06/06/2005
Press Release
GA/COL/3118


Special Committee on

Decolonization

3rd Meeting (AM)


DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXTS CONCERNING INFORMATION


RECEIVED FROM ADMINISTRATIVE POWERS, VISITING MISSIONS

 


The Special Committee on decolonization this morning approved two draft resolutions relating to information on decolonization and deferred action on a third text pending the outcome of consultations with the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Public Information.


Approving, without a vote, a draft resolution entitled “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 (e) of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/AC.109/2005/L.5), the Special Committee recommended that, in the absence of a decision by the General Assembly that a Non-Self-Governing Territory had achieved a full measure of self-government in terms of Chapter XI of the Charter, the administering Power concerned should continue to transmit information under Article 73 (e) of the Charter with respect to that Territory.


The Special Committee would have the Assembly request the administering Powers concerned to transmit to the Secretary-General the information prescribed in Article 73 (e), as well as the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments in the Territories concerned, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those territories.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that adequate information was drawn from all available published sources in connection with the preparation of the working papers relating to the Territories concerned.


A draft resolution entitled “Question of sending visiting missions to Territories” (document A/AC.109/2005/L.6), was also approved, as orally revised, without a vote.  By its terms, the General Assembly would stress the need to dispatch periodic visiting missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories in order to facilitate the full, speedy and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Territories and Peoples, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions on decolonization and the Plan of Action of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.


The Assembly would call upon the administering Powers to cooperate with the United Nations by receiving visiting missions in the Territories under their administration in accordance with the relevant resolutions on decolonization.  The administering Powers would be requested to consider resuming formal new approaches in the work of the Special Committee, and urged to cooperate with that body in its efforts.  The Assembly would also request the Special Committee’s Chairman to continue consultations with the administering Powers concerned and to report to the Special Committee in accordance with those consultations.


Action on a draft resolution entitled “Dissemination of information on decolonization” (document A/AC.109/2005/L.4) was deferred pending consultations.


Prior to taking action, the Special Committee heard statements by representatives of Cuba, Mali, Congo, Venezuela, Bolivia, Papua New Guinea and Dominica.


The Special Committee also heard briefings by the Chief of the Communications Campaigns Service, Strategic Communications Division, Department of Public Information, on the Department’s work in disseminating information on decolonization; and by the Chief of the Decolonization Unit, Department of Political Affairs.


In other business this morning, the Special Committee acceded to requests for hearing by petitioners from the Non-Self-Governing Territories of Gibraltar and Western Sahara.


The Special Committee will meet again at 11 a.m., Tuesday, 7 June, to hear the Chief Minister of Gibraltar and the leader of the opposition in that Territory.


Background


The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this morning to consider the questions of the dissemination of information on decolonization and visiting missions.


Statements


MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA, Chief, Communications Campaigns Service, Strategic Communications Division, Department of Public Information, briefed the Special Committee on the Department’s work in disseminating information on decolonization.  The Department’s current work was based on the General Assembly’s mandate, in its resolution 59/135 of December 2004, to take measures through all media available to publicize the United Nations work in the field of decolonization.  The Department’s activities had focused on covering the work of the Assembly and the Special Committee, building on partnerships with civil society through a network of United Nations information centres and strengthening the use of the Internet for the widest possible dissemination of information.  The Department had submitted its annual report, which covered its activities from June 2004 to March 2005.


Recapping some pertinent points from that report, he said the Department had issued over 40 press releases in English and French on the relevant meetings of the Assembly, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and the Special Committee.  Press releases had also been issued on the work of the Committee’s special mission to Bermuda this year.  All press releases had been posted on the United Nations website, where they were available to a global audience.  The Radio Section had covered decolonization and related issues in its daily news programmes and current affairs magazines in both official and non-official languages.  According to conservative estimates, some 133 million people listed to United Nations Radio programmes in all six official languages and Portuguese.


He said a wide array of developments and issues regarding decolonization continued to be covered regularly on the United Nations News Centre, one of the most frequently visited pages on the United Nations website.  Stories on decolonization had also been distributed through the English and French language e-mail news service to over 36,000 subscribers worldwide, and had been picked up by a growing number of external websites.  In its activities, the Geneva information service had emphasized that decolonization was very much a United Nations “success story” and a landmark in human history.  Other United Nations information services and centres had disseminated information relating to decolonization through their local websites, newsletters, press releases and briefings.  The Department would continue to publicize the United Nations work in the field of decolonization through all the communications tools at its disposal, working closely with all relevant entities.


MARIA MALDONADO, Chief of the Decolonization Unit, Department of Political Affairs, said that in 2004 and the first half of 2005, the Department had worked in cooperation with the Department of Public Information in several activities designed to produce and disseminate material on decolonization.  It had sought the cooperation of the administering Powers in providing information under Article 73 (e) of the United Nations Charter and had also monitored the media and Internet sites.  Furthermore, the Department gathered information from participants at the regional seminars conducted by the Special Committee, from petitioners participating in meetings of the Special Committee body and in hearings of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).


She said that the Decolonization Unit, in close cooperation with the Department of Public Information, had prepared a new brochure entitled “The United Nations and Decolonization, Questions & Answers” issued in 2004.  It had been conceived as a response to the many queries received from individuals and organizations in the Non-Self-Governing Territories regarding the Organization’s role in decolonization, the Special Committee’s work and the options available to the Territories with respect to their future status and assistance programmes offered by United Nations programmes and the specialized agencies.  In addition, an updated version of a brochure entitled “United Nations and Decolonization”, which gave a broad overview of the Organization’s historical involvement in decolonization and that of the Special Committee and its activities had been produced early in 2005.


At the request of the Bermuda Independence Commission, and at the invitation of the Government of Bermuda, she said, the Special Committee had dispatched a special mission to that Territory in March and May 2005.  During its visit, the delegation had met with government leaders, representative of the administering Power, opposition members and a cross-section of Bermudian civil society through a series of public meetings, the main purpose of which had been to provide the people of Bermuda with information on the role of the Special Committee in decolonization, United Nations resolutions regarding the options for attaining a full measure of self-determination and United Nations assistance programmes.  During the visit, the Secretariat had distributed copies of the brochures, the United Nations Charter and the reference book “Basic Facts about the United Nations”.  Subsequently, 4,000 copies of the brochures had been sent to the Bermuda Independence Commission for dissemination in the Territory.


Since 2004, the Decolonization Unit had assumed responsibility for maintaining its own website on decolonization, she said.  Representatives of the Non-Self-Governing Territories had, in the past, indicated that information on United Nations decolonization activities had not been widely publicized and the website was a concrete effort to fill that information gap.  The website was continuously updated to include official United Nations documentation, such as reports, resolutions and press releases regarding the Special Committee’s activities.  The Department of Political Affairs had also continued to provide up-to-date information to the Department of Public Information’s Public Inquiries and Guided Tours Units in response to specific questions about decolonization matters, and had contributed to the updating of the chapter on decolonization of the Information Department’s publication “Basic Facts about the United Nations”.


She said the Department of Political Affairs also maintained a roster of individual experts, academics and organizations concerned with decolonization and the situation in the Territories, many of whom had participated in the regional seminars, most recently at Canouan in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  The information and analysis provided by the experts and organizations contributed to enhancing the review and monitoring carried out by the Special Committee.  During the regional seminar held at Canouan, participants had reiterated the need for a public awareness campaign in the political options available to Non-Self-Governing Territories in accordance with United Nations resolutions, thus echoing the Plan of Action of the Second International Decade.  The Department of Political Affairs stood ready to work closely with the Department of Public Information to promote, publicize and educate public opinion on the decolonization work of the United Nations.


ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said the Special Committee had been given a good summary of progress made in the field of the dissemination of information in the last year.  Several years ago, he had been disquieted by limited capacities for disseminating information on decolonization.  The situation had now changed.  The two departments were working closely to disseminate information, including through United Nations Radio and the United Nations website.  He was pleased by the work being done by the Department of Public Information and the Department of Political Affairs to provide updated information.  The two departments must continue to seek out novel forms to disseminate the Special Committee’s message.  Unfortunately, the issue of decolonization had not been included in the Secretary-General’s report “In Larger Freedom”, or in the draft text submitted by the General Assembly President to heads of State and government for the September Summit.  He emphasized the importance of keeping the decolonization website up-to-date and urged the departments to seek out new initiatives to publicize the decolonization message to the Territories and all peoples of the world.


CHEICK SIDI DIARRA (Mali) expressed satisfaction at the many activities being undertaken by the departments to publicize the Special Committee’s work, noting that those activities had impacted not only on general public opinion, but also on the peoples directly affected by the issue of decolonization.  The cooperation between the two departments was stimulating.  He commended them for their work, calling on them to continue to be innovative in disseminating information on the field of decolonization.


LUC JOSEPH OKIO (Congo) thanked the two representatives for the quality of the reports they had submitted.  He stressed the importance of the documentation provided, noting that the documentation had impacted the participants to the Caribbean seminar and the Bermuda visiting mission.  The Departments should look for more ways to strengthen the dissemination of information on the ground and facilitate access to information to all people affected by the question of self–determination.


MARCOS FUENMAYOR-CONTRERAS (Venezuela) expressed his Government’s full commitment, without reservations, bias or reticence, to its solidarity with the right to self-determination of the peoples of Western Sahara, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Puerto Rico.


ERWIN ORTIZ GANDARILLAS (Bolivia) said that halfway through the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the promotion of the right to self-determination required greater emphasis.  That was a key, given that only five years remained before the end of the Decade and that 16 Territories remained on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He asked what impact or feedback the Department of Public Information and the Department of Political Affairs had achieved with regard to the dissemination of information, in view of the novel forms it had adopted in disseminating that information.


JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said both departments were doing a good job and that the information that they disseminated was important, given the short time remaining in the Second International Decade.  There was a great need for hard work, as the end of the Decade approached.  Having seen the impact of the brochures on the people of Bermuda, the feedback indicated that it had been their first time to receive that type of information.  The impact of the regional seminars had been seen during the Canouan event.


CRISPIN GREGOIRE (Dominica) said the dissemination of information on decolonization by the United Nations remained vital, as the administering Powers had not met their obligations to provide the peoples of the Territories with the information they needed, especially on self-determination options.  The materials disseminated during the two visiting missions to Bermuda had contributed significantly to the current debate and had answered many of the questions of the people of Bermuda.  The seminar in Saint Vincent had also helped to provide insights on the issues facing the Territories.  He exhorted the Special Committee to continue such seminars, as well as to continue organizing visiting missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories.


Mr. ORTIZ GANDARILLAS (Bolivia) said the Chairman was correct in saying that he, too, would be leaving the United Nations, as he had completed his four year mission.  It had been a great pleasure and honour to work with the Special Committee, as well as the Fourth Committee.  Commending the Secretariat for its hard work and dedication, he said the Secretariat had provided great support in breathing life into the Special Committee’s work.  The issue of decolonization was a matter of great concern to him, and he would keep abreast of the issues considered by the Committee.  He hoped there would no longer be a list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 2010.


Action on Draft Resolutions


As delegates prepared to take action on the three draft resolutions, JULIAN R. HUNTE (Saint Lucia), Chairman of the Special Committee, proposed that it defer action on the text relating to Dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/2005/L.4) pending ongoing consultations involving the Special Committee, the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Public Information.


Regarding the text on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 (e) of the United Nations Charter (document A/AC/109/2005/L.5), he noted that Article 73 (d) of the Charter tied in with Article 73 (e) and the two of them went together.  The administering Powers had a responsibility to ensure that the Territories were prepared for self-determination.


The Special Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.


Turning to the text on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories (document A/AC/109/2005/L.6), the Chairman pointed out that it reflected new developments, particularly the Special Committee’s special mission to Bermuda.


The Special Committee then approved that draft resolution, as orally revised, without a vote.


* *** *