to withdraw the international community from its responsibility under the Charter to promote self-government. That had been done through projection of the illusion that the people of the Territories did not deserve full equality and that, in some instances, they did not even need to be consulted on their future.

Reiterating some points made at the recently concluded decolonization seminar held in Castries, Saint Lucia in May, he suggested that the Chairman of the Committee should prepare a report on the issue of decolonization for the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) under the agenda item on the right to self-determination and work towards inclusion of the appropriate language in the Third Committee resolution reflecting small island decolonization issues.

He said the agenda item on the implementation of the Declaration on Decolonization by the specialized agencies and other international institutions associated with the United Nations should be shifted from the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) to the Second


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Committee (Economic and Financial), since that was essentially an economic issue. In addition, more attention should be given to the tangible outcomes of the specialized agencies agenda item on the small Territories in the Economic and Social Council. He noted that since the issues with respect to the contemporary Territorial arrangements were issues of governance, particularly in respect of the powers enjoyed by elected governments vis-a-vis those of the cosmopolitan country, the Special Committee should engage other United Nations bodies that focused on governance.

He said that while the basis for the extension of the mandate of the Special Committee remained clear, and not linked to the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the future effectiveness of the Committee might be determined in large measure by its willingness to adapt to a more complex self-determination process involving mostly small island Territories.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) agreed with the previous speaker regarding the Committee's work methods and the way it dealt with resolutions to be adopted by the General Assembly. The world had changed greatly in the last decade, particularly since the end of the cold war. New realities had affected the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Therefore, it was absolutely true that a new momentum was needed to achieve the goals for which the Committee had been established, in particular its task of giving an opportunity to all the peoples who were not enjoying their right to self-determination.

He said a number of administering Powers had a very odd view of the Committee's work, claiming there were no colonies or Non-Self-Governing Territories and that, therefore, the Committee's work was not justified. It was necessary to convince the international community that there were still a number of Non-Self-Governing Territories that had not been able to enjoy self- determination. The administering Powers, the majority of which believed in democracy, must be convinced that the Non-Self-Governing Territories had a right to self-determination, whether they were small or big.

PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea), Committee Chairman, said the Committee had appointed Julian Hunte, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia, to deal with issues of resolutions concerning the Caribbean Non-Self-Governing Territories. Perhaps Mr. Corbin could see him before he left town.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUÉ (Cote d'Ivoire) agreed with the views regarding the Committee's resolutions. About two years ago, the Committee had been reproached about the same attenuation of its resolutions, which reflected more the pressure applied on the Committee by the administering Powers, rather than the aspirations of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Views raised at the recent Caribbean regional seminars should also be taken into account, he said. On the one hand, the administering Powers claimed that the peoples of the Territories under their control were happy,


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while on the other hand the Committee was told it was not doing enough and that nothing had changed. If the Committee wanted to be true to its mandate, it must try to be as firm as possible and not let itself be swayed too much. With respect to future actions, independence around the world had come about due to action, not mere texts. If Committee members remained closeted in the chamber while the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories made their voices heard, it would be many years before the problems of decolonization were solved.

PATRICK ALBERT LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said it was regrettable that Mr. Corbin, an expert on decolonization, was unable to be incorporated fully at the United Nations, so that he could render more assistance on the issue. The Caribbean Non-Self-Governing Territories could not be viewed in the manner in which they were departmentalized -- British or American. One had to recognize the commonality that was present in all those Territories in a very interconnected way. The only difference that existed From Tortolla in the British Virgin Islands to Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands, was that one sang "God Save the Queen" and the other the "Star Spangled Banner".

He said when invitations to seminars were sent to representatives of dependent Territories through the legitimate channels of the administering Powers, they were often not received by those representatives. That was perhaps one of the reasons why the international language was becoming more passive. Today, the breaking news was that the dependant Territories in the Caribbean of a certain administering Power would not receive development aid if those Territories continued to exercise the death penalty.

What was happening, he continued, was an interference into government. "We do not need any lectures on governance", he said. "We can teach a lot on governance". Governance had been taught to the Territories by the colonial masters, even though they themselves had generally moved away from such positions. The view of the Committee by the administering Powers was in part "caused by ourselves". There were too many contradictory positions after seminars. For the Seminars to serve a purpose, the outcomes should be authoritative. Those were issues that were affecting the whole process of decolonization.

"We will not make any progress unless the Committee recognizes that its role is an independent one", he said. It must not be afraid of offending, if the cause was just. Further, it must urge the administering Powers to listen to what was being said.

JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea) asked, what was really meant by political equality? When there was reference to the exercise of the right to self- determination, was it a reference to processes like referendums, which facilitated the expression of the will of the people, which was then


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translated into political action? He agreed that the work of the Committee would not be finished in the current decade. The list of Non-Self-Governing Territories would, therefore, continue to be with the Committee and the United Nations. Thus, there was a need to think about a successor arrangement.

JUAN EDUARDO EGUIGUREN (Chile) said it was important that the Committee hear the views of representatives of various Non-Self-Governing Territories. It was the Committee's job to analyze any developments and difficulties taking place in any of those Territories.

LAMUEL A. STANISLAUS (Grenada) said the Committee must generate ideas that would yield practical results. The Committee alone could not find a solution. It had come to an impasse with respect to its own thinking, as well as that of the administering Powers. Mr. Corbin should find out what the United States thought about the right to self-determination. The United Kingdom seemed to have given some indication that it could work with the Committee. Was the new nomenclature that the United Kingdom had produced with respect to Non-Self-Governing Territories under its administration -- Overseas Territories -- not intended to show that those Territories now enjoyed a better, superior status? The Committee should clarify that issue.

Mr. TANOH-BOUTCHOUÉ (Cote d'Ivoire) said it appeared that the peoples of the United States Virgin Islands had not attended the Caribbean Regional Seminar in St. Lucia because the seminar stressed independence. There were other options and the Territory's representatives should attend seminars and tell the Committee why they could not choose options other than independence, such as association.

Mr. CORBIN, responding to the representative of Syria, said there was a time when a subcommittee on small territories addressed the issues. The Committee's resolutions would be drafted on the basis of issues discussed in that subcommittee. Working papers were richer in detail at that time. The end of the cold war -- a point raised a number of times -- should have had no impact, because the Territories had not changed. Decolonization had taken place long before the cold war had emerged. As for the claim that self- government had been achieved, he said that by any standard of self- determination, nothing had been achieved in any way.

He agreed with the reference by the representative of Côte d'Ivoire to the Committee's need for rededication during the upcoming second decade of decolonization. The non-participation of Non-Self-Governing Territories in seminars, on grounds that the Committee promoted independence, was caused by the way that the Committee was perceived in a number of Territories. When documents were transmitted to the Territory, the Committee's name was highlighted, giving the wrong impression. The name did not reflect the Committee's flexibility.


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Regarding a reported linking of foreign aid by administering Powers to ending the death penalty, he said that policy was a symptom of a wider effort. It did not effectively modify the Territory's political status, but granted certain rights to individuals within the Territory. There were indications that the policy would be a quid pro quo for the application of European Union and other laws in the Territories.

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