24/06/2002
Press Release
GA/COL/3068



Special Committee on

Decolonization

9th Meeting (AM)


SPECIAL COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTS TEXT URGING UN AGENCIES


TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES


Committee Also Adopts Draft Report of Pacific Regional Seminar


The Special Committee on Decolonization this morning urged those specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.


It took that action as it unanimously adopted a resolution on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations.


Further by that text, the Committee requested the specialized agencies and other organizations of the system and international and regional organizations to examine and review conditions in each Territory so as to take appropriate measures to accelerate progress in the economic and social sectors of the Territories.  It also requested them to strengthen existing measures of support and formulate appropriate programmes of assistance to the remaining Territories, within the framework of their respective mandates, towards the same end. 


In addition, the Committee requested the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system concerned to provide information on: environmental problems facing the Non-Self-Governing Territories; the impact of natural disasters on those territories; ways and means to assist the territories to fight drug trafficking, money laundering and other illegal and criminal activities; and the illegal exploitation of the marine resources of the territories and the need to utilize those resources for the benefit of the peoples of the territories.


Also this morning, the Committee adopted the draft report of the Pacific Regional Seminar, held in Fiji from 14-16 May, which was introduced by Committee Rapporteur Fayssal Mekdad (Syria).


Statements were also made by the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire, Saint Lucia, Bolivia, Syria and Papua New Guinea.  Also addressing the Committee was Carlyle Corbin, on behalf of the United States Virgin Islands Government.    


The Special Committee will meet again at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 26 June to conclude its work. 


Background


The Special Committee on Decolonization met this morning to consider implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations.  It had before it a draft resolution submitted by the Chairman on the topic (document A/AC.109/2002/L.9).  The text would have the Committee urge those specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible. 


Also, the Committee would request the specialized agencies and other organizations of the system and international and regional organizations to examine and review conditions in each Territory so as to take appropriate measures to accelerate progress in the economic and social sectors of the Territories.  It would also request them to strengthen existing measures of support and formulate appropriate programmes of assistance to the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, within the framework of their respective mandates, towards the same end. 


Further, the Committee would request the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system concerned to provide information on: environmental problems facing the Non-Self-Governing Territories; the impact of natural disasters on those Territories; ways and means to assist the Territories to fight drug trafficking, money laundering and other illegal and criminal activities; and the illegal exploitation of the marine resources of the Territories and the need to utilize those resources for the benefit of the peoples of the Territories.


Also before the Committee is the report of the Secretary-General on the issue (document A/57/73), which states that the Secretary-General had brought the text of resolution 56/67 to the attention of the executive heads of various specialized agencies and other international organizations and invited them to submit the information requested for inclusion in the report on the action taken to implement relevant resolutions. 


The summaries of the replies received are contained in the report of the President of the Economic and Social Council on consultations held with the Chairman of the Special Committee (document E/2002/61).  


Statements


CARLYLE CORBIN, speaking on behalf of the United States Virgin Islands Government, said the item related to that Territory had not received adequate consideration.  Since 1989, requests had been made for the issue to be taken up earlier, so as to have its concerns reflected in the resolution.  But, as a result of its late consideration, the resolution before the Committee was yet another repetitive one instead of providing updated information.


He said that both the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council had approved a series of resolutions regarding the participation of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the United Nations system.  Such participation had been linked to the promotion of progress among a territory’s people.  Seven of the

14 specialized agencies had changed their rules of procedure to enable territories to participate in their activities.  The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) were among them.  However, while agencies had opened up access for participation to territories, the extent to which the rest of the United Nations system had done so was questionable.


Three significant actions had been put forward in the Assembly resolutions for accelerating the process of self-governance in the territories, he said.  First, it was recommended that conditions in the territories be reviewed so as to accelerate the progress being made toward self-governance.  Second, since some territories had difficulty participating in regional meetings and preparatory activities, it had been recommended that they be given assistance to do so.  Finally, it had been recommended that concrete proposals for assisting the territories should be drawn up and presented to governing bodies.  Those proposals had not come forth.


The present medium-term plan for 2002-2005 gave the Committee a coordinating function in the process related to the territories, he said.  The work of the regional commissions gave a good idea of the progress that could be made if territories participated more fully in the activities of the United Nations system.  The United States Virgin Islands was part of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).  The Economic and Social Council had begun to extend opportunities for participation to associate members of regional commissions.  The Assembly had provided observer status to them, for example at the recent summit on racism and the special session on children. 


Participation in the United Nations system was an important way to achieve stated aims for the Non-Self-Governing Territories, he said.  It led to capacity building and to economic and social development.  Participation in conferences and preparatory activities was directly beneficial.


However, he said, Assembly resolutions had not been implemented to enable such participation.  Therefore, the resolution now before the Committee showed no consensus between the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Committee.


BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire) said that the work done by the Committee was important in the political as well as economic and social areas.  It was high time for the Committee to envisage a more direct and fruitful cooperation with the agencies of the United Nations system.  One of the objectives of the Committee was to transmit information to the people of the Territories.  The Committee should find a channel to determine the contributions the various parts of the United Nations system were making in the field.


MICHELLE JOSEPH (St. Lucia) asked Mr. Corbin to elaborate on why he thought the draft resolution was not a consensus text in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. 


Mr. Corbin said that it was necessary to have a more proactive approach with those institutions which had a strong presence in the Territories.  He also supported the item being discussed earlier in the Committee’s session, as well as including the representatives of the New York offices of the agencies and institutions in the discussion.  Regarding St. Lucia’s question, he said that there had been a number of abstentions on the text at the Assembly and Economic and Social Council level.  At the Council deliberations in 2000, most of the abstentions were due to the perception that the item was more of a political than an economic nature.  Perhaps renaming the item would contribute to addressing the misperception. 


Mr. TANOH-BOUTCHOUE said that Mr. Corbin was correct in saying that there was no consensus on the item.  Some States felt that it was not incumbent on the Committee to tell the specialized agencies what to do.


FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) agreed with Mr. Corbin’s comments.  The performance of the Committee in the area of assistance could be more proactive.  During the past three years, the Committee had tried to improve the relations and contributions of relevant United Nations agencies in the Territories.  While some improvements could be noted, there was still room for more.  He had no objections to renaming item to reconcile Mr. Corbin’s comments. 


ERWIN ORTIZ GANDARILLAS (Bolivia) believed that the question of economic and social assistance to the Territories was fundamental.  The resolution should be more specifically addressed to the implementation of the many resolutions in that regard.  The Committee should be able to check on the degree of implementation and the progress made on the resolutions adopted from year to year.  It could consult on the matter and look more closely at the issue of monitoring. 


JIMMY URE OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said that while he agreed with previous speakers, the topic must be put into perspective.  The fundamental issue was the question of the mandates of the specialized agencies.  He could go along with the suggestion to rename the item.  However, the Committee could not tell the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), for example, what to do because it had its own mandate.


Mr. TANOH-BOUTCHOUE said that it was not necessary for the specialized agencies to change their mandates.  The Committee should ensure that the people of the Territories were well aware of the issues affecting them.  It was important to have the cooperation of agencies and to know what they were doing in the Territories. 


Without a vote, the Committee then adopted the resolution on the implementation of the Declaration by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations.


Mr. MEKDAD, Committee Rapporteur, introduced the report of the Pacific Regional Seminar.  He said the Seminar had been well attended by members of governmental bodies, youths, and representatives of specialized agencies and programmes.  For example, attendance by the Governor of Pitcairn had enabled many important points to be brought up.  Likewise, the presence of governmental representatives from administering countries had enabled substantive issues to be addressed.  The outcome document dealt well with various sensitivities.  Greater consensus on issues could be expected in the future as a result.


Mr. ORTIZ GANDARILLAS (Bolivia) said he would make four points on the report.  First, the information campaign mentioned in it was very important.  It was vital that people be informed of their options and their possibilities.  Secondly, since empowerment and training were vital, agencies such as UNDP should

help the territories become viable, independent countries.  Coordination between all bodies was vital.  And finally, assistance should be given for participating in seminars.


He said reports on future seminars should contain a section on evaluating the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  That was, after all, the purpose of the seminars.  Also, the Committee’s agenda for its future work should be amended to included the concept of “assessing” situations and not just “reviewing” them.


Mr. TANOH-BOUTCHOUE said he had no problem with adopting the report.  However, the Committee had participated in the seminar for three days.  Members had then proceeded to New York.  There had been confusion about whether additional points would be allowed to be added here.  Future seminars should clarify when the seminar work was finished.


The Committee adopted the report of the Pacific Regional Seminar by consensus and decided to append it to its report.


* ****