Press Release



NEW YORK, 12 August (Department of Political Affairs) -- At the invitation of the Government of New Zealand, the United Nations Special Committee on decolonization has dispatched an assessment mission to the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Tokelau, in the South Pacific.  The Mission is to carry out its work between 12 and 24 August.

The Special Committee, the policy-making organ of the General Assembly on matters of decolonization, reports yearly to the Assembly on the situation in the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories and their progress towards self-government.  Two years ago, the Special Committee launched a new initiative to establish case-by-case work programmes for the decolonization of the Territories.

The Mission will examine the situation in Tokelau within the framework of a work programme towards self-determination for the Territory which is being developed together with the representatives of the Territory and the representatives of the administering Power, the Government of New Zealand.  In this context, the mission will assess the status of Tokelau’s institutions of government, its constitutional and legal development, and its economic and social development and their sustainability, and make recommendations to further advance Tokelau’s self-determination process.

     The mission is composed of representatives from Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, and Saint Lucia.  It is led by Earl Stephen Huntley, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations and Chairman of the Special Committee, and includes Erwin Ortiz Gandarillas, Deputy Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations, and Jimmy Ovia, Minister and Deputy Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations.

Tokelau is situated 480 kilometres north of Samoa and is accessible only by sea.  Consisting of three atolls with a total area of approximately 12.2 square kilometres, it has a population of 1,500.

After completing its meetings with the representatives of Tokelau on the three atolls, the mission will meet with the United Nations system in Apia, Samoa, and then conclude its work in Wellington, where it will meet with representatives of the Government of New Zealand, legal experts, and representatives of the Tokelauan community in New Zealand. 

The Committee is formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

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