Press Release

Special Committee on


11th Meeting (PM)


The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples today approved the report of the United Nations mission to the Pacific Non-Self-Governing Territory of Tokelau as it resumed its 2002 session.

[Accepting an invitation from New Zealand, the administering Power, the Special Committee had dispatched a visiting mission to Tokelau from 12 to 20 August to examine the political, economic and social development of the Territory and to ascertain the true wishes and aspirations of the people of the Territory.  The last visiting mission to Tokelau, which is among the smallest of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, took place in 1994.]

Introducing the report of the mission, which will be presented to the General Assembly in the course of its fifty-seventh session, Special Committee Chairman Earl Stephen Huntley of Saint Lucia saluted the spirit of cooperation exhibited by the people of Tokelau and the administering Power, New Zealand.  He added that the New Zealand Government had demonstrated its willingness to cooperate in strengthening Tokelau’s institutional capacities and promoting programmes of good governance.

Tokelau and New Zealand, he went on, should undertake a joint information programme on the issues and consequences of self-determination.  He urged the New Zealand Government to continue its efforts in regard to financing economic and social development programmes in Tokelau.  The representatives of Syria, Cuba, Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Tanzania, Bolivia and Congo welcomed the positive developments in relations between Tokelau and New Zealand, and expressed the hope that other administering Powers would follow the example set by New Zealand.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda asked about the position of Tokelau’s citizens on the Territory’s future status, while the representative of Côte d’Ivoire wondered about the next steps to be taken in the process.  The Chairman replied that the people of Tokelau had not yet declared their preferences on the nature of their future relations with New Zealand, adding that he hoped that the process begun by the present mission would be complete within five years.  The representative of New Zealand told the Committee that the dialogue between his country and Tokelau had been strengthened by the mission, and that his Government was prepared to envisage each of the three options before Tokelau -– autonomy, free association, or independence.

The Chairman said the Committee would remain engaged with both Tokelau and New Zealand in the process.  The people of Tokelau were expecting the Committee to be an honest referee.  The Committee would remain active in the process the mission had set in motion. 

Following the Committee’s approval of the report, the Chairman recommended that members authorize the Rapporteur to introduce the necessary amendments to the draft resolution on Tokelau contained in the report of the Special Committee (document A/57/23 (Part III)) before presenting it to the Fourth Committee.

Under other matters, the Chairman informed the Committee that he had received a letter from the Acting Chief Minister of Gibraltar inviting the Committee to form a panel of observers for a referendum to take place later this year.  Since Gibraltar was listed as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, the Committee had an obligation to monitor the situation, he said, and assume an active role.

The Special Committee was created by General Assembly resolution 1654 of 1961 to examine and make recommendations on the application of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and to make suggestions and recommendations on the progress and extent of the implementation of the Declaration.  The 17-member Special Committee was expanded to 24 members in 1962 and the size of its membership has varied since.

Its current membership is as follows:  Antigua and Barbuda; Bolivia; Chile; China; Congo; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Ethiopia; Fiji; Grenada; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Mali; Papua New Guinea; Russian Federation; Saint Lucia; Sierra Leone; Syria; Tunisia; United Republic of Tanzania; Venezuela and Yugoslavia.

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