SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTION ON 12 NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES

20 June 1997
GA/COL/2972

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTION ON 12 NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES

20 June 1997

Press ReleaseGA/COL/2972

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTION ON 12 NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES

19970620 Calls on Administering Powers, Territorial Governments, To Foster People's Awareness of Right to Self-Determination

The Special Committee on decolonization this afternoon reaffirmed that United Nations visiting missions, at an appropriate time and in consultation with the administering Powers, are an effective way to ascertain the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories. It took that action by approving, without a vote, a consolidated draft resolution on the question 12 Non-Self- Government Territories, as orally amended.

In the first part of the text, the Special Committee called on the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial governments, to facilitate political education programmes to foster people's awareness of their right to self-determination in conformity with legitimate political status options, including those in the 1960 Decolonization Declaration.

The Special Committee also called on the administering Powers to continue measures to counter problems relating to drug trafficking, money laundering and other offences, and asked them to include in their reports to the Secretary-General information on the wishes and aspirations of the peoples of the Territories regarding their future political status.

Further, the Special Committee urged Member States to contribute to United Nations efforts to usher in the twenty-first century in a world free of colonialism. It invited the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations to initiate or continue measures to accelerate social and economic progress in the Territories.

In the second part of its draft resolution, the Special Committee addressed specific conditions in the Non-Self-Governing Territories of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Monserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and United States Virgin Islands.

Statements were made by the representatives of Cuba, Syria, India, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Iran.

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With respect to the situation on Puerto Rico, the Special Committee decided to postpone action on that question until 1998, pending the outcome of ongoing consultations and subsequent steps by the interested parties. It also heard a petitioner's statement on the question of Puerto Rico on behalf of United States Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez.

In other business, the Special Committee also approved a report by its Rapporteur on a Caribbean Regional Seminar held recently in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda.

The Special Committee will meet again at a date to be announced in the Journal.

Special Committee Work Programme

The Special Committee on decolonization met this afternoon to conclude its hearings on Puerto Rico and to consider the report of its Rapporteur on a Caribbean Regional Seminar held at St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda, from 21 to 23 May.

The Special Committee is also expected to act on a consolidated draft resolution submitted by its Chairman on the Non-Self-Governing Territories of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Monserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and United States Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/L.1869).

By the terms of the first part of the text on the 12 Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Special Committee would call on the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial governments, to facilitate political education programmes to foster people's awareness of their right to self-determination in conformity with legitimate political status options, including those in the Declaration on decolonization (resolution 1514 (XV)). It would also call on the administering Powers to continue measures to counter problems relating to drug trafficking, money laundering and other offences.

The Special Committee would reaffirm that United Nations visiting missions to the Territories, at an appropriate time and in consultation with the administering Power, are an effective way to ascertain the situation in the Territories. It would ask the administering Powers and the people's elected representatives to assist it in that regard. It would also ask the administering Powers to report to the Secretary-General on the wishes and aspirations of the peoples of the Territories regarding their future political status.

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Further, it would urge Member States to contribute to United Nations efforts to usher in the twenty-first century in a world free of colonialism and to support the Special Committee's efforts to that end. It would invite the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations to initiate or continue measures to accelerate social and economic progress in the Territories.

In addition, the Special Committee would decide to continue its examination of the question of small Territories, and to recommend to the General Assembly's fifty-second session appropriate ways to assist the people to exercise their right to self-determination.

The second part of the draft resolution addresses conditions in each specific Territory.

By the terms of the text on American Samoa, the Special Committee would call on the administering Power to continue to assist the Territory's economic and social development, rebuild financial management capabilities and strengthen the functions of the territorial government.

Regarding Anguilla, it would call on the administering Power, as well as all States, relevant organizations and United Nations agencies to continue to assist the Territory's social and economic development.

By the draft's section on Bermuda, the administering Power would be asked 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.

By the terms of the text on the British Virgin Islands, the administering Power, United Nations specialized agencies and all relevant financial institutions would be asked to continue providing development assistance, bearing in mind the Territory's vulnerability to external factors.

Regarding the Cayman Islands, the Special Committee would call for continued cooperation between the administering Power and the territorial government to counter problems relating to drug trafficking, the smuggling of funds and other related crimes, and money laundering. It would also ask for continued cooperation to expand employment programmes for the local population, particularly at decision-making levels.

In the section on Guam, the text calls on the administering Power to consider the expressed will of the Chamorro people, as endorsed by the people of Guam, and encourage continued negotiations on the matter. The

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administrative Power, in cooperation with the territorial government, would be asked to continue the orderly transfer of land to the people of the Territory and to safeguard property rights.

The administering Power would be 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 about the immigration issue.

It would also be asked to cooperate in establishing programmes specifically intended to promote the sustainable development of economic activities and enterprises by the people of Guam, including the Chamorro people, and to continue to support measures aimed at promoting growth in commercial fishing, agriculture and other viable activities.

Regarding Montserrat, the administering Power, specialized agencies and other United Nations and regional organizations, would be called on to provide emergency assistance to alleviate the consequences of a volcanic eruption there.

The Special Committee would ask Pitcairn's administering Power to continue its assistance for the improvement of economic, social, educational and other conditions in the Territory.

By the text on St. Helena, the Special Committee would ask the administering Power to keep the Secretary-General informed of the wishes and aspirations of the people regarding their future political status, as ascertained through a democratic process. It would also ask the administering Power and relevant regional and international organizations to continue supporting efforts to address the Territory's socio-economic development.

On Tokelau, the Special Committee would welcome the assurances of the New Zealand Government that it will meet its obligations to the United Nations with respect to the Territory and will abide by the people's wishes on their future status. It would invite the administering Power to continue to assist in the social and economic development of Tokelau.

Also by the text, the administering Power of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and other relevant regional and international organizations, would be called on to continue to improve social and economic conditions in the Territory. The administering Power would be also called on to cooperate with the territorial government to counter problems relating to money laundering, smuggling of funds and related crimes, and drug trafficking.

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In the section on the United States Virgin Islands, the administering Power would be asked to continue to assist the territorial government's political, economic and social goals. It would further be asked to facilitate the Territory's participation, as appropriate, in various organizations, particularly the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Community.

The report on the Caribbean Regional Seminar (document A/AC.109/2089), summarizing its conclusions and recommendations, states that the Special Committee's mandate is a major United Nations political programme. Consequently, Member States need to remain vigilant against attempts to limit, jeopardize or eliminate its activities on the grounds of administrative reforms or by means of financial mechanisms. The United Nations, and particularly the Special Committee, should actively participate in monitoring and observing the evolution of the Non-Self-Governing Territories towards self-determination, as well as to certify to the General Assembly the compliance of those processes with United Nations norms and practices.

The Seminar also concluded that administering Powers holding ongoing informal consultations with the Special Committee should re-establish their formal cooperation with it, the report states. They should also facilitate United Nations visiting missions to the Territories under their administration to provide adequate, up-to-date information on political, economic and social developments there -- particularly their constitutional, political and socio-economic evolution towards self-determination.

Statements on Puerto Rico

A statement was read out on behalf of LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, a member of the United States Congress, by ENRIQUE FERNANDEZ, an official from his office. He said the Don Young Bill on the future of Puerto Rico, currently before the Congress was a statehood bill "dressed up as self-determination". Under its terms, Puerto Ricans living outside the island would be barred from participating in the so-called plebiscite. "This is an outrage", he said "Enactment of this statehood Bill is tantamount to the annexation of a Latin American, Caribbean nation by the United States." It was part of a strategy to divest Puerto Ricans of any progress they had made in asserting their sovereign rights as a distinct nation.

He said the Special Committee should carefully scrutinize the forthcoming process. The United States Administration had sought to be helpful to the people of Puerto Rico. President Bill Clinton had created an interagency working group on Puerto Rico -- an initiative without precedent. The Administration was also seriously considering a petition for a presidential pardon, on humanitarian grounds, of 15 Puerto Rican men and women held in federal jails for their activities in support of Puerto Rican

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independence. It deserved credit for that. It was hoped the President would veto the Young Bill when it became law.

Aide-Memoire

UTULA U. SAMANA (Papua New Guinea) Chairman of the Special Committee, drew attention to aide-memoire 16/97 which was before the Committee, with particular reference to its decision of 15 August 1991 concerning Puerto Rico. It reads:

"With reference to Puerto Rico, the Bureau notes that there has been an annual discussion in the Special Committee on the question of Puerto Rico, including a hearing with the organizations interested in the question, and the adoption of a resolution after the hearing. Regarding the postponement in 1992 of the discussion and decision on the item, it is recommended that this postponement be extended until 1998, pending the outcome of the progress reached in the consultations that are continuing and subsequent expected steps to be taken at various levels by the interested parties."

The Special Committee agreed to defer consideration of the question of Puerto Rico to its 1998 session.

Caribbean Regional Seminar

The Special Committee approved the conclusions and recommendations of the report on the Caribbean Regional Seminar.

Draft Resolution

The Special Committee then took up the draft resolution on the 12 Non- Self-Governing Territories.

Mr. SAMANA (Papua New Guinea), Committee Chairman, introduced amendments to the section on the United States Virgin Islands relating to its preambular paragraphs, with one such paragraph to be amended as follows:

"Noting further the continuing interest of the territorial Government in seeking associate membership in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Caribbean Community, the Association of Caribbean States and the Summit of the Americas".

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said some light should be shed on what "associate membership" meant in the draft amendment. The Summit of the Americas was not an organization, and it had already met. The reference to the Summit should be deleted.

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FAROUK AL-ATTAR (Syria) asked who was proposing the amendments.

The CHAIRMAN said the amendments were simply intended to provide updated information on the situation in the United States Virgin Islands.

SANKURATHRIPATI RAMA RAO (India) said a distinction should be made between associate membership and observer status as sought by the United States Virgin Islands.

PATRICK A. LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said the United States Virgin Islands was interested in associate status in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. It would not be long before it provided players for the West Indian Cricket Team.

Mr. RAO (India) said his delegation looked forward to the day when his country would play against a West Indian Cricket team which included players from the United States Virgin Islands.

LAMUEL A. STAISLAUS (Grenada) said he wondered why the Territory was seeking only associate membership in all the organizations mentioned.

Mr. LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said it was asking for associate membership in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

The Special Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally amended.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said the Secretariat should ensure that the decision on Puerto Rico was properly reflected in the records of today's meeting. Similar actions taken previously had not been so reflected.

The CHAIRMAN said he was sure it would be done.

Mr. AL-ATTAR (Syria) said he had no objection to the amendments regarding the United States Virgin Islands but he did have reservations on the manner in which they were presented. Amendments on other Territories should have been discussed. The Committee must maintain its unity. Amendments on Guam had been raised in the Committee's informal session. The Committee should act in a balanced manner.

The CHAIRMAN said the rationale behind the current amendments was to update information on the territory.

Mr. LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said the amendments did not involve substantive changes but factual information.

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JALAL SAMADI (Iran) said his delegation had withdrawn amendments it intended to present and joined the consensus. It was hoped the administering Powers would cooperate with the Special Committee in future informal contacts between them and the Committee Chairman. If they did not, his delegation would present amendments on future drafts concerning the Territories. Interested delegations should be allowed to participate in those informal consultations.

The CHAIRMAN said a time-frame and procedures had been established for those consultations, particularly those with representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States. A meeting had been held between the Bureau and representatives of the European Union on a methodology for consultations.

With respect to the Committee's future work, he said drafts relating to foreign economic interests and military activities in the Territories would be taken up at the Special Committee's August session.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said a proposal had been made to eliminate a draft dealing with the implementation by United Nations specialized agencies and international organizations of the Declaration on decolonization. Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure a successful outcome of the debate on that question during the forthcoming session of the Economic and Social Council.

Other Matters

Mr. SAMANA (Papua New Guinea), Committee Chairman, said that at the request of the Permanent Representative of Sao Tome and Principe, he had circulated a communication on a statement made by that representative on 16 June concerning East Timor. In that communication, he stated that the declaration read out on 16 June was a collective ministerial decision by Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome. It stated that Guinea-Bissau, as a sovereign State, had "all the rights to disengage itself from that decision, which we fully respect".

[At the Special Committee's morning meeting on 19 June, the Chairman had announced that Guinea-Bissau had disassociated itself from some parts of the Sao Tome and Principe statement, but agreed with its support for the self- determination of the East Timorese.]

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For information media. Not an official record.