24 June 2014
General Assembly
GA/COL/3270

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

Special Committee on Decolonization

6th Meeting (AM)


Special Decolonization Committee Approves Text Urging Governments to End

 

Enterprises that Harm Interests of Non-Self-Governing Peoples

 


Tokelau, New Zealand Agree to ‘Park’ Referendum Question, Focus on Basic Needs


Acting without a vote, the Special Committee on Decolonization approved four draft resolutions today to accelerate efforts to create a world free of colonialism.


By terms of the text aimed at furthering the implementation of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (A/AC.109/2014/L.9), the General Assembly would call on the administering Powers to take steps to enable the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to fully exercise their right to self-determination and independence.


The Assembly, through the text on economic and other activities affecting the Non-Self-Governing Territories (A/AC.109/2014/L.11), would call on all Governments that have not yet done so to take legislative, administrative or other measures to end enterprises detrimental to the interests of the inhabitants.  Further, it urged the administering Powers to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the inhabitants to their natural resources and property.


By the text concerning implementation of the Declaration by the United Nations specialized agencies and other associated institutions (A/AC.109/2014/L.10), the Assembly would recommend that those organizations’ executive heads formulate concrete proposals to fully implement the relevant United Nations resolutions and submit them to their governing and legislative organs.


The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking before action, said his Government actively supported the rights of people of Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination and independence.  However, attention of that highly political issue within the Economic and Social Council distracted from the Council’s main role of coordinating socioeconomic activities.  As such, his Government would abstain from the vote on the draft.


The Special Committee also approved a text (A/AC.109/2014/L.8), which covered the questions 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.


Nicaragua’s delegate, in a general statement, reiterated his Government’s commitment to fight colonialism and support self-determination among peoples in Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He underlined the importance of regional seminars, as well as the need for increased resources to foster greater participation among representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories.


Aliki Faipule Kuresa Nasau, Titular Head of Tokelau, in other business today briefed the Special Committee on elections held earlier this year for the 20-member General Fono and the six-member Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau.  The results were positive, with the first woman ever elected to the six-member Council.  Next month, the National Fono would endorse its 2014/15 budget, which was focused on fully implementing the national strategic plan 2010-2015.  That plan was supported by the Joint Commitment for Development between Tokelau and New Zealand, and 60 per cent of its targets had been met. Gains also had been made in the areas of education, health and energy efficiency.  On the issue of self-determination, he said that, following the 2007 referendum, it was agreed with New Zealand to “park” the question of holding another referendum, and instead, focus on meeting basic needs.


Jonathan Kings (New Zealand), Administrator of Tokelau, described his country’s relationship with Tokelau as “extremely positive”.  He noted that Tokelau’s extreme geographic isolation and small population were factors that would continue to shape New Zealand’s engagement.  With reliable transport now in place, his Government was focused on basic services, with efforts centred on improving education and health-care delivery.  New Zealand was supporting Tokelau in implementing recommendations from the recent education review, which showed the need for action.  It was also focused on governance, an overarching theme of other reviews under way in health, telecommunications and transport, as well as on fishing revenues.  Those issues remained a focus before any further act of self-determination would be considered.


Also delivering statements on the question of Tokelau were the representatives of Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Fiji.


Consideration of the draft resolution on the question of Tokelau was postponed to a later date.


The next meeting of the Special Committee will be on 26 June, when it will take up the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).


Question of Tokelau


ALIKI FAIPULE KURESA NASAU, Titular Head of Tokelau, updated the Special Committee on elections for the 2014-2016 General Fono and the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau, held earlier this year.  For the first time, elections were based on common national criteria in each of the three villages, and a voter education programme was introduced.  The results were positive, with the first woman ever elected to the six-member Council.  Next month, the National Fono would endorse its 2014/15 budget, which was focused on fully implementing, by next June, the national strategic plan 2010-2015.  That plan was supported by the Joint Commitment for Development between Tokelau and New Zealand, and 60 per cent of its targets had been met.  Gains also had been made in the areas of education, health and energy efficiency.


Turning to the issue of self-determination, he said that, following the 2007 referendum, it was agreed with New Zealand to “park” the question of holding another referendum, and instead, focus on meeting basic needs.  The work towards self-reliance continued to progress.  “I want to reiterate that Tokelau is keen and committed towards the inalienable right of its people to be self-determined”, he said, adding that while Tokelauans were proud of their heritage as New Zealand citizens, there was an “undeniable breeze” to have a separate identity.  That aspiration motivated Tokelau’s participation in regional and international forums.


Tokelau’s strategic plan advocated development that did not compromise its heritage or environment and he thanked New Zealand for its support towards Tokelau’s national development.


ROBERT GUBA AISI (Papua New Guinea) highlighted the holding of free, fair and democratic elections for the General Fono as a salient aspect of the draft resolution on Tokelau, saying that nearly half of the 20 elected legislators were new.  The draft also addressed the critical issues of climate change and sea-level rise, which was significant, given that Tokelau comprised three small atolls.  He urged support for the administering Power and Tokelau in addressing concern over that existential threat.


The draft reaffirmed the 2008 agreement between New Zealand and Tokelau on self-determination, he said, a process that was on hold but whose options would be considered at an appropriate time.  There had been an expression of interest by the General Fono to determine priorities beyond 2015, including on a referendum.  Finally, he cited the successful completion in 2013 of 60 per cent of the objectives in the national strategic plan, notably in the area of energy.  He urged support for both parties in addressing Tokelau’s development priorities, commending them for their constructive spirit in helping to craft the draft resolution.  He urged the text’s adoption by consensus on 27 June.


AMADU KOROMA (Sierra Leone) said he was impressed with the synergy between Tokelau and New Zealand, commending the former for adopting an “important and progressive” action plan.  New Zealand should continue to support such work.  In turn, he reassured that the Special Committee would be available to support New Zealand’s efforts.


PENI B. SUVEINAKAMA (Fiji), associating himself with Papua New Guinea, said it was incumbent upon the Special Committee to approach each case with an open mind and bring about more dynamism in the decolonization process.  For its part, Fiji had hosted the regional seminar last month, which had provided space for an open exchange of views and problem-solving.  While striving towards political independence of all Non-Self Governing Territories, there must also be an emphasis on current economic, social and development needs, which should be part-and-parcel of the decolonization process.  The case of Tokelau showcased a “model” relationship between an administrating Power and the Non-Self-Governing Territory.  The resolution should be adopted by consensus.


JONATHAN KINGS (New Zealand), Administrator of Tokelau, described his country’s relationship with Tokelau as “extremely positive”, saying he was regularly in touch with the Ulu, ministers and senior officials on a range of issues.  The relationship had been strong for nearly 90 years and New Zealand expected to remain Tokelau’s principal and enduring partner.  Tokelau’s extreme geographic isolation and small population were factors that would continue to shape New Zealand’s engagement.  His Government was focused on basic services, with efforts centred on improving education and health-care delivery, he said, also noting that there was now reliable transport in place.


Citing gains, he said New Zealand was supporting Tokelau in implementing recommendations from the recent education review, which showed the need for action.  It was also on focused governance, an overarching theme of other reviews under way in health, telecommunications and transport, as well as on fishing revenues.  Those issues remained a focus before any further act of self-determination would be considered.  He was not aware of a push to change the status quo.  New Zealand was committed to Tokelau’s long term development and would provide at least $19.6 million in the areas of transport, education and budget support in 2014/15.


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For information media • not an official record