18 May 2004


Press Release

decolonization seminar hears Calls for closer monitoring

of Administering Powers, greater action on resolutions

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA, 18 May -– The Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization continued this afternoon, with its second meeting focused on the role of administering Powers and the perspectives of the representatives of American Samoa, FLNKS (New Caledonia) and Pitcairn.

Convening the three-day Seminar in the context of the United Nations second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010) was the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, also known as the Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization.

Established by the General Assembly in 1961, the Special Committee examines the application of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which advocates that “steps should be taken to transfer, unconditionally, all powers to the Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories so that they might enjoy complete freedom and independence”.

Administering Powers have an obligation under the United Nations Charter to bring the peoples of those territories to a full measure of self-governance, which could be achieved through three measures: free association, integration with another State, or independence.

The morning meeting of the Seminar included a case study of Tokelau, where the administering Power, New Zealand, is meeting its obligation in partnership with the people of Tokelau and the United Nations.

The meeting commenced with statements from Fiji, Spain and Saint Lucia.  The representative from Fiji highlighted environmental concerns as part of the decolonization process.  He said that the South Pacific has a number of organizations that can monitor the administering Powers in this regard, such as the South Pacific Applied Geosciences Commission (SPAC) and the South Pacific Environmental Regional Programme (SPREP) among others.

In his statement to the Special Committee on Decolonization, the representative for Spain expressed the support of his country to the Report adopted by consensus at the seminar held in the Valley, Anguilla, last year.  He also affirmed Spain’s commitment to making possible a secure, stable and prosperous future for Gibraltar.

Saint Lucia’s representative highlighted the need for action on Committee resolutions.  Regarding steps introduced on political rights, directives were only as good as their implementation, she commented.

In following discussions, visiting United Nations missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories were again recognized as key to the process of decolonization.  Reflecting on the seminar of 2003, the suggestion to hold future seminars in Non-Self-Governing Territories and combine those with visiting United Nations missions, was put to the Special Committee for consideration.

The case of American Samoa generated significant debate regarding the United Nations listing of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The representative of American Samoa called on the Special Committee to keep in mind the direct wishes of the people of such Territories.  According to the representative, as an unincorporated United States territory, the people of American Samoa were satisfied with their partnership with the United States and looked forward to enhancing that partnership in the future.

Debate ensued regarding American Samoa’s questions over its United Nations listing, concluding with the representative of American Samoa calling for written comments from the Committee of 24 outlining steps for the Territory to be de-listed.  It was agreed this discussion would continue outside of the Seminar.

The representative for Papua New Guinea was one of a number of participants, including Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad, Rapporteur of the Special Committee, who commented that there was a process to follow regarding being ‘de-listed’.  The idea of future visiting United Nations missions to American Samoa was also briefly discussed.

The representative for Guam called on the Committee for assistance regarding the United States, with regard to the situation of American Samoa and the process of decolonization for Guam.

The representative of the United States Virgin Islands noted American Samoa’s efforts regarding its inter-Samoan talks.  He said, similarly, talks would resume in the coming weeks with the United States Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands.

Perspectives of Non-Self-Governing Territories were also heard from FLNKS (New Caledonia) and Pitcairn.  The representative of FLNKS expressed his peoples’ concerns over the current Noumea Accord -– signed by FLNKS, the French Government and RPCR (Rally for Caledonia in the Republic). The people of FLNKS do not believe RPCR respects the opportunity this presents for decolonization.

Experts and other participants also commented on this issue and the problems that could arise from declared independent States.  In the case of New Caledonia, a FrenchState, there was an apparent disparity between those of European descent and those of Melanesian descent.

On the situation of Pitcairn, issues were raised in the representative’s statement regarding a shift in the administering Power’s attitude towards the Territory, stemming from a focus on the Pitcairn Judicial System by the United Kingdom since 1999.  The representative noted there had been renewed effort and resources applied to other key areas of Pitcairn such as the economy, telecommunications and health, but more work was required.

In his statement, the representative for Pitcairn said the people of the Territory still did not fully understand all the possibilities or the significance of the various political futures that might be available to them.  It appealed to the Committee for support and understanding.

The representative for the United Kingdom welcomed comments regarding Pitcairn and said the United Kingdom was currently putting a great deal of thought into how they might best give reassurance to, and work with, the Territory.  He also noted that there is now a United Kingdom Government representative on the island and that a number of development projects were already under way. 

Other suggestions made throughout today’s discussions included utilizing United Nations presence with independent Pacific bodies, such as the Pacific Islanders Forum, and ensuring that Non-Self-Governing States have access to relevant United Nations conferences outside of the Committee for Decolonization.

The Regional Seminar will meet again at 9 am on Wednesday, 19 May, to hear views from experts, discuss the status of Non-Self-Governing Territories of the Caribbean and address perspectives of the non-governmental and other organizations on the process of decolonization in the Pacific region.

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For information media. Not an official record.