24/6/2005
Press Release
GA/COL/3125


Special Committee on

 Decolonization

11th Meeting (AM)


CONCLUDING 2005 SESSION, SPECIAL COMMITTEE ADOPTS TEXTS TO ADVANCE DECOLONIZATION


IN REMAINING TERRITORIES, LAUDS TOKELAU’S PROGRESS TOWARDS SELF-DETERMINATION


Without the Special Committee on Decolonization, the goal of self-determination for the people of the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories could very well fade away, as the international community moved on to other matters, Chairman Julian R. Hunte (Saint Lucia) said today, as the Committee concluded its 2005 session with the approval of four resolutions aimed at advancing the decolonization processes in those Territories.


For that reason, he said the Special Committee was as important now as ever.  But, it could not, nor should it have to, do it alone.  The decolonization mandate was the responsibility of the entire United Nations family.  As Committee Chairman, he intended to engage that wider system, consistent with the long-standing mandate, to generate some positive movement where dormancy had heretofore been the norm.  A new beginning had been made and a new momentum had been generated.  The implementation challenge was formidable, but it could be overcome.


Indeed, a traditional resolution, approved today without a vote, concerned implementation of the Declaration of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations.  Among its terms, the Assembly would request the specialized agencies and other United Nations and international and regional organizations to review conditions in each Territory, so as to take appropriate measures to accelerate progress in their economic and social sectors. 


Approval of a resolution on Tokelau, also without a vote, signalled that the final phase of that PacificTerritory’s self-determination process was in sight.  By the text, the Assembly would note the considerable progress made towards adoption of a constitution and of national symbols, the steps taken by Tokelau and New Zealand to develop a draft treaty of free association as a basis for an act of self-determination, and the strong support expressed by Tokelauan communities in New Zealand for the move by Tokelau towards self-determination. 


Pio Tuia, the Ulu-O-Tokelau (Titular Head of Tokelau), invited the Special Committee to visit the Territory at a time when it was poised on the “tips of the breaking wave”.  Tokelau would, to the greatest extent possible, stand on its own two feet and was ready to catch the “great fish” -- the vote for the act of self-determination.  As Tokelau entered this critical phase in its history, the dawning of full self-government, it needed New Zealand by its side.  The Territory also needed, more than ever, the Special Committee’s ongoing reassurance and support. 


Neil Walter (New Zealand), Administrator of Tokelau, said that steady progress had been made on Tokelau’s draft constitution and a draft treaty of free association with New Zealand.  The next few months would be a challenging time for Tokelau.  It would be looking to the United Nations, specialized agencies and its Pacific neighbours for support and encouragement, as it proceeded along the path to self-determination.  For its part, New Zealand would stay in close touch with the Committee, as Tokelau approached that historic moment. 


A traditional text of the Committee, also approved without a vote, would have the Assembly reaffirm, once again, that the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation, including economic exploitation, is incompatible with the United Nations Charter, the Declaration on Decolonization and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 


The Assembly, by the terms of another consensus text, would call on Member States to redouble their efforts to implement the action plan for the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and on the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Committee to develop constructive work programmes on a case-by-case basis for the Territories to facilitate the implementation of the Committee’s mandate and of the relevant United Nations resolutions on decolonization. 


In other business, the Special Committee approved the Report of the Special Mission to Bermuda, as orally amended by the Chairman.  The report would be issued next week in all official languages.  Briefly introducing the report, the Chairman said the mission had been a tremendous experience for all who had attended.  It had been unique in its own way, and that uniqueness had been reflected in the report. 


Created by General Assembly resolution 1645 of 1961, the Special Committee examines and makes recommendations on the application of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and makes suggestions and recommendations on the progress and extent of the implementation of the Declaration.


The Committee meets annually to discuss the developments in Non-Self-Governing Territories, hears statements from appointed and elected representatives of the Territories and petitioners, dispatches visiting missions to the Territories, and organizes seminars on the political, social, economic and education situation in the Territories.  It formulates proposals and carries out actions approved by the Assembly in the context of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010). 


The session, just concluded, had begun on 17 February.  It had included two phases of a Special Mission to Bermuda (28 to 31 March and 31 May to 4 June, respectively), as well as the Caribbean Regional Seminar, held in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, from 17 to 19 May.


The 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories are:  American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands/Malvinas, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands, and Western Sahara.


In 1962, the Committee’s membership was expanded from 17 to 24, and its size has varied since.  Its current members are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Chile, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Dominica, Ethiopia, Fiji, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Syria, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania and Venezuela.


The bureau of the Committee consists of Chairman Julian R. Hunte (Saint Lucia); Vice-Chairmen, Luc Joseph Okio (Congo) and Orlando Requeijo Gual (Cuba); and Rapporteur, Fayssal Mekdad (Syria).


The representatives of Syria, Cuba, Iran, Congo, and the Russian Federation made brief statements.  The delegation of Papua New Guinea introduced the resolution on the question of Tokelau, and Carlyle Corbin spoke on behalf of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands.


Background


The Special Committee on Decolonization met today to conclude its 2005 session.  It had before it several draft resolutions, including a text on the question of Tokelau (document A/AC.109/2005/L.15), by the terms of which the Assembly would note that Tokelau remains firmly committed to the development of self-government and to an act of self-determination that would result in Tokelau assuming a status in accordance with the options on future status for Non-Self-Governing Territories contained in principle VI of the annex to General Assembly resolution 1541 (XV) of 15 December 1960.


The Assembly would, by further terms, welcomethe substantial progress made in the past year towards the devolution of power to the three taupulega (village councils), in particular the delegation of the Administrator’s powers to the three taupulega with effect from 1 July 2004 and the assumption by each taupulega from that date of full responsibility for the management of all its public services.  It would note, in particular, the decision of the General Fono in November 2003 -- following extensive consultations in all three villages and a meeting of the Special Committee on the Constitution of Tokelau -- to explore formally with New Zealand the option of self-government in free association, and the discussions now under way between Tokelau and New Zealand pursuant to the General Fono decision.


By other terms, the Assembly would also note that the General Fono has endorsed a series of recommendations of the workshop of the Special Committee on the Constitution, held in Tokelau in October 2003 with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), relating to Tokelau’s Constitution, the role and functioning of the General Fono, the judicial system and international human rights conventions.


Noting both Tokelau’s initiative in devising a strategic economic development plan for the period 2002–2004 to advance its capacity for self-government and that a further plan is now being finalized for the period 2005-2007, the Assembly would acknowledge also the continuing assistance that New Zealand has committed to promoting Tokelau’s welfare, as well as the cooperation of UNDP, including the relief and recovery assistance provided in the aftermath of cyclone Percy earlier this year.


By further terms of the text, the Assembly would also acknowledge Tokelau’s need for continued reassurance, given the cultural adjustments that are taking place with the strengthening of its capacity for self-government and, since local resources cannot adequately cover the material side of self-determination, the ongoing responsibility of Tokelau’s external partners to assist the Territory in balancing its desire to be self-reliant to the greatest extent possible with its need for external assistance. 


Welcoming the establishment of the Tokelau International Trust Fund to support its future development needs and the facilitation of this process through a donor round table, to be convened by UNDP following an act of self-determination by Tokelau, the Assembly would call upon Member States and international and regional agencies to announce contributions to the Fund and, thereby, lend practical support to assist this emerging country in overcoming the problems of smallness, isolation and lack of resources.


The Assembly would also welcome the assurance of New Zealand’s Government that it will meet its obligations to the United Nations with respect to Tokelau and abide by the freely expressed wishes of the people of Tokelau with regard to their future status.  It would call upon the administering Power and United Nations agencies to continue to assist Tokelau, as it further develops its economy and governance structures in the context of its ongoing constitutional evolution.


Welcoming the actions taken by the administrative Power to transmit information regarding the political, economic and social situation of Tokelau to the Secretary-General, the Assembly would note with satisfaction the successful visit to Tokelau, in October 2004, by the Chairman of the Special Committee on decolonization to attend the workshop of the Tokelauan Special Committee on the Constitution.


It would also note the considerable progress made towards the adoption of a Constitution and of national symbols by Tokelau, the steps taken by Tokelau and New Zealand to develop a draft treaty of free association as a basis for an act of self-determination and the strong support expressed by Tokelauan communities in New Zealand for the move by Tokelau towards self-determination.  The Assembly would welcome the invitation extended by the representatives of Tokelau and the administering Power to the United Nations to monitor an act of self-determination by Tokelau.


Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on the implementation of the Declaration of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations (document A/AC.109/2005/L.13).


By the terms of that text, the Assembly would recommend that all States intensify their efforts in the specialized agencies and other United Nations system organizations to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and other relevant United Nations resolutions.  It would also reaffirm the recognition by the General Assembly, the Security Council and other United Nations organs that the legitimacy of the aspirations of the peoples of the Territories to exercise their right to self-determination entails, as a corollary, the extension of all appropriate assistance to those peoples.


By further terms, the Assembly would request the specialized agencies and other United Nations and international and regional organizations to 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 urge those specialized agencies and United Nations organizations that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.


By other provisions, the specialized agencies and United Nations system organizations would be requested to provide information on environmental problems facing the Territories; the impact of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, and other environmental problems, such as beach and coastal erosion and droughts, 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 according to the draft, the Assembly would welcome the adoption by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of its resolution 598 (XXX) of 2 July 2004, in which it welcomed the participation of associate members in the United Nations world conferences and special sessions, and reiterated its earlier request for the establishment of necessary mechanisms for the participation of associate members of regional economic commissions in the work of the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies.


The Chairman of the Special Committee, in consultation with the President of the Economic and Social Council, would be requested to explore the potential modalities for the implementation of the relevant ECLAC resolutions.  The Department of Public Information, in consultation with UNDP, the specialized agencies and the Special Committee, would be requested to prepare and disseminate an information leaflet on assistance programmes available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The Territories would be encouraged to take steps to establish and/or strengthen disaster preparedness and management institutions and policies.


By other terms of the text, the Assembly would request the administering Powers concerned to facilitate, when appropriate, the participation of appointed and elected representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the relevant meetings and conferences of the United Nations specialized agencies and other organizations, so that the Territories may benefit from the related activities of those agencies and organizations.  It would request the Secretary-General to continue to assist the agencies and organizations in working out appropriate measures for implementing the relevant United Nations resolutions and to prepare for submission to the relevant bodies a report on the action taken in implementation of the relevant resolutions, including the present resolution, since the circulation of his previous report.


By the terms of a draft resolution on the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (document A/AC.109/2005/L.16), the Assembly would call upon Member States to redouble their efforts to implement the Plan of Action for the Second International Decade.  It would call on the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee to develop constructive programmes of work on a case-by-case basis for the Non-Self-Governing Territories to facilitate the implementation of the mandate of the Special Committee and the relevant United Nations resolutions on decolonization. 


The Assembly would, by other terms, request Member States, specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations actively to support and participate in the implementation of the Plan of Action during the Decade.  The Secretary-General would be requested to provide the necessary resources for the Plan of Action’s successful implementation.


The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/AC.109/2005/L.12), by which the General Assembly would reaffirm, once again, that the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation, including economic exploitation, is incompatible with the United Nations Charter, the Declaration on Decolonization and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It would call upon the administering Powers to take all necessary steps to enable the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to exercise fully as soon as possible their right to self-determination, including independence.


The Assembly would also affirm, once again, its support for the aspirations of the peoples under colonial rule to exercise their right to self-determination, including independence.  It would call upon the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee to finalize, before the end of 2005, a constructive programme of work on a case-by-case basis for the Territories to facilitate the implementation of the Special Committee’s mandate and the relevant decolonization resolutions, including ones on specific Territories.


By further terms of the text, the Assembly would welcome progress made in the ongoing consultations between the Special Committee and New Zealand, as administering Power for Tokelau, with the participation of representatives of the people of Tokelau, as evidenced by the decision of the General Fono of Tokelau, in November 2003, to actively explore with New Zealand the option of self-government in free association.


Further, the Assembly would welcome the dispatch of the United Nations special mission to Bermuda, at the request of the territorial Government and with the concurrence of the administering Power, which provided information to the people of the Territory on the United Nations role in the process of self-determination, on the legitimate political status options, as clearly defined in resolution 1541 (XV) of 15 December 1960, and on the experiences of other small States which have achieved a full measure of self-government.


The Assembly would request the Special Committee, by further terms, to continue to seek suitable means for the immediate and full implementation of the Declaration and to carry out the actions approved by the Assembly regarding the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and the Second Decade in all Territories that have not yet exercised their right to self-determination, including independence.  In particular, it would be asked to formulate specific proposals to end colonialism; examine the implementation by Member States of resolution 1514 (XV) and other relevant resolutions; finalize, before the end of 2006, a constructive programme of work on a case-by-case basis for the Territories to facilitate the implementation of the Committee’s mandate. 


The Special Committee, among other things, would also be requested to continue dispatching visiting missions to the Territories, to conduct seminars for the purpose of receiving and disseminating information on the Committee’s work, to take all necessary steps to enlist worldwide support among governments, as well as national and international organizations, for achieving the objectives of the Declaration.


By other terms of the draft, the Assembly would call upon all States, in particular the administering Powers, as well as United Nations specialized agencies, to give effect within their respective spheres of competence to the Special Committee’s recommendations for the implementation of the Declaration and other relevant United Nations resolutions.  It would call upon the administering Powers to ensure that the economic activities in the Territories under their administration do not adversely affect the interests of the peoples but instead promote development, and to assist them in the exercise of their right to self-determination.


The Assembly would urge the administering Powers to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Territories to their natural resources, including land, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources.  They would also be requested to take all necessary steps to protect the rights of the people.  It would also urge all States, directly and through their action in the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, to provide moral and material assistance to the peoples of the Territories and request the administering Powers to take steps to enlist and make effective use of all possible assistance, on both a bilateral and multilateral basis, in the strengthening of the economies of the Territories.


Also by the terms of the text, the Assembly would reaffirm that United Nations visiting missions to the Territories are an effective means of ascertaining the situation in the Territories and call upon the administering Powers to cooperate with the Special Committee in the discharge of its mandate and to facilitate visiting missions.  It would call upon administering Powers that have not formally participated in the Special Committee’s work to do so at its 2006 session.  It would request the Secretary-General, the specialized agencies and other United Nations system organizations to provide economic, social and other assistance to the Territories and continue to do so after they exercise their right to self-determination, including independence. 


The Assembly would also approve the Special Committee’s report covering its 2005 session, including the programme of work for 2006.


Question of Tokelau


PIO TUIA, Ulu-O-Tokelau (the Titular Head of Tokelau), invited the Special Committee to visit the Territory at a time when it was poised on the “tips of the breaking wave”.  Tokelau would, to the greatest extent possible, stand on its own two feet and was ready to catch the “great fish” -- the vote for the act of self-determination.  As Tokelau entered this critical phase in its history, the dawning of full self-government, it needed New Zealand by its side.  The Territory also needed, more than ever, the Special Committee’s ongoing reassurance and support. 


It had been a long and sometimes arduous journey, he said.  Tokelau had used its cultural heritage, traditions and customs to guide it.  The autonomy of its villages was paramount as they formed the foundation of the nation.  Without the villages there was no nation, and the nations existed only for them.  Tokelau’s constitution contained governing arrangements and administrative structures that were uniquely home-grown and not borrowed from the Westminster model or from someone else’s “constitutional clothing”.  It was like no other political system in the Pacific, reflecting the values of the people living on tiny, isolated atolls and with very poor natural resources.  The journey had begun in 1994 when the General Fono had told the administering Power, New Zealand, that it was able to administer the Territory.  The 2003 Principles of Partnership was the foundation document, defining the relationship between Tokelau and New Zealand.  It was also a strong basis for the Treaty of Free Association, which was currently being finalized and the Economic Arrangement signed last year. 


Documentation highlighting the major achievements of the last 12 years included the Tokelau Law Consultations of 21-29 April 2005 Record, which contained Tokelau’s Constitution as of 1 May 2005 and detailed the views of the people on the draft Treaty of Free Association.  In the good governance sector, following the January 2005 general elections, the new Council of the Ongoing Government of Tokelau had endorsed, in late February, its Operating Guidelines, which included a Code of Ethics.  Also, the Deed Concerning the Tokelau International Trust Fund (TITF) had been signed on 10 November 2004.  The Fund would be turned into a Treaty once the act of self-determination had taken place. 


The future relationship with New Zealand had been extensively discussed in the Council’s November 2004 visit to New Zealand, he said.  Discussions had been held with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and the Administrator, Neil Walter.  The May General Fono had endorsed in principle the draft Constitution and had established a Translation Committee to translate the draft Constitution in Tokelau.  The General Fono had also agreed to the process that was to be followed.  Officials from Tokelau and New Zealand continued working together on drafting a possible Treaty of Free Association.  Upon completing the draft treaty, the Council of the Ongoing Government and the legal team would meet in Apia, at the end of the month, to consult and agree on the details of the treaty.  The details of how the vote on self-determination would be conducted would also be on the agenda.


The recent injection of some $7.5 million by New Zealand’s Government was most warmly welcomed, he said.  He hoped the international community would be just as generous, as Tokelau looked for means to secure its future well-being.  Tokelau had been hit in February by cyclone Percy.  In that regard, he expressed appreciation for New Zealand’s immediate assistance, as well as assistance from the Governments of Australia and Samoa.


Concluding, he said three partners had journeyed together, paddling the Tokelau canoe together.  Tokelau was now ready to cut the sails of the canoe and sail through the channel on the crest of the breaking wave into the “cove of calmness”.


FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said he had genuine feelings about the process launched by the Committee to achieve the objective of self-determination.  Tokelau had been on the agenda for quite some time, but in this case, the experience, though long, would never be regretted because at the end, the expected conclusion had arrived.  He greeted the Ulu and, through him, sent his warm greetings to his people in the three villages and wished them every success and progress and development.  He also appreciated the efforts of the Administrator in terms of accelerating the process of self determination.  He considered Tokelau’s success to be a personal success for all involved. 


He said that, without the tireless efforts of the Government and people of New Zealand, such a dream might have come only after a long, harsh struggle, but in the Government of New Zealand, Tokelau and the Committee had found a partner, which believed in democracy and exercised it, believed in freedom and exercised it, and believed in human rights and exercised human rights wherever it could. 


ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba), associating himself with the words of appreciation expressed by his Syrian colleague, also welcomed the Ulu, as well as the Administrator from New Zealand.  The Committee had before it a success story, which represented the expressed will of the people of Tokelau and the sincere cooperation of the Government of New Zealand as the administering Power, as well as the proactive and steadfast work of the Special Committee.  The outcome had showed that the Committee’s work could be useful, and he hoped that others would take due note of the example and follow it, as they charted a course towards self-determination.  Tokelau’s example should be repeated in the other Non-Self-Governing Territories, and the other administering Powers should have the courage to work in the same manner as New Zealand and with the same sincerity.  As the Ulu had said, the big fish was about to be captured; the end of the journey was near. 


HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran) welcomed the good news from Tokelau and expressed satisfaction at the relationship it had enjoyed with New Zealand.  He asked the Ulu when he thought the people of Tokelau would be ready to take the final step in deciding their destiny.


LUC JOSEPH OKIO (Congo) said he had been struck by the quality of the statement made by the Ulu of Tokelau, which was both poetic and enlightening and had reassured members about the territory’s future.  New Zealand, in dealing with Tokelau’s self-determination process, had given the international community and the Special Committee during the past decade the best example of cooperation with an administering Power.  That had been an inestimable contribution during the past decade, and should serve as an example for other administering Powers, prompting them to be more constructive in their commitment to the Decolonization Committee.  The example had also showed that independence was not the only way out when it came to the decolonization process.  Things in Tokelau were moving in the right direction and should be completed in a few months. 


Responding to questions, Mr. TUIA said that the dates would be determined in accordance with agreement reached by his entire community.  More than one third of the nation had agreed to take the path towards self-determination, but some questions remained to be clarified, especially with respect to the treaty between Tokelau and New Zealand outlining the post-self-determination phase. 


To another question, he said that independence as an option was clearly outside of the issue because the option Tokelau would take gave it more freedom to decide what was best for it.  Becoming independent was not a desirable option.  Rather, free association with New Zealand with self-governing status was. 


NEIL WALTER (New Zealand), Administrator of Tokelau, recalled that, last year, he had reported on Tokelau’s new governance structures and restructured public services, its decisions on a draft constitution, its increasing role around the Pacific, the signing of the Joint Statement on Principles of Partnership, steps being taken to improve service delivery from New Zealand, Tokelau’s assumption of full responsibility for its budget, and the General Fono’s landmark decision to actively explore with New Zealand the decolonization option of self-government in free association.  The past year had seen an intensification of work on all of those fronts. 


He said, for example, that work had proceeded on Tokelau’s draft constitution and a draft treaty of free association, pursuant to the General Fono’s decision.  Steady progress had been made with Tokelau’s draft constitution, which was approved in principle by the May 2005 General Fono for a further round of discussions in all three villages in the coming weeks.  Agreement had also been reached on the main elements to be incorporated in a treaty and its supporting documents.  Those included, for example, ongoing entitlement of the inhabitants of Tokelau to New Zealand citizenship, economic support and administrative and technical assistance, support for Tokelau’s International Trust Fund and a programme to preserve Tokelau’s culture and language.  The drafts would be the subject of further consultations in the three villages before they were considered again by the General Fono in August.


At the same time, work was well advanced on the legislative amendments that would be required in New Zealand to give effect to a decision by Tokelau to become self-governing, he said.  Although a final decision had yet to be made by the General Fono on the timing of the act of self-determination, the Ulu of Tokelau had expressed the wish that the United Nations dispatch a mission to Tokelau to witness that important event.  New Zealand shared Tokelau’s hope in that regard.  Meanwhile, Tokelau faced a number of extreme challenges, including smallness, isolation and a lack of natural resources.  It was prepared to face up to those challenges, but it needed, and deserved, international support.  In February, Tokelau*-- had received a “direct hit” from a force 5 storm.  The cyclone had caused considerable damage, but with help from its friends, Tokelau had staged a strong recovery.  That was, however, a tiny reminder of just how vulnerable it was. 


He noted that, in the past couple of years, New Zealand had significantly raised the level of economic support provided to Tokelau.  In addition to the three-year agreement covering regular budget support, it was providing special assistance in the areas of power supply and shipping services.  It was also committed to working with Tokelau to build the Trust Fund as rapidly as possible to a level where it would provide an independent source of revenue to future generations of Tokelauans.  Just this week, New Zealand’s Minister announced a further contribution of $7.5 million to that Fund.  He hoped that the Special Committee and the United Nations overall would encourage MemberStates and regional organizations to add their weight to the cause.  A mini pledging conference was planned in New York for Tokelau’s International Trust Fund, following the act of self-determination.


The next few months would be a challenging and important time for Tokelau, he concluded.  It would be looking to the United Nations, specialized agencies and its Pacific neighbours for support and encouragement, as it proceeded along the path to self-determination.  For its part, New Zealand looked forward to staying in close touch with the Committee, as Tokelau approached that historic moment. 


Action on Text


The representative of Papua New Guinea introduced the draft resolution on the question of Tokelau.  She expressed satisfaction on great strides and good progress between the Government of Tokelau and its administering Power New Zealand towards its act of self determination.  All were aware of good cooperation between Tokelau and New Zealand, which had resulted in steady and positive progress in discussions on the decolonization options.  She was happy to note the continuous cooperation and working relationship between the two in structuring a government that would best serve the interests of the Territory. 


This year would be a momentous year for Tokelau, she said.  She understood from today’s statement that sometime before the end of the year the people would take on a decision toward an act of self-determination for its future.  Papua New Guinea would assist as much as possible in that regard.  Papua New Guinea would put the issue of the Trust Fund for Tokelau on the agenda of the South Pacific Forum.  She hoped that Forum members, as well as other members of the international community, would positively respond to the Fund.


She then read out several amendments that had already been made to the text (document A/AC.109/2005/L.15).


The draft was adopted without a vote.


The Committee then turned to the next item on its agenda, the implementation of the Decolonization Declaration by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations.


CARLYLE CORBIN, making a statement on behalf of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands, noted that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and its subsidiary body, the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), played a strategic role in support of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, as it provided them with a window of access to the United Nations system.  An ECLAC study had outlined the specific level of participation of the Territories in world conferences since 1992.  He thanked the Special Committee for its consistent support for the inclusion of the category of associate members in the regional commissions in the rules of procedure of world conferences.  He looked forward to the Committee’s support when new forms of participation were brought for its consideration. 


He said the CDCC provided the Territories with a seat at the table of deliberations on development issues affecting the small island developing States of the Caribbean.  Most recently, representatives of the Territories that were associate members of ECLAC and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) had participated in the Mauritius meeting.  Territories from both regions had met daily to promote their increased participation within the wider United Nations system.  The participation of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in programmes and activities of the wider United Nations system was in furtherance of the process of capacity-building, that was a central component of the achievement of decolonization. 


The Committee then adopted draft resolution A/AC.109/2005/L.13 without a vote.


Speaking after action, the representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation confirmed its traditional position on the agenda item.  While he had not obstructed action on the resolution, when looking at the issue in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, his delegation would be guided by its consistent position on the issue.


Report of Special Mission to Bermuda


Committee Chairman JULIAN R. HUNTE (Saint Lucia) noted that the Special Committee had decided to defer consideration of the report of the special mission to Bermuda in order to give an opportunity for members to consider it before taking action on it.  The report was now being processed by the Secretariat and would be distributed in all official languages next week.


Introducing the report, as orally amended, he said the mission had been a tremendous experience for all.  It had been unique in its own way, and that uniqueness had been reflected in the report.  He had tried to be as fair and balanced as possible.  He had also tried to avoid being critical of anyone to ensure that due respect was paid to the administering Power.  One issue, however, was the fact that he had used the word “divide” as it related to the racial problem.  No other word could be used to describe what the mission had found.  Even the presentation made by four students earlier in the session gave further evidence to the current situation.  The report accurately reflected the facts and had not made any recommendations but drew certain conclusions.


In closing, Chairman Hunte said it had been quite an interesting year so far.  At the opening of the session last February, he had emphasized the need for the Committee to move into the implementation phase of the long-standing international mandates on decolonization, many of which had originated in the Committee and which had been put in place even before the First and Second International Decades for the eradication of colonialism.  He had stressed then that the Committee needed to begin to “think outside the box” if the United Nations was to fulfil its mandates towards credible self-determination processes in the Territories, with the subsequent fulfilment of decolonization and the assumption of the full measure of self-government for the people concerned. 


He said that, towards that goal, the Special Committee had worked diligently to reflect urgently that task with only five years remaining in this Second Decade.  He thanked the Bureau for leading the efforts to ensure that the people of the Territories were given every possible chance to succeed and to realize their aspirations, “as those of us who had so realized our own aspirations in years past”.  Without the Committee, the goal of self-determination for the people of the remaining Territories could very well fade away, as the international community moved on to other matters.  For that reason, the relevance of the Special Committee was as important now as ever.


Given that thinking, he said it should proceed to take the necessary proactive approach.  That had begun with the special mission to Bermuda, which had broadened the Committee reach and included UNDP in the process.  The latter had provided experts who had advised the Committee on the nuances of the processes in that Territory and the role that the wider United Nations system could play in their progress.  The Committee had succeeded in engaging in an unprecedented interactive dialogue with the people of Bermuda.  The report of the special mission should shed considerable light on the situation in that Territory and the challenges faced by Bermudans, as well as the role the United Nations could play in their self-determination process. 


He noted that the Committee had also conducted a dynamic Caribbean Regional Seminar in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  He congratulated that Government for having hosted the Seminar, which had provided the Committee with key recommendations for the future work, not only of its members, but of the United Nations system as a whole.  During the regular sessions of the past few weeks, he had listened closely to a number of governmental and non-governmental representatives from various Territories on a variety of issues affecting their self-determination processes and how the United Nations mandate should be implemented.  The Committee had adopted several resolutions, which called for action by the wider United Nations system to facilitate decolonization.


The Committee had also heard arguments in relation to those Territories, which were the subjects of sovereignty disputes, he said.  The role that other United Nations bodies could play in those matters should be seriously considered.  Satisfaction had been expressed with the decolonization process under way in Tokelau -- a process that had reflected quite favourably on the genuine interest of New Zealand, as the administering Power, and on the fortitude and spirit of the people of Tokelau.  He strongly encouraged other administering Powers to similarly step up and engage the Committee in the process.  A return to formal cooperation by the other administering Powers with the Special Committee, in one case, after 20 years, would be in the interest of all concerned. 


Together, it was possible to ensure that the people of the Territories were adequately prepared to make informed decisions on their political future, consistent with the United Nations Charter and human rights conventions, he said.  It was the end of the formal session, but in many respects, the work had just begun.  He would circulate soon a document outlining the actions called for in the resolutions.  The Special Committee could not, nor should it have to, do it alone.  The decolonization mandate was the responsibility of the entire United Nations family.  He intended to engage that wider system, consistent with the long-standing mandate, in order to generate some positive movement where dormancy had heretofore been the norm.  He sincerely believed that a new beginning had been made and a new momentum generated.  The challenge of implementation was formidable, but he was confident that it was one which would be overcome. 


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