Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at the Opening of the 2008 Session of the Special Committee on Decolonization

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 28 February 2008

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

I am pleased to join all of you today as the Special Committee begins a new session for 2008.

Over the last six decades, decolonization has transformed the membership of the United Nations. All over the world, hundreds of millions of people have exercised their right to self-determination, and achieved self-government. Facilitating this process constitutes one of the proudest chapters of our Organization's history.

As you know better than anyone, this chapter is still being written. Today, there are 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining on the agenda of the United Nations. Until their status is satisfactorily resolved, the ideals of the General Assembly Declaration on Decolonization will remain unfulfilled. That is why, as we approach the end of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, I look to you, the members of this Special Committee, to continue to advance the decolonization process in the Territories.


Late last year the Pacific territory of Tokelau held a referendum on the question of self-government in free association with New Zealand, its administering Power. While the referendum fell just short of the two-thirds majority needed for a change in status, the fact that the people of Tokelau had the opportunity to freely express their will with regard to their own future was an important step forward.

The referendum stood out for the constructive spirit with which the Government of New Zealand and the people of Tokelau approached the question. And I am confident that the two sides will maintain a constructive dialogue as they chart the road ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Tokelau is a commendable example of what can be achieved when there is political will and close cooperation. I hope it will inspire other administering Powers and the people in the Territories to find innovative and practical ways to advance the decolonization process.

In this context, I applaud your stress on productive cooperation between the Special Committee and the administering Powers, while always bearing in mind the interests of the Territories. And I appeal to all parties to engage in a transparent and creative dialogue to ensure that the views of the peoples of the remaining Territories are heard.

For our part, all of us in the Secretariat will do all we can to fully support your vital work.

I wish the Special Committee every success in the year ahead.

Thank you all very much.