11/3/2005
Press Release
GA/COL/3109


Special Committee on

 Decolonization

2nd Meeting (AM)


DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE WILL SEND MISSION TO BERMUDA 28-31 MARCH; 30 MAY - 4 JUNE


Also Decides Caribbean Regional Seminar Will be Held in Saint Vincent 17-19 May


The Special Committee on Decolonization this morning made arrangements for an upcoming United Nations special mission to assist the people of Bermuda in making an informed choice regarding their future status.  It also made plans for a regional seminar in the Caribbean in May.


The Committee’s Chairman, Julian Hunte (Saint Lucia), emphasized the special nature of the Bermuda mission -- “perhaps the first one of its kind to a Non-Self-Governing Territory”.  Led by the Special Committee, the mission would examine political, economic and social developments in the Territory, listen to various sectors of society and familiarize the members of the Bermuda Independence Commission and the public at large with legitimate political options and the role of the United Nations system in the process of self-determination.


“The mission is not going to close a deal on independence, or commit the United Nations, or represent the Secretary-General”, he stressed.  It was going to provide information, inform the population and evaluate the situation.  An envisioned interactive approach should maximize the time spent with the people of Bermuda, with the aim of assisting them, as they made an important step towards a full measure of self-government.


He also informed the Committee that the administering Power of Bermuda, the United Kingdom, had been very helpful in organizing meetings between the Bermuda Independence Commission and the Special Committee.  The mission would be fully operational, as soon as the formal invitation from the administering Power was received.


The Committee decided that the first stage of the Bermuda mission would take place from 28 to 31 March.  During those four days, its participants would meet with members of the Bermuda Independence Commission and the public at large in interactive session and inform the Commission of the United Nations mandate in the process of decolonization.  During the second part of the mission, from 30 May to 4 June, the Mission would meet with various groups representing all strata of the Territory’s society.  Meetings were scheduled with the Premier of the Territory, parliamentarians and prominent political figures.


Other decisions were taken on the programme of work and the composition of the official delegation of the Mission, which would include Saint Lucia (the Chairman of the Committee) and representatives of Bolivia, Congo, Dominica, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, accompanied by three experts and assisted by two staff members of the Secretariat.


In other action, the Committee decided that the Caribbean Regional Seminar on the Implementation of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism would be held in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines from 17 to 19 May 2005.  The Seminar would carry out a mid-term review of the progress achieved in the implementation of the plan of action of the Decade and define priorities for follow-up and action in the remaining years of the Decade.  As in the past, the Special Committee would also celebrate the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories at the Seminar. 


The Special Committee authorized the Chairman to finalize the 11-member list of its official delegation to the seminar, once the selection process in the regional groups had been completed.  It was also decided that invitations would be extended to five experts and five organizations to participate in the Caribbean Seminar, for whom the Secretariat was requested to make travel arrangements.  Also invited to take part in the event would be Member States, administering Powers, specialized agencies and other organizations within the United Nations, as well as some regional organizations.  In accordance with usual practice, representatives of all elected governments of Non-Self-Governing Territories would also be invited.


The Committee also approved the draft guidelines and rules of procedure of the Seminar, as well as its revised agenda, to be issued under the symbol A/AC.109/2005/1.


The representative of Syria took the floor several times during the meeting, in particular to welcome the upcoming special mission to the Bermuda.  He said that the Committee was on the right track, adopting a realistic approach to the mission.


[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.]


The Committee will hold its next meeting at a date to be announced.


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