SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES FIVE TEXTS FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION ON NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES AS IT CONTINUES RESUMED SESSION

16 June 2006
GA/COL/3141

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES FIVE TEXTS FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION ON NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES AS IT CONTINUES RESUMED SESSION

16 June 2006
General Assembly
GA/COL/3141
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Special Committee on

Decolonization

12th Meeting (AM)

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES FIVE TEXTS FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

ON NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES, AS IT CONTINUES RESUMED SESSION

Consensus Actions Include Draft Resolution Reaffirming

Inalienable Right to Self-Determination of Non-Self-Governing Peoples

Continuing its resumed 2006 session this morning, the Special Committee on Decolonization approved five draft resolutions, including a text by which the General Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right to self-determination of the peoples of 11 Non-Self-Governing Territories.

By that text, the Assembly would call upon the administering Powers of those Territories -- American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands -- to cooperate fully with their work in implementing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and to note the concern of many Territories that some administering Powers had amended or enacted legislation that subjugated them, against their wishes, to the respective administering Powers’ laws or regulations.

The text asked the Assembly to highlight its viewpoints and requests concerning each specific Territory, among them its call to the administering Power of Montserrat, to the United Nations and to other organizations, to continue to assist that island in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption there; its renewed call to the administering Power of Guam to take into consideration the view of that Territory’s voters, expressed in their 1987 plebiscite, and negotiate the matter with the territorial government there; and its request that the administering Power of the United States Virgin Islands facilitate participation in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States, as well as the regional programmes of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Another draft resolution would have the Special Committee ask the Assembly to reaffirm the right of peoples in the Non-Self-Governing Territories to dispose of their natural resources in their best interest, reaffirm its concern over the often damaging exploitation and plundering of such resources by the administering Powers, and urge the relevant Powers to safeguard those resources and maintain control over their future development.  The Assembly would also reaffirm the responsibility of the administering Power to promote political, economic, social and educational advancement in the Territories, as well as fair, non-discriminatory working conditions and wage systems.

By the terms of a third text, the General Assembly would call upon the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee to finalize, before year’s end, a programme of work for the Territories to implement the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

According to a fourth draft, the General Assembly would recommend that all States intensify their efforts in the United Nations system to ensure the full implementation of the Decolonization Declaration and request that specialized agencies and other United Nations bodies review and accelerate socio-economic progress in the Territories, and guide them in dealing with natural disasters and other environmental problems, drug trafficking, money laundering and the illegal exploitation of their marine resources.  The Assembly would request the Special Committee Chairman to maintain close contact on those matters with the President of the Economic and Social Council.

Finally, the Special Committee approved a text on dissemination of information on decolonization, by which the General Assembly would request that the Secretary-General expand the United Nations decolonization website to include statements and scholarly papers presented at the annual regional seminars, as well as the reports of the Special Committee; that the Department of Public Information prepare an information leaflet on the assistance programmes available to the Territories; and that the Department of Public Information and the Department of Political Affairs work together to publicize the work of the United Nations in preparing and disseminating in the Territories basic material on self-determination, helping the administering Powers in discharging their tasks and collaborating on information exchange with regional and intergovernmental organizations.

Action on a draft resolution relating to the question of New Caledonia was deferred.

The Special Committee heard brief statements by the representatives of Iran, Russian Federation and France.

Other speakers today included Carlyle Corbin, Representative for External Affairs of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands, and Marlon Cabey of the Montserrat Progressive Society of New York.

The Special Committee will meet again at a time and date to be announced.

Background

The Special Committee on Decolonization was expected to take action on draft resolutions relating to dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/2006/L.4/Rev.1); the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2006/L.9); implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/AC.109/2006/L.10); 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/AC.109/2006/L.11); economic and other activities that affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/2006/L.12); and the question of New Caledonia (document A/AC.109/2006/L.13).

Also before the Special Committee were working papers prepared by the Secretariat on St. Helena (document A/AC.109/2006/3), Anguilla (document A/AC.109/2006/4); Pitcairn (document A/AC.109/2006/5); Bermuda (document A/AC.109/2006/6); American Samoa (document A/AC.109/2006/7); Guam (document A/AC.109/2006/8); United States Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2006/11); British Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2006/12); Montserrat (document A/AC.109/2006/13); New Caledonia (document A/AC.109/2006/14); Turks and Caicos Islands (document A/AC.109/2006/15); and the Cayman Islands (document A/AC.109/2006/16).

The Special Committee also had before it an annex to the letter dated 16 May 2006 from the Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General on the Plan of Implementation of the Decolonization Mandate 2006-2007 (document A/60/853-E/2006/75), and a report of the Secretary-General 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 (document A/61/62).

Question of Dissemination of Information on Decolonization

Before the Special Committee could take action on the text relating to dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/2006/L.4/Rev. 1), HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran) noted that some of the drafts under consideration referred to the “Department of Public Information of the Secretariat”, and suggested that, since the Department was well-known, the phrase “of the Secretariat” was confusing and unnecessary, and should be deleted next year.

The Special Committee then adopted the text without a vote.

Question of United States Virgin Islands

CARLYLE CORBIN, Representative for External Affairs of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands, reviewed the resolutions that the Special Committee had adopted with respect to the small Territory since the present territorial Government’s assumption of office in 1999, and said that their implementation remained a significant obstacle to the realization of decolonization.  While the Special Committee had limited ability on its own to undertake implementation, most of its recommendations ultimately became the legislative authority of the General Assembly.  In that regard, the Government of the United States Virgin Islands endorsed the Plan of Implementation of the Decolonization Mandate, which organized the actions called for by the General Assembly and identified the relevant parties to carry them out.  Hopefully, measures would be taken to determine the reasons for the low level of implementation regarding recommendations requiring action by the United Nations system and by the administering Power.

He noted that the report of the President of Economic and Social Council on consultations with the Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization stated that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was not carrying out assistance programmes to many Non-Self-Governing Territories, while UNESCO was, in fact, one of the most active United Nations agencies, in terms of providing associate membership for the largest number of small island Territories.  The language of the request for information from UNESCO and other bodies should be redrafted, since the report did not give a true indication of its role.

Recounting the 2004 adoption by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of a resolution promoting the development of mechanisms for its associate members to participate in some of the Economic and Social Council’s technical activities, he said that there had been no indication of opposition to the initiative, but, when the text had come before the Council, curious arguments had been raised that gave the impression that such participation infringed upon the control of foreign policy by the administering Power.  During informal consultations on the matter, the Chairman of ECLAC, coming from a Non-Self-Governing Territory rather than a Member State, had not been permitted to provide clarifications.  Given the inadequate information available, the Economic and Social Council had ultimately decided to take no action on the resolution.  That episode had revealed the inconsistencies faced by the Non-Self-Governing Territories in their efforts to participate in the international process.

Question of Montserrat

MARLON CABEY, Montserrat Progressive Society of New York, said he wished the Special Committee would pay special attention to the issues faced by Montserrat, which had suffered a major setback in 1995, with the start of major volcanic activity that was still ongoing 11 years later.  Before 1995, Montserrat had been on a self-sustainable path, developing its infrastructure and producing sufficient tax revenues to meet its yearly budgetary demands, while providing basic health, education and other social services.  The volcano had made a significant portion of the island uninhabitable and destroyed major infrastructure and capital projects.  The Special Committee, Member States and non-governmental organizations should provide assistance in addressing the needs of Montserrat’s people, as the island needed foreign direct investment.

The Special Committee should work to ensure that Montserrat’s unique situation did not become permanent, he said, adding that the island needed help in locating the funds and expertise needed to help develop the remaining safe areas, so that citizens could return home and be able to sustain a comfortable lifestyle.  If things like a central business district, parking lots, schools and housing were provided, people would return.  It was important not simply to plan for the needs of the present population, but also to plan for the future.  The Special Committee’s assistance was also needed in helping to locate the Montserrat diaspora.  The Montserrat Progressive Society of New York was willing and available to work hand in hand with the Special Committee to help the Territory get back on the path towards self-sufficiency.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Special Committee then adopted, without a vote, its draft resolutions on the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2006/L.9); implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/AC.109/2006/L.10) and 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/AC.109/2006/L.11).

Explanation of Vote

ALBERT SITNIKOV ( Russian Federation), speaking in explanation of position before the vote, said his delegation maintained its traditional position on the issue.  It did not object to the draft’s adoption by consensus, but when the matter went the Fourth Committee, it would continue to be guided by its consistent position.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Special Committee then adopted the draft on economic and other activities that affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/2006/L.12) without a vote.

It then decided to postpone action on the text on the question of New Caledonia (document A/AC.109/2006/L.13).

FRÉDÉRIC JOURNÈS (France) thanked the Chairman for deferring action on that draft, saying he was convinced that the item could be resolved, as there had been progress in negotiations over operational paragraph 2.  France was willing to participate in further discussions and thanked the Special Committee for its cooperation. 

HOSSEIN MALEKI ( Iran) asked whether action on the text had been postponed for technical reasons or because France had asked for the deferral.

The Chairman said the deferral had nothing to do with France, but had been requested by a Member State that was also a member of the Special Committee.

Action was deferred until the Special Committee’s next meeting.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.