SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE ADOPTS TWO DRAFT RESOLUTIONS WITHOUT VOTE

18 June 2001
GA/COL/3050

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE ADOPTS TWO DRAFT RESOLUTIONS WITHOUT VOTE

18/06/2001
Press Release
GA/COL/3050


Special Committee on

Decolonization

3rd Meeting (AM)


SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE ADOPTS TWO DRAFT RESOLUTIONS WITHOUT VOTE


Postpones Consideration of Draft on Sending Visiting Missions to Territories


The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples continued its 2001 substantive session this morning with the adoption of two draft resolutions without a vote.


By the first text, the Committee approved the activities in the field of dissemination of information on decolonization undertaken by the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA).  It considered it important to continue efforts to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information on decolonization, with particular emphasis on the options of self-determination available for the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  All States, including the administering Powers, were requested to continue their cooperation in that regard. 


Also, the Committee requested both departments to take into account the suggestions of the Committee to continue their efforts to take measures through all the media available, including publications, radio and television, as well as the Internet, to give publicity to the work of the United Nations in the field of decolonization. 


The Committee, by the text on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter, decided, subject to any decision that the General Assembly might take, to continue to discharge the functions entrusted to it under Assembly resolution 1970 (XVIII), in accordance with established procedures. 


Further, the Committee requested the administering Powers concerned to transmit or continue to transmit to the Secretary-General the information prescribed in Article 73 e, 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.  It also requested the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that adequate information was drawn from all available published sources in connection with the preparation of the working papers relating to the Territories concerned.


Consideration of a text on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories was postponed.  Several speakers emphasized that such missions could not be undertaken without the cooperation of the administering Powers.   


Addressing the Committee on the dissemination of information on decolonization, Susan Markham, Chief, Promotion and Planning Service, Public Affairs Division DPI, said that the Department's public information activities on decolonization focused on coverage of the work of the General Assembly and the Special Committee, building partnerships with civil society through the network of United Nations information centres, and strengthening the use of the Internet for the widest possible dissemination of information.


Among its activities, the Department's radio and television sections covered various aspects of decolonization and related issues in its daily news programmes and current affairs magazines in official and non-official languages, she said.  United Nations Radio, in its news programmes, continued to report on the work of the Special Committee and of the General Assembly's Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), and produced 11 feature programmes dealing with various aspects of decolonization. 


Maria Maldonado, DPA, said that the Department had continued to provide substantive information, input and advice in publicizing the work of the United Nations on decolonization.  Currently, DPA and DPI were working on an information brochure on the work of the Committee and on assistance that might be available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories, such as offers of training and scholarships for the inhabitants of the Territories. 


Also, she continued, the Decolonization Unit continued to respond to queries from Member States, representatives of Territories, schools, non-governmental organizations and individuals seeking information on decolonization and on specific Territories.  DPA would work jointly with DPI to ensure appropriate information coverage to publicize the United Nations objectives and activities within the framework of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.


Also this morning, the Committee agreed to accede to requests for hearings with regard to the questions of Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Western Sahara and Puerto Rico.  In addition, it adopted its agenda and programme of work.   


Statements were made by the representatives of Papua New Guinea, Antigua and Barbuda and Syria.  The Secretary of the Committee also spoke, as did the Chairman, Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoué (Côte d'Ivoire). 


The Committee will meet again at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday 19 June to begin its consideration of the questions of Gibraltar and Western Sahara.


Background


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 begin its three-week session.  It had before it a number of documents, including three draft resolutions submitted by the Committee’s Acting Chairman, for its consideration.


The draft resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/2001/L.4) would have the Special Committee approve the activities in the field of dissemination of information on decolonization undertaken by the Department of Public Information and the Department of Political Affairs.  It would also consider it important to continue efforts to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information on decolonization, with particular emphasis on the options of self-determination available for the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  All States, including the administering Powers, would be requested to continue their cooperation in that regard. 


The Committee would request both departments to take into account the suggestions of the Committee to continue their efforts to take measures through all the media available, including publications, radio and television, as well as the Internet, to give publicity to the work of the United Nations in the field of decolonization, as well as to continue to collect, prepare and disseminate, particularly to the Territories, basic material on the issue of self-determination. 


Also, both departments would be asked to take into account the Committee’s suggestions in seeking the full cooperation of the administering Powers in the discharge of the tasks referred to above; maintaining a working relationship with the appropriate regional and intergovernmental organizations, particularly in the Pacific and Caribbean regions, by holding periodic consultations and exchanging information; encouraging the involvement of non-governmental organizations in the dissemination of information on decolonization; and reporting to the Committee on measures taken in the implementation of the present resolution.


The draft resolution, Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter (document A/AC.109/2001/L.5), would have the Committee decide, subject to any decision that the General Assembly might take, to continue to discharge the functions entrusted to it under Assembly resolution 1970 (XVIII), in accordance with established procedures. 


Also, 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, 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.  It would also request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that adequate information is drawn from all available published sources in connection with the preparation of the working papers relating to the Territories concerned. 


By the terms of the draft resolution on the question of sending visiting missions to the Territories (document A/AC.109/2001/L.6), the Committee would call on the administering Powers to cooperate or continue to cooperate with the Organization by receiving such missions in the Territories under their administration. 


Also, the Committee would request the administering Powers to consider new approaches in the Committee’s work, and urge them to cooperate with the Committee in its efforts.  The Committee Chairman would be requested to continue consultations with the administering Powers concerned and to report thereon to the Committee. 


Further, the Committee would request its Chairman 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 Committee also had before it the report of the Secretary-General on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 eof the Charter of the United Nations (document A/56/67).


[Article 73 esays that Member States with responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained self-government undertake to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General information on the socio-economic and educational conditions in the territories for which they are responsible other than those to which Chapters XII and XIII apply.]


According to the Secretary-General, the table annexed to the present report shows the dates on which information called for was transmitted from 1999 to 2001.  The transmitted information generally follows the standard form approved by the Assembly and includes information on geography, history and population, socio-economic and educational conditions. 


According to the report, in the case of territories under the administration of New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, the annual reports of the Territories also include information on constitutional matters.  The representative of New Zealand during meetings of the Special Committee gives additional information on political and constitutional developments in Tokelau.  New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States also make supplementary information available on territories under their administration.


The Secretary-General states that the Secretariat has continued to use the information transmitted in the preparation for the Special Committee of working papers on each Non-Self-Governing Territory.  The Committee has taken this information into account in formulating its decisions on these territories.


Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on dissemination of information on decolonization from June 2000 to May 2001 (document A/AC.109/2001/19).  It covers the activities undertaken by the United Nations Departments of Public Information in this period.


The Secretary-General states that the Department’s activities on decolonization focused on coverage of the work of the Assembly and the Special Committee in the building of partnerships with civil society through the network of United Nations information centres and strengthening of the use of Internet for the widest possible dissemination of information.  The report states that the department provided full and comprehensive coverage of the Assembly debate on decolonisation, including the Fourth Committee (Special, Political and Decolonization), and daily coverage of the proceeding of the Caribbean regional seminar organized by the Special Committee in Havana, Cuba from 23-25 May.


The Secretary-General goes on to say that developments in East Timor also continued to be reported by the Department, including the transfer of power to the elected representatives of the Territory.  In addition, the report details activities by United Nations radio and television, publications, the Internet and activities by United Nations Information centres and services as well.


Dissemination of Information on Decolonization


SUSAN MARKHAM, Chief, Promotion and Planning Service, Public Affairs Division, Department of Public Information (DPI), said that the Department's public information activities on decolonization focused on coverage of the work of the General Assembly and the Special Committee, building partnerships with civil society through the network of United Nations information centres, and strengthening the use of the Internet for the widest possible dissemination of information.


The Department, she continued, provided full and comprehensive coverage of the Assembly debate on decolonization, including in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee and the Special Committee of 24.  A press release, issued on the occasion, traced the decolonization process and explained the role of the Special Committee.  The statement made by the Secretary-General at its opening was issued and widely disseminated.  Attention was also paid to the views expressed by various members of the Committee.  All press releases issued at Headquarters were distributed electronically to the network of the United Nations information centres worldwide and put on the Internet. 


She went on to say that the Department also provided daily press release coverage of the proceedings of the Caribbean Regional Seminar organized by the Committee of 24 in Havana from 23-25 May.  Prior to the Seminar, a background press release was issued, highlighting the mandate of the Special Committee and the programme of action for the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010). 


The Department's radio and television sections covered various aspects of decolonization and related issues in its daily news programmes and current affairs magazines in official and non-official languages.  United Nations Radio, in its news programmes, continued to report on the work of the Special Committee and of the Assembly's Fourth Committee, and produced 11 feature programmes dealing with various aspects of decolonization. 


The Department also maintained and regularly updated a Web site on the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and another one on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), she said. 


In addition, during the period covered by the report, United Nations information centres organized various activities aimed at disseminating information about and promoting awareness of the work of the United Nations on decolonization.  Those included the organization of press conferences and lectures, participation in roundtables, production of information material in local languages, issuance of press releases and the arrangement/distribution of audio and visual products on the issue. 


MARIA MALDONADO, representative of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), said that the Department had continued to provide substantive information, input and advice in publicizing the work of the United Nations on decolonization during the past year.


The DPI Palestine and Decolonization Section and the Decolonization Unit of DPA had kept in contact regarding the activities of the Special Committee, she said.  As the Committee was aware, a press officer covered the Caribbean Regional Seminar in Havana, and the press releases issued for those meetings contained a very good record of the proceedings of the Seminar.  Currently, DPA and DPI were working on an information brochure on the work of the Committee and on assistance that might be available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories, such as offers of training and scholarships for the inhabitants of the Territories. 


The Caribbean Regional Seminar in Havana, she noted, provided another opportunity to strengthen and expand contacts with individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) concerned with decolonization in the region.  Statements by one of the Vice-Chairmen of the Seminar and by the Rapporteur of the Seminar, explaining the initiatives of the Special Committee with regard to the development of work programmes for specific Territories, were highly appreciated by the participants.


Also during the period under review, the Decolonization Unit continued to respond to queries from Member States, representatives of the Territories, schools, NGOs and individuals seeking information on decolonization and on specific Territories, she said.  DPA would work jointly with DPI to ensure appropriate information coverage to publicize the United Nations objectives and activities within the framework of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, with particular emphasis on the work of the Special Committee as well as on the assistance programmes available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories. 


PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea) spoke about what he had tried to do during his chairmanship from 1999-2000.  When he began, he realized that the work of the Committee needed some organizing.  It was about getting out of the "dependency syndrome" and becoming more objective and independent.  Much of its work had been reactionary in relation to the information provided by the administering Powers.  Organizing the Committee involved three planning tools -- analyzing itself, strategizing by setting out its goals, and executing the plan to achieve those goals. 


He said that the Committee had moved to the second stage by adopting informally the draft programme of work for each Territory.  What was needed now was to engage the administering Powers in a constructive dialogue with the Committee in order to move on to the executing stage.  The Committee could not proceed constructively without the cooperation of the administering Powers.  In that connection, the delegation of New Zealand had indicated to him its willingness to sit down in an informal working group to further develop the work programmes for the territories under its administration. 


FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria), Rapporteur, commended the outgoing Chair, Peter Donigi (Papua New Guinea) for his stewardship of the Committee of 24, stating that he had contributed good insights which must now be considered.  In addition, he said that public information provided by the United Nations had been used to shed light on the activities of the Organization in the field of decolonization.


In recent times, however, within the framework of the European and Asiatic press, there had been information disseminated which revealed that those particular media did not know how things really stood with regard to United Nations decolonization activities.  They had sought to distort press releases and communiqués of the Secretary-General and slander the United Nations.


“Our analysis of this false information”, he continued “reveals two things –- that either the reporters are deliberately trying to harm the United Nations and the Secretary-General, or they are truly not aware of the history of the Organization’s activities in the field of decolonization”.  The fact that 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories were still on the map of the United Nations as territories which needed be decolonized was something that was obviously unknown to them.  He hoped that the both DPA and DPI would be ready to tell those elements what the real United Nations position was in that field.


He went on to say that if such negative coverage of the United Nations was due to the fact that the Organization’s activities in decolonization were not known, then such a state of affairs could be corrected.  If such coverage, however, set out deliberately to defame the United Nations, “then we should let world opinion know what the true activities of the Organization are”.  He said his remarks today were not meant to cast doubt on efforts by DPI to cover the activities of the Special Committee of 24.  “We must, however, always deal with new events as they develop”, he warned.  “This is normal to counter what has been published recently by the media”.


PATRICK LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said he wished to make a few points on colonial structure.  Related to that was a letter by Mr. Donigi on positions and titles in colonial entities, and also the reaction of the representative of Montserrat at the recent Havana decolonization seminar.  It was quite clear with regard to the latter, that what had happened in Havana vis-à-vis statements and accusations about administering Powers stemmed from a misunderstanding of the structure of Caribbean Non-Self-Governing Territories in terms of the colonies of the United Kingdom and those of the United States.


Consequently, in Havana -- when the representative of Montserrat said that he, like his counterparts in Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands, had not received information and invitations sent to him to come and give testimony to the Committee of 24 -- “we logically assumed that the invitations were not passed on to the Chief Ministers and other elected officials of the people of those Non-Self-Governing Territories”. 


When the invitations were read, he continued, it was found that they were addressed to territorial Governors, asking them and not the elected territorial representatives to participate in the Seminar.  “Therein we can see where the problem lies”, he said.  The Governors of Anguilla, Montserrat or the Turks and Caicos should not be the individuals invited. 


On the other hand, he continued, the Governor of the United States Virgin Islands was invited, and since he was the elected representative of the people of that Territory, he could consequently speak on behalf of those people.  The Governor of Montserrat, however, was in absolutely no position to do so.  Obviously he had disregarded the invitation, which never got to the Chief Minister.  That was why there was a need to understand the structures of the various colonial administrations.  That problem needed to be addressed.


Related to the points he had just raised, he said the request by Mr. Donigi for clarification about the titles held by representatives of the United States Virgin Islands was a legitimate one.  It needed to be taken into consideration to avoid complications and apportioning of blame to entities which should not be blamed.


The Chairman of the Committee, BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUÉ (Côte d’Ivoire) said that after the meeting there would be an informal meeting in order to address the issues raised by Mr. Lewis.


He said he fully agreed with what Mr. Donigi said regarding the search for new ways and means to enable the Committee of 24 to achieve its aims.  He also agreed with him that the role of the administering Power was fundamental, and that the element most lacking in the whole decolonization process was political will. Certainly the Committee had weaknesses, but if political will was demonstrated by all, then there could be movement forward.  Some powers had demonstrated that will, and through their participation in the work of the Committee it was possible to consider questions on their Territories positively.


Action on Draft Resolutions


The Committee adopted the draft resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization (A/AC.109/2001/L.4) without a vote, as it did the draft resolution on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations (A/AC.109/2001/L.5).


On the draft resolution on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories (A/AC.109/2001/L.6), the representative of Papua New Guinea requested that consideration of the text be postponed until consultations could be undertaken with Guam.


The representative of Antigua and Barbuda said that with regard to sending visiting missions to Territories, there was a request from another Non-Self-Governing Territory for a visit by the Committee.  That Territory had stated that if the United Nations was not in a position to finance the mission, it would be willing to contribute to the visit.  He wanted to know what the position of the Secretariat was regarding such a request.


MOHAMMAD SATTAR, Secretary of the Committee, replied that there was money in the budget for three visiting missions per year. 


The representative of Antigua and Barbuda asked whether a fourth Territory, which was not among those three and was willing to contribute to the cost of the mission, could also be visited.

The Committee Chairman, Mr. Tanouh-Boutchoué (Côte d'Ivoire) replied that the matter would be looked into by the Secretariat.


Syria's representative said that the Committee should wait to consider the draft until consultations could be undertaken with Guam, as proposed by the representative of Papua New Guinea.  On the issue of visits, the problem had not been the financing of missions but rather the inaction of the Committee.  More specifically, the problem was the difficulties posed when administering Powers did not allow such visits. 


The representative of Papua New Guinea said that it was important to realize that such visits were an activity listed among other activities in the draft programmes of work for the Territories.  There might be a need for the Committee to undertake such missions to promote work programmes at the level of the territories, and obtain the input of the people of the territories in order to finalize the drafts.  The other way to finalize the drafts was to bring the representatives of the territories to New York.  


The Chairman said that once the Committee reached agreement with the administering Powers, such visits were a question of the overall case-by-case consideration of each Territory.  The missions could not be undertaken without the political will and participation of the administering Powers.


The Committee decided to postpone consideration of the draft resolution.


The Rapporteur of the Committee, Mr. Mekdad (Syria) said that he was following consultations on three draft resolutions.  He asked delegations to contact him with remarks with respect to those draft resolutions.


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For information media. Not an official record.