1 December 2006
General Assembly
GA/COL/3150

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

SELF-DETERMINATION OPTIONS, ROLE OF UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM DISCUSSED


ON DAY TWO OF DECOLONIZATION SEMINAR

 


Perspectives from Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Western Sahara Presented


(Delayed in transmission -– reissued as received from a UN Information Officer.)


YANUCA ISLAND, Fiji, 29 November -– The third meeting of the Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization generated significant discussion on self-determination options, as Seminar participants heard follow-up statements to the 2005 Caribbean Regional Seminar held in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  Views on the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories of Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Western Sahara, and the role of the United Nations system in providing assistance to such Territories, were also presented.


The representative from the British Virgin Islands, Kedrick Pickering, said that a new way of thinking about self-determination options was needed.  He used the example of his own Territory, which receives assistance from its administering Power, the United Kingdom, in areas such as education and health, rather than direct financial support.  Mr. Pickering questioned what could be gained from the British Virgin Islands becoming an independent nation and suggested that the issue of alternative options for self-determination was a wider question that the Committee should consider.


Mr. Pickering also provided Seminar participants with an update on efforts since the 2005 Caribbean Seminar, and specifically on the Constitutional Review Commission completed in May-June 2005.  He noted that the Government of the United Kingdom used the report of the Commission as the basis for constitutional negotiations, which would continue until early 2007, when a new constitution was expected.


In a second statement in follow-up to the 2005 Caribbean Regional Seminar, the representative from the United States Virgin Islands, Carlyle Corbin, noted that in a number of cases, internal constitutional developments in territories were ongoing or completed.  He also noted that a decision had been made in the United States Virgin Islands to address the internal structure of governance through the drafting of a local constitution before determining its permanent political status.  Mr. Corbin said that continued United Nations oversight of progress on that task, including visiting missions to territories, was essential.


The importance of the political will of Member States that administered territories was emphasised by Mr. Corbin, who said that the implementation of the decolonization mandate couldn’t be achieved without it.  In that connection, Mr. Corbin thanked the Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization for the initiative of the “Plan of Implementation of the Decolonization Mandate”, which organized the actions called for in decolonization resolutions in a coherent manner, and identified the relevant parties who should carry out these actions.  Mr. Corbin concluded by inviting all administering Powers to re-engage in the United Nations decolonization process.


Following statements in the third meeting was discussion from Seminar participants on self-determination options, and the idea of looking further than to the three ways in which a Non-Self-Governing Territory could attain a full measure of self-government, as affirmed in resolution 1541 (XV).


The representative from Fiji noted that decolonization in its current sense was still evolving, and that different views on self-determination were continuing to surface, making it an interesting issue to follow.


An expert from Tokelau, Falani Aukuso, posed a number of questions to the Chairman of the Special Committee, concerning the Committee’s role in engaging administering Powers and where the responsibility rested for designing new and innovative approaches to decolonization.  The Chairman responded by reiterating that the call is for every party to be engaged in the process, including the Special Committee and the United Nations system.  Unless each party stepped forward and got involved, the decolonization mandate would not be realised, the Chairman said.


Other responses and comments were heard from representatives of Guam, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), United Nations Department of Political Affairs, British Virgin Islands and American Samoa.


Views of Non-Self-Governing Territories:  Falkland Islands, Western Sahara


The Seminar’s third meeting included the views of the representatives of other Non-Self-Governing Territories on their present status and the completion of the decolonization process in their Territories.  Representing the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Richard Davies said that the Territory wished to continue its present association with the United Kingdom, and did not currently seek independence or integration.  He described the relationship as a continually evolving partnership based on the right to self-determination, and consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.


Noting the current sovereignty issue over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), between Argentina and the United Kingdom, Mr. Davies said that meant that a mission of the Decolonization Committee to the territory was unlikely.  Mr. Davies then extended an invitation to any member of the Special Committee who would like to come on a private visit.  He also expressed his opposition to Argentine sovereignty and any negotiations between the British Government and Argentina in that regard.


The representative from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) described recent progress in economic and democratic development.  Improvements in infrastructure, and high standards of education and medical care were mentioned, as well as positive changes in government elections and responsibilities.  Mr. Davies also presented a number of points for the way ahead, to be considered by the Special Committee.


A statement from Argentina, regarding the question of the Malvinas included a historical account of events dating back to 1833, and a discussion of United Nations resolutions pertaining to it.  The representative said that actions by the United Kingdom in 1833, which resulted in the ousting of Argentine authorities and populations residing there, were clearly protested by the Argentine Republic and it continued to do so.  The representative reiterated that her Government was committed to resuming negotiations with the United Kingdom in relation to the sovereignty dispute in order to reach a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the question of the Malvinas.


Also on the agenda in the third meeting of the Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization was a statement from the representative of Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y del Rio de Oro (Frente POLISARIO), Fadel Kamal Mohamed, regarding the issue of the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara.


Mr. Mohamed provided a concise background on the question of Western Sahara and outlined current human rights issues in the occupied zones.  He also raised concerns regarding the use of Western Sahara’s natural resources.  The Frente POLISARIO representative called on the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization to send a delegation to Western Sahara and report on its findings.  He also stressed the responsibility of the United Nations towards the Saharawi people and that they must be allowed to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a referendum.  He reaffirmed his organization’s willingness to continue to cooperate with the United Nations and the Special Committee of 24 in its efforts to achieve the decolonization of Western Sahara.


The representative from the Kingdom of Morocco also provided a background on the question of Western Sahara, and commented on several United Nations resolutions and efforts since 1975.  The representative requested that Western Sahara be deleted from the agenda of the Special Committee of 24.  He expressed the Kingdom of Morocco’s willingness to cooperate with the United Nations Secretary-General and his personal envoy to arrive at a political solution acceptable to all parties.


On the same topic, the representative from Algeria stated that his country was not part of the dispute between the Government of the occupying force and the Frente POLISARIO.  He also said that the Western Sahara issue is a matter of decolonization; that his country supported the call for a referendum and that Algeria supported many peoples and countries in their quest for self-determination, including Saharawi refugees.


A final statement in the third meeting was heard from the representative for Spain regarding its position on Gibraltar.  He detailed the ways in which Spain was complying with the mandate of the General Assembly, and with the goals set in the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.  He also commented on issues relating to the recently concluded constitutional reform of Gibraltar, noting that it did not have implications in the decolonization process of this Non-Self-Governing Territory.  The representative from Spain discussed the establishment of a tripartite Forum of Dialogue on Gibraltar, which counts on the support of all three participants –- Spain, the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.  The representative also said his Government wished to continue to work actively on the decolonization of Gibraltar.


Comments and responses were also heard from the representatives of Brazil and Cuba.


Fourth Meeting, Day Two of Seminar


The role of the United Nations system in providing assistance to the Non-Self-Governing Territories was discussed in the fourth meeting of the Pacific Regional Seminar.


Carlyle Corbin delivered a statement on the participation of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the United Nations system.  Mr. Corbin said that the extent of participation of territories in the work of the United Nations specialised agencies such as the Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the World Health Organization, and others, was not at the level that one would wish.


In commenting on the issue of participation in United Nations World Conferences, Mr. Corbin said that the observer status capacity extended to Non-Self-Governing Territories at these conferences provided the territories with access to the major issues facing the international community.


Mr Corbin also mentioned the 2005 General Assembly resolution that called for the United Nations Department of Public Information to produce an information document on assistance programmes available to the territories within the United Nations system.  It was confirmed that this document would soon be complete.


Mr. Falani Aukuso of Tokelau raised the issues of cost and capacity associated with attending United Nations world conferences. The representative of the United States Virgin Islands said that his Territory had been able to meet this challenge by pooling resources on a regional level.


Comments and responses were also heard from the representatives of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Samoa, the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, China and Kiribati.


The Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization concludes tomorrow, 30 November, with a general exchange of views on the draft report of the Seminar and its conclusions and recommendations.  A summary of statements from day two of the Seminar can be found at:  http://www.un.org/depts/dpi/decolonization.


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For information media • not an official record