FOURTH COMMITTEE REASSERTS SELF-DETERMINATION AS RIGHT FOR PEOPLES IN NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES

14 October 2003
GA/SPD/264

FOURTH COMMITTEE REASSERTS SELF-DETERMINATION AS RIGHT FOR PEOPLES IN NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES

14/10/2003
Press Release
GA/SPD/264


Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

7th Meeting (AM)


FOURTH COMMITTEE REASSERTS SELF-DETERMINATION AS RIGHT


FOR PEOPLES IN NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES


Text Says No Other Principle in Decolonization; Action Also Taken

After Debate on Work of United Nations Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved this morning a two-part draft resolution by which the General Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination.


By the terms of the omnibus resolution, approved without a vote and following a week-long debate, the Assembly would reaffirm that, in the process of decolonization, there is no alternative to the principle of self-determination.  It would also call upon the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial Governments, to facilitate political education programmes in the Territories to foster awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


By a further provision of the text, the Assembly would reaffirm that United Nations visiting missions to the Territories are an effective means of ascertaining the situation in the Territories and, in that context, request the administering Powers and the elected representatives of the peoples of the Territories to facilitate the work of the Special Committee on Decolonization. 


By a recorded vote of 135 in favour to two against (Israel, United States) with two abstentions (France, United Kingdom), the Committee also approved a draft resolution on economic and other activities that affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories. (See Annex II.)


The Assembly would, by the terms of that resolution, reiterate that the damaging exploitation and plundering of the marine and other natural resources of the Territories, in violation of relevant United Nations resolutions, are a threat to the integrity and prosperity of those Territories.  It would also urge the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard the inalienable right of the peoples of the Territories to their natural resources.


The Committee also approved, by a recorded vote of 93 in favour to none against with 45 abstentions, 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. (Annex III)  By its terms, the Assembly would request those bodies to review conditions in each Territory and take appropriate measures to accelerate progress in their economic and social sectors.


A draft text on information transmitted from Non-Self-Governing Territories was approved by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to none against with 5 abstentions. (Annex I).


Acting without a vote, the Committee also approved draft resolutions on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories, the question of New Caledonia and the question of Tokelau.  It also approved a draft decision on the question of Gibraltar.


Several delegates expressed reservations about certain aspects of some of the texts.


After some discussion, action on the draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara was deferred.


In other action this morning, the Committee approved a draft resolution on the effects of atomic radiation, by the terms of which the Assembly would urge the urge the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to strengthen present funding for the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), pursuant to resolution 57/115, so that body could discharge the responsibilities and mandate entrusted to it. 


The Assembly would, by further terms, request UNEP to continue providing support for the effective conduct of the Scientific Committee’s work and for the dissemination of its findings to the Assembly, the scientific community and the public.  It would welcome Member States’ readiness to provide the Scientific Committee with relevant information on the effects of ionizing radiation in affected areas.


During the Committee’s debate on the effects of atomic radiation, prior to the action on that text, several speakers drew attention to the potential dangers of atomic radiation on both the environment and the health and well-being of the world’s population.


Japan, as the only country to have suffered the consequences of nuclear weapons, was determined to use its wealth of experience for the greater benefit of humankind, that country’s representative said.  Japan had established a special advisory board for international activities on radiation protection, and during its forthcoming presidency of the Scientific Committee, Japan intended to actively contribute to that body’s work for the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy.


The representative of Egypt affirmed the increasing need for the transfer of nuclear technology to developing countries so that they could benefit from its application.  Echoing the representative of Syria, he called for a zone free of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and referred to the existence of a nuclear reactor in Israel which was not subjected to international controls or monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


Thailand’s representative, speaking on behalf of the ten members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that those countries had established the South East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone with the intent to keep the region free from nuclear weapons, and to protect the region from environmental pollution and the hazards posed by radioactive wastes.


Also speaking on the issue this morning were the representatives of Cuba, Myanmar, Pakistan and India.


The Committee will meet again tomorrow, 15 October, at 10 a.m. to begin its consideration of the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.


Background


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its consideration of the effects of atomic radiation.  It was also expected to take action on eight draft resolutions and one draft decision related to decolonization items, as well as a draft resolution on the effects of atomic radiation.


Effects of Atomic Radiation


The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the effects of atomic radiation (document A/C.4/58/L.5), by the terms of which the Assembly would commend the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) for the valuable contribution it has been making for the past 48 years to widen knowledge of the levels, effects and risks of ionizing radiation and for fulfilling its original mandate with scientific authority and independence of judgement.


According to the text, the Assembly would request the Scientific Committee to continue its work, including its important activities to increase knowledge of the levels, effects and risks of ionizing radiation from all sources.  It would endorse the Scientific Committee’s plans for future activities of scientific review and assessment on behalf of the General Assembly.  The Assembly would request the Scientific Committee to continue at its next session the review of the important problems in the field of ionizing radiation.


By other terms of the text, the Assembly would request the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to continue providing support for the effective conduct of the Scientific Committee’s work and for the dissemination of its findings to the Assembly, the scientific community and the public.  It would invite the Scientific Committee to continue its consultations with scientists and experts from interested Member States in the process of preparing its future scientific reports.  In that context, the Assembly would welcome Member States’ readiness to provide the Scientific Committee with relevant information on the effects of ionizing radiation in affected areas, and invite the Scientific Committee to analyze and give due consideration to such information.  Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations would be invited to provide data about doses, effects and risks from various sources of radiation.


Further according to the text, the Assembly would urge UNEP to strengthen the present funding of the Scientific Committee, pursuant to resolution 57/115, so that it can discharge the responsibilities and mandate entrusted to it by the Assembly.  It would emphasis the need for the Scientific Committee to hold regular sessions on an annual basis so that its report can reflect the latest developments and findings in the field of ionizing radiation, thereby providing updated information for dissemination among all States.


Decolonization Texts


Among the drafts before the Committee was a draft resolution on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter (document A/58/23, Part III, chap. XII – Draft Resolution I), by which the Assembly would request the administering Powers concerned to transmit to the Secretary-General the information prescribed in Article 73 e of the Charter, as well as the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments in the Territories concerned.  It would also request the Secretary-General to ensure that adequate information be drawn from all available sources in connection with the preparation of working papers related to the Territories.


By the terms of a draft resolution on economic and other activities that affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/58/23, Part III, chap. XII - Draft Resolution II), the Assembly would reiterate that the damaging exploitation and plundering of the marine and other natural resources of the Territories, in violation of relevant United Nations resolutions, are a threat to the integrity and prosperity of those Territories.  It would also invite all Governments and United Nations organizations to take all possible measures to ensure that the permanent sovereignty of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories over their natural resources is fully respected and safeguarded.


The Assembly would also, according to the draft, urge the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of the Territories to their natural resources and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources.  Administering Powers would also be requested to take all necessary steps to protect the property rights of the peoples of those Territories in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions.


Further, according to the text, the Assembly would call upon the administering Powers concerned to ensure that no discriminatory working conditions prevail in the Territories under their administration, and to promote in each Territory a fair system of wages applicable to all the inhabitants without any discrimination. 


The Secretary-General would be requested to inform world public opinion, through all means at his disposal, of any activity that affected the exercise of the right of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination in conformity with the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).  The Assembly would appeal to the mass media, trade unions and non-governmental organizations, as well as to individuals, to continue their efforts to promote the economic well-being of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.


Also by the terms of the draft, the Assembly would decide to follow the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories so as to ensure that all economic activities in the Territories are aimed at strengthening and diversifying their economies in the interests of the peoples, including indigenous populations, and at promoting their economic and financial viability.


A draft resolution on the 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 (document A/58/23, Part III, chap. XII – Draft Resolution III) would have the Assembly request those bodies to review conditions in each Territory so as to take appropriate measures to accelerate progress in their socio-economic sectors.  Specialized agencies and other United Nations system organizations and institutions would also be requested to strengthen existing support measures and formulate appropriate assistance programmes to the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories. 

According to the text, the Assembly would request specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system to provide information on environmental problems facing the Territories; the impact of natural disasters; ways and means to assist the Territories to fight drug trafficking, money-laundering and other criminal activity; and the illegal exploitation of their marine resources.


Further, according to the draft, the Assembly would recommend that the executive heads of the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations, formulate, with the active cooperation of the regional organizations concerned, concrete proposals for the full implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions and submit the proposals to their governing and legislative organs.


The Assembly would also request the administering Powers concerned to facilitate, when appropriate, the participation of appointed and elected representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories in meetings and conferences of the specialized agencies and United Nations organizations.  It would request the Secretary-General to assist the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system in working out appropriate measures for implementing relevant United Nations resolutions, and to prepare for submission to the relevant bodies a report on the action taken in implementation of the relevant resolutions. 


A draft resolution on the question of New Caledonia (document A/58/23, Part III, chap. XII –- Draft Resolution IV) would have the Assembly urge all the parties involved, in the interest of all the people of New Caledonia, to maintain, in the framework of the Noumea Accord, their dialogue in a spirit of harmony.  [The Noumea Accord was signed on 5 May 1998 by representatives of New Caledonia and the French Government.]


In addition, the Assembly would invite all the parties to continue promoting a framework for the peaceful progress of the Territory towards an act of self-determination, in which all options are open and which would safeguard the rights of all New Caledonians according to the letter and spirit of the Noumea Accord, which is based on the principle that it is for the populations of New Caledonia to choose how to control their destiny.


Further, the Assembly would note positive initiatives aimed at protecting the natural environment of New Caledonia, notably the "Zoneco" operation, designed to map and evaluate marine resources within the economic zone of New Caledonia.  Acknowledging the close links between New Caledonia and the peoples of the South Pacific, the Assembly would welcome the accession by New Caledonia to observer status in the Pacific Islands Forum.


In that regard, the text continues, the Assembly would welcome the accession by New Caledonia to observer status in the Pacific Islands Forum, continuing high-level visits to New Caledonia by delegations of countries of the Pacific region and high-level visits by delegations from New Caledonia to such countries. 


The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the question of Tokelau (document A/58/23, Part III, chap. XII – Draft Resolution V), by which the Assembly would note Tokelau’s desire to move at its own pace towards an act of self-determination.  It would also acknowledge Tokelau’s goal to return authority to its traditional leadership, and its wish to provide that leadership with the necessary support to carry out its functions in the contemporary world.


Also by the text, acknowledging progress made to that goal under the Modern House of Tokelau programme, the Assembly would welcome the decision taken by the General Fono in June 2003 to set a target date of 30 June 2004 for the transfer to each Taupulega (Village Council) full responsibility for the management of all its public services.  It would further acknowledge Tokelau’s initiative in devising a strategic economic development plan for the period 2002-2004 to advance its capacity for self-government.


Welcoming the continuing dialogue with the administering Power and the Territory with a view to develop a programme of work for Tokelau in accordance with Assembly resolution 55/147 of December 2000, the Assembly would acknowledge New Zealand’s continuing support to the Modern House of Tokelau project in    2002-2003, and the cooperation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in aligning its programmes under the project. 


The Assembly would also note the special challenge inherent in the situation of Tokelau, among the smallest of the small Territories, and that a Territory’s exercise of its inalienable right to self-determination may be brought closer, as in the case of Tokelau, by the meeting of that challenge in innovative ways.  It would also acknowledge the desire of the partners to reaffirm their commitment to each other and welcome the agreement reached in Wellington on 19 June 2003 on the text of an agreement on the principles underpinning the relationship for which the formal approval of the New Zealand Government is being sought.


Also according to the text, the Assembly would note its approval of the report of the United Nations Mission to Tokelau in 2002, noting also that a study to review the options for Tokelau’s future self-determination is recommended in the report, as well as UNDP’s willingness to assist in that regard. 


The Assembly would also call upon New Zealand and Tokelau to consider developing an information programme to inform the population of Tokelau about the nature of self-determination, including the three options of integration, free association and independence, so that it may be better prepared to face a future decision on the matter.  It would welcome the invitation to the Special Committee’s Chairman to attend the constitutional convention to be held in Tokelau in September 2003. 


The Assembly would call upon the administering Power and United Nations agencies to continue to provide assistance to Tokelau as it further develops its economy and governance structures in the context of its ongoing constitutional evolution.


The Committee also had before it a consolidated text concerning American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands (document A/58/23 Part III, chap. XIII – Draft Resolution VI).  By Part A of that draft, the Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right of the peoples of the Territories to self-determination in conformity with the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.  It would also reaffirm that in the process of decolonization, there is no alternative to the principle of self-determination, and, in that connection, call upon the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial Governments, to facilitate political education programmes in the Territories to foster awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


By further terms of the text, the Assembly would reaffirm that United Nations visiting missions to the Territories are an effective means of ascertaining the situation in the Territories, and request the administering Powers and the elected representatives of the peoples of the Territories to facilitate the Special Committee’s work in that regard.  It would also reaffirm the responsibility of the administering Powers to promote the socio-economic development and promote the cultural identity of the Territories, and request the Territories and administering Powers to protect the environment of the Territories under their administration against environmental degradation. 


The Assembly would also, by the terms of the draft, call upon the administering Powers to take all necessary measures to counter problems related to drug trafficking, money laundering and other offences.  Urging Member States to contribute to the United Nations’ efforts to usher in a world free of colonialism within the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, it would also call upon them to give their full support to the Special Committee in that endeavour. 


Also by the text, the Assembly would note that some Non-Self-Governing Territories have expressed concern at the procedure followed by one administering Power, contrary to the wishes of the Territories themselves, namely of amending or enacting legislation for the Territories through Orders of Council, in order to apply to the Territories the international treaty obligations of the administering Power.


Part B of the consolidated draft resolution deals with the individual Territories.  Regarding American Samoa, the General Assembly would call upon the administering Power to continue to assist the territorial Government in the economic and social development of the Territory, including measures to rebuild financial management capabilities and strengthen other governmental functions of the territorial government.  The Assembly would also welcome the assistance from the administering Power to the Territory in its recovery efforts following the recent floods.


By the text on Anguilla, the Assembly would welcome the emphasis placed in the initial stages of the constitutional and electoral reform review process on participation, information and education, and the support provided by UNDP and the United Kingdom Government fund for good government.  The Assembly would also welcome the cooperation of the territorial Government of Anguilla and the United Kingdom in holding the 2003 Caribbean regional seminar in Anguilla.  It would note that the staging of the seminar in a Non-Self-Governing Territory for the first time, as well as a town hall meeting between the people of Anguilla and the Special Committee during the seminar, had contributed to its success.  The Assembly would call upon the administering Power and all States, organizations and United Nations agencies to continue to assist the Territory in social and economic development.


By the draft of Bermuda, the Assembly would call upon the administering Power to continue to work with the Territory for its socio-economic development. It would welcome the agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and the Territory in June 2002 formally transferring the former military base lands to the territorial Government and the provision of financial resources to address some of the environmental problems.  The Assembly would also welcome the convening in the Territory in March 2003 of an international conference on conservation in overseas territories and other small island States, which included governmental and non-governmental organizations, to address issues of common concern.


The text on the British Virgin Islands would have the administering Power, the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system and all financial institutions --  bearing in mind the vulnerability of the Territory to external factors -- continue to provide the Territory with assistance for socio-economic and human resources development.


By the terms of a draft on the Cayman Islands, the Assembly would welcome the completion of the report of the Constitutional Review Commission, which conducted an extensive review of the current Constitution, and the recommended changes, following public discussions with community groups and individuals, pursuant to the recommendations of the administering Power as stated in its White Paper entitled “Partnership for Progress and Prosperity: Britain and the Overseas Territories”.


The Assembly would request the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system to continue to provide the territorial Government with all required expertise to enable it to achieve its socio-economic aims.  It would also request that the administering Power, in consultation with the territorial Government, continue to facilitate the expansion of the current programme of securing employment for the local population, in particular at the decision-making level.


Under the provisions of the text relating to Guam, the Assembly would call upon the administering Power to take into consideration the expressed will of the Chamorro people, as supported by Guam voters in the plebiscite of 1987 and as provided for in Guam law, and to encourage the administering Power and the territorial Government of Guam to enter into negotiations on the matter.  It would request the administering Power to inform the Secretary-General of progress to that end.


By further terms of the text, the Assembly would request the administering Power to continue to assist the elected territorial Government in achieving its political, economic and social goals.  It would also request the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government, to continue to transfer land to the original landowners of the Territory.


The Assembly would further request the administering Power to continue to recognize and respect the political rights and the cultural and ethnic identity of the Chamorro people of Guam, and to take all necessary measure to respond to the concerns of the territorial Government with regard to the question of immigration. In addition, it would request the administering Power to cooperate in establishing programmes specifically intended to promote the sustainable development of economic activities and enterprises, noting the special role of the Chamorro people in the development of Guam.


The Assembly would also request the administering Power to continue to support appropriate measures by the territorial Government aimed at promoting growth in commercial fishing and agricultural and other viable activities.  It would also call upon the administering Power to facilitate a visiting mission to Guam as requested by the territorial Government.


The text on Montserrat would have the Assembly call upon the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, as well as regional and other organizations, to continue to provide urgent emergency assistance to the Territory in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption.  The Assembly would also take note of the completion of the report of the Constitutional Review Commission prepared after extensive consultations with the people of Montserrat, living both in the Territory and abroad, and the consensus that, while the people of Montserrat reserve the right to future self-determination, independence is not a priority given the present socio-economic status of the Territory.


By the text on Pitcairn, the Assembly would request the administering Power to continue its assistance for the improvement of the economic, social, educational and other conditions of the population of the Territory and to continue its discussions with the representatives of Pitcairn on how best to support their economic security.


According to the text on the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Assembly would welcome the establishment of the Constitutional Review Commission, which embarked on a public education programme on the Constitution, ascertained the views of the population and made recommendations as stated in its White Paper entitled “Partnership for Progress and Prosperity: Britain and the Overseas Territories”.


Also by the text, the Assembly would call upon the administering Power and the relevant regional and international organizations to continue to provide assistance for the improvement of the economic, social, educational and other conditions of the population of the Territory.  It would also call upon the administering Power and the territorial Government to continue to cooperate to counter problems related to money laundering, smuggling of funds and other related crimes, as well as drug trafficking.


By the draft text on the United States Virgin Islands, the Assembly would request the administering Power to continue to assist the territorial Government in achieving its political, economic and social goals.  Once again, it would request the administering Power to facilitate the participation of the Territory, as appropriate, in various organizations, in particular the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States.


The Assembly would also note the economic difficulties being experienced by the territorial Government and the fiscal austerity measure being implemented, and others proposed, to relieve the Territory’s cash flow shortage, and would call upon the administering Power to continue to provide every assistance required by the Territory to further alleviate the difficult economic situation, including, inter alia, the provision of debt relief and loans.


Further, the Assembly would note with interest the entering into force in 2001 of the joint memorandum of cooperation on the exchange of artefacts between the Territory and Denmark, the Territory’s former administering Power, as a companion agreement to the 1999 memorandum for the repatriation of archival material from the Danish colonial period, consistent with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance on 8 September 2001, and once again would request the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), under its records and archives management programme, to assist the Territory in carrying out its archival and artefacts initiative.


The Assembly would note with concern that the 2000 consensus figures for the Territory indicate that 32.5 per cent of the population is living in poverty.


Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/C.4/58/L.2), by the terms of which the Assembly would invite all States to make generous offers of study and training facilities to the inhabitants of the Territories that have not yet attained self-government or independence, including, wherever possible, the provision of travel funds.  It would also urge the administering Powers to take effective measures to ensure the widespread dissemination in the Territories under their administration of information relating to offers of study and training facilities, and to provide all necessary facilities to enable students to avail themselves of such offers. 


By the terms of a draft decision on the question of Gibraltar (document A/C.4/58/L.3) the Assembly would take note of the fact that as part of the Brussels negotiating process, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Spain and the United Kingdom hold annual meetings alternatively in each country, the most recent of which were held in Barcelona on 20 November 2001 and in London on 4 February 2002.  It would urge both Governments to continue their negotiations with the object of reaching a definitive solution to the problem of Gibraltar in light of relevant Assembly resolutions and in the spirit of the United Nations Charter.


The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara (document A/C.4/58/L.4).  According to the text, the Assembly reaffirmed the responsibility of the United Nations towards the people of Western Sahara, underlining, in that regard, the validity of the settlement plan, while noting the fundamental differences between the parties in its implementation.  It would commend the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy for their outstanding efforts and the two parties for the spirit of cooperation they have shown in the support they provide for those efforts.


Further according to the text, the Assembly would continue to strongly support both the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy and their peace plan for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara as an optimum political solution on the basis of agreement between the two parties.  Calling upon the parties to work with the United Nations and each other towards acceptance and implementation of the peace plan, it would also call upon all parties and States of the region to cooperate with the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy. 


By other terms, the Assembly would call upon the parties to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its efforts to solve the problem of the fate of the people unaccounted for, and call on the parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to release, without further delay, all those held since the start of the conflict.


Statements on Atomic Radiation Report


RODNEY LOPEZ CLEMENTE (Cuba) reaffirmed the importance his country attached to the work of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and to its role as a source of specialized, balanced and objective information.


He said the examination of the risks for descendants of persons exposed to ionising radiations enabled national preventive strategies potentially to be implemented.


He highlighted the importance of strengthening collaboration between the Scientific Committee and other United Nations organizations and reaffirmed his country’s conviction that only through cooperation on the peaceful use of atomic energy could the potential risks of ionising radiations be eliminated.


U LINN MYAING (Myanmar) commended the work of the Scientific Committee, saying it had greatly contributed to a better understanding of the effects of radiation and the safe use of radioactive materials.  He regretted that its fifty-first regular session had not been able to convene due to inadequate funding in the 2002-2003 biennium.  His country placed great importance on the work of the Scientific Committee and hoped that adequate funding would be provided for the convening of its 2004 session in Vienna. 


He said Myanmar had been involved in the peaceful use of atomic energy in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which had been providing technical and budgetary assistance.  From 1976 to 2000, some   $7.5 million in assistance had been used in areas including medicine, agriculture, nuclear engineering and technology, and some $1.03 million had been recommended for 2003-2004.  Apart from successfully implementing national projects, Myanmar’s Government was participating in regional projects, including the National Regulatory Control and Occupational Radiation Protection Programmes.  The objectives of the 1998 atomic energy law included the implementation of measures for the prevention of atomic radiation effects on man and the environment.


While he was aware that the systematic use of nuclear energy in industry, agriculture and health could greatly contribute to progress in developing countries, he said he was also aware of the negative effects of atomic radiation and the risks posed by its improper use.  He hoped the Committee would be able to continue with its new programme of work and that information on its latest findings would be disseminated to Member States so that nuclear energy’s full potential could be harnessed without causing harm to the environment and mankind.


ISHAQ KHAN KHAKWANI (Pakistan) noted that the Scientific Committee, for the past 47 years, had been the principal international body in the area of collecting, collating and disseminating knowledge on the effects of atomic radiation.  Pakistan fully supported the Committee’s efforts.  While the Committee’s conclusion last year that atomic radiation did not appear to cause hereditary effects in human beings, he urged the Committee to continue to study emerging data, particularly with regard to DNA mutations.  With increased research in molecular biology, genome sequencing and epidemiological and technical advances in related fields, the issue may need to be revisited.


He said he continued to support the Scientific Committee’s intention to continue its studies on radiological health effects of the Chernobyl accident with a view to publishing its findings in 2005.  He appreciated the Committee’s close collaboration with Member States affected by the accident.  His country would continue to respond positively to the Committee’s requests to assist in its work with a view to achieving the collective goals of minimizing the effects of atomic radiation on mankind and the environment.


PRAVIT CHAIMONGKOL (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the member countries of the organization greatly valued the work of the UNSCEAR and its efforts to promote better understanding of and protection from the perceived and actual risks of radiation.


The 10 ASEAN countries, he said, had established the South East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone with the intent to keep the region free from nuclear weapons and to protect the region from environmental pollution and the hazards posed by radioactive wastes.


He called for assistance to States seeking to control illicit trafficking and to improve security of radioactive sources, and encouraged the Scientific Committee to conduct further studies on the health-risk assessments of depleted uranium.


Last year, he said, ASEAN was greatly concerned when that Committee could not meet as planned due to inadequate funding.  The Association welcomed the upcoming meeting to take place in January, and the Scientific Committee report to be submitted to the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly.


He also commended the recent decision taken by UNEP to provide budgetary support to the Scientific Committee, and reaffirmed its commitment to encourage cooperation among the international community and to provide its support.


A. GOPINATHAN (India) noted that India had been co-sponsoring the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the work of the UNSCEAR over the past years.


He welcomed that Committee’s new programme of work, which was based on the theme of “sources-to-effects” atomic radiation.  In India, a study on the incidence of cancer in the high background radiation area of Kerala had been undertaken, and its findings would be of interest to the Committee.


He noted that the present budget of the Scientific Committee was just half of what it used to be in 1992-1993, and two thirds of its 1994-1995 budget.  Last year, India had strongly advocated the need to enhance the Scientific Committee’s budget so as to facilitate holding its annual sessions, and to help it in preparation of its report with the services of highly professional and competent consultants.


India hoped that UNEP would make adequate provisions for the Scientific Committee’s work for the 2004-2005 biennium.  Without such provisions, the work of the Committee would remain incomplete, he concluded.


LOUAY FALLOUH (Syria) expressed concern that the Scientific Committee had not been provided with the necessary support.  He said a rapid solution to the financial crisis that Committee faced must be found.  Syria’s policies were based on the use of nuclear technologies for peaceful uses, including in the areas of medicine and agriculture.  Syria had emphasized the importance of transferring nuclear technology to help developing countries.  Syria’s Government had called for the destruction of nuclear weapons to prevent their risks on humanity.  Syria had joined to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1969 and was committed to its revision. Syria had called for making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone; its words had turned to deeds when it had submitted a comprehensive draft resolution before the Security Council, calling for the establishment of nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.  Syria appealed to the international community to support this initiative.


He said the fact that Israel was the single State in possession of a vast arsenal of such weapons constituted a destabilizing factor in the Middle East, especially given the tragic situation the region faced.  With lack of international control, atomic leakage constituted a serious risk for countries of the world.  The international community must pressure Israel to put its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Syria had drawn attention in many United Nations forums to the importance of the dangers of atomic radiation because of nuclear waste in some developing countries.  The negative effects of atomic radiation were a danger for all.  Solutions could be found only through international cooperation based on goodwill and sincere international effort.


KATSUHIKO TAKAHASHI (Japan) said his Government attached great importance to the activities of the Scientific Committee, as a major international body that had been reviewing exposure to radiation from all sources and its possible health effects on the world’s population.  Japan had co-sponsored the draft resolution in the conviction that the Committee’s activities in collecting, structuring and disseminating radiological information were essential in a world that increasingly relied on nuclear technology.


Japan, the only country to have suffered the consequences of nuclear weapons, was determined to use its wealth of experience for the greater benefit of humankind.  In that context, Japan had established in August 2002 a special advisory board for international activities on radiation protection under the Nuclear Safety Commission.  The board examined various issues, including those related to the Committee’s activities.  Yashuhito Sasaki, the President of Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences, would assume the chairmanship of the Scientific Committee at its fifty-second session.  During its presidency, Japan intended to actively contribute to the Committee’s work.  He reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy.


IHAB AWAD (Egypt) said the UNSCEAR was facing a real crisis as a result of lack of necessary funds.


He reaffirmed Egypt’s appreciation of the Committee’s seriousness and commitment, and reaffirmed the importance of mobilizing the necessary political and financial support to enable the Committee to continue its contributions regarding the impact of radiation on human health and the environment.


He noted that the dangers accompanying nuclear energy were numerous, and it was, therefore, necessary to continue to study the impact of atomic radiation and to evaluate security measures needing to be taken.


He said he hoped the draft resolution before the Fourth Committee would be supported by all delegations and called on all United Nations organizations to continue collaboration with the Scientific Committee.

He affirmed the increasing need for the transfer of nuclear technology to developing countries so that they could benefit from its application.  He called for a zone free of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and referred to the dangers to that region’s populations as a result of the existence of a nuclear reactor in Israel which was not subjected to international controls or monitoring by the IAEA.


Action on Texts


The Committee first took up the draft resolution on the effects of atomic radiation, which was introduced by the representative of Brazil.  The Committee approved the draft, acting without a vote.


Turning to decolonization matters, the Committee then took up draft resolution I (document A/58/23/Part III), on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter. 


The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to none against with five abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States and Qatar)  (See Annex I.)


The representative of India said she was unaware that the voting had commenced and would have voted in favour of the draft.


The representative of the United Kingdom said his country had abstained, as in previous years, from voting on the resolution.  He noted that while the United Kingdom did not take issue with the resolution’s main objective and continued to meet its obligations fully in this regard, his government believed that the decision as to whether a Non-Self-Governing Territory had reached a level of self-government sufficient to relieve the administering Power of the obligation to submit information under Article 73, was ultimately for the territory and the administrating Power concerned, and not for the General Assembly.


The representatives of Qatar and Kuwait said that their delegations wanted to vote in support of the resolution, and asked for the secretariat of the Committee to reflect this in its report.


Taking up draft resolution II, on economic and other activities that affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to two against (Israel, United States) with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).  (See Annex II.)


Speaking in explanation, the representative of Argentina called for the resolution to be implemented in accordance with other relevant General Assembly resolutions regarding the question of the Malvinas Islands.


The Committee then took up draft resolution III on the 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.  That text was approved by a recorded vote of 93 in favour to none against, with 45 abstentions (Annex III).


Explaining his vote, the representative of Italy, on behalf of the European Union, said the Union renewed its support for the specialized agencies to offer assistance to the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the humanitarian, educational and technical fields.  Nevertheless, the statutes of those agencies must be carefully respected, which was why he had abstained during the voting. 


Taking up a draft resolution on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/C.5/58/L.2), the Committee approved that text, acting without a vote. 


The Committee then turned to draft resolutions relating to specific Territories. 


The Committee then took up a draft decision on the question of Gibraltar (document A/C.4/58/L.3), approving that text without a vote.


Turning to draft resolution IV on the question of New Caledonia, the Committee approved that text, acting without a vote.  Again acting without a vote, the Committee then approved draft resolution V on the question of Tokelau.


The Committee then took up a consolidated draft resolution – draft resolution VI - on the Non-Self-Governing Territories of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.  It approved the two-part text without a vote.


Speaking in explanation after the action, the representative of Argentina said that while he was in full support of the right of self-determination for Non-Self-Governing Territories, the scope of what should be considered a Non-Self-Governing Territory was limited, and the General Assembly and Special Committee had recognized that that scope did not apply to some of the Territories.


He expressed reservations on the issue of Bermuda since Argentina rejected all “alleged colonial authorities” at all Government levels.  He also rejected the United Kingdom’s “White Book” and reaffirmed Argentina’s rights of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime territory.


The representative of Spain said he had joined consensus in support of the resolution.  He supported the implementation of the principle of self-determination to the Territories included in the omnibus resolution.  The principle of self-determination, however, was not the only principle to carry out the decolonization process.  There were specific cases in which the principle of territorial integrity should apply. 


The representative of the United Kingdom said his country was pleased to support the consensus on the draft.  It reflected the United Kingdom’s full support for the right to self-determination, as set out in the United Nations Charter. 


Before concluding the meeting, the Chairman proposed that the Committee take action on the draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara tomorrow.


The representative of India proposed that action on the question of Western Sahara be deferred for 48 hours to give delegates time to consult with their capitals.  The representatives of Honduras, Brazil, Indonesia, Italy (on behalf of the European Union), Senegal, the Russian Federation and Malaysia supported that proposal.


Algeria’s representative said that while he understood the need of delegations to consult with their capitals, the text on the question of Western Sahara had been ready since last Friday and it remained unchanged.  He proposed that the Committee take action on the text tomorrow morning.


Zambia’s representative agreed that the resolution had been out for some four days.  By now, the document should have been communicated to capitals. 


The representative of Morocco said it was a complex issue that had been under examination for a number of years.  The request for 48 hours was reasonable.  Morocco had always worked for consensus and was willing to reach a reasonable consensus.


The representative of Algeria said his country was committed to reaching a decision on the basis of consensus and would continue to discuss the draft with the interested parties.  If a consensus text were reached this afternoon, however, it could be acted on tomorrow.  If that were not the case, then the Committee could postpone action until the following day.


Morocco’s representative said important delegations had requested 48 hours and they must be respected.


The representative of Algeria added that if consensus were reached, there would be no reason to wait to formalize it.  If there were no consensus, he would accept the 48-hour delay.  If consensus were reached in the coming hours, however, then the Committee could take action tomorrow. 


Zambia’s representative said no country was more important than another.  Zambia was no less important than any other State.  Algeria’s proposal was extremely reasonable. 


The Chairman then proposed that the Committee defer a decision on the draft for 48 hours.  Those 48 hours could be used for the purpose of consultations with a view to arriving at a compromise text, which, if achieved, would be subject to decision.  If the compromise were not arrived at, however, a decision would be taken on the existing draft 48 hours from now. 


ANNEX I


Vote on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories


The draft resolution on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories (draft resolution I in document A/58/23, Part III) was approved by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  None.


Abstaining:  France, Israel, Qatar, United Kingdom, United States.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Eritrea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iraq, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Monaco, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


ANNEX II


Vote on Economic Activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories


The draft resolution on economic and other activities affecting the interested of the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories (draft resolution II in document A/58/23, Part III) was approved by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to

2 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Israel, United States.


Abstaining:  France, United Kingdom.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Eritrea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Monaco, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


ANNEX III


Vote on Implementation of Decolonization Declaration


The draft resolution on the implementation of the decolonization Declaration by United Nations specialized and financial institutions (draft resolution III in document A/58/23, Part III) was approved by a recorded vote of 93 in favour to none against, with 45 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  None.


Abstaining:  Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Eritrea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Monaco, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


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For information media. Not an official record.