|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ROLE OF ADMINISTERING POWERS IN DECOLONIZATION PROCESS DISCUSSED
IN SECOND MEETING OF PACIFIC REGIONAL SEMINAR
Perspectives of Territories in the Pacific Region Given Voice
(Delayed in transmission -- reissued as received from a UN Information Officer.)
YANUCA ISLAND, Fiji, 28 November -- 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 Territories in the Pacific region, with discussion of American Samoa, Guam and New Caledonia.
Convening the three-day Seminar in the context of the United Nations Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010) is the Special Committee on Decolonization. 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.
During the morning meeting of the Seminar, the case of Tokelau was discussed and noted as an example of how an administering Power, in this case New Zealand, is adhering to its obligations and working in cooperation with the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territory towards self-determination.
The second meeting commenced with statements by Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia, the Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa, who said that the current status of the Territory and its administering Power, the United States, is the desired relationship the people of American Samoa wish to have. He asked that American Samoa be delisted as a colony of the United States and said the partnership between American Samoa and its administering Power is one that has benefited both parties.
Hope Alvarez Cristobal, from the Organization of People for Indigenous Rights (Guam), who shared concerns about political and social development on Guam, specifically related to the Chamorro people. Speaking from her organization’s perspective, Ms. Cristobel provided a number of obstacles and opportunities regarding Guam and its administering Power, the United States. Concerns were expressed regarding immigration policies, United States military presence in Guam and environmental issues.
Patricia Goa of FLNKS New Caledonia and Raphael Mapou from Comite Rheebu Nuu, New Caledonia also presented statements. Both those statements were offered in French and a summary of each, in English, will be available soon at http://www.un.org/depts/dpi/decolonization.
A statement on behalf of Naheed Haque, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Samoa, was read by Mads Nielsen. The role of UNDP, as the development arm of the United Nations, was reiterated, as it works to support the efforts of countries that are under the administration of foreign Governments to achieve self-government. The statement focused primarily on Tokelau, and actions and efforts by UNDP since 1994, regarding capacity-building and institutional strengthening for increased self-government. Activities since that time have included the establishment of a state of the art modern telecommunications system, support to the development of the governance structure of the Tokelauan Government and support for relevant training programmes, meetings, conferences and seminars.
UNDP applauded the partnership between Tokelau and New Zealand. It expressed commitment to playing a central role within a coordinated United Nations Development Framework of Action, to provide the financial and moral support to Tokelau in its ongoing preparations for the 2007 Referendum. A short documentary on Tokelau, produced by UNDP, will be broadcast during the lunch break on day two of the Seminar.
The final statement for the second meeting was presented by Rex Rumakeik, Pacific Concerns Resource Center, Fiji, who contributed ideas based on the Center’s expertise and experience in decolonization efforts in the Pacific region. The representative commented on the Center’s position on decolonization and on the Decolonization Committee’s Action Plan, before offering two recommendations: that the existing five Non-Self-Governing Territories be given a definitive timetable to proceed with a vote on their political status and that the Committee sponsor awareness campaigns in all those Territories by involving Governments and civil society organizations.
In comments and responses, the representative from France stated that the French Government was committed to the full implementation of the two agreements concerning New Caledonia. He made reference to the transitional period of 15-20 years, which would lead New Caledonia towards self-determination, and encouraged further negotiations between all parties.
Carlyle Corbin, United States Virgin Islands, commended UNDP for its persistence and involvement in the self-determination process to date. Mr. Corbin also acknowledged the presence of the representative from the United States at the Seminar for the first time in many years.
The representative from New Zealand also acknowledged the work of UNDP in the Pacific region, through its offices in Apia, Samoa and Suva, Fiji. He noted the importance of the United Nations system working best when it works in a unified manner. In this connection, the representative made four points for the United Nations system and the Committee on Decolonization to consider: that one development model did not fit all; that small populations dispersed across huge oceans must not be judged on numbers alone; that diseconomies of scale are very much a reality; and that there was opportunity for UNDP to advise on best practice, based on its extensive worldwide network.
The Seminar will meet again at 9 a.m. Wednesday, 29 November, where discussions will include a follow-up to the 2005 Caribbean regional seminar in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and views of the representatives of other Non-Self-Governing Territories on their present status and the completion of the decolonization process in their Territories. A summary of statements from day one of the Seminar can be found at http://www.un.org/depts/dpi/decolonization.
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