24 February 2011
General Assembly
GA/COL/3215

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

Special Committee on

 Decolonization

1st Meeting (AM)


Secretary-General Urges ‘Concrete Results’ in Quest for Self-Determination

 

as Special Committee on Decolonization Opens 2011 Session

 


Electing New Chair in Unprecedented

Secret Ballot, Members also Approve Timetable, Organization of Work


Addressing the first meeting of the 2011 substantive session of the Special Committee on Decolonization, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today for “concrete results” in the quest for self-determination by the world’s 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories.


Those results could only be achieved through the concerted efforts of all stakeholders, including the Special Committee, the administering Powers and the peoples of the Territories, he said.  “On a case-by-case basis, those Territories have to be given the opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination,” Mr. Ban added, emphasizing that dialogue aimed at improving cooperation between the Special Committee and the administering Powers continued to be “of utmost importance”.


In an unprecedented action this morning, the Special Committee — formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples — held a secret ballot to elect a new Chair.  Out of 25 recorded votes, Francisco Carrion-Mena ( Ecuador) received 15 to become the new Chair, replacing Donatus Keith St. Aimee ( Saint Lucia), who won 10 votes.


The Special Committee also elected, by acclamation, the following Bureau members:  Pedro Núñez Mosquera (Cuba) and Rupert Davies (Sierra Leone), Vice-Chairs; and Bashar Ja’afari (Syria), Rapporteur.


Speaking after the elections, Mr. Carrion-Mena called for “reinvigorated multilateralism” in global decolonization efforts.  “Decolonization is a tough challenge, but not one that should be impossible,” he said, noting that the United Nations membership had swelled by 93 Member States in the last 50 years.  Pledging to push for the decolonization of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, he described his election as a positive testament to the “liveliness” of the Special Committee and its search for a higher profile.


Delegations then took the floor in support of the Special Committee’s work, with Cuba’s representative emphasizing that Puerto Rico, which was not on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, also needed the Special Committee’s support.


Papua New Guinea’s representative said it was through the Special Committee that many nations had been born, something of which all its members could be proud.  However, the administering Powers could and should be more proactive in helping the Territories under their jurisdiction realize their rights, he added.


Syria’s representative, speaking in his national capacity, congratulated the new Chair, saying his election “breathed new life” into the Special Committee’s efforts.  Despite its good work in recent years, however, it was shameful that there was still a need to liberate non-self-governing peoples, he said, appealing for an end to that chapter of history.


The Special Committee also heard brief statements by representatives of India, Indonesia, Congo and Saint Lucia.


In other business, the Special Committee approved, by consensus as orally amended, resolutions and decisions relevant to its work, as contained in a note by the Secretary-General (document A/AC.109/2011/L.1); and the organization of its work, programme of work and timetable (document A/AC.109/2011/L.2).


It also invited the delegations of Argentina, Spain and Tajikistan to participate in its deliberations as observers.


The Special Committee, also known informally as the Committee of 24, is the focal point for the implementation of the Decolonization Declaration.  Its current 29 members are:  Antigua and Barbuda; Bolivia; Chile; China; Congo; Côte d’Ivoire; Cuba; Dominica; Ecuador; Ethiopia; Fiji; Grenada; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Mali; Nicaragua; 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.


Remaining on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories are Western Sahara, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Montserrat, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos, United States Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, American Samoa, Guam, New Caledonia, Pitcairn and Tokelau.


The Special Committee will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.


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For information media • not an official record