Special Committee on
9th Meeting (AM)
DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE ADOPTS REPORT ON CARIBBEAN REGIONAL SEMINAR,
TEXT ON UN AGENCY ASSISTANCE TO NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES
The Special Committee on Decolonization this morning adopted the report of its Caribbean Regional Seminar, held at The Valley, Anguilla from 20 to 22 May.
Presenting the report, Committee Chairman Earl Stephen Huntley (Saint Lucia) reiterated the Committee’s appreciation to the Government of the United Kingdom for not only agreeing to host the Seminar in one of its Non-Self-Governing Territories, for the first time, but also for the approach and attitude taken by the United Kingdom representative at the Seminar. The theme of the Seminar was advancing the process of decolonization in the Caribbean and Bermuda, and he believed that the Seminar concluded with a blueprint for advancing that process.
He hoped that the recommendations adopted would be implemented in the months ahead. He also hoped that other administering Powers would enable the Committee to hold next year’s Pacific regional seminar in one of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Pacific region.
Several members of the Committee congratulated the United Kingdom’s Government on its acceptance to hold the seminar in Anguilla. It was the first time, noted one member, that the Committee was able to see an administering Power and the head of a Territory talking face-to-face. Another member suggested that the Committee approach France and the United States on holding the Pacific Seminar in one of their Territories next year.
Venezuela’s representative noted that the Seminar was an important source of up-to-date information on the Territories, making it easier to move forward on the path to decolonization. Among the most important lessons learned in Anguilla was the lack of information in some Territories about the decolonization options available to them. The Departments of Public Information and Political Affairs could help a great deal in that regard.
Also this morning, the Committee adopted a 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 which it 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. The text (document A/AC.109/2003/L.9) was adopted without a vote.
Addressing the Committee before the adoption, Carlyle Corbin of the United States Virgin Islands Government, said the agenda item on specialized agencies was one of the most important to the people of the Territories. The long-standing resolution served as legislative authority for the work of the United Nations system. In a number of cases, United Nations organizations provided the territories with associate member or observer status in their work. He congratulated the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for its contribution to the Non-Self-Governing Territories in their development progress. The UNDP’s expertise in the constitutional reform process in Anguilla was indicative of the organization’s commitment to the development process of the territories.
Regarding the United Nations regional commissions, he applauded the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for providing associate membership for many Non-Self-Governing Territories. He was pleased that ECLAC had recommended the increased participation of associate members, including the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the United Nations system. The specialized agencies had not been as active in recent years in adjusting their rules of procedure for membership eligibility. While some had done so, others had not followed suit. He requested that the Committee support adjustments that would provide for the participation of the territories in the agencies.
Regarding the revitalization of the General Assembly, he was concerned with proposals to remove the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) from the equation and have the Special Committee’s recommendations sent directly to the Assembly. He also suggested that the name of the agenda item on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations be modified. Many United Nations agencies had questioned whether the item fell within their purview.
The resolution, he noted, had not enjoyed consensus in the Fourth Committee, the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council. A more streamlined agenda item, perhaps entitled “assistance to the non-self-governing territories from the United Nations system” might be more acceptable to Member States. A second more streamlined resolution on the agenda item should also be considered.
Responding to a question on the participation in United Nations conferences, he said the issue of observer status for associate member countries in the regional commissions was important to the development process, particularly in the area of capacity-building. Another question was the inclusion of the territories in plans of action emanating from the world conferences themselves. Regarding the draft resolution on the specialized agencies, traditionally there was no discussion on the item until after the vote. At last year’s ECOSOC session, it appeared that that the agencies were concerned as to whether they had the mandate to implement the decolonization declaration. While he was not recommending that the item be totally changed, perhaps another less political resolution could be added.
Asked to elaborate on the support of the administering Powers in the territories’ preparation for United Nations conferences, he said that at many conferences regional groups worked together on common issues, which was helpful. In the context of assistance to territories from the administering Powers, in the case of American Samoa, Guam and the United States Virgin islands, consultations were held on issues when there was a need for preparatory assistance. On the closeness of the territories, the cooperation between the British and United States Virgin Islands was well known, particularly in such areas as boating, fishing, sport and culture. The closest distance between the two islands was some three miles. A meeting on mutual disaster cooperation would be held in the coming weeks.
Asked to respond to the possibility of a confederation of territories under the administration of the United Kingdom, he hesitated to make a recommendation on how the territories might organize themselves. At the current stage, several were integrated in the regional integration movement. All of the British territories were associate members or observers to the Caribbean Community.
Following the adoption, Cuba’s representative suggested that at the next session representatives of the specialized agencies and institutions of the United Nations system should discuss their work regarding the Non-Self-Governing Territories and the difficulties they faced in their work and how the Committee could help strengthen their work. Côte d’Ivoire’s representative suggested that a representative of the UNDP explain its work in all the Territories. A relationship of cooperation must be established with all the specialized agencies, he stressed.
Comments were also made by the representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Papua New Guinea and Bolivia.
The Committee, formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and commonly referred to as the “Special Committee of 24”, will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 23 June.
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