|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION, CONCLUDING CARIBBEAN REGIONAL SEMINAR,
RECOMMENDS FOCAL POINTS FOR NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES
Initiative Would Enhance Information Exchange Where Sovereignty Was not Disputed
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
SAINT GEORGE’S, Grenada, 24 May –- At the conclusion of its three-day review of progress achieved in implementation of the Plan of Action of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the 2007 Caribbean Regional Seminar recommended that the Special Committee on Decolonization consider establishing a “Special Committee focal point” in each Non-Self-Governing Territory where there was no dispute over sovereignty, in order to enhance the exchange of information.
According to recommendations contained in its draft report, introduced by Rapporteur Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz ( Cuba), the Seminar underscored the importance of education, awareness-raising and continued dialogue on self-determination and decolonization issues aimed at and involving the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories. It encouraged the Department of Public Information to continue to disseminate relevant information to the media, non-governmental organizations, civic groups and others, a process in which United Nations information centres could assist. Any work programme developed for individual Territories should include an information and education campaign for their respective people.
The Seminar stressed that the Special Committee’s visiting and special missions represented a key factor in raising public awareness of decolonization issues. Regional seminars served as an effective forum for focused discussion on matters of concern to the Non-Self-Governing Territories, affording opportunities for representatives of the Territories’ peoples to present their views and recommendations to the Special Committee. The Special Committee was encouraged to hold those events in the Non-Self-Governing Territories themselves.
Also in the draft report, Seminar participants drew the attention of the administering Powers to the three options for reaching a “full measure of self-government”, namely independence, free association with an independent State or integration with an independent State. In cases where a particular Non-Self-Governing Territory was clearly in favour of building upon the basis of its existing situation, the Special Committee might wish to consider steps that it could take, bearing in mind the Territory’s interests in that regard. The United Nations goal of decolonization could thus be achieved in a relatively straightforward fashion.
The Seminar once again recommended that the Special Committee, the administering Powers and the Non-Self-Governing Territories engage in constructive discussions and innovative ways to expedite implementation of the Second Decade’s goals, with participants reiterating that progress could only be achieved with the active cooperation of the administering Powers. The Seminar also reaffirmed the Special Committee’s role as the primary vehicle for the fostering of the decolonization process and in expediting the Decade’s goals, stressing as well that its mandate remained a major political programme of the United Nations. Participants recommended that the Special Committee continue its active participation in monitoring the evolution of the Territories towards self-determination.
Participants recommended that all Non-Self-Governing Territories should be given access to relevant United Nations programmes in the economic and social sphere, and stressed that the wider United Nations system should continue to explore ways to strengthen existing measures of support. They reiterated their support for the current participation of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the relevant regional commissions of the United Nations and in its specialized agencies, and recommended that the Special Committee establish closer ties with relevant regional organizations.
The vulnerability of small island Non-Self-Governing Territories continued to be of major concern, according to the draft report. Participants recognized that their vulnerability would grow, unless urgent steps were taken to address and strengthen their capacities in accordance with the Mauritius Declaration regarding implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Development States.
The Seminar’s draft report, including its conclusions and recommendations, would be forwarded to the Special Committee on Decolonization for its review.
Participants adopted, by acclamation, a resolution contained in the draft report that expressed their profound gratitude to the Government and people of Grenada for providing the Special Committee with the necessary facilities for the Seminar, for their outstanding contribution to its success and, in particular, for their warm and cordial reception, and very generous and kind hospitality throughout the participants’ stay in Saint George’s.
Speaking on behalf of the people and Government of Grenada, Angus Friday thanked the Special Committee for choosing his country as the venue for the 2007 Seminar. Congratulating the Chairperson on her work, he said “your fairness […] in navigating us through the uncharted waters in the decolonization process” had made the Seminar a success. Many countries had gone through decolonization, but none had travelled the same route to self-determination. The choice of Grenada, which was still recovering from the disastrous effects of the 2004 Hurricane Ivan and which relied heavily on tourism, was an expression of solidarity that had contributed to the island nation’s recovery.
Given its history, the Caribbean took the issue of decolonization very serious, he said. Political independence had released an energy and pride on which no price could be placed. But, while the Caribbean States fully supported the Non-Self-Governing Territories as they chose their own path towards self-determination, they should exercise great caution and re-examine the issue of decolonization, to ensure that they considered the economic perimeters for true self-determination, otherwise traditional colonialism could be replaced by economic colonialism. The Special Committee should redouble its efforts to educate local populations on decolonization issues and consider developing a matrix to chart progress towards self-determination.
In closing remarks, Chairperson Margaret Hughes Ferrari ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) noted that there had been a lively exchange of views fuelled by the inputs of the Caribbean representatives. The Special Committee had a special responsibility towards the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories and it had, therefore, been a privilege to hear from their representatives. The Special Committee’s work would be greatly enriched by the encounter.
She said that, during the past three days, it had been made abundantly clear that different Territories had different needs, expectations and concerns. It was also obvious that some Territories were quite satisfied with present arrangements, while others had expressed dissatisfaction or a need for further progress. It was incumbent upon the Special Committee to recognize that spectrum, and its duty to find ways to deal with that reality on a case-by-case basis, always keeping as paramount consideration the wishes and well-being of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.
In other business, Special Committee Secretary Sergei Cherniavsky, read out a message from David Payton, Administrator of Tokelau, in which he provided an update on recent developments in that Territory, recalling that 60 per cent of voters in a referendum there had opted for self-government in free association with New Zealand. However, the required two-thirds majority had not been achieved, and a second referendum would take place in November with the draft Treaty of Free Association with New Zealand remaining on the table. Preparations were proceeding well and considerable efforts had been put into addressing issues of concern identified from the earlier referendum process.
The representatives of Argentina and Spain, and the observer for the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Gibraltar made short remarks.
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