SECRETARY-GENERAL SALUTES PARTICIPANTS AT HAVANA REGIONAL SEMINAR
Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the opening of the Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization and the observance of the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, Havana, 23-25 May:
During the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, I send my greetings to all who have gathered in Havana for the Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization.
The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 1960, strongly affirmed the right of self-determination. The Declaration, along with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments, form the basis of the United Nations’ role and responsibility in democratization and in upholding the principles of self-determination, in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions on decolonization. Since its adoption, more than 80 million people have attained independence, but there are still 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining, worldwide.
As an arm of the United Nations, the Special Committee of 24 organizes seminars, like this one, to give the more than two million people who live in these territories the chance to make their views known on the unique problems they face. The information gathered in these seminars has helped to raise awareness in the international community about these problems. As a result, last December, the General Assembly proclaimed the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. This regional seminar is the first of its kind to be convened by the Special Committee, since then. It provides us with a unique opportunity to recommit ourselves to the goal of assuring that all peoples can exercise their right of self-determination in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions on decolonization.
Decolonization is clearly one of the great success stories of the last half-century, and we must see the process through to its end. In that spirit, I would like to thank the Government of Cuba for its generosity in hosting this event, and wish you all a most successful seminar.
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