SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION BEGINS RESUMED SESSION, TAKES UP REPORT ON GIBRALTAR
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION BEGINS RESUMED SESSION, TAKES UP REPORT ON GIBRALTAR
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION BEGINS RESUMED SESSION, TAKES UP REPORT ON GIBRALTAR19990621
The pressure systematically imposed by Spain to deny Gibraltar the exercise of its right to economic, social, cultural and political development should be condemned, said the Chief Minister of Gibraltar this morning, in a resumed session of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
The Chief Minister said that Spain had asserted that, although Gibraltar was a colony, the people of Gibraltar were not a colonial people and, therefore, did not enjoy the right to decolonization. The Government and people of Gibraltar rejected those Spanish arguments and assertions. A distinct people lived in Gibraltar, with its own cultural and ethnic characteristics and heritage, developed over 295 years. The Spanish arguments and assertions were based on a series of misconceptions, he added.
Spain's representative, however, told the Committee that the United Nations, in various resolutions, has clearly established that the principle applicable to the decolonization process is respect for the territorial integrity of the State where the colony is located -- in this case Spain. The principle of self-determination, according to several United Nations resolutions, is not applicable to the decolonization of Gibraltar. As a result of the occupation of Gibraltar by the United Kingdom, the Spaniards who had lived there were expelled.
He added that the colonial situation of Gibraltar destroyed national unity and the territorial integrity of Spain and was incompatible with the doctrine established by the United Nations. He said his Government would never renounce its claim to sovereignty of Gibraltar. "This is a constant aspiration in our history", he added. "It also had the unanimous support of all political parties and of the Spanish people." The Government of Spain remained committed to dialogue as the way to achieve a definite solution to the conflict.
* Reissued to correct summary of Spain's representative on page one. Decolonization Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/COL/3007/Rev.1 3rd Meeting (AM) 21 June 1999
A representative of the non-governmental organization Self-Determination for Gibraltar said Gibraltar would accept no change that was not articulated by its people. The administering Power was failing to act on behalf of the Territory and was giving excessive attention to its own national interests. It was important that the Committee visited Gibraltar to see how unique and homogenous the culture was. In the past, the United Kingdom had blocked such visits. There were only 29 weeks left in the International Decade to Eradicate Colonialism -- 1990 to 2000. If the Committee did not take a stand now, then it was saying decolonization was not possible.
The Committee decided to continue consideration of the question of Gibraltar at its next session.
In other matters this morning the Committee adopted its agenda. It also acceded to the requests for hearings on the questions of Gibraltar, Western Sahara, East Timor and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
Also this morning, the Committee took up the question of the dissemination of information on decolonization. In that regard, it heard presentations by representatives of the Department of Public Information (DPI) and Department of Political Affairs. It decided to postpone action on a draft resolution related to that topic, as well as a draft on Information from Non- Self-Governing Territories under Article 73 e of the Charter.
On the question of sending visiting mission to Territories, the Committee Chairman, Peter Donigi (Papua New Guinea), said that he had been holding consultations on that topic, and in order to successfully conclude those consultations, additional time was needed. The Committee decided that consideration of the item would be postponed to a later date.
During this morning's session, Committee members from Côte d'Ivoire, Papua New Guinea, Grenada and Cuba posed questions to the participants.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Tuesday, 22 June, to begin consideration of the question of Western Sahara, followed by the question of East Timor.
Decolonization Committee - 2 - Press Release GA/COL/3007/Rev.1 3rd Meeting (AM) 21 June 1999
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 meets in a resumed session this morning to consider developments in Gibraltar.
Also this morning, two draft resolutions will be presented on: the question of dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC/109/1999/L.3); and information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations (document A/AC/109/1999/L.4). In addition, the Committee will consider the question of sending visiting missions to Territories.
During the course of its resumed session -- 18 meetings between today and 30 July -- the Committee will also be considering: Western Sahara; East Timor; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); New Caledonia; America Samoa; Anguilla; Bermuda; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Guam; Montserrat; Pitcairn; St. Helena; Tokelau; Turks and Caicos Islands; and the United States Virgin Islands.
The Committee is also scheduled to consider the following questions: economic and other activities that affect the interests of peoples of the Non- Self-Governing Territories; military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in the Non-Self-Governing Territories; the report of the Caribbean Regional Seminar; the report of the Special Committee -- adoption of the recommendations; the Special Committee's decision of 11 August 1998 concerning Puerto Rico -- hearing of petitioners; and the implementation of the Declaration by the specialized agencies.
The working paper on Gibraltar (document A/AC.109/1999/5) says that, in March 1999, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs issued a White Paper entitled "Partnership for Progress and Prosperity: Britain and the Overseas Territories" (see document A/AC- 109/1999/1, annex). According to the document, the relationship between the metropolitan government and its territories must be seen "within the overall framework of modernization and reform, and within Britain's new international role".
The paper says that one of the Government's recommendations concerned the creation of an Overseas Territories Department within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure better links between the United Kingdom and its Territories. However, the paper indicated that, since Gibraltar was within the European Union as part of the United Kingdom membership under the treaty of Rome -- the only overseas territory with that status -- it would continue to be handled principally by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's European Departments. The paper states that the Government of the United Kingdom launched a Strategic Defence Review in May 1997 to examine most of the areas of the United Kingdom's defence. The resultant white paper renewed the emphasis on the rapid deployment of British forces in response to crises. According to the administering Power, Gibraltar and its facilities provide an independent forward operating base for British forces in the Mediterranean and serve as a transit base for vessels en route to the Middle East and elsewhere.
Commenting on considerations by the United Nations, the paper states that the Special Committee considered the question of Gibraltar in June 1998. At that meeting, the Committee decided to continue its consideration of the question at the next session, subject to any directives that the General Assembly might give in that connection at its fifty-third session and, to facilitate consideration of the question by the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), to transmit the relevant documentation to the Assembly.
In October 1998, continues the paper, the Fourth Committee adopted a draft decision entitled the Question of Gibraltar. By the terms of that draft, the General Assembly urged the Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom to continue their negotiations with the object of reaching a definitive solution to the problem of Gibraltar, in the light of relevant Assembly resolutions and in the spirit of the Organization's Charter.
In December 1998, the paper states, the Assembly adopted decision 53/420, by which it stipulated that the establishment of a negotiating process aimed at overcoming all the differences between Spain and the United Kingdom over Gibraltar. It also aimed at promoting cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis on economic, cultural, touristic, aviation, military and environmental matters, with both sides accepting that the issues of sovereignty would be discussed. The British Government would fully maintain its commitment to honour the wishes of the people of Gibraltar, as set out in the 1969 Constitution. Also, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Spain and the United Kingdom would hold annual meetings alternately in each capital, the most recent of which was held in London in December 1997.
According to the paper, the administering Power's view is that British sovereignty over Gibraltar was clearly established in the Treaty of Utrecht. That legal fact is incontrovertible, stresses the United Kingdom. Moreover, the British Government stands by its commitment to the people of Gibraltar and will not enter into an arrangement under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against their freely and democratically expressed wishes. The Spanish offer to reintegrate Gibraltar into Spain could only prosper with the freely and democratically expressed support of the people of Gibraltar. The British Government believes that issues relating to the Territory can only be resolved by direct talks and, in that regard, it attaches importance to the continuing dialogue with Spain as a means to overcome differences. The paper states that the position of the territorial Government is threefold: to reassert the Territory's right to self-determination, which is firmly based on the political and legal rights applicable to all Non-Self- Governing Territories on the United Nations list; to rebut the arguments of Spain in its attempts to obtain sovereignty over Gibraltar against the democratic wishes of the Territory's people; and to seek from the United Nations a clear acknowledgement and declaration of the applicability of the principle of self-determination as the only principle relevant to the decolonization of Gibraltar.
The Government of Gibraltar, says the report, states that Spain's argument is that because it has a 300-year-old claim to the Territory, Gibraltar can only be decolonized by applying the principle of territorial integrity and that the Territory did not have the right to self-determination. This, states the Government of Gibraltar, is a misconceived notion based on the distortion that self-determination cannot be used to disintegrate a Member State. Gibraltar is not, and has not been, a member of Spain for 294 years. The principle of territorial integrity, therefore, has no relevance.
Further, continues the paper, according to the Territorial Government, the International Court of Justice has rejected the concept of territorial retrocession in the process of decolonization. It is not possible, under the doctrine of the United Nations Charter, to decolonize a colony by any principle other than self-determination. The Government of Gibraltar wanted to know how long it took to acquire the rights given to colonial people by the Charter of the United Nations. Other ex-colonial people, it noted, had exercised the right to self-determination after a much shorter presence in their territories. Why should the colony of Gibraltar be any different?
According to the paper, the Spanish position on the question of Gibraltar had not changed. Spain felt the principle of self-determination of all peoples was not the only principle applicable to the decolonization process. There was also the principle of territorial integrity. The circumstances of each colonial situation had been, and continued to be, different, and there was no one way of putting an end to such situations. The situation was different in the case of colonies established in the Territory and at the expense of other States that already existed as States at the time of colonization. In such cases, decolonization had been achieved in the only way possible -- by restoring the territorial integrity of the States concerned. The question of Gibraltar fell into the latter category.
That the principle of territorial integrity was fully applicable to the decolonization of Gibraltar was not an argument made by Spain alone, notes the Spanish Government. It was also the clear established and unequivocal doctrine of the United Nations, which, year after year, urged the United Kingdom and Spain to continue their negotiations with a view to ending this colonial situation. Gibraltar could either remain a colony of the United Kingdom or it could revert to Spain. No other option was possible. The treaty of Utrecht, which established British sovereignty over Gibraltar, gave Spain a preferential sovereignty over the Territory in the event that it ceased to be British.
By the terms of the draft resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/1999/L.3) submitted by its Chairman, the Committee, would approve activities undertaken by the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Department of Political Affairs in the field of dissemination of information on decolonization.
In addition, the Committee would request that those two departments take into account the suggestions of the Special Committee with regard to the use of all available media in publicizing the work of the Organization in the field of decolonization. The Committee would further request that a working relationship be maintained with appropriate intergovernmental organizations, particularly in the Pacific and Caribbean regions, through consultations and exchange of information.
By the draft, the Committee would also would request the Department of Political Affairs and the DPI to encourage the involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the dissemination of information on decolonization. It would also request those two departments to report to the Committee on measures taken in the implementation of the present text. The Committee would also request that all States, including the administering Powers, continue to extend their cooperation in the dissemination of information.
By the terms of the text on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/1999/L.4), also submitted by its Chairman, the Committee would request the administering Powers concerned to transmit or continue to transmit to the Secretary-General the information prescribed in Article 73 e of the Charter, as well as the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments in the Territories concerned, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those Territories.
The Committee would also request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that adequate information is drawn from all available sources in connection with the preparation of the working papers relating to the Territories concerned. It would decide, subject to any decision that the General Assembly may take in that connection, to continue to discharge the functions entrusted to it under Assembly resolution 1970 (XVII), in accordance with established procedures.
PETER CARUANA, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, said that, if the Special Committee had any doubt that the people of Gibraltar constituted a people, those doubts would be immediately dispelled by a visit to Gibraltar. Such a visit would serve to demonstrate the existence of a distinct people, with its own cultural and ethnic characteristics and heritage, developed over 295 years. Spain had asserted that, although Gibraltar was a colony, the people of Gibraltar were not a colonial people and, therefore, did not enjoy the right to decolonization by the application of the principle of self-determination. The Government and people of Gibraltar rejected those Spanish arguments and assertions, which it believed were based on a series of misconceptions.
He said it was the doctrine of the United Nations that the right to self-determination was not intended to disrupt the territorial integrity of a country. But Gibraltar had not been Spanish, nor part of Spain, for 295 years, since 1704. If Spain's territorial integrity was disrupted, as it alleged, that occurred in 1704. It could not be, and would not be, the result of an exercise now, by the people of Gibraltar, of the right to self determination. It was not the exercise of that right that would bring about a disruption of Spain's territorial integrity. The doctrine of territorial integrity, accordingly, has no application to the case of Gibraltar, since it was not seeking to secede from Spain, of which it was not a part.
When the Special Committee spoke about "eradicating colonialism" in Gibraltar, was it advocating the handing over of Gibraltar to Spain against the unanimous wishes of its inhabitants or did it set out to promote the right of the peoples of Gibraltar to self-determination? he asked. Spain's territorial claim, which was being used to obstruct Gibraltar's right to self- determination, was thus the very antithesis of applying to Gibraltar the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which was the sole mandate of the Committee.
It was now established United Nations doctrine that self-determination did not necessarily mean independence, he added. The desire of the people of Gibraltar to retain British sovereignty was in no way inconsistent with the Charter's principles of decolonization through self-determination. It was also United Nations doctrine that the acid test for genuine decolonization was not the severing of sovereignty ties with the administrating Power, but rather a full measure of self-government and the transfer of political power and self-rule to the people of the Territory. What matters was not the label attached to a territory, but the reality of the people being masters of their own home land and destiny.
In conclusion, he said, he once again sought the Committee's clear assertion of Gibraltar's right to self-determination in accordance with the Charter. "Once again, I ask you not to recommend the continuation of bilateral dialogue between the United Kingdom and Spain as an alternative to recognizing our right to self-determination." He also asked the Committee to condemn the pressure systematically imposed on Gibraltar by Spain for purely political reasons, which sought to deny Gibraltar the exercise of its right to economic, social, cultural and political development.
WILLIAM SERFATY, on behalf of the non-governmental organization Self- Determination for Gibraltar, said it was hard to believe that, at this stage in the decolonization of the world, he had to be at the present meeting pressing for the rights of self-determination of his people. He likened it to a trial, with the Committee acting as jury. The supporters of his organization were also avid supporters of decolonization and feared the territorial claims of Spain. He was here today for justice. The process of decolonization in Gibraltar today was stagnated because the administering Power had realized that any results with regard to the Territory had to come from the genuinely expressed will of the Territory's people.
The message of his non-governmental organization was that the grass- roots people of the Territory would accept no change other than that which was articulated through the fully and freely expressed democratic will of the people of Gibraltar, who saw themselves as the rightful masters of the Territory they inherited. The Treaty of Utrecht was signed at the height of colonial aggression by Spain and Great Britain. It was an abhorrent document. It included an agreement for Africans to be shipped as slaves to the Americas and prohibited the settlement of Jews or Moslems in certain parts of Europe. How could such a treaty be valid? he asked. It was contrary to every precept of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. He called on the Committee to call to order the unacceptable behaviour of both the administering Power and the neighbouring Power.
He said the administering Power was failing to act on behalf of the dependent territory and was giving excessive attention to its own national interests. In addition, the ethnic and cultural origin of the people of Gibraltar was another issue. Eighty per cent of the indigenous population today was made up people who had emigrated from Genoa and Malta. Small numbers of other people arrived from other neighbouring States, with a small quantity from Britain and other British colonies. Very few, however, came from Spain. The deadline for the eradication of colonialism was less that 29 weeks away. Gibraltar must be decolonized this year.
Gibraltar's culture was not the same as Spain's and it was important for the Committee to be aware of that, he said. That was not possible unless the Committee visited the Territory. Gibraltar's culture was unique and homogenous, and the United Kingdom blocked any visits to the Territory for that reason. He reissued an invitation to the Committee and challenged the United Kingdom not to block that visit. With 29 weeks left to eradicate colonialism, time had run out. If the Committee did not take a stand now, then it was saying decolonization was not possible. ARTURO LACLAUSTRA (Spain) said that General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of December 1960 established that any attempt at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country was incompatible with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. The same principle was reiterated in resolution 2625 (XXXV) in October 1970. Based on those resolutions, subsequent Assembly resolutions in 1967 and 1968 reiterated the applicability of that same principle. The position of the Spanish Government on the issue of Gibraltar had not changed: the colonial situation of the Territory destroyed the national unity and the territorial integrity of Spain and was incompatible with the doctrine established by the United Nations.
He said the Spanish claim referred, on one hand, to the rock ceded to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Utrecht and, on the other, to the isthmus, not ceded under Utrecht, and which was gradually and illegally occupied by the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. Spain had never recognized that illegal occupation. The British title to the sovereignty over Gibraltar was based on the Treaty of Utrecht, which stated that should Great Britain dispose of the Territory, Spain would have preference over others. His Government would never renounce its claim to sovereignty of Gibraltar. "This is a constant aspiration in our history. It also had the unanimous support of all political parties and of the Spanish people", he added.
The Government of Spain remained committed to dialogue as the way to achieve a definite solution to the conflict. The proposals of his Government with regard to Gibraltar were as follows: recognition of the democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Spanish Constitution of 1978; recognition of an ample self-government regime in Gibraltar: protection of the cultural and linguistic singularity of Gibraltar and its particular jurisdictional tradition; contemplation of the specifics of the Territory's fiscal and economic regime; and making it possible for the present population of Gibraltar to keep its British nationality, or to enjoy a double nationality regime.
Questions by Committee Members
BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d'Ivoire) said a negotiating process was in place between the United Kingdom and Spain to resolve the status of Gibraltar. What did Mr. Serfaty envision for that process of negotiation?
Mr. SERFATY said that any process of decolonization must include the voice of the people through its elected representatives. That voice must be present and determining.
JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea) asked if it would be acceptable if the United Kingdom and Spain negotiated the status of Gibraltar with the input of its people.
Mr. SERFATY said the participation of the people of Gibraltar would have to be paramount and a decision on its status would have to be based on the exercise of self-determination in that process.
Mr. CARUANA said the process of decolonization was primarily a matter between the people of the Territory and the administering Power. By definition, the third party could not be a part in that process. However, Spain could play a role in allowing the exercise of the right of self- determination, based on the fact that Spain and Gibraltar would have to co- exist side by side. Gibraltar would accept the participation of Spain in negotiations on the condition that the people of Gibraltar had their own voice in the talks. There could be no possibility of the United Kingdom and Spain agreeing on something and imposing it on Gibraltar.
The Committee Chairman, PETER DICKSON DONIGI (Papua New Guinea), asked Mr. Caruana what remained to be done to make Gibraltar totally self-governing.
Mr. CARUANA said that Gibraltar's Constitution needed to be altered to reflect the non-colonial reality of its relationship with the United Kingdom.
The CHAIRMAN asked a question in regard to changes that Gibraltar would like in its Constitution.
Mr. CARUANA said Gibraltar's Constitution should reflect the specific relationship it had with the United Kingdom and be updated. It had not been updated since 1969.
LAMUEL A. STANISLAUS (Grenada) asked if Gibraltar was considered a State in association with the United Kingdom.
Mr. CARUANA said the relationship of the United Kingdom with each of its 13 territories did not establish them as States in association. Gibraltar was not internationally a separate entity.
Mr. OVIA (Papua New Guinea) asked if there had been were any attempt by Gibraltar to change its status with the United Kingdom.
Mr. CARUANA said Gibraltar had proposed other options to the United Kingdom in order to eliminate all remnants of colonial rule in Gibraltar.
Mr. TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d'Ivoire) asked for clarifications on the fourth option for Territories, which would allow some political dependence between a Territory and the administering Power and the retention of sovereignty by the Territory.
Mr. CARUANA said that it was an option that had been supported in the past by the United Nations, and Gibraltar would like to apply it to its own case. Mr. OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said the Committee could not visit a Territory without the approval of the administering Power. Would Gibraltar take steps to clear such a visit through the United Kingdom and Spain?
Mr. CARUANA said it was regrettable that the Committee could not accept invitations for visits from Territories, and Gibraltar would take the issue up with the United Kingdom. He recommended that, in the interests of having access to information, the Committee should visit Gibraltar. Gibraltar could not take that issue up with Spain, however, because Gibraltar did not recognize Spain's authority in that area.
The CHAIRMAN asked if Gibraltar would be affected by the proposals by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to allow taxation of off-shore financial centres.
Mr. CARUANA said the OECD proposal in regard to off-shore financial centres represented a considerable threat to the economic independence of Gibraltar and many other small States that depended on such centres. If the OECD initiative were to prosper in its present form, it would represent a serious challenge to Gibraltar's economy, as well as many States in the Caribbean.
Information on Decolonization
MIAN QADRUD-DIN, Director of the Public Affairs Division, DPI, said that during the period from July 1998 to May 1999, the Department issued a total of 61 press releases in English and French on issues relating to decolonization. Those included press releases related to the work of the Special Committee, of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) and the Caribbean Regional Seminar. All the press releases were made available to the media and distributed electronically to United Nations Information Centres and services worldwide and were posted on the United Nations home page, which had become the most effective means of disseminating the information.
He informed the Committee that the United Nations home page now contained 1,815 documents in English on issues relating to decolonization. A separate Web page on decolonization had been designed for the Organization's home page and would be available under the Peace and Security Section shortly. A Web page on East Timor already existed in the Peace and Security Section, and a Web page on Western Sahara could also be found in the peacekeeping section. Two major publications of the DPI -- the United Nations Chronicle and the Yearbook of the United Nations -- continued to carry information on decolonization. The Radio and Central News Service of the DPI also continued to cover various aspects of decolonization and related issues in its radio news bulletins and current affairs magazines, in both official and non-official languages.
He said activities within the United Nations system related to decolonization also continued to be televised and disseminated through feeds and dubs made available to networks and other television stations and through packages of television news and video highlights provided to news syndicators. The Audio/Visual Library continued to make tapes and cassettes on decolonization issues available to correspondents, delegates, United Nations radio producers and outside producers.
MARIA MALDONADO, Department of Political Affairs, discussed the report of the DPI on the dissemination of information on decolonization during the period from July 1998 to May 1999 (document A/AC.109/1999/19). The report detailed the work of the DPI in publicizing the work of the United Nations in the field of decolonization. She said that during the period under review, the Department of Political Affairs had continued to cooperate with the DPI in joint efforts to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information on decolonization.
She said the Special Committee's regional seminars, and in particular the most recent one held in Saint Lucia, had offered excellent opportunities for the Secretariat to expand and strengthen contacts with experts and NGOs, and distribute information material and exchange information on United Nations activities in the Territories. Participants at the seminar conveyed to the Secretariat their appreciation for the information material that had been distributed and asked the Department of Political Affairs to maintain and increase the flow of information, particularly with the Non-Self-Governing Territories.
The Department of Political Affairs would make every effort to continue contributing substantively to the preparation and dissemination of information material on decolonization, she said, in close cooperation with the DPI, and would explore the means to effectively convey the decolonization message to the international community at large.
Mr. TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d'Ivoire) expressed his concern regarding the question of the dissemination of information on decolonization to the public at large of the administering Powers. Very often, many people were surprised that, at this stage in the history of mankind, the issue was still being discussed. For many people, the process of decolonization had ended when the major colonies, such as Namibia and others, were no longer on the United Nations decolonization list. The reality was that there were still colonized territories. Last year, the Committee asked the DPI to use the mass media, such as CNN, to try and alert the public in the administering Power countries. Was that suggestion explored? he asked. If so, what had been done?
Mr. QADRUD-DIN, Director of the Public Affairs Division, DPI, said in response that the DPI took the issues and concerns of Member States regarding decolonization with the utmost seriousness. Activities were now being undertaken in four mediums to bring issues to the attention of the public. The Department worked through redisseminators, and the media were the major players in bringing attention to the important developments and issues. What was actually achieved, however, was sometimes in the hands of the mass media. Bad news and good news determined what was given prominence. The media paid less and less attention to decolonization, as it was no longer perceived to be a big issue.
RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said "we live in a computer age where information is important". The support from the DPI was, therefore, essential. A representative from Gibraltar had said earlier that, at the end of the decade on decolonization, the work of the Committee would disappear. That was an error, and efforts to correct that misconception must be made. He also wanted to know if there was any idea of the number of accesses to the Web site on decolonization.
Mr. QADRUD-DIN responded that the Web page on decolonization would be operating fully at the end of the month. At the moment, the issue was part of other sections, so he was not in a position right now to clarify access rates. Once the Web page was up and running, the Committee would be posted about the access rate on a yearly basis. The current access rate for the United Nations Web page was now around 40 million and that demonstrated its exponential growth. That figure could include decolonization issues.
Action on Drafts
The CHAIRMAN said action on the draft resolutions on dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/1999/L.3) and information from Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/1999/L.4) would be postponed to a later date.
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