SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION CALLS ON ADMINISTERING POWERS TO COOPERATE WITH UN VISITING MISSIONS
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION CALLS ON ADMINISTERING POWERS TO COOPERATE WITH UN VISITING MISSIONS
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION CALLS ON ADMINISTERING POWERS TO COOPERATE WITH UN VISITING MISSIONS19970612 Also Hears Petitioners from Guam
The Special Committee on decolonization this morning called on the administering Powers to cooperate with the United Nations by receiving visiting missions in the Territories under their administration, as it approved, without a vote, a resolution submitted by its Chairman.
Also by the text, the Committee asked its Chairman to continue consultations with the administering Powers concerning those missions. He was also asked to consult with the United States regarding a visiting mission to Guam.
At the outset of the meeting, the Committee granted requests for hearings from Guam, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands. New Zealand reported on the situation in Tokelau and representatives from Guam spoke on conditions in that Territory.
Committee members described efforts for self-government in Tokelau as an innovative model for other administering Powers. They said New Zealand had helped villages to understand goals for the Territory's future and given particular attention to traditional cultural patterns and socio-economic issues in the move towards constitutional development. The Special Committee could learn from the developments in Tokelau.
A representative from Guam said that despite negotiations with two separate United States administrations in the last decade, there had been no change in the status quo regarding Guam's colonial status. Language regarding the treatment of the Chamorro people in the so-called "consensus resolution" approved by the Special Committee last year must be addressed.
Statements on Guam were made by the representatives of Cuba, Papua New Guinea, Iran, Fiji, Chile and Cote d'Ivoire. Speaking on the situation in Tokelau were the representatives of Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Cuba and Fiji.
The Special Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its consideration of the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories.
Special Committee Work Programme
The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this morning to consider developments in the following Non-Self- Governing Territories: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands. It has before it Secretariat working papers detailing developments in the political, economic, social and other fields in those Territories.
The Committee is also scheduled to hear statements by petitioners in connection with its discussion of the situations in Guam and the United States Virgin Islands.
In addition, the Committee is expected to consider a report of its Chairman on the question of sending visiting missions to the Territories as well as a draft resolution submitted by its Chairman on the same subject.
The report of the Chairman, Utula U. Samana (Papua New Guinea) on the question of visiting missions (document A/AC.109/L.1859), contains a resolution adopted by the Special Committee on 24 July 1996 on sending visiting missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories and relevant provisions of General Assembly resolution 51/224 A of 27 March, which addresses the questions of 11 Non-Self Governing Territories. That text stressed the importance of the Special Committee being apprised of the views and wishes of the people of those Territories and reaffirmed that visiting missions were an effective means to ascertain that. It also requested the assistance of administering Powers and the elected representatives of the people of the Territories towards that end.
The report also includes an account of the extensive consultations held by the Chairman with representatives of the administering Powers during which he reiterated the need for the visiting missions. According to the report, the Chairman informed them of the importance the Special Committee attached to the dispatch of the United Nations visiting missions and appealed for their cooperation. He expressed appreciation for their cooperation in facilitating the participation of a number of representatives from Non-Self-Governing Territories in the five seminars organized by the Special Committee within the context of the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.
The report states that, as in previous years, a number of the administering Powers consulted reiterated their willingness to continue to provide all necessary information on the Territories under their administration in fulfilment of their obligation under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter.
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A list of the visiting missions dispatched by the Special Committee or by the General Assembly is contained in the annex to the report.
By the draft resolution submitted by the Chairman on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories (document A/AC.109/L.1860), the Special Committee would stress the need to dispatch those missions in order to facilitate the full, speedy and effective implementation of the Declaration on decolonization. The administering Powers would be called upon to cooperate or continue to cooperate with the United Nations by receiving those missions. They would also be requested to consider new approaches in the work of the Special Committee and called upon to cooperate with the Committee in its efforts. The Committee Chairman would be requested to continue consultations with the administering Powers concerned on the texts provisions. The Chairman would be further requested to enter into consultations with the administering Power of Guam with a view to facilitating the dispatch of a United Nations visiting mission to that Territory.
The Secretariat working paper on American Samoa (document A/AC.109/2080) says the United States-administered Territory, located in the South Pacific, had an estimated population of 46,773 in 1995. Anyone born in American Samoa is a United States national but cannot, as a non-citizen, vote in United States elections. Since January 1981, American Samoa has elected by direct vote a non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives.
The paper states that the Territory suffers from the same economic constraints, such as geographical isolation and scarce resources, common to most island societies in the South Pacific. Its economy depends on the tuna fish canning industry, with other industrial activities mostly service- oriented. Prospects for agricultural development are limited, while tourism offers good potential for growth. By far the largest trading partner of American Samoa is the United States (73 per cent), followed by Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Fiji.
According to information provided by the administering Power, the Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund Programme was recently developed in the Territory as a primary alternative to meet inadequate capital financing that must be provided for new ventures in export-based industries.
In a 1993 statement on its future status, the Territory's Lieutenant- Governor indicated that American Samoa preferred to remain a Territory of the United States. That position remains unchanged as of today, according to the working paper. In a statement to the General Assembly's Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on 9 October 1996, the representative of the United States said that it could not automatically be assumed that the goal of eradicating colonialism was relevant to most or all of the Territories that remained on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The United
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States had found from its experience as an administering Power that the people of the majority of those Territories understood that independence was not the only possible outcome of self-determination.
Through resolution 51/224 B, section I, adopted on 27 March, the General Assembly called upon the United States to continue its assistance in the Territory's economic and social development, including strengthening the functions of the territorial Government. Speaking in explanation of position after the text's adoption, the United States representative said the resolution recognized that self-determination as it had evolved was not a unitary concept satisfied only by full independence, but encompassed a much broader range of acceptable options, as long as they were freely chosen through informed elections by the people affected.
The working paper on the United Kingdom-administered Anguilla (document A/AC.109/2077) says it lies 240 kilometres east of Puerto Rico and has a total land mass of 96 square kilometres, including several islets. Its population in 1995 was 10,300. Constitutional and political developments have been outlined in previous Secretariat working papers.
According to the Territory's national accounts statistics of 1995, the central government expenditure constituted 21.9 per cent of Anguilla's gross domestic product (GDP), with personal emoluments, pensions and gratuities of civil servants being the largest component (approximately 13.4 per cent of GDP). In 1995, after recording an annual average growth rate of 7.6 per cent (in real terms) over the previous three years, the economy declined by 4.4 per cent (also in real terms). That was attributable to the devastation caused by hurricane Louis which struck Anguilla in September 1995. The sectors which suffered the worst decline (hotels, restaurants, agriculture and transport) were those which were most affected by the hurricane. Significant increases in economic performance were made in wholesale and retail, mining and quarrying and construction.
Developments in the Territory's tourism industry were positive in 1996, the paper states. The completion of hotel rehabilitation work and the construction of a new hotel indicated signs of early economic activity.
By the terms of its resolution 51/224 B, section II, the General Assembly called for the administering Power and all countries, organizations and United Nations agencies to continue to assist Anguilla in social and economic development.
The working paper on Bermuda (document A/AC.109/2075) provides an update, among others, on the United Kingdom-administered Territory's constitutional and political developments, as well as its economic and social conditions. Bermuda, located in the western part of the Atlantic, about 917
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kilometres east of Cape Hatteras on the North Carolina coast of the United States, consists of 150 islands and islets with a total population estimated in 1995 at 61,121.
On the Territory's future, the paper recalls that in an independence referendum held on 16 August 1995, 25.6 per cent of the 58.8 per cent registered voters favoured independence. The administering Power states that 73.7 per cent voted against independence, while 0.7 per cent cast abstentions.
In October 1995, military bases and/or installations owned by the United States and by Canada were closed, resulting in an annual loss of revenue by the Territory of approximately $50 million. Tourism continues to be an important component of its economy, while international business industry, shipping, investment income and other goods and services contribute to its earnings.
According to the working paper, a report released by the Government in 1995 entitled "Bermuda's Stride Towards the Twenty-first Century" contains a sociological analysis of developments in the Territory. It highlights the problems stemming from the continued existence of institutionalized racism and racism in the workplace and recommended that the Government take action to address those issues. The Commission for Unity and Racial Equality set up in 1994 is in the final stages of completing a draft code of conduct.
The General Assembly, by resolution 51/224 B, section III, asked the administering Power to elaborate, in consultation with the territorial Government, development programmes to alleviate the economic, social and environmental consequences of the closure of military installations in the Territory.
The working paper on the British Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2082) notes that information on a constitutional review conducted by the administering Power in 1995 is contained in previous Secretariat papers. The economy of the British Virgin Islands, which comprises nearly 30 islands and islets, continued to be based on tourism and financial services. Government policies emphasize ongoing commitment to the development of those two sectors, as well as broadening and diversifying the economic base. In his budget address, the Chief Minister and Minister of Finance stated that in 1996, 41,608 new international business companies were incorporated, bringing their total number to 210,000. The Government was considering introducing legislation to criminalize all types of money laundering to the Territory.
According to the paper, the Territory's coastal waters are rich in fish for both home consumption and export. The sector accounts for less than 10 per cent of GDP. Education continued to be free and compulsory for all
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children between 5 and 14 years of age. The territorial Government maintained as its priority the strengthening of the education system.
The General Assembly, by resolution 51/224 B, section III, asked the administering Power, specialized United Nations agencies and all financial institutions to continue to provide development assistance to the Territory bearing in mind its vulnerability to external factors.
The working paper on the British-administered Cayman Islands (A/AC.109/2081) notes that social and racial harmony are key features of the way of life of the islands, located some 180 miles west of Jamaica. Its population was estimated in 1994 at 31,930.
Elections held on 11 November 1996 was won by the governing National Team. Unlike the five other British-administered Territories in the Caribbean, Cayman Islands has neither a Chief Minister nor a Premier, nor does it have political parties. The Government of the United Kingdom appoints the Territory's Governor. According to the administering Power, the Cayman Islands enjoys a full measure of internal self-government under the Legislative Assembly, from which five Council members are elected and given specific portfolios of responsibilities.
Legislation on commercial crime was passed in November 1996. After the role of banks in the Cayman Islands in money laundering was revealed, the police and bank officials have become more alert to such schemes, according to the working paper. It adds that the Government is under pressure to scrap the banking secrecy laws. Given the Islands' buoyant economy and generally full employment situation, which provides one of the highest standards of living in the region, the paper states that the Government has seen no need to legislate specifically on the achievement of an adequate standard of living.
According to the paper, there are laws for the protection of children and young persons. The Education Law provides for compulsory medical inspection of all school children. The Government recognizes the right of everyone in the Cayman Islands to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and applications.
The General Assembly in resolution 51/224 B, section V, called for continued cooperation between the United Kingdom and the territorial Government to counter problems relating to drug trafficking, the smuggling of funds and other related crimes, and money laundering. It also called for continued cooperation in the expansion of employment programmes for the local population, particularly at decision-making levels.
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The working paper on Guam (document A/AC.109/2086) states that the United States-administered Territory, located 3,700 miles west/south-west of Honolulu, has a population estimated in 1995 at 149,249.
Concerning military installations in the Territory, the working paper quotes United States Air Force Secretary Sheila E. Widnall as confirming during a visit to the Territory in October 1995 that the Anderson Air Force Base would not house any aircraft as a result of the United States Air Force downsizing programme. The paper also quotes press reports in April 1996, as stating that a member of the territorial Senate addressed a letter to the United States Secretary of Defense recommending indefinite postponement of the base closures. The territorial Senator also urged re-evaluation of the strategic and socio-economic consequences of the downsizing of the United States military presence in the Territory.
The paper notes that Guam's economy has recovered from a downturn during 1993-1994 following extraordinary growth from 1988 to 1993. Rapid expansion of the tourism sector was a major catalyst of overall economic growth with total visitor arrivals increasing from 586,000 in 1988 to 1,362,000 in 1995. The reasons for Guam's growth were outside investment, primarily from Japan, and the Territory's continuing popularity as a tourist destination. According to the Governor of Guam, the land issue continued to be unresolved. Earlier in 1997, the Governor submitted to the Twenty-Fourth Legislature the Ancestral Lands Act, which addressed the concern of the Chamorro people and called for the adoption of an Act to ensure the preservation and protection of their legitimate land property rights.
As regards the Territory's future status, the paper quotes media reports as stating that the issue was discussed in May by the Territory's representative to the United States Congress, Robert Underwood, and the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, after which Mr. Underwood reportedly said Mr. Richardson had made a commitment that Guam would be consulted before anything was done about its future.
It states that the Twenty-Fourth Guam Legislature, at its 1997 regular session, adopted a resolution on 27 March, by which it called, among other things, upon the United States to facilitate the exercise of self- determination by the Chamorro people of Guam and to keep the Secretary-General informed of the progress to that end. It also requested the administering Power to continue assisting the elected territorial Government in achieving its political, economic and social goals.
The General Assembly by resolution 51/224 B, section VI, called on the administering Power to take into consideration the expressed will of the Chamorro people, as endorsed by the people of Guam, and encourage continued negotiations on the matter. The administrative Power, in cooperation with the
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territorial Government, was asked to continue the orderly transfer of land to the people of the Territory and to safeguard property rights. It was further asked to continue to recognize and respect the political rights and cultural and ethnic identity of the people of Guam, including the Chamorro people, and to respond to the territorial Government's concerns with respect to immigration.
According to the Secretariat-prepared working paper on Montserrat (document A/AC.109/2078), the 103-square kilometre United Kingdom-administered Territory is located in the eastern Caribbean. In July 1995, Soufriere Hills volcano, dormant for over 400 years, erupted, causing the evacuation of more than a third of Montserrat's 1995 population of 10,581 from the southern to its northern areas in August that year.
General elections to its seven-member Legislative Council, held in November 1996, proved inconclusive, according to the paper. That led to a coalition Government led by Chief Minister Bertrand Osbourne of the Movement for National Reconstruction.
The volcanic crisis, the paper states, continued to hurt the island's economy in 1996. The fall in private investment led to a significant drop in Government revenues and a rise in the unemployment rate from 10 per cent to about 20 per cent. Gross domestic product (GDP) fell while inflation rose to 4.43 per cent. The United Kingdom has pledged to give Montserrat £25 million in aid until 1998, excluding the £8.5 million it had committed since the start of the emergency.
On 27 March, the General Assembly adopted resolution 51/224 B. Addressing Montserrat, it called on the United Kingdom, the United Nations system as well as regional and other organizations to provide emergency assistance in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption.
The working paper on the United Kingdom-administered Pitcairn (document A/AC.109/2072) quotes the administering Power as stating that on 1 June 1996 the Territory's population was 58, aged from 5 to 88 years. Of those, 39 were Pitcairners and 19 expatriates. All the inhabitants live in Adamstown, the only settlement in Pitcairn.
Pitcairn islanders manage their internal affairs through a 10-member Island Council, which is required to meet at least once every month. To qualify for voting in elections to the various elective offices (Island Magistrate, Chairman of the Internal Committee and elected Councillors) a person must either be a native-born inhabitant of Pitcairn or have at least three years' residence on the island and must be at least 18 years of age.
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The United Kingdom High Commissioner (Ambassador) to New Zealand is appointed concurrently as Governor of Pitcairn, says the paper. Under the 1970 Order, the Governor has legislative authority for Pitcairn and is empowered to formulate laws on any subject. However, the Royal Instructions require him to obtain the prior approval of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the enactment of certain classes of laws, including those that appear to the latter to be inconsistent with the United Kingdom's treaty obligations and laws that discriminate between different communities and religions.
According to the paper, Pitcairn's Constitution, as embodied in the Pitcairn Order (1970) and the Pitcairn Royal Instructions (1970), does not contain any provisions expressly guaranteeing human rights, nor has any formal machinery been established specifically for that purpose. The legal protection of the human rights of Pitcairn islanders, for the most part, is assured through the enforcement by the local courts of the basic principles of the law in force on the island, which follow those of England. Without prejudice to the ability of the courts to grant relief and redress in any case where legal rights are infringed or threatened, the Governor has the ultimate responsibility for overseeing the implementation of human rights in Pitcairn.
By resolution 51/224 B, section VIII, the General Assembly called on the United Kingdom to continue its assistance for the improvement of economic, social, educational and other conditions in the Territory.
The working paper on the United Kingdom-administered St. Helena (document A/AC.109/2078), which consists of the main island of St. Helena and two dependencies, states that the 412-square kilometre Territory lies in the South Atlantic, 1,900 kilometres from Angola. Its population was some 5,131 at the end of 1995.
During debates in the United Kingdom House of Commons, the paper states, some Parliamentarians raised questions about the imbalance of power between the island's Governor and Legislative Council. According to their statements, economic and political problems would be adequately addressed if the elected officials of the Legislative Council had more say in the island's affairs. The Parliamentarians specifically discussed unemployment, which was said to have reached about 18 per cent in 1996. The debates emphasized that the island should be encouraged towards self-sufficiency, local control and self- government. On the island itself, the people's main complaint was unemployment. Some islanders said that the levels of unemployment were too high and unemployment benefits too low. The island's Legislative Council would be dissolved in June and the Governor would call for elections for November.
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Commenting on economic matters, the paper says that St. Helena's cost of living is higher than the United Kingdom's due to the island's remoteness. St. Helena has few natural resources, with its subsistence agriculture unable to meet its food needs.
In a statement to the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on 9 October 1996, the paper states, the representative of the United Kingdom said that his Government was committed to the principle of self-determination, reflecting the wishes of the people concerned and exercised according to the rights in the United Nations Charter.
In resolution 51/224 B, the Assembly asked the United Kingdom to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes of the people regarding their future political status, as ascertained through a democratic process. It also asked the Power and relevant organizations to continue efforts to address the Territory's socio-economic development.
The working paper on the United Kingdom-administered Turks and Caicos Islands (document A/AC.109/2088), which had a 1995 population of about 15,000, states that the Territory's economy still ranks as one of the fastest growing economies in the Caribbean, with a GDP rising at an average of 7.6 per cent over the decade ending in 1995. The GDP stood that year at $96 million, while per capita income rose to $6,415. The performance was due to continued rapid growth in tourism, a steady rise in offshore financial services business, an increase in fishing activities and a slight dip in unemployment. During 1994/1995, the Government raised revenues of $32.8 million, spent $31.1 million, leaving it with a $1.7 million surplus. The Government expects to raise $36.5 million in 1996/1997 from the growth of tourism and offshore finances industries. The offshore business sector had a total 14,401 firms registered as of 31 December 1995. The Government earned more than $3 million from registering some 2,858 new companies in 1995.
In resolution 51/224 B, the Assembly called upon the United Kingdom to cooperate with the territorial Government in countering problems related to money laundering, smuggling of funds and drug trafficking.
The working paper on the United States Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2078) says that the Territory had a 1996 population of 110,000 and is located some 75 kilometres east of Puerto Rico. It consists of about 50 islands and islets, the largest of which are St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.
The paper says that the United States Navy maintains a radar and sonar calibration station and a headquarters for its underwater tracking facility in the Territory. There are armed forces recruitment centres and a detachment of
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the United States Coast Guard on St. Thomas. The Territory remains a port of call for the naval vessels of the United States and its allies.
Tourism accounts for over 60 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), with tourists spending $828.7 million in 1996, according to the paper. The GDP grew at 11.6 per cent in 1995. The islands are host to Hess oil refinery, the largest in the Western hemisphere, with a capacity of 550,000 barrels a day. The United States has stated that it had transferred about $469 million to the Territory in the same year.
Through resolution 51/224 B, the Assembly asked the United States to continue helping the territorial Government's political, economic and social goals. It also asked it to facilitate the Territory's participation in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Community.
The working paper on the New Zealand-administered Tokelau (document A/AC.109/2090), situated on three atolls in the Pacific, says the Territory's constitutional development is continuing, with the first draft of the Constitution of Tokelau presented to its National Assembly in January. The document has been referred back to the villages and respective subcommittees of the Special Constitutional Committee. Matters being considered are what aspects of the Constitution can be implemented now, including, for example, the election of delegates to the National Assembly.
Tokelau also made progress in law-making by promulgating its own legislation, with the legislative powers conferred on it by the New Zealand Parliament in August 1996, according to the paper. Laws adopted included the Tokelau Post Office Amendment Rules 1996, the Telecommunications and the Transport Corporations Administrative Regulations.
During a 7 October 1996 debate on decolonization in the Fourth Committee, the paper adds, New Zealand's representative stated that Tokelau's progress towards self-government was on track. Concerned that neglect could follow its self-reliance, Tokelau wanted assurances from the international community, through the United Nations, that Member States would not remain indifferent to the fate of its small population. It was clear that any free- association formula must acknowledge that local resources could not adequately cover the material side of self-determination. Decolonization could be successfully achieved only through the participation of the Territory's inhabitants, New Zealand and the United Nations. In the case of Tokelau, considerable progress had been made through the interaction not just between Tokelau and New Zealand but between Tokelau, New Zealand and the United Nations.
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The paper says that the issue of self-determination is being considered by Tokelau's people, who have expressed preference for a status of free association with New Zealand.
The Committee decided to grant request for hearing, which had been circulated in aides-memoires 6/97 and 7/97 and 11/97 relating, respectively, to Guam, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft resolution on the question of sending visiting missions to the Territories.
LAURA M. TORRES-SOUDER, a Public Member from the Commission on Self- Determination, spoke on behalf of the Governor of Guam and Chairman of the Commission, Carl T.C. Gutierrez. She said changes in the language of draft resolutions advanced by the Special Committee in 1996 had been less than satisfactory. She expressed distress that some administering Powers viewed communications from Guam to the Special Committee and the Fourth Committee as unofficial and illegitimate. Misleading and inaccurate representations by the mission of the administering Power had formed the basis for several changes in the so-called "consensus resolution". The text should therefore be regarded accordingly.
Given those misrepresentations, she continued, the language of previous resolutions should be used as the basis of discussions in 1997. The people of Guam fully endorsed the views advanced at the Special Committee's recent Caribbean Regional Seminar that representatives of Territories should be accorded observer status in the United Nations.
She said the 1987 draft Guam commonwealth act called for the administering Power to adopt a plan which would provide for an act of self- determination by the colonized people. It was a proposal which offered interim status called "Commonwealth" and also established a process for decolonization. It was the only specific proposal under consideration by any party that would affect Guam's decolonization. The administering Power had acted in good faith on the request and tentative agreements had been reached with various representatives of the United States Government, although it had given no formal approval on any provision.
Moreover, despite negotiations with two separate United States administrations in the last decade, she said there had been no change in the status quo regarding Guam's colonial status. In the past month, the administering Power had made a loose commitment to finalize its views on
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Guam's proposal. It was unclear whether the administering Power's recommendations would favour a process of decolonizing Guam, or whether -- like a previous Executive Branch administration's recommendation -- it would simply propose the maintenance of the status quo and piecemeal changes therein. The current trend did not leave much confidence that ending colonialism in Guam was an objective of the administering Power.
For 10 years the people of Guam had called for controls on the administering Power's immigration policies on Guam, but during that time, 10,000 people had come to the island and gained permanent status or become naturalized citizens of the administering Power, she said. Despite calls for reform of the administering Power's land policies, not one acre of land from the Chamorro people had been returned to an original landowner. The "violation of our rights as a people to participate in decisions which directly affect us is not simply limited to colonial control over our destiny". The violation extended to the administering Power's successful attempts, through the so-called "consensus resolution", to redefine the people's questions.
Significant changes in last years consensus resolution needed to be addressed, she continued. There was a primary concern regarding the treatment of the Chamorro people as represented by the administering Power and included in the text. The Chamorro people were colonized. Others, whom the administering Power had admitted to the island, were not colonized. The administering Power immigration policies were discriminating against the Chamorro people's right to a homeland. She appreciated that the Special Committee did not accept as pro forma, statements made by the Powers. The initial agreements reached 10 years ago were no longer governing the constitutional process in Guam.
HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba) said the Special Committee benefited greatly from hearing the viewpoints of representatives of the Non-Self- Governing Territories. The Special Committee had a mandate from the General Assembly to do the utmost to try and fulfil the objective of eliminating colonialism. Information from both sides was needed for a balanced view. Information given by the representative of Guam was particularly important. The human rights situation in Guam and the increasing number of immigrants should be taken into account when the language of the draft resolution on Guam was being considered by the Special Committee.
He asked if the election of a representative to be Governor of Guam was really an instrument to express the will of the people? What were the people's aspirations regarding their future? Had the representatives of Guam expressed interest in receiving a visiting mission from the United Nations? he further asked.
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Ms. TORRES-SOUDER said representatives of Guam had asked the Special Committee to consider Guam as the site for their 1988 meeting. The draft Guam commonwealth act had been adopted by the people in a democratic electoral process. However, it was an interim political measure -- a federal act -- which would redefine the relationship between the people and the administering Power. It had only ever been considered an interim act which would outline a process of decolonization. The people of Guam had expressed their strong desire to take part in the process with the administering Power but, to date, nothing had been acted on.
Mr. ROSARIO then asked for further clarification on his question about the election. He said it did not appear to be a broad plebiscite which expressed the will of the people, but rather a process to elect officials, which included an entire electoral campaign advocating such measures as more employment and better social security benefits. However, such an electoral process was not the way for the people to express their will about their political future. Were the elections held in Guam an expression of the will of the people? he asked.
He said Guam was one place where the Special Committee should send a mission as quickly as possible. Had there been consultations between the representatives of Guam and the administering Powers? he asked.
Ms. TORRES-SOUDER said representatives from Guam were holding consultations with the administering Power, but exchanging views and discussing concerns was not the same as conducting negotiations. And those consultations did not necessarily mean the administering Power was listening to the views expressed by the representatives. In answer to the second question, she said the election of the Governor, legislative representatives and local mayors was not the same as an act of self-determination.
JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said the information supplied by Ms. Torres-Souder was interesting and informative. Now, with that new information, the Committee should reconsider the consensus resolution as it referred to Guam. Should it now take into account the changes put forward by Guam? he asked
JALAL SAMADI (Iran) said Ms. Torres-Souder' statement was proof that any changes to the text of the resolution should consider the interest of the indigenous people of Guam. He shared the view of the representative of Papua New Guinea that the Committee should review the resolution. He asked Ms. Torres-Souder if there were any reliable statistics regarding the population of the Chamorro people, before and since the adoption of the Guam Commonwealth Act in 1987.
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Ms. TORRES-SOUDER said in 1950 the Chamorro people comprised 98 per cent of the civilian population in Guam. In 1990, the Chamorro people made up 46 per cent of the island's population. In 1997, Chamorros comprised 40 per cent of the population, and it continued to shrink in size.
SAKIUSA RABUKA (Fiji) said it appeared that all was not well in Guam. It was important for the Committee to ensure that the people of Guam had the right to self-determination. He asked Ms. Torres-Souder if she could explain why the right to elect representatives to the Congress was not equal to the right of self-determination. What other format of expressing the right of self-determination was being contemplated in Guam? What views should be incorporated in the Committee's resolution on Guam?
Ms. TORRES-SOUDER said Mark Forbes, Majority Leader of the Twenty-Fourth Guam Legislature, would answer the questions put forth by the representative of Fiji.
Mr. FORBES said under the current policies of the administering Power, the representative of Guam to the United States Congress had no vote and could not participate in any real decision making. While the Governor, as well as 21 members of the legislature, were elected by the people of Guam, any law made by them was subject to an override by the United States Government. In Guam, there was the form of democracy but not the substance; the form of a participatory government but not the substance. The Guam legislature existed at the sufferance of the administering Power, and it existed simply to create a forum for the discussion of democratic principles.
Regarding matters of decolonization, there was no mistaking that the people of Guam spoke with one voice and sought the administering Power's recognition of that right, he said. For the past 50 years self-governance had been held in abeyance. The United States apparently had no plan whatsoever to accomplish decolonization in Guam. The administering Power had never offered a process or opportunity to bring about decolonization.
The administering Power had been asked to return unneeded federal lands to the territorial authority, and the people were not satisfied that their concerns were being adequately addressed on that issue, he continued. He requested the Special Committee to review the administering Power's actions on land return issues. The administering Power had never made full restitution for lands taken, so the only hope of the people of Guam had been that the administering Power would return excess land to the Chamorro people.
However, the United States had given priority in land returns to other federal agencies, ahead of the Chamorro people, he continued. The administering Power used its federal laws and legal processes to deny any justice to the Chamorro people by claiming that land returned to Chamorros
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would violate equal protection under the law, as everyone must benefit from such a policy, including those who recently immigrated to Guam. The Special Committee should never relent on that issue and ensure that land no longer needed by the United States should be returned to the original owners, the Chamorro people.
Negotiations between Guam and the administering Power had never been in good faith, he said. The administering Power was engaged in a process by which it sought to wear down the Guam negotiators through unending processes and procedures. There had never been any good faith on behalf of the administering Power on the subject of decolonization. Guam was not currently engaged in decolonization negotiations; it was merely involved in political status negotiations which would establish a framework for the eventual decolonization of Guam.
WALDEMAR COUTTS (Chile) said the statement by Mr. Forbes should remind the Committee of the long process of negotiations that had led it to the resolution on small Non-Self-Governing Territories and the importance of maintaining a dialogue with the administering Power in the process of decolonization.
Mr. FORBES said the territorial government of Guam wished the administering Power would maintain its dialogue with the Special Committee. However, the administering Power was disengaging from the activities of the Committee and the entire decolonization process. One of the most difficult tasks facing Guam was to get the administering Power to recognize that the basis of a grievance existed.
Mr. SAMADI (Iran), regarding the visit of the United Nations mission next year to Guam, as proposed by Ms. Torres-Souder, asked whether it was possible for members of the Special Committee to participate legally in the meeting.
Mr. FORBES said there was no legal obstacle from the point of view of the government of Guam, however, he could not directly speak to the policies of the administering Power. His understanding was that, under the rules of the Committee, the administering Power would need to be consulted. Since Guam had no control over its own borders, the administering Power would need to be consulted regarding access to the Territory.
Mr. RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba) said in other cases the administering Power's agreement was required before a mission was sent. The administering Power had said that it remained open to any proposals. Had there been consultations with the administering Power about a visiting mission from the United Nations? He also asked if the Committee could interpret Mr. Forbes election to the Guam
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legislature as an expression of the political will of the people of Guam regarding its political future.
Mr. FORBES said, responding to the second question of the representative of Cuba, his views on the political status of Guam were well-known to the electorate in Guam. Whether his views on political status reflected those of the electorate, he could only conclude that statements made by him and his colleagues did not seem to bring the disfavour of the people of Guam. Regarding the first question, Guam had not formally requested the permission of the administering Power for a visit by a United Nations mission. He said he was under the impression that that was something the Committee should do. He would bring up the matter at his meeting this afternoon with the delegation from the administering Power.
Mr. OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said Mr. Forbes and the Governor should take up the question of a visit by a United Nations mission with the administering Power, as it was the territorial government's responsibility to press the point with the administering Power. The views of the administering Power had to be respected in that case. If the territorial government had no power at all and the future of Guam was decided by the draft commonwealth act, how then should the Committee view the draft? And, in what context had it been negotiated between Guam and the administering Power?
Mr. FORBES said that one advantage of the draft commonwealth act, was that, at the very minimum, it had been placed before the voters of Guam for ratification prior to submission to the administering Power. The Committee could look at the draft act as a product of the people of Guam because they had the opportunity to express approval or rejection of every line.
BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Cote D'Ivoire) said that after hearing this morning's statements the task of the Committee seemed more arduous. The Committee was stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand it had the petitioners who spoke of wanting to shed the yoke of the administering Power, and, on the other hand, it had the administering Power which said the people in the Territory were pleased and satisfied. He also said he agreed with the representative of Chile that negotiations should be continued with the administering Power. The role of the administering Power was a decisive one in seeking decolonization.
The Committee then took up the question of Tokelau.
PETER RIDER (New Zealand) said Tokelau's situation was quite different from the traditional colonial pattern routinely confronted by the Special Committee. The pattern was one of village government according to customary practices administered by elders, not by agents of an external administration. The administering Power had never been physically resident, the style of
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administration had been notably light-handed, each village remained largely autonomous, and there had been no pattern of settlement from outside. If self-government in Tokelau had developed within a more traditional colonial pattern, the Territory would not have had the present freedom to set its conditions and goals.
Currently, Tokelau had reached a defining point in its contemporary constitutional journey. For two years, a representative member of the Special Constitution Committee had considered the content of a future Constitution. The work had been done in the Tokelauan language, and, last January, their General Fono had considered a report, since translated into English, as "The Constitution of the Government of Tokelau". Consultations, including reference back to villages, continued. By the end of 1997, Tokelau might have adopted some key parts of its future constitution. That groundwork was being supplemented by a drive to ensure that the village recovered its traditional authority and gained strength to "give birth to a nation".
The formal situation between New Zealand and Tokelau had altered with the devolution of executive power in 1994 and legislative power in 1996, he said. That allowed the present system of national government to take root in the atolls and was now opening the way for the devolution of some key services, previously regarded as central government ones, to the village level. A month ago, meetings in Tokelau were held to address the wish to work towards a smaller national public service and an enhanced village service. Now, the focus was on capacity-building in the villages, bearing in mind that they were short of the human and organizational skills that would be required.
Tokelau needed time to work out, with outside help as needed, a sensible plan of action, he continued. The challenge was to build confidence as much as capacity and it made sense to move cautiously, experimenting as appropriate. The relationship between village and central government was a core issue, the village being the foundation of the nation. The present absence of a self-determination timetable simply reflected the particular local context, which was overriding.
In recent months there had been profound changes in Tokelau's basic transportation and telecommunications system, he said. Tokelau's transport link had always presented a challenge. There was no air link and passengers and freight reached the island by ship. New Zealand purchased the MV Forum Tokelau which made its maiden voyage last month. It was not seen as a long- term solution but meanwhile all parties would benefit from the enhanced reliability and safety the ship brought to the shipping service. In April, Tokelau inaugurated its first direct-dial-telephone and fax system with the outside world, completing a first-class collaborative effort between Tokelau, New Zealand and the United Nations. In April, Tokelau and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had signed a project document on constitutional
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development. Tokelau believed its current experience in that area would contribute to the Special Committee's search for new and innovative solutions to the decolonization challenge.
LAMUEL STANISLAUS (Grenada) said the situation in Tokelau was a model for other administering Powers. New Zealand had helped villages to understand the goals for the Territory's future and boded well for the relationship between the administering Power and Tokelau.
Mr. OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said the Special Committee had noted socio- economic developments and the innovative model for self-government in Tokelau embarked on by New Zealand. He appealed to the other administering Powers to cooperate with the Special Committee in achieving its goals. Neither the administering Powers nor the Special Committee should believe that they could decide on the future of a particular Territory. New Zealand had given a good example of how the people in the Territories decided their future.
Mr. RIVERO (Cuba) said the information given by New Zealand reflected the concern with constitutional matters and economic and social developments.
Mr. RABUK (Fiji) said New Zealand had paid particular interest to traditional cultural patterns and socio-economic issues in the move towards constitutional development. The Special Committee could learn from the developments in Tokelau.
MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand) said his Government would take into account suggestions by the Committee. He underlined the comments by Grenada that referred to the importance of village level self-government. The wishes of the Tokelau people were always paramount for New Zealand and they had expressed their desire to have village-based government.
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