|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ACCELERATED IMPLEMENTATION EFFORTS KEY TO ACHIEVING DECOLONIZATION MANDATE,
REGIONAL PACIFIC SEMINAR TOLD AT OPENING SESSION
YANUCA ISLAND, Fiji, 28 November -- Having passed the midway point in the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010), new and innovative methods were required to accelerate the implementation of the decolonization mandate of the United Nations, Anthony Severin (Saint Lucia), Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization, said at the Regional Pacific Seminar today.
Convening the three-day Seminar in Fiji from 28 to 30 November is 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.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman mentioned the value of the regional nature of the Decolonization Seminars, and of the interaction between representatives from small-island developing Territories from the Caribbean and the Pacific.
The Chairman recognized the efforts made by the General Assembly in adopting concrete recommendations to be carried out by the administering Powers, the United Nations system and the Territories themselves. In particular, the linkage between the self-determination process of the remaining small island Non-Self-Governing Territories, and the realization of human rights, was recognized as being consistently reinforced by the General Assembly.
Amongst the recommendations mentioned were the development of political education programmes in the Territories; the recognition of the right to self-determination in conformity with the legitimate status options of political equality; the promotion of socio-economic development, preservation of cultural identity and repatriation of artefacts and other historical materials; and the initiation of a work programme for each Territory. The assistance and effort in the development process of the Territories by the wider United Nations system and regional organizations was also noted.
Whilst there was a great body of legislative authority to carry out activities leading towards the decolonization of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, their insufficient implementation remained the most critical barrier to the decolonization process, especially in the small island Territories, the Chairman said.
In addressing the role of the Special Committee in the decolonization process, a historical synopsis of the Special Committee’s establishment in 1961, and its current plan of action, was presented. The Chairman reminded Seminar participants that the Committee existed to provide the people of the Territories with information on all of the options of political equality available to them, and to assist where it could in furtherance of the self-determination process.
Opening the Seminar on behalf of the host Government, Pio Tabaiwalu, State Minister for Small and Micro Enterprises and Information Technology of Fiji, said the United Nations and the Special Committee should be proud of the fact that millions of people around the world exercised their right of self-determination under United Nations auspices. However, with 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories still to decide their future, the Committee’s work was not yet complete.
Mr. Tabaiwalu mentioned the significance of the Seminar being held in Fiji, given the country had recently celebrated 36 years of political independence. He mentioned Tokelau and New Caledonia, and recognized other developments in the Pacific region. Mr. Tabaiwalu affirmed that the specific characteristics and sentiments of the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories required flexible, practical and innovative approaches to the options of self-determination, without any prejudice to territorial size, geographical location, size of population or natural resource endowments.
In a statement read by Karina Gerlach, Chief of the Decolonization Unit in the Department of Political Affairs, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said much had been achieved in the decolonization effort since the early years and it was the Organization’s duty of the United Nations and the international community to bring that process to a successful conclusion. He called on all administering Powers to show good faith and a willingness to implement the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter with regard to the Non-Self-Governing Territories.
The Secretary-General included the small Pacific Territory of Tokelau, with the assistance of the administering Power, New Zealand, as an example of what could be achieved when there was political will and close cooperation between all parties concerned.
In the first meeting of the Seminar, and prior to the adoption of the agenda, a representative from Morocco raised the specific question of Western Sahara. Comments and responses were heard from representatives of Algeria, Cuba and the POLISARIO.
In other business on the opening day, the Seminar elected two Vice-Chairs: Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz ( Cuba) and Sulay-Manah Kpukumu ( Sierra Leone). Albert Sitnikov ( Russian Federation) was appointed Rapporteur and Chairman of the drafting group. The programme of work for the Seminar was also adopted.
The case of Tokelau was the final item on the agenda for the morning session on day one of the Seminar. Perspectives from the Ulu-o-Tokelau and the Territory’s administering Power, New Zealand, were heard, before the views of two experts: Falani Aukuso from Tokelau and a representative of Tony Angelo, New Zealand.
All statements recognized the cooperation between Tokelau and its administering Power as being key to the Territory moving towards self-determination. Tokelau’s second referendum, scheduled for next year, was also discussed.
In response, Carlyle Corbin from the United States Virgin Islands mentioned a fact-finding mission to Tokelau that had been coordinated by the Pacific Community, and highlighted the importance of regional intergovernmental institutions in the decolonization process.
The representative of the United Nations Development Programme extended that agency’s further cooperation with Tokelau in addressing its self-identified priority areas of infrastructure, health, education, shipping, economic development, communications and information technology, in order to help the Territory as much as possible in the future.
Comments and responses were also heard from representatives of Cuba, Sierra Leone, Congo, United Nations Department of Political Affairs, New Zealand, Tokelau, Argentina and Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
The Seminar will meet again at 3 p.m. this afternoon, Tuesday, 28 November, where discussions will focus on the role of administering Powers and the perspectives of the representatives of Territories in the Pacific region. A summary of statements from day one of the Seminar can be found at: http://www.un.org/depts/dpi/decolonization/main.htm.
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