22 February 2007
Deputy Secretary-General

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




Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiroís remarks at the opening of the 2007 session of the Special Committee on decolonization in New York, 22 February:

It is a pleasure to join you so early in my tenure as Deputy Secretary-General.

The decolonization movement is one with which the United Nations is closely identified, and indeed was part of the Organizationís founding mission.

That quest gained clear momentum in the early 1960s, with the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and the establishment of this Special Committee.

Four decades later, decolonization is a United Nations success story, albeit an unfinished one.

Today, there are still 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories, in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pacific.† Thus, there clearly remains work to do.

The United Nations and the international community have a responsibility to bring about a speedy, successful and sustainable solution for the total eradication of colonialism.† And, if we are to close this chapter in human affairs, we need to focus on pragmatic steps.

One of the most promising opportunities for progress in the year ahead is the Pacific Territory of Tokelau.†† Last February, as you know, Tokelau held a referendum on a measure designed to ensure its attainment of self-government in free association with New Zealand, the administering Power.† That referendum did not result in the two-thirds majority needed to effect a change in status.† Nevertheless, New Zealand and Tokelau subsequently agreed to move the process forward by holding another referendum in November of this year.† This demonstrates the indispensability of political will on the part of the administering Power.

I know you share my hope that the example of Tokelau, and the partiesí renewed efforts to hold a referendum, will inspire other administering Powers and Territories to move towards self-determination for the peoples in the Territories concerned.† Needless to say, the cooperation of the administering Powers will be crucial.† They must ensure that the views of the peoples of these Territories are heard.† They should take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions.† Towards that end, I urge all administering Powers to adopt a constructive attitude.† They should do their utmost to muster the political will necessary for implementing the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

I commend the Special Committee for its important work and for its steadfast commitment to the Declaration and the UN Charter.† As you begin your new session, let me assure you that we in the Secretariat will continue to fully support your efforts.

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