22 May 2000

Press Release



MAJURO, Marshall Islands, 22 May -- The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples held a Pacific Regional Seminar in Majuro, Marshall Islands, from 16 to 19 May 2000.

The inaugural meeting heard an address by the President of the Marshall Islands and messages from Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the President of the General Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab (Namibia). The meeting also observed the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The Seminar was attended by more than 40 participants, including the Member States, representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories, non-governmental organizations, and experts. The delegation of the Special Committee conducting the Seminar was led by its Chairman, Peter Donigi (Papua New Guinea), and included the representatives of Bolivia, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russian Federation and Syria.

France and New Zealand, as administering Powers, also attended the Seminar, as did representatives of Argentina, Morocco, Nauru, Spain, and the South Pacific Forum.

Representatives of Guam, New Caledonia, Tokelau, United States Virgin Islands, and Western Sahara participated in the Seminar.

Experts and non-governmental organizations from the Pacific region presented discussion papers on the achievements and proposed follow-up to the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the development of criteria or indicators on self-government and the impact of globalization on small island Territories in the Pacific. The Rapporteur of the Special Committee made a presentation on the role of the Special Committee on the decolonization process.

On 19 May, at the last meeting of the Seminar, the Special Committee presented the report prepared by a drafting group, composed of the members of the Special Committee, summarizing the deliberations and containing conclusions and recommendations.

The Seminar concluded that the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism has been an important political framework for concerted action in support of the process of decolonization and the role of the United Nations in

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such processes. Throughout the International Decade, participants affirmed, the regional seminars had served as an effective forum for focused discussion on matters of concern to the Non-Self-Governing Territories and have afforded opportunities for representatives of the peoples of the Territories to present their views and recommendations to the Special Committee.

The Seminar stated that the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples adopted in 1960 was not complete as long as there remained Non-Self-Governing Territories. It also reaffirmed that the United Nations had a valid, ongoing role in the process of decolonization and that the mandate of the Special Committee was a major political programme of the United Nations.

The Seminar reiterated that a genuine act of self-determination in the small island Non-Self-Governing Territories should be based on the wishes of their peoples and should involve a full range of legitimate political status options based on the principles defined in General Assembly resolution 1541 (XV) of 1960 and other relevant resolutions. The Seminar, noting the need for more information to be submitted to the United Nations under Article 73e, called for the resumption of the use of the previous comprehensive questionnaire detailing the specific areas of economic, social and political development on which information should be furnished.

The participants endorsed the proclamation of a Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and stressed the need to formulate an updated plan of action for the eradication of colonialism.

The report of the Seminar will be considered by the Special Committee at its July 2000 session.

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