20/06/2005
Press Release
GA/COL/3124


Special Committee on

Decolonization

10th Meeting (AM)


DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE TEXT URGES ADMINISTERING POWERS TO PROTECT


NATURAL RESOURCES IN NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES


Also Adopts Resolution on Issues in 11 SpecificTerritories


In the last week of its 2005 session, the Special Committee on decolonization, in an effort to promote the economic and financial viability of the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, urged the administering Powers to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of the Territories to their natural resources, and to establish control over their future development, according to one of two texts adopted this morning.


Adopting, without a vote, an orally amended text on economic and other activities affecting the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Special Committee affirmed the value of foreign economic investment -– in collaboration with the peoples of the Territories and in accordance with their wishes -– to make a valid contribution to their socio-economic development.  It reaffirmed also the responsibility of the administering Powers under the United Nations Charter to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the Territories, as well as the legitimate rights of the peoples over their natural resources.


Reaffirming the need to avoid economic activities that adversely affect the interests of the peoples of the Territories, the Committee called, once again, on all Governments to take legislative, administrative or other measures concerning their nationals and enterprises in the Territories that are detrimental to their interests.  It also called on the administering Powers to ensure that no discriminatory working conditions prevail in the Territories under their administration and to ensure a fair system of wages for all inhabitants without discrimination.


Also this morning, the Special Committee adopted, without a vote, a comprehensive text on questions related to the decolonization of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.


By the terms of the text, which was orally amended, the Committee, expressing concern that more than 44 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, reaffirmed that, in the decolonization process, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which was also a fundamental human right.


Stressing the importance of implementing the Decade’s action plan, particularly by expediting the application of the work programme for the decolonization of each Territory on a case-by-case basis, the Committee also reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the peoples of the Territories themselves to determine freely their future political status.  In that regard, it reiterated its long-standing call for the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial Governments, to promote political education in the Territories, to foster awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


The Special Committee, by a further term, reaffirmed the administering Powers’ responsibility to promote economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territories.  It also recommended that priority continue to be given, in consultation with the territorial Governments concerned, to strengthening and diversifying their respective economies.


In other action this morning, the Special Committee adopted the report of its current session, as well as the report of the Caribbean regional seminar held in May in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


The representatives of Iran, Dominica and Bolivia made brief statements during action on the draft resolutions.


The Committee will meet again on Friday, 24 June, to conclude its current session.


Background


When the Special Committee on decolonization met this morning it had several items on its agenda, including economic and other activities that affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the question of small island Territories, and the report of the Committee’s Caribbean regional seminar.


For the first item on its agenda, the Committee had before it a draft resolution on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/2005/L.10).  By its terms, the Special Committee would reaffirm the right of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination in conformity with the United Nations Charter and with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), containing the Declaration on Decolonization, as well as their right to enjoy their natural resources and to dispose of them in their best interest.


Affirming the value of foreign economic investment in collaboration with the people of the Territories, the Special Committee would also reaffirm the responsibility of the administering Powers to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, reaffirming also the legitimate right of their peoples over their natural resources.  Reaffirming its concern about any activities aimed at exploiting the natural resources that are the heritage of the peoples of the Territories, including the indigenous populations, in the Caribbean, the Pacific and other regions, and of their human resources, to the detriment of their interests, and in such a way as to deprive them of their right to dispose of those resources.


By further provisions of the text, the Special Committee would call upon all governments that have not yet done so to take, in accordance with relevant provisions of Assembly resolution 2621 of 1970, legislative, administrative or other measures in respect of their nationals and the bodies corporate under their jurisdiction that own and operate enterprises in the Territories that are detrimental to the interests of the inhabitants in order to end such enterprises.  The Committee would also reiterate that damaging exploitation and plundering of the marine and other natural resources of the Territories, in violation of the relevant United Nations resolutions, are a threat to the integrity and prosperity of those Territories.


Also according to the text, the Special Committee would urge the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the people of the Territories to their natural resources and to establish and maintain control over the future development of the resources.  The administering Powers would also be requested to take all necessary steps to protect the property rights of the peoples in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions.


The Special Committee would, by further provisions, call upon the administering Powers concerned to ensure that no discriminatory working conditions prevail in the Territories under their administration and to promote in each Territory a fair system of wages applicable to all the inhabitants without any discrimination.  It would request the Secretary-General to continue, through all means at his disposal, to inform world public opinion of any activity that affects the exercise of the right of the peoples of the Territories to self-determination in conformity with the Charter and Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).


By yet further provisions, the Committee would appeal to trade unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as individuals, to continue their efforts to promote the economic well-being of the peoples of the Territories, and also appeal to the media to disseminate information about the developments in that regard.  It would also decide to follow the situation in the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories so as to ensure that all economic activities in those Territories are aimed at strengthening and diversifying their economies in the interest of their peoples, including the indigenous populations, and at promoting the economic and financial viability of those Territories.


Also before the Committee was a 12-page comprehensive draft resolution on the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, GuamMontserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United StatesVirgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2005/L.11).


The draft’s general section, Part A, would have the Special Committee, expressing its concern that more than 44 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, reaffirm that, in the decolonization process, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which was also a fundamental human rights.


The Special Committee would urge Member States to contribute to United Nations’ effort to usher in a world free of colonialism within the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and call on them to continue to give their full support to the Special Committee in its endeavours towards that noble goal.


In a related provision, the Special Committee would stress the importance of implementing the Decade’s action plan, particularly by expediting the application of the work programme for the decolonization of each Non-Self-Governing Territory, on a case-by-case basis and by completing the periodic analyses of the progress and extent of implementation of the Declaration. 


A further term would have the Special Committee also reaffirm that it was ultimately for the peoples of the Territories themselves to determine freely their future political status, and, in that connection, would reiterate its long-standing call for the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial governments, to promote political education in the Territories, in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


It would stress the importance of keeping the Special Committee apprised of the views and wishes of the peoples of the Territories and enhancing its understanding of their conditions, including the nature and scope of the existing political and constitutional arrangements between the Non-Self-Governing Territories and their respective administering Powers.


By a further term, the Special Committee would reaffirm the administering Powers’ responsibility to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territories.  It would recommend that priority continue to be given, in consultation with the territorial Governments concerned, to strengthening and diversifying their respective economies.


Part B takes up the question of the specific Territories.  On American Samoa, the Special Committee would, among other things, call on the administering Power to assist the territorial Government in the Territory’s economic and social development, including measures to rebuild financial management capabilities and strengthen other governmental functions of the Government of the Territory, and welcome the assistance from the administering Power in its recovery efforts following the recent floods.


On Anguilla, the Special Committee would welcome the constitutional review process led by the Government in cooperation with the administering Power.  It would note that the staging of the Caribbean regional seminar for the first time in a Non-Self-Governing Territory, Anguilla, in 2003, as well as a town hall meeting between the people of Anguilla and the Special Committee during the seminar, had contributed to its success.


With respect to Bermuda, the Special Committee would welcome the 2002 agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and the Territory formally transferring the former military base lands to the territorial Government, and the provision of financial resources to address some of the environmental problems.


Further to that text, the Special Committee would decide to follow closely the public consultations on the future political status of Bermuda under way in the Territory, and request the relevant United Nations organizations to provide assistance to the Territory, if requested, in the context of its public education programme.


Key among the provisions of the text on the British Virgin Islands was the taking note of the statement by the representative of the Legislative Council of the Territory at the regional seminar in May, who presented an analysis of the internal constitutional review process.


In addition, the Special Committee would welcome the establishment of the Inter-Virgin Islands Council between the elected Governments of the British and United States Virgin Islands as a mechanism for functional cooperation between the two neighbouring Territories and the subsequent creation of 11 standing committees on natural resources management, mutual disaster preparedness and assistance and constitutional development, among other areas.


Concerning the Cayman Islands, the Special Committee would welcome the continuing constitutional review process led by the Government of the Cayman Islands in cooperation with the administering Power.  It would take note of the statement by the representative of the Non-Governmental Organizations Constitutional Working Group of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce at the Caribbean regional seminar, which called for a comprehensive educational programme, to be defined by the Special Committee, on the issue of self-determination, as well as a visiting mission to the Territory.


Pronouncing itself on Guam, the Special Committee would call on the administering Powers to take into consideration the expressed will of the Chamorro people as supported by Guam voters in the plebiscite of 1987 and as provided for in Guam law, and encourage the administering Power and Guam’s territorial Government to enter into negotiations on the matter.  It would request the administering Power to inform the Secretary-General of progress in that regard.


On Montserrat, the Special Committee would call on the administering Power, the specialized agencies and others in the United Nations system, as well as regional and other organizations, to continue to assist the Territory in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption.


Taking into account the unique nature of Pitcairn in terms of population and area, the Special Committee would request the administering Power to continue its assistance for the improvement of the economic, social, educational and other conditions of the population of the Territory and to continue its discussions with the representatives of Pitcairn on how best to support their economic security.


Concerning Saint Helena, the Special Committee would welcome the continuing constitutional review process and the recent consultative poll led by the Government in cooperation with the administering Power.  It would welcome the decision of the latter to provide funding for the construction of an international airport at Saint Helena to become operational in 2010.  It would also ask the administering Power and relevant international organizations to continue to support the Territorial Government’s efforts to address the socio-economic development challenges, including the high unemployment and the limited transport and communication problems, as well as to support the additional infrastructure required for the airport project.


The Special Committee, noting the results of the April 2003 general election in Turks and Caicos Islands, would welcome the continuing constitutional review process.  It would take note of the statement made by the Chief Minister of the Territory at the 2005 Caribbean regional seminar that his Government was in favour of a reasonable period of full internal self-government before moving to independence.


On the United States Virgin Islands, the Special Committee would ask the administering Power to continue to assist the territorial Government in achieving its political, economic and social goals.  It would once again request it to facilitate the participation of the Territory in various organizations, particularly the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Caribbean State.


Similarly, it would call for the Territory’s inclusion in regional programmes of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  It would also call on the administering Power to refrain from enacting any legislative or other measures that would reduce the authority of the elected Government of the Territory to control its own financial affairs.


The Committee also had before it the report of its 2005 session (document A/AC.109/2005/L.14), as well as a report the Caribbean regional seminar (document A/AC.109/2005/CRP.1) held in May in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.


Action on Texts


The Committee first took up a draft resolution on economic and other activities affecting the interests of peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/2005/L.10).


The representative of Iran suggested several amendments to the text, including adding elements of the United Nations Charter in the preambular portion of the text.  He also felt that the first few operational paragraphs were more suitable for the preambular part of the draft.  He also proposed an amendment to operative paragraph 12, noting that he wanted to strengthen the text by appealing to the mass media to disseminate information regarding the Territories.


Committee Chairman JULIAN R. HUNTE (Saint Lucia) said his preference was to allow the document to go through as is.  Regarding operative paragraph 12, he noted that the mass media was privately owned and did not necessarily support self-determination.  Sometimes mass media did what they could to block an issue, rather than promoting it.


Iran’s representative said they were, therefore, of the same view on the need to strengthen the reference to the mass media.


The representative of Dominica said the proposal by Iran had some merit in the sense that the responsibility of the media was distinct from that played by trade unions and NGOs.  In that regard, rewording the language in operational paragraph 12 did make sense.


Bolivia’s representative asked for a complete text of the proposed amendment before taking action on the text.


The text was then adopted, as amended, without a vote.


Turning to consideration of the draft resolution on the questions of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/2005/L.11), the Special Committee CHAIRMAN said that was a product of long consultations among interested delegations.  He appreciated the draft, which faithfully reflected the Committee’s thinking on 11 Non-Self-Governing Territories referenced in the title of the text.


Iran’s representative said that a reference in the portion of the text concerning the United States Virgin Islands had contained only one reference to the Inter-Virgin Islands Council between the British and United States Virgin Islands.  It should either contain two such references or, if that was not necessary, the reference should not only appear in one section and not the other.


The Special Committee’s SECRETARY apologized for that oversight, and the Special Committee proceeded to adopt the entire text, as amended, without a vote.


Next, the Special Committee considered its report (document A/AC.109/2005/L.14).  It contains decisions and recommendations of the Special committee on the holding of a series of meetings away from Headquarters, representation at seminars, meetings and conferences, pattern of conferences, control and limitation of documentation, list of Territories, regional seminar and participation of representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the work of the Special Committee.  It adopted the report without a vote.


Turning to the draft report of the Caribbean regional seminar (document A/AC.109/2005/CRP.1), Chairman HUNTE explained that the core of the report was the conclusions and recommendations produced by the drafting group under the chairmanship of Cuba’s Ambassador Orlando Requeijo Gual.  The text of the report was balanced and reflected the Committee’s current stand on all decolonization issues.  The draft report was adopted, also without a vote.


* *** *