SECOND ANTI-COLONIALISM DECADE, SMALL ISLAND STATES, WESTERN SAHARA AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS FOURTH COMMITTEE BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE

8 October 2001
GA/SPD/211

SECOND ANTI-COLONIALISM DECADE, SMALL ISLAND STATES, WESTERN SAHARA AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS FOURTH COMMITTEE BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE

08/10/2001
Press ReleaseGA/SPD/211

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

3rd Meeting (PM)

SECOND ANTI-COLONIALISM DECADE, SMALL ISLAND STATES, WESTERN SAHARA

AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS FOURTH COMMITTEE BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE

The Second International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism, the situation of the small island Non-Self-Governing Territories and the question of Western Sahara were among the topics discussed this afternoon, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) began its general debate on decolonization issues.

Speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, the representative of Chile said that the plan of action for the Second Decade provided for a joint international effort to assist the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in their evolution towards self-government.  The objective was not for Territories to be "removed" from the list as an end in itself, but rather the full and unqualified implementation of the United Nations Charter, General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and other relevant resolutions.

He expressed the Rio Group's view that measures should be adopted to facilitate the sustained and balanced growth of the small-island economies of the Caribbean and Pacific, which comprised the majority of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  In addition, the Group considered that the international community must pay particular attention and contribute to the solution of the problems affecting those Territories.

Regarding Western Sahara, South Africa's representative expressed deep concern over the continued delay in the full implementation of the agreements reached between Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO).  A durable peace would not be attained through an imposed solution and the Settlement Plan remained the sole framework that had been approved by the two parties.  Whatever the Saharawi people might decide in the referendum was their prerogative, but their right to make that decision remained inalienable, he added.

Highlighting other issues, Cuba's representative said United Nations visiting missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories had become a vague memory, despite their importance.  The Special Committee on decolonization was left with propaganda campaigns, which served as information.  In addition, military activities continued to trample the rights of the local populations and the exploitation of natural resources continued to violate United Nations resolutions.

Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue (Cote d'Ivoire), Acting Chairman of the Special Committee on decolonization, said the cooperation of the administering Powers was required in order for that body to carry out its mandate.  It had enjoyed the cooperation of New Zealand during its 2001 session, France and Portugal had

Fifty-sixth General Assembly        - 1a -                  GA/SPD/211

Fourth Committee                                            8 October 2001

3rd Meeting

attended some sessions while the United Kingdom and the United States had attended informally.  The Special Committee still awaited the response of the United Kingdom and the United States on the modalities for continuing an informal dialogue on the Territories of Pitcairn and American Samoa.

Fayssal Mekdad (Syria), Rapporteur of the Special Committee, introduced that body's report and outlined its work during the 2001 session.

Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of the Russian Federation, India, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Malaysia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Tunisia, Libya, and Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)).

The representative of the United Kingdom made a statement in exercise of the right of reply.

When the Fourth Committee meets again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, it will continue its general debate on decolonization issues.

Background

As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) began its general debate on decolonization issues this afternoon, it had before it the report 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 (document A/56/23, Parts I to III), covering that body’s 2001 session.

According to Part I of the report, the opening of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism underlined the need to advance the Special Committee’s agenda.  It intends to intensify dialogue and cooperation with administering Powers in the interest of decolonization, in accordance with agreements to ensure participation of Territorial representatives at every stage of discussions.

In addition, the report says, the Special Committee will continue to review developments in each Territory and to conduct seminars for the purpose of receiving and disseminating information on the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  It will hold a seminar in the Pacific region in 2002.

The report states that the Special Committee reviewed its various resolutions, including those on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter; implementation of the decolonization Declaration by United Nations specialized agencies and associated international institutions; economic and other activities affecting the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories; its decision on military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in Territories under their administration; and its resolution on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories.

The Special Committee will continue to seek the implementation of General Assembly resolutions calling upon the administering Powers to invite United Nations visiting missions to Territories under their administration, the report says.  The Special Committee continues to attach the utmost importance to visiting missions as a means of collecting first-hand information on conditions in the Territories and on the wishes and aspirations of their peoples concerning their future status.

According to the report, the Special Committee will continue to pay special attention to the specific problems of the small-island Territories, which constitute the overwhelming majority of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories.  In addition to general problems facing developing countries, small-island Territories also suffer handicaps arising from the interplay of size, remoteness, geographical dispersion, vulnerability to natural disasters and fragility of ecosystems.

Other special problems, the report says, include constraints in transport and communications; great distances from market centres; a highly limited internal market; lack of natural resources; weak indigenous technological capacity; the acute difficulty of obtaining freshwater supplies; heavy dependence on imports and a small number of commodities; depletion of non-renewable resources; migration of highly-skilled individuals; shortage of administrative personnel; and heavy financial burdens.

The report states that the Special Committee will continue to recommend measures to facilitate a sustained and balanced growth of the fragile small-island economies and increased assistance in the development of all their sectors, with particular emphasis on diversification.  The focus should remain on environmental problems; the impact of hurricanes, volcanoes and other natural disasters, beach and coastal erosion and drought; drug trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities; and the illegal exploitation of marine resources.

Part II of the report outlines the Special Committee's consideration of specific Territories and actions taken on related draft resolutions during its two-part 2001 session, which took place on 21 February and from 18 June through 3 July.

On 19 June, the report says, the Special Committee took up the question of Gibraltar and heard statements by that Territory’s Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the representative of Spain.  It decided to defer consideration of the item.  Taking up the question of New Caledonia on 3 July, the Special Committee heard a statement made on behalf of the Front de liberation nationale Kanak socialiste (FLNKS) before approving, without a vote, a related draft resolution. 

Taking up Western Sahara on 21 June, the Special Committee granted a hearing to a representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO), the report states.  On 21 February and 18 June, it considered the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

According to the report, the Special Committee, considering the question of Tokelau on 28 June, heard statements by the Ulu of Tokelau and by that Territory's Administrator.  Acting without a vote, it approved a related draft resolution.

The report says that on 29 June, as the Special Committee considered the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) question, it heard statements by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, members of the Territory's Legislative Council, and several petitioners.  It approved, without a vote, a related draft resolution introduced by the representative of Chile on behalf of Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela.

Part III of the report contains draft resolutions and a decision recommended by the Special Committee to the General Assembly.

The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's report on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 eof the United Nations Charter (document A/56/67).

[Under Article 73 e,Member States with responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained self-government accept to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General information on the socio-economic and educational conditions in those territories other than Trusteeship territories falling under Chapters XII and XIII.]

Annexed to the report is a table showing the dates on which information was transmitted from 1999 to 2001.  The transmitted information includes information on geography, history and population, socio-economic and educational conditions.  Information on Territories Administered by New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States also includes constitutional and political developments.

The Secretary-General states that the Secretariat has continued to use the information transmitted to prepare working papers on each Non-Self-Governing Territory for the Special Committee, which takes the information into account in formulating its decisions on the 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), covering activities undertaken by the United Nations Department of Public Information in that period.

It states that the Department’s activities on decolonization focused on coverage of the General Assembly's work and that of the Special Committee in building partnerships with civil society through the network of United Nations information centres , as well as strengthening Internet use for the widest possible dissemination of information.  The Department also provided comprehensive coverage of the decolonization debate in the Assembly and the Fourth Committee, and daily coverage of the Special Committee's Caribbean regional seminar held in Havana, Cuba, from 23 to 25 May 2001.

The Department continued to report developments in East Timor, the Secretary-General notes.  Coverage included the transfer of power to the Territory's elected representatives.  In addition, the report details the activities of United Nations radio and television, publications, the Internet, United Nations information centres and other services.

Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/56/88).

It cites a note verbale dated 27 March 2001 from the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, informing the Secretary-General that it was providing free education to students from Montserrat from kindergarten to the tertiary level.  The population of Antigua and Barbuda had increased by 5 per cent due to its absorption of Montserratians displaced by the volcanic eruption there.

According to the report, the Permanent Mission of Argentina informed the Secretary-General on 9 April 2001: "The Malvinas Islands were registered by the United Kingdom as a Non-Self-Governing Territory.  This is a consequence of the illegal British occupation of Argentine territory that took place in 1833.

"Be that as it may, because the islands form part of Argentina's national territory, its inhabitants -- like the rest of the Argentine population -- enjoy the benefits of the National Scholarship Programme offered by the Ministry of Education of the Argentine Republic."

The report also cites a note verbale dated 21 March 2001 from the Permanent Mission of Canada regarding scholarships offered to students from Non-Self-Governing Territories and on the number of candidates granted scholarships in the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Programme.  The students involved are from Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Montserrat.

According to the report, the Permanent Mission of Colombia indicated on 3 May 2001 that the Colombian Institute for Educational Grants and Technical Study Abroad is making one scholarship available to the United Nations for a candidate to be selected from the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The candidate should be submitted for consideration before 15 November 2001, for one year of postgraduate study at a Colombian university, beginning in February 2002 and renewable for one year.

The report says that on 17 August 2000, the Permanent Representative of Mexico informed the Secretariat of an offer of scholarships to students and teachers from Non-Self-Governing Territories to study Spanish language and Mexican culture for three to six months.  The scholarship programme is available to nationals of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and United States Virgin Islands.

Also cited in the report is a note verbale dated 18 April 2001 from the Permanent Observer of the Holy See.  It states that scholarships have been made available for 11 inhabitants of American Samoa and five others from East Timor to study at various pontifical universities in Rome during the present academic year.

The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's report on implementation of the decolonization Declaration by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations (document A/56/65).  It contains a list of the agencies and institutions that were invited to submit information on their efforts to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions.  Summaries of the replies received from those bodies are contained in document E/2001/57.

The Committee also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the question of Western Sahara (document A/56/159) outlining developments in the Territory from 31 August 2000 to 30 June 2001.  The report describes both United Nations activity and meetings involving the Government of Morocco and the Frente Popular para la liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y Rio de Oro (Frente POLISARIO), during that period.

Meeting in Berlin on 28 September 2000 under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, James Baker III, the parties tried to resolve the multiple problems relating to implementation of the Settlement Plan for Western Sahara, the report states.  They also sought agreement on a mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute over the Territory.

The report says that the meeting, attended by Algeria and Mauritania as observers, failed to come up with specific proposals agreeable to both sides.  The Personal Envoy expressed regret that positions had not changed since 1997 and pressed for further areas of agreement.

As a result of continuing disagreement over the Settlement Plan, in May of this year, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General had presented to the Algerian Government and the POLISARIO a draft “framework agreement” on the status of Western Sahara.  Algeria responded with a memorandum containing their views on the framework agreement, while the POLISARIO refused to discuss it because it did not include independence.  They subsequently provided official proposals aimed at overcoming obstacles to implementation of the Settlement Plan.

In his report to the Security Council in June, the Secretary-General expressed the hope that Morocco, POLISARIO, Algeria and Mauritania would agree to meet over the next five months to discuss with specificity the elements of the proposed framework agreement that was aimed at reaching an early durable and agreed resolution of the conflict in a way that did not foreclose self-determination, but indeed provided for it.  While discussions proceeded on the framework agreement, the settlement plan would not be abandoned, but would be put on hold.  The Security Council subsequently approved and extension in the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 November, to allow time for such discussions on the draft framework agreement, as well as any other proposal for a political solution that might be put forward by the parties.

[For further information on the question of Western Sahara (documents S/2001/148, S/2001/398 and S/2001/613) see press releases SC/7020 of 27 February 2001, SC/7053 of 27 April 2001 and SC/7090 of 29 June 2001.  Other information related to the Fourth Committee, contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization (document A/56/1 and Corr.1) is available in press release SG/2071–GA/9911 of 20 September 2001.]

Statements

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia), Committee Chairman, reviewed the history of the Special Committee on Decolonization and said that its work had been one of the hallmarks of United Nations success, ensuring that people in Non-Self-Governing Territories were able to progress to self-determination and independence, if they wished.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria), Rapporteur of the Special Committee on Decolonization, introduced the report of the Committee on its work during 2001 (document A/56/23).  He said that the start of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism had provided needed impetus to the United Nations work on decolonization and had given rise to renewed expectations.  During the period under review, the Special Committee continued to encourage dialogue with relevant parties and to keep itself informed of the situation in the Territories.  It welcomed, in particular, the discussions initiated with New Zealand and representatives of Tokelau.  Outlining other matters covered, including the results of the regional seminar conducted in Havana, Cuba in May, he asked that the membership of the Committees positively consider the draft resolutions contained in part III of the report.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Cote d’Ivoire), Acting Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization, said that, at the start of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, deliberations had again focused on the political, economic and social situation prevailing in the remaining 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He said that at the end of the year’s session, one decision and nine resolutions were adopted by consensus.  A unanimous resolution on Puerto Rico was also adopted, and the need for a joint effort with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was highlighted.  A record number of participants from the Territories were present at the regional seminar in Cuba; it was clear that views of the Non-Self-Governing Territories must be fully taken into account in any decolonization work programme for the future.

In order for the Special Committee to carry out its mandate, he said, cooperation of the administering Powers was also required.  The cooperation of New Zealand had been enjoyed during the past session, France and Portugal attended sessions and the United States and United Kingdom attended some sessions informally.  Encouraged by meetings on Tokelau, the Committee still awaited, however, the response of the United Kingdom and the United States on the modalities for continuing the informal dialogue on Pitcairn and American Samoa.  The successful elections in East Timor were also encouraging.  The Committee must make a difference in assisting the peoples of the remaining territories to exercise their right to self-determination in accordance with all General Assembly resolutions.

JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that the plan of action for the Second International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism provided for a joint international effort to assist the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in their evolution towards self-government.  The objective was not for Territories to be "removed" from the list as an end in itself, but rather the full and unqualified implementation of the United Nations Charter, General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and other relevant resolutions.

Referring to the regional seminar held in Cuba last May, he said the Rio Group attached great importance to such seminars, which constituted an appropriate forum for a debate focused on the principal matters of interest for Non-Self-Governing Territories.  They offered the representatives of the Territories, as well as experts and observers, the opportunity to present their opinions and recommendations to the Special Committee.

Regarding specific colonial issues, he stressed the need for the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations towards a peaceful, just and lasting solution to their sovereignty dispute over the Falklands (Malvinas), South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.  Regarding East Timor, the Rio Group welcomed the peaceful and orderly elections for the Territory's first Constituent Assembly on 30 August.  The high participation rate was evidence of the desire of East Timor's population to create a participatory democracy and a clear indication of the maturity of its political and social leaders.

With regard to Western Sahara, he expressed the Rio Group's firm hope that the Settlement Plan would be implemented in accordance with all the existing agreements and in accordance with the Charter and the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.  Within that framework, the Rio Group hoped that the parties, under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, would continue their efforts to overcome the problems in order to permit the Saharawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.

He expressed the Rio Group's view that measures should be adopted to facilitate the sustained and balanced growth of the economies of the small-island territories of the Caribbean and Pacific, which comprised the majority of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  In addition, the Group considered that the international community must pay particular attention and contribute to the solution of the problems affecting those Territories.

FADL NACERODIEN (South Africa) said freedom, democracy and human rights were more than lofty ideals; they were also prerequisites for sustainable development.  The fundamental rights of freedom and democracy, human rights and even the right to life itself could be fleeting.  New tyrants and warmongers arose very quickly, if new-found freedom was not jealously guarded and protected.  History was the ongoing story of the persistent struggle against those who were opposed to the enjoyment of the most basic rights.  The Fourth Committee must play an important role in shaping that story.

He said that, while recalling past successes like the fight against apartheid, which had liberated South Africa from minority racist rule, it must also be remembered that there were many others before the Committee who did not yet enjoy freedom, dignity and self-determination.  It was against that background that South Africa welcomed the proclamation of a Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.  The vestiges of colonialism and domination must give way to a new era of partnerships and collective action.

However, South Africa remained deeply concerned that the loss of life in the Middle East continued to rise, he said.  The international community could not ignore the escalating violence.  In particular, the United Nations could not ignore its responsibilities that were more than mere moral obligations.  The Charter, as well as the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, obliged Member States, individually and as a global institution, to end the violence.

He also expressed deep concern over the continued delay in the full implementation of the agreements reached between the parties to the dispute over Western Sahara.  In particular, South Africa wished to see the final realization of the referendum prepared by MINURSO.  A durable peace would not be attained through an imposed solution and the Settlement Plan remained the sole framework that had been approved by the two parties.  Whatever the Saharawi people might decide in the referendum was their prerogative, but their right to make that decision remained inalienable.

ORLANDO REQUEIJO (Cuba) said that it was obvious that the decolonization process had impressive, historic success, but the list of Non-Self-Governing territories had remained stagnant in recent years.  Issues of territorial size and other criteria had diluted the issue of decolonization, which concerned the universal right to self-determination and independence.  Those two rights must not be considered separately.  The will and effort of the Special Committee were not sufficient to achieve its goals, without the cooperation of the administering Powers, some of which refused to engage in sustained dialogue. 

Visits to Non-Self-Governing Territories, he said, had become vague recollections despite their importance.  Instead of first-hand information, the Committee was left with propaganda.  Reporting from the administering Powers was, in addition, continuously delayed.  Military activities also continued, trampling the rights of the local population, and exploitation of natural resources violated United Nations resolutions.  In bringing to light the actual situations in the Territories, regional seminars were important, as was the Web site on decolonization.  Public information was otherwise lacking. 

He reiterated Cuba’s position on Puerto Rico, which had maintained its identity as a Latin American entity and deserved independence, as such.  He welcomed East Timor’s progress towards full membership in the international community.  The process in Western Sahara, however, was threatened; the only way of finding an honorable resolution to that problem was the holding of an impartial, just and free referendum.  He expressed total support for Argentina in its sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas and, concerning Guam, urged the administering Power to cooperate fully.  He stressed the important role of the General Assembly of United Nations in fighting for the rights of the weakest peoples of the world, unencumbered by the threat of veto.  He hoped that colonies would soon become a phenomenon of the past.

VLADIMIR ZAEMSKY (Russian Federation) said that increasing the effectiveness of the Special Committee’s work was a priority.  It needed to be oriented towards concrete results, including practical measures aimed at promoting self-governance, non-confrontational and pragmatic approaches, and painstaking promotion of dialogue between the Special Committee and the administering Powers.  The realization of the right of the peoples of the Territories to self-determination and independence was not possible without fully taking into account the objective realities of their political, social and economic development, along with the whole variety of forms and modalities of self-determination, based on freedom of choice and respect for human rights.

He commended the activities of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and the progress achieved in that Territory’s progress, in which the United Nations, he said, had played the key role.  The scale, configuration and time limits of the continued international presence should be determined on the basis of the real needs of East Timor and the developing situation, with due regard to its Government.  In those efforts, a broad range of United Nations bodies should be involved, supported by regional mechanisms, international financial institutions and individual countries.  With the consolidation of government structures, the international presence should be gradually phased out.  All those transitions should be smooth and well-calculated.

The current situation in Western Sahara, however, did not give grounds for optimism, he said.  He reconfirmed that Russia welcomed any settlement of that dispute, provided it was acceptable to the parties to the conflict.  For the settlement to be effective and long-lasting, any proposed formula should deliberately avoid implying winners and losers; a compromise must be achieved through concessions by both parties.  The United Nations Settlement Plan was still a good safety net, providing hope for a political settlement   In Western Sahara, as anywhere else, the political will to overcome obstacles remained a decisive factor in solving decolonization issues.

Y.K. SINHA (India) said the right of the non-self-governing peoples to choose the political system they desired for their own governance was of fundamental importance.  The role of the United Nations was to ascertain their wishes and to facilitate the emergence of a political, economic and social structure of their choice.  The Special Committee had sought to engage the administering Powers in a constructive and meaningful discussion on the fate of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories.  Cooperation, not confrontation, was the key to its work.

While the levels of engagement varied, a propitious beginning had been made and the interaction should be sustained, he said.  Discussions to arrive at programmes of work for each Non-Self-Governing Territory, in consultation with the people of the Territory concerned, would greatly facilitate the Committee's work.  Not only should the initial discussions held so far on American Samoa and Pitcairn with the administering Powers concerned be built upon, but the ambit of that engagement must be expanded to include the other remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Pointing out that the majority of United Nations Members had emerged only recently from colonial rule, he said they had all fought for freedom in one form or another.  That freedom, won sometimes at great cost, could not be taken for granted.  The sixth principle of the Declaration on decolonization stipulated that "any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity or the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations".

Such attempts continued he said.  Terrorists, attempting to overthrow representative governments, to deny individual and civic freedoms, to destroy the fundamental human rights that the Declaration sought to protect, described themselves with barefaced effrontery as freedom fighters.  Their objectives and the means they used besmirched the memory of those who had truly fought for freedom.  Terrorists were not freedom fighters.  Terrorism was defined by the act, not by a spurious and self-serving description of the perpetrators.

DON MACKAY (New Zealand), reporting on Tokelau's progress towards self-government, said that the Territory and New Zealand saw self-determination as a dynamic and evolving process.  Tokelau's need was to devise a form of self-government that fit its cultural context through a process of local empowerment.

He recalled that the Ulu of Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Kuresa Nasau, had told the Special Committee in June this year that the act of self-determination in Tokelau's case would not necessarily be a "sudden vote on the existing three options".  He had also said that Tokelau was not approaching the question with only the "free association option" in mind; it was also looking at the full integration option in order to make "an informed and educated choice".

A major step towards full self-government this year had been the withdrawal of the New Zealand State Services Commissioner from his role as employer of the Tokelau Public Service as of 30 June, he said.  Regarding the development of Tokelau's international personality, the Territory's admission as an associate member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was set for 15 October, the first day of that agency's General Conference.

He said the reality of Tokelau was not about eliminating colonialism, but of resolving issues of governance for the very smallest of States.  New Zealand continued to help meet Tokelau's needs by providing substantial funding from its official development assistance programme.  It continued to respect Tokelau's wish to move at its own pace on the process of self-determination.

VANESSA HOWE-JONES (United Kingdom) said that further progress had been made towards the modernization of the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories.  In that regard, she called attention to the third meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Committee, which provided a forum for structured dialogue between the elected representatives of the Territories and the Government of the United Kingdom, including on such issues as management of public affairs, future development, and constitutional human rights matters.

Among other developments, she said that a bill had been introduced into Parliament that would grant British citizenship and its privileges to citizens of 13 of the 14 United Kingdom Overseas Territories.  The change in terminology from “Dependent” to “Overseas Territories” reflected more accurately their status.  In addition, the United Kingdom and most of those Territories adopted an environmental charter in September, setting out key environmental commitments on the part of the governments involved, for the purpose of working in partnership on that issue.  It was an example of how progress could be made in critical areas of mutual interest.

For the United Kingdom, she said, the wishes of the peoples concerned, exercised in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter and other international treaties, were of paramount importance.  The relationship of the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories continued to be based on self-determination, mutual obligations, freedom for the territories to run their affairs to the greatest degree possible, and a commitment for economic and emergency assistance.  Though that was similar to the Special Committee’s approach, that communality was not always reflected in relevant resolutions.  In particular, the commitment to self-determination was applied selectively by the Special Committee.  The United Kingdom, however, would continue to improve its cooperation with that Committee.  It particularly welcomed its efforts to pursue informal dialogue with administering Powers, with a view to possible future removal of Territories from the Committee’s list.

RANI ISMAIL HADI ALI (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the Association believed that the objectives contained in the Declaration on decolonization were the roadmap towards the attainment of a world premised on peace, justice and sustainable development. ASEAN called on the administering Powers to take all necessary steps to ensure the effective and speedy implementation of the Declaration and the relevant United Nations resolutions on decolonization.

The complexities of the situation in the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories should not deter Member States from fulfilling their collective responsibility to fashion mechanisms to meet their special characteristics and unique problems, he said.  Those specific characteristics should not prevent the populations of the Territories from exercising their inalienable right to self-determination.

He said the specialized agencies and other Organizations of the United Nations could play a significant role in expediting advances in the economic and social sectors of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  Such assistance was indispensable in helping the peoples of the Territories become self-sustaining.  ASEAN supported the promotion of close cooperation between the Special Committee and the ECOSOC in order to enhance United Nations assistance in the economic and social spheres.  Such enhanced contacts would raise the awareness of the peoples of the Territories about the options and benefits available to them.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia)  said that, in spite of significant progress, the decolonization process remained incomplete, and thus required the continued cooperation of the international community.  The Special Committee continued to play an important part in those efforts.  The case-by-case programme of work required, especially, the cooperation of the administering Powers, dialogue with which had been increasing.  He hoped that cooperation would continue to improve, with a corresponding improvement of information flow.

To ensure the aspirations of the peoples the Territories were fulfilled, he said, those peoples needed to be made aware of all their options and all other relevant information.  Their voices also needed to be heard.  Missions to the Territories were important for that purpose.  In addition, Territories, especially the small-island Territories, required development assistance to increase their viability.  With the declaration of the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the United Nations maintained that the issue was still important and continued to require the collective efforts of the international community.

Mr. YAHYA (Libya) said it was high time that the administering Powers applied the Declaration on decolonization and the relevant resolutions in order to fulfil the will of the international community and the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  It was shameful that people were still living under occupation and oppression, while at the same time the same countries repeated slogans calling for human rights.

He said the practice  whereby some administering Powers used the Non-Self-Governing Territories for military purposes must end.  It had a negative impact on the health of the populations of those Territories.  Certain countries practiced oppression against those peoples, throwing them into prison, abusing them, causing radical geographical changes and forcibly altering the indigenous demographic character of the Territories.  Measures were needed to prevent those countries from resorting to such practices.

The administering Powers should facilitate the free expression of the people’s opinions before the Special Committee or other forums, he said.  The United Nations should allow them to participate in the work of the Special Committee, so they could realize their interests.  Libya hoped that the Second International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism would be an effective step towards self-determination and independence for the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, according to their own choice and independent of foreign oppression or pressure.

FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States, said that the persistence of colonial situations was not compatible with the principles upon which the United Nations was founded, and hindered the consolidation of international peace and security.  Therefore, the States of MERCOSUR were firmly committed to the completion of the decolonization process.

Turning to the question of the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, he said that the countries he represented associated themselves with the statement made by the representative of Chile on behalf of the Rio Group.  He read the text of the “Declaration of the Malvinas Islands” signed by the heads of State at the tenth meeting of the Presidents of MERCOSUR, Bolivia and Chile.  Those countries reaffirmed their support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in that dispute over sovereignty, and reiterated the interest of the hemisphere in the early resolution of the question, in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations and of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Ms. HOWE-JONES (United Kingdom), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the British Government had no doubt concerning British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and other islands of the South Atlantic.  She defended the right of the people of the Falklands to exercise their self-determination, a right supported by many United Nations documents.  The people of the Falklands clearly supported continued British sovereignty.  The United Kingdom had cooperated in discussions of matters of mutual interest with various parties in the region.  It hoped that such cooperation could continue.

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For information media. Not an official record.