SPECIAL COMMITTEE ADOPTS TEXT CALLING FOR ASSISTANCE TO TERRITORIES BY SPECIALIZED UN BODIES

2 July 2001
GA/COL/3056

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ADOPTS TEXT CALLING FOR ASSISTANCE TO TERRITORIES BY SPECIALIZED UN BODIES

02/07/2001
Press ReleaseGA/COL/3056

Special Committee on

Decolonization

9th Meeting (AM)

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ADOPTS TEXT CALLING FOR ASSISTANCE TO TERRITORIES

BY SPECIALIZED UN BODIES

Also Adopts Report of 2001 Caribbean Regional Seminar;

Considers Wider Participation by Territories in UN Conferences, Special Sessions

The Special Committee on decolonization this morning urged those specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.

It took that action as it approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations.

By that text, the Committee also requested those bodies to provide information on:  environmental problems facing the Territories; the impact of natural disasters on those Territories; ways and means to assist the Territories to fight drug trafficking, money laundering and other illegal and criminal activities; and the illegal exploitation of the marine resources of the Territories and the need to utilize those resources for the benefit of the peoples of the Territories. 

In addition, the Committee requested the administering Powers concerned to facilitate the participation of appointed and elected representatives of the Territories in the relevant meetings and conferences of the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, so that the Territories may benefit from the related activities of those bodies. 

In another action, the Special Committee adopted the report of the Caribbean Regional Seminar held in Havana, Cuba, from 23 to 25 May.

Before taking those actions, the Special Committee heard from a representative of the government of the United States Virgin Islands, who called for greater participation of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in United Nations world conferences and special sessions.  He also spoke about the holding of regional seminars in New York.

Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Côte d'Ivoire, Saint Lucia and Cuba.

The Special Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 3 July, to consider the question of New Caledonia; economic and other activities which affect the interests of peoples of the Territories; military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in Territories under their administration; and the report of the Special Committee.

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 consider the implementation of the Declaration by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations as well as the draft report on the Caribbean Regional Seminar.

Before the Committee is a draft resolution submitted by the Acting Chairman on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations (A/AC.109/2001/L.11).  It would have the Committee urge those specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible. 

Also, the Committee would request them to provide information on:  environmental problems facing the Territories; the impact of natural disasters on those Territories; ways and means to assist the Territories to fight drug trafficking, money laundering and other illegal and criminal activities; and the illegal exploitation of the marine resources of the Territories and the need to utilize those resources for the benefit of the peoples of the Territories. 

In addition, the Committee would request the administering Powers concerned to facilitate the participation of appointed and elected representatives of the Territories in the relevant meetings and conferences of the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, so that the Territories may benefit from the related activities of those agencies and organizations. 

Further, the Committee would recommend that all governments intensify their efforts in the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system of which they are members to accord priority to the question of providing assistance to the peoples of the Territories.

Statement by Acting Chairman

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire), Acting Chairman, said the Special Committee could not take up the question of New Caledonia as flight problems had prevented the arrival of Roch Wamytan, the petitioner from that Territory’s Front de libération nationale kanak socialiste (FLNKS).  The Special Committee would take up the question of New Caledonia tomorrow.

The Special Committee then took up the question of implementation of the Decolonization Declaration by United Nations specialized agencies and associated international institutions.

Statements on Implementation of Declaration

CARLYLE CORBIN, on behalf of the government of the United States Virgin Islands, said that of some 14 specialized agencies reviewed in 1998, seven were found to have revised their procedures to increase the flexibility of their criteria for the participation of Non-Self-Governing Territories in their activities.  None of the remaining seven had done so since.

Some specialized agencies of the Economic and Social Council had said they did not consider it part of their mandate to implement the Declaration according to the relevant resolution, he said.  It was clear that the Special Committee’s repeated recommendations, made over several decades, had not been carried out.  Modifications must be made and a mechanism developed to ensure that the agencies carried out their activities in implementing the Declaration.  Their seats at Special Committee meetings remained chronically empty.

He said that changes had been made to Non-Self-Governing Territories that were associate members of regional commissions to permit them to take part in world conferences, beginning with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)(Rio de Janeiro, 1992) through the 1999 special session on small island developing States.

While grateful to the Caribbean and Pacific States, to the "Group of 77" developing countries and China and to others for supporting the inclusion of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in world conferences, he said the extent of their actual participation, with the notable exception of the recent special session on HIV/AIDS, was inconsistent.  No information was provided to them on the preparatory processes, which could be of immense assistance.  The only available information was obtained from reports of the Secretary-General.

In conclusion, he stressed that in order to achieve their full measure of self-government, as well as to develop economically and socially, the Non-Self-Governing Territories must have direct access to the wide range of activities of the United Nations system.

JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea) sought a clarification as to who would pay for the participation of Non-Self-Governing Territories in world conferences.  While appreciating that the status of their representatives as petitioners allowed them to attend Special Committee sessions at United Nations expense, who would pick up the tab if they had observer status and stayed for the entire three weeks of the Special Committee’s work?

Mr. CORBIN replied that it was important to note that funding for participation in world conferences and special sessions had been made on a case-by-case basis.  While Non-Self-Governing Territories were the smallest of the small and could not afford to participate in one-week or two-week conferences and preparatory processes, assistance had been made available in the context of regional conferences.

He noted that while assistance was often made available for the least developed and lesser-developed countries, it was not available for the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  That situation should be examined closely to allow consideration of their participation in conferences of direct social and economic relevance to those Territories.

Secretary MOHAMMAD SATTAR said the Special Committee would have to make a recommendation for consideration by the full Committee of the General Assembly.

AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) said that on the question of funding, the administering Powers should make a commitment towards participation of representatives from the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  If such a commitment came from the administering Powers, then the Committee, the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly could look at the situation more favourably.  There had to be some commitment from the administering Powers to facilitate that participation.

The Committee, acting without a vote, adopted the text on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations. 

Caribbean Regional Seminar

Mr. CORBIN drew the attention of the Committee to key recommendations of the report of the Caribbean Regional Seminar.  Paragraph 5 had made the important link between decolonization and human rights. Paragraph 9 introduced a new element related to a discussion on the issue of unilateral authority of the administering Powers.  Paragraphs 10 and 12 related to the role of the United Nations in observing and monitoring the evolution of the Territories towards self-determination.  Paragraph 15 reflected the general consensus at the Seminar for the Committee to embark on a public awareness campaign to inform the people of the Territories of their options.  Paragraph 28 called for the United Nations information centres to disseminate information on decolonization to the Territories.

In paragraph 23, the Seminar reaffirmed the regional nature of the seminars to ensure their success, he continued.  It was unclear whether shifting the seminars to New York would be successful.  In the context of the First International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the holding of regional seminars had been deemed important.  Why had research on the Territories not been carried out, and how could the Committee make appropriate recommendations on the future of the Territories without that research? 

On the creation of the International Expert Group on Decolonization, he said that it would encourage the flow of information among the Territories and provide a forum for presentation and discussion of views by experts on the Territories.  He applauded the formation of that Group, which would heighten the awareness of the people of the Territories of their political options.

Acting Chairman BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE, in his capacity as representative of Côte d’Ivoire, said that the seminars provided the Committee with a working tool, enabling it to have direct first-hand information.  Unfortunately, some had asked why they could not be held in New York.  He was convinced that the seminars carried out in the region were of great importance.  First, they took place in a framework in which the people of the Territories could speak.  That was a good working method for the Committee.

On American Samoa, the Committee had stated that the work programme had been sent to the administering Power and the meeting had taken place with the participation of representatives from the Territory.  He had been surprised when the representative of that Territory informed the Seminar that he had not been aware of the work programme for that Territory.

Mr. CORBIN said he too was amazed that there was no awareness about the work programme on American Samoa on the part of that Territory’s representatives.  The guidelines should be published in a formal document to be distributed to the Territories so that they could be aware that such a process existed.  The purpose

of that process should be to assist the Territories in the achievement of self-determination and not solely to “delist” them.

The ACTING CHAIRMAN said that the Committee might not have made the programmes sufficiently public for the people in the Territories to be aware of the Committee’s new approach.  The meeting held on American Samoa was not a public United Nations meeting, but it was held with the United States as well as representatives from that Territory. 

Mr. OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said that on the issue of regional seminars, his delegation’s position was well known.  He was in favour of those seminars being held in the various regions.  The Committee should test the ground for holding the seminar in New York since some Member States had criticized the Committee for holding them in the region.  Perhaps one seminar could be held in New York to see how much it would cost and how many representatives would attend.  He would be in favour of answering that question once and for all.  On the participation of the Territories, that should be discussed when it came time to discussing the holding of the seminar in New York.

On discussing the Territories on a case-by-case basis, the process was quite innovative and the people of the Territories would not be excluded from the discussions, he said.  That was shown two weeks ago in connection with the meeting held on Tokelau with New Zealand and other interested parties.  On American Samoa, the Committee would involve the people of that Territory.  There should be a visiting mission to that Territory to put the question to the people themselves on their future status.  

Introducing the report of the Caribbean Regional Seminar, Committee Rapporteur FAYSSAL MEKDAD said that many issues and concerns had been raised during the Seminar, held in Havana, Cuba.  He noted that more participants than ever had taken part in the Seminar.  Contrary to popular belief, no one was touring the island during the Seminar and many had not left the hotel during the three days.  He recommended the report for adoption by the Committee.

Mr. OVIA (Papua New Guinea) noted that the report was very comprehensive.  The Seminar was a well-attended and powerful event, chaired by the Foreign Minister of Saint Lucia.  His delegation would not stand in the way of consensus on the report, with the exception of paragraphs 50 and 51 on the issue of Puerto Rico in light of the decision taken last week.

EFME FRICOT (Saint Lucia) said the report of the Seminar was one of the most important outputs of the Committee and should be adopted by consensus.

The Committee adopted the report of the Seminar and would annex it to its report to the Assembly.

LUIS ALBERTO AMOROS NUNEZ (Cuba) expressed gratitude for the kind words expressed about his country and its leaders in connection with the Seminar. 

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For information media. Not an official record.