SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES THREE DRAFT TEXTS, ADOPTS REPORT IN FINAL MEETING OF 2000 SESSION

20 July 2000
GA/COL/3038

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES THREE DRAFT TEXTS, ADOPTS REPORT IN FINAL MEETING OF 2000 SESSION

20 July 2000


Press Release
GA/COL/3038


SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES THREE DRAFT TEXTS, ADOPTS REPORT IN FINAL MEETING OF 2000 SESSION

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The General Assembly would recommend that the period 2001-2010 be declared the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and would request the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources for successful implementation of the Plan of Action for the Decade, according to the terms of a resolution approved this morning as the Special Committee on Decolonization concluded its 2000 session.

Also by that text, approved as orally amended, the Assembly would call upon administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee to develop a constructive programme of work on a case-by-case basis to facilitate the implementation of the Special Committee's mandate and the resolution on decolonization, including resolutions on specific Non-Self-Governing Territories.

The Assembly would invite Member States, specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations, as well as other governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to actively support and participate in the implementation of the Plan of Action during the Second Decade. It would call upon Member States to redouble their efforts to implement the Plan of Action.

Also without a vote, the Special Committee approved a consolidated resolution on the question of 11 small island Non-Self-Governing Territories. By Part A of that text, the General Assembly would note with concern that the Plan of Action of the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism could not be concluded by the year 2000.

By other terms of Part A, the Assembly would call upon the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to engage the concerned territorial Governments in a constructive dialogue with a view to removing them from the list of harmful tax jurisdictions, and request the administering Power to assist the Non-Self-Governing Territories in resolving that matter. The Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right of the peoples of those Territories to self- determination, including independence.

Under the provisions of Part B of the consolidated text, which deals with specific conditions in each Territory, the General Assembly would request the administering Power of Guam to cooperate with Guam’s Commission on Decolonization for the Implementation and Exercise of Chamorro Self-Determination with a view to facilitating Guam’s decolonization.

Decolonization Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/COL/3038 13th Meeting (AM) 20 July 2000

By further terms of the text, the Assembly would request the administering Power to continue to recognize and respect the political rights and the cultural and ethnic identity of the indigenous Chamorro people of Guam, and take all necessary measures to respond to the concerns of the territorial Government with regard to the immigration issue. The administering Power would be requested to continue to transfer land to the people of the Territory.

By the draft on the Cayman Islands, the Assembly would call upon the administering Power and the territorial Government to cooperate in countering problems related to money laundering, smuggling of funds, drug trafficking and other related offences. By the text on Montserrat, the General Assembly would welcome the support of the Caribbean Community in the construction of housing to alleviate a shortage caused by the 1996 eruption of Montsoufriere volcano, as well as the material and financial support from the international community to help alleviate the suffering caused by that crisis.

Under provisions relating to the United States Virgin Islands, the Assembly would express concern that the heavily indebted Territory had to borrow $21 million from a commercial bank to carry out its year 2000 computer compliance programme, and would call for the United Nations year 2000 programme to be made available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories. It would also express concern that the territorial Government is facing severe fiscal problems, which have resulted in an accumulated debt of more than $1 billion.

The Special Committee also approved, again without a vote, a text on implementation of the decolonization Declaration by United Nations specialized agencies and associated international institutions. By its terms, the General Assembly would request those bodies to provide information on environmental problems facing the Non-Self-Governing Territories; the impact of natural disasters; ways to assist them in fighting drug trafficking, money laundering and other offences; and the illegal exploitation of their marine resources as well as the need to use those resources for the benefit of their peoples.

By other terms of that text, the Assembly would encourage the Non-Self- Governing Territories to take steps to establish or strengthen disaster- preparedness and management institutions and policies. It would welcome the continuing initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in maintaining close liaisons among the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations and in providing assistance to the peoples of the Territories.

In other action this morning, the report of the Special Committee was adopted as orally amended.

Special Committee Chairman Peter Donigi (Papua New Guinea) said in his concluding remarks that the Committee had reached one decision, and approved nine resolutions by consensus. During the session, the Committee had continued to enjoy the cooperation of France and New Zealand and had taken steps to strengthen its working relationship with the other administering Powers. In addition, the Committee had continued to highlight the need for greater joint efforts between itself and the Economic and Social Council and in ensuring international assistance for the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Decolonization Committee - 1b - Press Release GA/COL/3038 13th Meeting (AM) 20 July 2000

The representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Côte d’Ivoire, Saint Lucia and Iran also spoke this morning.

A representative of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands also made a statement.

Round-up of 2000 Session

This morning's action capped the Special Committee's 2000 session during which it acted on nine resolutions and one decision, approving them all without a vote. The highlight was its unanimous approval of a resolution on Puerto Rico, the first time in 28 years that consensus had been achieved on that issue.

By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would encourage the United States Government to halt its military activities on the inhabited island of Vieques, return the land to the Puerto Rican people, halt the persecution, arrests and harassment of peaceful demonstrators and decontaminate the area.

Earlier this week, the Special Committee approved a decision on military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers by which the Assembly would call for the elimination of military bases in colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories. It would also deplore the continued alienation of land for military installations, particularly in the small island Territories of the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

During the same meeting, it approved a resolution on economic and other activities affecting the interests of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories. By that text, the General Assembly would reiterate the threat posed to the Territories' integrity and prosperity by the damaging exploitation and plundering of their marine, human and other resources. The Assembly would also affirm the value of foreign investment, undertaken in collaboration with the Territories' peoples, to socio-economic development.

Earlier in the session, the Special Committee approved a resolution on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) by which the General Assembly would reiterate that negotiations were the only way to resolve the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom and end that special and particular colonial situation. In other action on specific Territories, the Special Committee approved resolutions on New Caledonia and Tokelau.

Taking action on other decolonization questions, the Special Committee approved a text on dissemination of decolonization information by which the General Assembly would approve the activities of the Department of Public Information, and the Department of Political Affairs in that field. It also approved texts on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter; and on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories.

Also during the session, the Special Committee granted hearings to petitioners on the questions of Western Sahara, East Timor, Gibraltar, New Caledonia, United States Virgin Islands, St. Helena, Tokelau, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Guam and Puerto Rico.

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 take action on three draft resolutions and to adopt its draft report.

Before the Committee were: a draft resolution on implementation of the decolonization Declaration by United Nations specialized agencies and associated international institutions; a consolidated text on the question of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, and United States Virgin Islands; and a draft on a Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

Under provisions of the draft on implementation of the Declaration by the specialized agencies (A/AC.109/2000/L.14), the General Assembly would request those agencies and associated institutions to provide information on environmental problems facing the Non-Self-Governing Territories; the impact of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and volcanoes, and other environmental problems, such as beach and coastal erosion, on those Territories; ways to assist them to fight drug trafficking, money laundering and other illegal and criminal offences; and the illegal exploitation of the Territories' marine resources and the need to utilize those resources for the benefit of their peoples.

By other terms of the text, the Assembly would encourage the Non-Self- Governing Territories to take steps to establish and/or strengthen disaster- preparedness and management institutions and polices. It would welcome the continuing initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in maintaining close liaison among the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations and in providing assistance to the peoples of the Territories.

Also by the draft, the General Assembly would commend the Economic and Social Council for its debate and resolution on the issue, and request it to continue to consider, in consultation with the Special Committee, appropriate measures for coordination of the policies and activities of the specialized agencies in implementing the relevant Assembly resolutions.

The Committee also had before it a report of the Secretary-General listing the specialized agencies and other bodies from which information had been sought on actions taken to implement the relevant resolutions on the implementation of the decolonization Declaration (A/55/72). That information is contained in document E/2000/68, also before the Committee.

By Part A of the consolidated text on the 11 small island Non-Self-Governing Territories, the General Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination, including, if they so wish, independence, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) containing the decolonization Declaration. It would call upon the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial Governments, to facilitate political education programmes in the Territories in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self- determination, in conformity with the legitimate political status options.

By other terms, the General Assembly would call upon the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to engage the concerned territorial Governments in a constructive dialogue with a view to removing them from the list of harmful tax jurisdictions, and request the administering Power to assist the Non-Self-Governing Territories in resolving that matter.

Further by Part A, the Assembly would reaffirm also the responsibility of the administering Powers to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territories, and recommend that priority continue to be given, in consultation with the territorial Governments concerned, to the strengthening and diversification of their respective economies.

The Assembly would note with concern that the Plan of Action of the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism cannot be concluded by the year 2000.

Part B of the consolidated text deals with specific conditions in each Territory. By the text on American Samoa, the General Assembly would call upon the administering Power to continue to assist the territorial Government in the Territory's economic and social development, including measures to rebuild financial management capabilities and strengthen other governmental functions.

By the text on Anguilla, the Assembly would call upon the administering Power and all States, organizations and United Nations agencies to continue to assist the Territory in social and economic development. It would also welcome the assessment by UNDP that the Territory has made considerable progress in the domain of sustainable human development and in its preservation of the environment, which has been incorporated into the National Tourism Plan.

Regarding Bermuda, the Assembly would request the administering Power to elaborate, in consultation with the territorial Government, development programmes specifically intended to alleviate the economic, social and environmental consequences of the closure of the military bases and installations of the United States in the Territory.

The text on the British Virgin Islands calls for the Assembly to request the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations, and all financial institutions to continue to provide assistance to the Territory for socio-economic development and the development of human resources, bearing in mind the Territory's vulnerability to external factors.

By the draft on the Cayman Islands, the Assembly would call upon the administering Power and the territorial Government to cooperate in countering problems related to money laundering, smuggling of funds and other related crimes, as well as drug trafficking. It would request the administering Power, in consultation with the territorial Government, to continue to facilitate the expansion of the current programme of securing employment for the local population, in particular at the decision-making level.

Under the provisions relating to Guam, the General Assembly would call upon the administering Power to take into consideration the expressed will of the Chamorro people as supported by Guam voters in the plebiscite of 1987 and as provided for in Guam Law. It would encourage the administering Power and the territorial Government to enter into negotiations on the matter. It would request the administering Power to cooperate with Guam's Commission on Decolonization for the Implementation and Exercise of Chamorro Self-Determination, with a view to facilitating Guam's decolonization, and to keep the Secretary-General informed of progress to that end.

Also by the text, the Assembly would further request the administering Power to continue to recognize and respect the political rights and the cultural and ethnic identity of the Chamorro people of Guam, and take all necessary measures to respond to the concerns of the territorial Government with regard to the immigration issue. The administering Power would be requested to continue to transfer land to the people of the Territory. The Assembly would request the administering Power to cooperate in establishing programmes specifically intended to promote the sustainable development of economic activities and enterprises, noting the special role of the Chamorro people in Guam's development.

The text on Montserrat would have the General Assembly call upon the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, as well as regional and other organizations, to continue to provide urgent emergency assistance to the Territory in alleviating the consequences of the 1996 volcanic eruption. It would welcome the support of the Caribbean Community in the construction of housing in the safe zone to alleviate a shortage caused by the environmental and human crisis of the eruption of Montsoufriere volcano, as well as the material and financial support of the international community to help alleviate the suffering caused by the crisis.

By terms of the draft on Pitcairn, the Assembly would request the administering Power to continue its assistance for the improvement of the economic, social, educational and other conditions of the Territory's population. It would call upon the administering Power to continue its discussion with the representatives of Pitcairn Island on how best to support their economic security.

Regarding St. Helena, the Assembly would request the administering Power and relevant regional and international organizations to continue to support the efforts of the territorial Government to address the Territory's socio-economic development. It would note that the administering Power had taken note of statements made by members of the Legislative Council of St. Helena about the constitution, and is prepared to discuss them further with the people of St. Helena.

According to the text on the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Assembly would invite the administering Power to take fully into account the wishes and interests of the Government and the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands in the governance of the Territory. It would welcome the assessment of the Caribbean Development Bank in its 1998 report that the economy continued to expand with considerable output and low inflation.

The draft on the United States Virgin Islands would have the General Assembly express concern that the Territory, which is already heavily indebted, had to borrow $21 million from a commercial bank to carry out its year 2000 computer compliance programme, and call for the United Nations year 2000 programme to be made available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Further by that draft, the Assembly would express concern that the territorial Government is facing severe fiscal problems, which have resulted in an accumulated debt of more than $1 billion. It would welcome the measures being taken by the newly elected territorial Government in addressing the crisis, including the adoption of a five-year operating and strategic financial plan, and call upon the administering Power to provide every assistance required by the Territory to alleviate the financial crisis, including, inter alia, the provision of debt relief and loans.

Also by that text, the Assembly would note that the general elections held in the Territory in 1998 resulted in the orderly transfer of power. It would note that the 1994 report of the United States Virgin Islands Commission on Status and Federal Relations concluded that, owing to the insufficient level of voter participation, the results of the 1993 referendum were declared legally null and void.

By the terms of the draft on the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (document A/AC.109/2000/L.16), the General Assembly would call upon the administering Powers to fully cooperate with the Special Committee to develop a constructive programme of work on a case-by-case basis for the Non-Self-Governing Territories, in order to facilitate the implementation of the Special Committee's mandate and the resolution on decolonization, including resolutions on specific Territories.

The Assembly would invite Member States, specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system and other governmental and non- governmental organizations to actively support and participate in the implementation of the Plan of Action during the Second Decade. It would call upon Member States to redouble their efforts to implement the Plan of Action, as contained in the annex to the report of the Secretary-General dated 13 December 1991, updated where necessary, to serve as the Plan of Action for the Second Date.

Recommending that the period 2001-2010 be declared the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources for the successful implementation of the Plan of Action. It would further request the Secretary- General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

Statements

CARLYLE CORBIN, State minister and foreign affairs representative, United States Virgin Islands stated that the draft resolution on specialized agencies was one text whose progress the Committee could review from year to year. It was also of particular importance to Non-Self-Governing Territories as it affected their direct participation in the work of the United Nations. The legislative authority of that participation had been long established in the instruments of the Organization. At its forty-eighth session in 1993, the General Assembly had recognized the importance of the work that had been done to ensure such participation.

He pointed out that of 14 specialized agencies reviewed in 1998, only seven had adapted their requirements to facilitate participation of the Territories as observers. While the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council mandates were clear, a mechanism needed to be devised for those Territories to benefit from relevant recommendations of the text before the Committee. It was important to recognize that the associate members of organizations such as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) were allowed to participate fully in the work of the United Nations. Therefore, the Assembly should present no lesser status for participation by Chief Ministers and other high-level Government officials.

PATRICK LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said that all of the Caribbean States were interested in the subject of decolonization. It would explain why the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) had been ardent in ensuring the effectiveness of the Territories of the region that were not yet independent. The OECS also attached great importance to the involvement of organizations such as ECLAC in United Nations work, particularly that of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on taxation and other related issues for Non-Self-Governing Territories in the region, especially Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

The broader ECLAC authorities, operating out of Santiago, had been made aware that more funds should be made available to its sub-office in Port-of-Spain. Currently, leaders in the Caribbean region were most concerned with the economic situation facing its young males. The broader ECLAC body had been unaware of that issue previous to the request for more funds. Also, there was fear in the region because of the plight it faced due to constant nuclear transshipment by the greater Powers. In that one instance, an appeal had been made by the administering Power to join its voice in protest with the smaller countries in the Caribbean.

MICHELLE JOSEPH (Saint Lucia) asked what was the level of participation of the Territories in United Nations sessions and conferences.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Cote D’Ivoire) said he realized that one of the issues concerning the Committee was the level of political awareness of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories; he asked what the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was doing to educate people about decolonization at the grassroots level.

Responding to the queries of his colleagues, Mr. Corbin noted that 10 years ago, in combined efforts, ECLAC and ESCAP were able to generate interest in the issue of participation through resolutions they had presented at the General Assembly. The level of that participation had been extensive in a number of instances, as resources had been made available for many of the Territories to participate. However, in the late 1990s, the level of participation had fallen because assistance to facilitate it had become unavailable.

He said that participation in the Assembly’s special sessions was hampered because Non-Self-Governing Territories usually were not informed of the preparatory processes that led up to the sessions. For example, on a number of occasions, at the time of the special session, senior government officials found themselves unaccredited.

He noted that UNESCO was one of the seven specialized agencies that had adapted its regulations to accommodate participation by the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Each of the Territories currently under review in the Committee was eligible for participation in meetings of UNESCO, and the majority of the organization’s issues were of specific importance to the development of the Territories.

Decision on Draft on Implementation by Specialized Agencies

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

Report of the Special Committee

The Committee adopted its report as orally amended.

Action on Consolidated Resolution

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

Action on Draft on Second International Decade

The Committee approved the resolution as orally amended.

PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea), Committee Chairman, in his concluding remarks, stated that during the current session, the Committee had continued to enjoy the cooperation of France and New Zealand, and had taken steps to strengthen its working relationship with the remaining administering Powers. Additionally, the Committee had continued to highlight the need for greater joint efforts by the Economic and Social Council and the Committee in ensuring international assistance for the Territories. One decision and nine resolutions had been adopted by consensus, and a unanimous resolution was also adopted on Puerto Rico.

He said efforts had also focused on establishing dialogue with the United Kingdom and the United States on advancing the implementation of the Declaration in the Territories under their administration. Regarding Pitcairn, the Committee was awaiting a response from the administering Power on the best way to apply the Committee’s work programme, the accepted basic reference tool and starting point for dealing with the situation there. The Committee was also awaiting a response from the Governor of American Samoa on whether the work programme was acceptable to his Government and whether his Government would send a representative to consultations on finalizing that programme.

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For information media. Not an official record.