Special Committee on
11th Meeting (AM)
special committee on decolonization concludes current session, affirming
value of foreign economic investment in non-self-governing territories
Also Reaffirms Responsibility of Administering Powers to Promote
Political, Economic, Social, Educational Advancement of Territories
Concluding its 2004 session this morning, the Special Committee on Decolonization decided to follow the situation in the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories so as to ensure that all economic activities are aimed at strengthening and diversifying their economies in the interest of their peoples, including indigenous populations, and at promoting their economic and financial viability.
Adopting, without a vote, a text on economic and other activities affecting the interest of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Special Committee affirmed the value of foreign economic investment -- in collaboration with the peoples of the Territories and in accordance with their wishes -- to make a valid contribution to their socio-economic development. It reaffirmed also the responsibility of the administering Powers to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the Territories, as well as the legitimate rights of the peoples over their natural resources.
Affirming the need to avoid economic activities that adversely affect the interests of the peoples of the Territories, the Committee called, once again, upon all Governments to take legislative, administrative or other measures concerning their nationals and enterprises in the Territories that are detrimental to their interests. It also reaffirmed its concern about activities aimed at exploiting the natural resources that are the heritage of the peoples, including the indigenous populations, in the Caribbean, the Pacific and other regions.
Also addressed in the text are the issues of the exploitation of marine and other resources, and the role of the administering Powers and international organizations in ensuring sovereignty of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories over their natural resources. The text appeals to the mass media, trade unions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as individuals to continue their efforts to promote the economic well-being of the peoples of the Territories.
Commenting on the text following its adoption, the representative of Papua New Guinea suggested that it should be positively re-evaluated to avoid “annual difficulties in the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly”. Some members of the United Nations had difficulties with operative paragraph 7, for example, which reiterated that “damaging exploitation and plundering of the marine and other natural resources of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, in violation of relevant resolutions of the United Nations, were a threat to the integrity and prosperity of those Territories”. It was necessary to look at that paragraph positively, from the point of view of protection of marine resources in Non-Self-Governing Territories. Language could possibly be borrowed from related resolutions on the protection of marine resources, for example. The same went for the resolution on specialized agencies.
Cuba’s representative countered that if the text were to be diluted, it would not send the right message to the administering Powers and put and end to their violations of the Non-Self-Governing Territories’ rights. It was important to continue to launch the appeal -- made for many years -- that detrimental exploitation and plundering of the Territories’ resources represented an injury to the rights of their peoples and adversely affected their potential to achieve self-determination in the future. The Special Committee should emphasize that the administering Powers should desist from detrimental activities and strive to cooperate with its decisions. Meanwhile, reference to such international instruments, as the Convention on the Law of the Sea, might be appropriate.
As the Committee wrapped up its work, adopting the report for its 2004 session, speakers said that visiting missions, seminars in Non-Self-Governing Territories, and education of the Territories’ peoples of their rights were the most important elements that could accelerate the Committee’s work.
In his closing remarks, the Chairman of the Special Committee, Robert Guba Aisi (Papua New Guinea), hailed the end of the session as a starting point for new and exciting work. During its “good and productive session”, the Committee had heard some interesting and provocative statements, engaged in productive debates and had reached agreements on resolutions that would move its work forward. In the fourth year of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the focus should be on reaching the end of the Decade with a lighter workload, rather than on what the Special Committee would be doing during the third Decade.
In an inspired statement by the Ulu o Tokelau, the Special Committee had been informed about the progress towards the Territory’s self-determination and provided with a detailed timetable for the next 12 months, he continued. That report had been supplemented by the Administrator of Tokelau who explained to the Committee New Zealand’s approach to assisting Tokelau in its steps toward self-determination. The Committee must now see how it could replicate that success story in other Territories.
On the procedural level, in direct response to the reform proposals by the President of the General Assembly, measures had been adopted that would increase the efficiency of the Special Committee by further limiting its documentation and eliminating duplication. Those measures were also in line with the efforts of the Secretary-General to make the Organization more efficient.
The representative of Bolivia said the Special Committee needed to think about where it stood and what it was doing, for, while it adopted many resolutions, those texts had become routine. The time had come to implement the resolutions. One way forward was to visit the Territories. While the midterm review of the Decade on the Eradication of Colonialism would take place next year, the process of evaluation should begin now. The Committee had to strive to achieve better results. He suggested that the Committee hold a series of informal meetings to draw up a strategy as to how it should proceed.
Using the Committee’s relationship with Tokelau and New Zealand as an example for the other administering Powers, he said that unless the Committee gave concrete effect to its resolutions, it would find itself in the same position next year. Closer interaction between the Committee and the peoples in question was also needed. That could be done not only through annual seminars but also through visiting missions. The Territories did not have the information they needed to make informed decisions.
Cuba’s representative stressed the fact that without cooperation and mutual confidence, it would be difficult for the Committee to make headway with its mandate. While one of the administering Powers provided an example of cooperation, others were not even present in the Committee’s meetings. He agreed with the need for informal consultations in the days ahead. He was convinced that the Committee had the will and determination to move forward.
The representative of the Congo suggested that the Special Committee should improve the effectiveness of its communications with the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Decolonization work could not move forward if the Territories’ populations were not sufficiently informed. It had been pointed out during the session that it had been only in 2003, when the Committee’s Chair had visited one of the Territories, that its population had become aware of the options available to it, and the Special Committee needed to address that problem. He also stressed the need to increase cooperation with administering Powers and deliberate on the ways and means of improving that cooperation.
Chile’s representative remarked on the positive changes in the work of the Committee in the nine years that he had been associated with it. While the Special Committee was still discussing the same issues, however timidly, signs of progress were emerging. The recent seminar in Papua New Guinea had been very useful for addressing the main issues in the future.
The representative of Saint Lucia joined others in thanking Papua New Guinea for the excellent seminar that had contributed to the review of the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Alternating between the Pacific and the Caribbean, such events were very useful and could become a significant contribution to the work of the Special Committee. As far as implementation of the Special Committee’s resolutions was concerned, members of the Special Committee must endeavour “to think outside the box”, looking for new approaches to the problems within its purview.
Iran’s representative said that important elements that could accelerate the work of the Special Committee included sending visiting missions, holding seminars in Non-Self-Governing Territories with the help of the administering Powers, and educating the Territories’ peoples of their rights.
Created by the General Assembly resolution 1645 of 1961, the Special Committee examines and makes recommendations on the application of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and makes suggestions and recommendations on the progress and extent of the implementation of the Declaration.
The Committee meets annually to discuss the developments in Non-Self-Governing Territories, hears statements from appointed and elected representatives of the Territories and petitioners, dispatches visiting missions to the Territories, and organizes seminars on the political, social, economic and education situation in the Territories. It formulates proposals and carries out actions approved by the Assembly in the context of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010).
The 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories covered by the Committee are: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands/Malvinas, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands, and Western Sahara.
The Committee’s membership was expanded from 17 to 24 in 1962 and its size has varied since. Its current members are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Chile, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, Fiji, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Syria, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania and Venezuela.
The bureau of the Committee consists of Chairman Robert Guba Aisi (Papua New Guinea); Vice-Chairmen, Luc Joseph Okio (Congo) and Orlando Requeijo Gual (Cuba); and Rapporteur, Fayssal Mekdad (Syria).
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