CONCLUDING SESSION, SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION APPROVES TWO TEXTS ON NEW CALEDONIA, TOKELAU; HEARS APPEALS TO HEED CRITICISM OF ITS WORK

23 June 2008
GA/COL/3181

CONCLUDING SESSION, SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION APPROVES TWO TEXTS ON NEW CALEDONIA, TOKELAU; HEARS APPEALS TO HEED CRITICISM OF ITS WORK

23 June 2008
General Assembly
GA/COL/3181
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Special Committee on

Decolonization

11th Meeting (AM)

CONCLUDING SESSION, SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION APPROVES TWO TEXTS

ON NEW CALEDONIA, TOKELAU; HEARS APPEALS TO HEED CRITICISM OF ITS WORK

Closing this year’s session, the Special Committee on Decolonization this morning approved draft texts on Tokelau and New Caledonia, noting the latest developments in those Non-Self-Governing Territories.

At the conclusion of the meeting, several speakers noted that the Special Committee had heard a number of criticisms from representatives and petitioners from Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The representative of the Congo warned that the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001–2010) would end without any substantial progress and that, while decolonization had been one of the Organization’s great success stories, the situation of the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories could become the Achilles heel of that success.

The 2008 session had been an important wake-up call, Saint Lucia’s representative said, cautioning that the critics of the Committee’s work should be seriously taken into account.  Unless the criticism was addressed in earnest, the very future of the decolonization process would be in jeopardy, and that was unacceptable.

In his closing remarks, Committee Chairman Marty M. Natalegawa of Indonesia said that the Special Committee’s work in the area of decolonization must focus on tangible results for the benefit of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  Various constructive feedback and even concerns expressed by many stakeholders should also be taken into account.  Only two and a half years remained of the Second International Decade.  That highlighted the urgency of giving all possible help to the Non-Self-Governing Territories in establishing conditions that would enable them to demonstrate their will on the issue of their respective status through a valid, internationally recognized act of self-determination.

If there was one conclusion one could draw from the session, he said, it was surely that the Special Committee had to strive to find new, more proactive ways of going about its important work -– through improved cooperation with administering Powers and in full recognition of the aspirations and interests of the people and Governments of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, on a case-by-case basis. 

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft text on Tokelau, by which the General Assembly would note, among other things, that two referendums had not produced the two-thirds majority of the valid votes required to change Tokelau’s status from that of a Non-Self-Governing Territory under the administration of New Zealand to the status of self-governing in free association with New Zealand.  The Assembly would acknowledge the decision of the General Fono of Tokelau (the governing body of that Territory) that consideration of any future act of self-determination by Tokelau would be deferred, and that New Zealand and Tokelau would devote renewed effort towards enhancing and strengthening essential services and infrastructure on the atolls.

The Committee heard from the Ulu (Head of Government) of Tokelau, Faipule Pio Iosefo Tuia, who said that, following the October 2007 referendum, the General Fono had agreed that Tokelau needed a period of reflection and that, with the “exemplary cooperation” of New Zealand, it intended “to build a Tokelau that all Tokelauans would like to live in and be proud of”.  The Government had identified infrastructural needs to develop an efficient and a reliable level of service that would benefit the people as New Zealand citizens.  He appealed to the international community to help the Territory address the issues of global warming, climate change and rising sea levels.

He stressed that “Tokelau will not rest on this issue of self-government following the two referendum attempts.  As a Tokelauan, I find it hard to close my eyes at night knowing that a decision of my elders on the future of Tokelau is still pending,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of New Zealand as the administering Power, Administrator of Tokelau David Payton said that, regardless of the outcome of the 2006 referendum, New Zealand’s support for Tokelau remained substantial and assured.  In fact, shortly after his statement a year ago, a three-year economic support arrangement for Tokelau, from July 2007 to June 2010, had been finalized, providing Tokelau with substantially increased levels of financial support.

Tokelau was a Non-Self-Governing Territory exercising its right to self-determination, and also as a collection of three, isolated and vulnerable atoll communities, it looked to New Zealand for almost all of its needs, he said in conclusion.  Today, it was important to acknowledge the open and committed manner in which the people of Tokelau had exercised their right to self-determination.  It was also necessary to acknowledge and respect the outcome of that act.  Most importantly, it was necessary to reaffirm to Tokelau “our ongoing commitment to supporting it in the years ahead”.

The Special Committee also approved without a vote a draft text on New Caledonia, whereby the Assembly would take note of the concerns expressed by a group of indigenous people in the Territory regarding their underrepresentation in the Territory’s governmental and social structures.

The Assembly would recall with satisfaction the efforts of the French authorities to resolve the question of voter registration by adopting, in February 2007, amendments to the French Constitution, which would allow for strong representation of the indigenous population.

Both draft resolutions were introduced by the representative of Papua New Guinea.  The representative of Fiji, co-sponsor of the drafts, also spoke.

Background

The Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this morning to consider the questions of New Caledonia and Tokelau.

According to a working paper on New Caledonia (document A/AC.109/2008/9), the political and administrative structures of this Non-Self-Governing Territory administered by France were fundamentally altered by the Nouméa Accord, which was signed in May 1998 between the Government of France, the pro-independence Front de libération national kanak socialiste (FLNKS) and the integrationist Rassemblement pour la Calédonie dans la République (RPCR).  Under the Accord, the parties opted for a negotiated solution and progressive autonomy from France, rather than an immediate referendum on political status.

New Caledonia consists of a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,500 kilometres east of Australia and 1,700 kilometres north of New Zealand.  One of the world’s largest nickel exporters, the Territory ranks among the more affluent Pacific nations, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of €22,737 in 2006.  It suffers, however, from long-standing structural imbalances between the economically dominant South Province and the considerably less developed North Province and Loyalty Islands.  Many of the efforts of the French Government and New Caledonian institutions, therefore, have been aimed at redressing that problem.

Financial transfers made by the administering Power reached a total of €214.5 million in 2007.  However, shortly after his election, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his intention to move away from France’s existing arrangements with its overseas departments and territories.  Consequently, the so-called loi-programme, initiated in January 2008, aims at evaluating and eventually improving the effectiveness of financial transfers and other measures by the administering Power.

According to the paper, the transfer of powers from France began in 2000 and is scheduled to end with a referendum between 2013 and 2018, when the Territory will opt for either full independence or a form of associated statehood.  New Caledonia is no longer considered an Overseas Territory.  Instead, the Government of France describes it as a community sui generis, which has institutions designed for it alone, to which certain non-revocable powers of State will gradually be transferred.

For 25 years, the party system in New Caledonia was dominated by the anti-independence RPCR, since renamed Rassemblement-Union progressiste mélanesienne (UMP).  This dominance ended just months prior to the Caledonian general elections in May 2004, with the emergence and electoral success of a new party, l’Avenir Ensemble (AE), which also opposed complete independence from France, but was seen as more favourable towards dialogue with the indigenous Kanak movement, and supportive of full implementation of the Nouméa Accord.  The indigenous movement is part of FLNKS, a coalition of several pro-independence groups that are of the view that a future vote on New Caledonia’s status should be about full independence.  The most recent addition to New Caledonia’s political scene came in November 2007, when the Territory’s Union for Kanak and Exploited Workers (USTKE) launched a new Labour Party, which is staunchly pro-independence in nature.

The paper further states that New Caledonia is governed by a 54-member Territorial Congress, a legislative body composed of members of three provincial assemblies.  The next elections for Congress and the Provincial Assemblies were foreseen for 2009, but the resignation of Marie-Noëlle Thémereau (AE party), who had served as President of New Caledonia since 2004, triggered the fall of the whole 11-member Executive Committee (ministerial Cabinet), setting in motion new elections.

On 6 August 2007, the New Caledonia Congress elected a new Cabinet, but hours later, FLNKS resigned from it in protest at what it considered a ballot error, causing an immediate collapse of the Government (though it remained in a caretaker capacity), and activating a renewed 14-day period to conduct new elections.  In the meantime, Harold Martin, leader of AE, was sworn in as President of the caretaker Government.  On 21 August, the Congress again elected a Cabinet, comprising seven anti-independence and four pro-independence members.  Harold Martin retained the position of President.

In the light of the lack of cohesion among the Territory’s main anti-independence forces, reconciliation talks were initiated in July 2007, with strong encouragement by the French Government.  That effort culminated in the signature on 29 July of a “majority pact” between the three main anti-independence parties -— Rassemblement-UMP, AE and RCP.  The pact is aimed at setting the parameters for a working relationship between the parties.  In line with the goal of collegiality, it also emphasized the need to maintain dialogue with the Territory’s pro-independence movement, mainly represented by FLNKS.

The French State is represented in the Territory by a High Commissioner.  On 15 October 2007, it was reported that Michel Mathieu, who had been appointed to the post in September 2005, had tendered his resignation, reportedly after a difference in views that emerged during the visit of Christian Estrosi, French Secretary of State in charge of Overseas, on how to deal with a union rally and social unrest in New Caledonia in general.  A new High Commissioner, Yves Dassonville, was appointed on 26 October.

The Committee also had before it a working paper prepared by the Secretariat on Tokelau (document A/AC.109/2008/1) describing the general situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories, as well as constitutional and political developments; external relations; social conditions; consideration of the question by the United Nations; and the future status of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Regarding the future status, the working paper notes that, as the administering Power for Tokelau, New Zealand has maintained a strong commitment to and support for Tokelau’s aspirations to full exercise of its right to self-determination.  The outcomes of the referenda in February 2006 and October 2007, neither of which reached the threshold of support set by Tokelau’s General Fono (the national representative body of Tokelau) for a change of status have been accepted by New Zealand.  The Prime Minister has set up meetings with the elected leadership of Tokelau to discuss the next steps in the New Zealand-Tokelau relationship.  The recent approval of the three-year economic support arrangement for Tokelau has also provided the Territory’s people with clear evidence of New Zealand’s enduring commitment to their well-being and needs.

According to the working paper, the Tokelau International Trust Fund stood at some $22 million during the time of the referendum.  Tokelau’s vision for the next three years was to address such priority areas as village development, health, education and transport.  The Ulu (Head of Government) had also mentioned the particular concerns over the impact of global warming and rising sea levels, and had called upon the international community to take immediate steps to address those issues.

(For more information on the October 2007 referendum, see Press Releases GA/COL/3164, GA/COL/3165 and GA/COL/3166.)

New Caledonia

ROBERT G. AISI ( Papua New Guinea) introduced the draft resolution on New Caledonia (document A/AC.109/2008/L.13).

By the terms of the text, co-sponsored by Fiji and Papua New Guinea, the Assembly would welcome significant developments that had taken place in the Territory since the signing of the Nouméa Accord of 5 May 1998 by the representatives of New Caledonia and the Government of France, and urge the parties to maintain, in the framework of that agreement, their dialogue in a spirit of harmony.  It would also note relevant provisions of the Accord aimed at taking more broadly into account the Kanak identity in the political and social organization of New Caledonia and welcome efforts towards devising common identity symbols, such as name, flag, anthem, motto and banknotes.

Acknowledging the provisions of the Nouméa Accord on the control of immigration and protection of local employment, the Assembly would note that unemployment remains high among Kanaks and that recruitment of foreign workers continues.  It would also note the concerns expressed by a group of indigenous people in New Caledonia regarding their underrepresentation in the Territory’s governmental and social structures.

Among other terms of the text, the Assembly would take note of the provisions of the Accord that allow New Caledonia to become a member, or associate member, of certain international organizations and note continuing strengthening of ties between New Caledonia and both the European Union and the European Development Fund.  It would call upon the administering Power to continue to transmit to the Secretary-General information on the Territory, as required by the Charter, and invite all the parties involved to continue promoting a framework for peaceful progress of the Territory towards an act of self-determination, in which all options are open and which would safeguard the rights of all sectors of the population.

The Assembly would recall with satisfaction the efforts of the French authorities to resolve the question of voter registration by adopting, in February 2007, amendments to the French Constitution allowing New Caledonia to restrict eligibility to vote in local polls to those voters registered at the time of the signing of the Nouméa Accord, thus ensuring strong representation of the Kanak population.  It would also welcome the measures to strengthen and diversify the Territory’s economy, as well as the importance attached by the parties to greater progress in housing, employment, training, education and health care in New Caledonia, noting also the financial assistance rendered by France to the Territory and acknowledging the contribution of the Melanesian Cultural Centre to the protection of the indigenous culture in New Caledonia.  Also noted in the text are positive initiatives to protect the environment in New Caledonia.

Welcoming cooperation among Australia, France and New Zealand in terms of surveillance of fishing zones, the Assembly would acknowledge close links between New Caledonia and the peoples of the South Pacific and welcome the participation of the Territory in the Pacific Islands Forum.  It would further welcome the cooperative attitude of other States and territories in the region towards New Caledonia.

The draft resolution was adopted without a vote.

Tokelau

FAIPULE PIO IOSEFO TUIA, Ulu of Tokelau, registered Tokelau’s appreciation and gratitude to the Committee for its work in safeguarding its mandate and promoting the objectives of decolonization, as the Territory had witnessed over the last several years.  The Committee had, among other things, sent a team to observe the conduct of the two referendums.  “The ability of the Special Committee to closely monitor and provide support to Tokelau when required has enabled our people, through us as leaders, to convey our dreams and aspirations on how we would like to govern ourselves,” he said.

Giving an overview of Tokelau’s decision-making protocols, which had led to the referendums as acts of self-determination, he said, “Tokelau will not rest on this issue of self-government following the two referendum attempts.  As a Tokelauan, I find it hard to close my eyes at night knowing that a decision of my elders on the future of Tokelau is still pending.”  While the referendums had been proven and recorded as successful, it was unfortunate that their results had questioned the fabric of the traditional and decision-making institutions.  The Government of Tokelau was working towards realigning limited resources to the needs and aspirations of the people to be self-governing. 

He said that, following the October 2007 referendum, the General Fono had agreed that Tokelau needed a period of reflection.  Tokelau’s vision as far as realigning its resources was “to build a Tokelau that all Tokelauans would like to live in and be proud of”.  The Government had thus identified infrastructural needs to develop an efficient and a reliable level of service that would benefit the people as New Zealand citizens.  The Government of Tokelau, with the assistance of the Government of New Zealand, had worked together to direct key resources towards priority areas identified by Tokelau.

Underlining the “exemplary cooperation of New Zealand as the administering Power”, he noted that the Government of New Zealand had already committed NZ$43.1 million to assist Tokelau’s infrastructural and capacity development needs for a three-year cycle.  A substantial amount of resources had already been used to investigate a much needed shipping service for Tokelau, with a much awaited decision from the New Zealand Government to be released early this week, which could bring a new shipping service by 2010.  The Trust Fund currently stood at NZ$35 million.  New Zealand had given NZ$5 million at the end of last year.  The Fund was an inter-generational fund that guaranteed assistance of the present generation to Tokelau’s children in the future.  In addition, with the flexibility support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), funds had been allocated for the much needed seawalls and capacity-building for the villages.

He also described waste management and energy projects, saying that Tokelau was vulnerable to global warming, climate change and rising sea levels.  Tokelau was currently working towards an energy policy that would allow the small atolls to operate on 100 per cent renewable energy.  That project would cost approximately NZ$10 million. 

He reiterated that the Taupelega, the General Fono and the Council for the Ongoing Government were desirous of a self-determined Tokelau.  The weight and the decision of those institutions had been supported by 64.4 per cent of the people.  “We as a people have come this far and the journey must continue until we reach our target -– a self determined Tokelau,” he concluded.

BERENADO VUNIBOBO ( Fiji) thanked the members of the Special Committee who had visited Tokelau in October last year for their efforts in assisting the conduct and verification of the referendum in Tokelau.  He also expressed appreciation to the administering Power, New Zealand, for its continuing commitment, not only in support of Tokelau’s right to decide its future path, but also to ensure, whatever the status, that the needs of the people of Tokelau were met.  That was a good case study of successful cooperation for decolonization.  His delegation would be remiss if it did not extend its appreciation to the chiefs and people of Tokelau, the national legislative body and the village councils for their efforts and perseverance in the process.  Indeed, they had set for themselves a high benchmark, of which everybody could be proud. 

Referring to the tendency to dismiss traditional institutions in the international arena, he said that the whole process, especially as it related to the question of Tokelau, was indicative of the valid ongoing role of the Special Committee.  As one of Tokelau’s neighbours, Fiji wished the chiefs and people of Tokelau well in their future endeavours.  He called on the international community to increase its support for the Tokelau International Trust Fund.   Fiji stood ready to support ongoing efforts on the question of Tokelau.

Speaking on behalf of New Zealand as the administering Power, Administrator of Tokelau DAVID PAYTON said that the past year had been an eventful one for Tokelau.  A year ago, he had emphasized that New Zealand respected the outcome of the February 2006 referendum, understanding that Tokelau’s leaders and the General Fono had strongly supported an act of self-determination, which, they had hoped, would lead Tokelau to a new status of “self-governing in free association with New Zealand”.  However, the referendum had not reached the level of support set by General Fono for such a change of status.  Today, regardless of the outcome of the 2006 referendum, New Zealand’s support for Tokelau remained substantial and assured.  In fact, shortly after his statement a year ago, a three-year economic support arrangement for Tokelau, from July 2007 to June 2010, had been finalized, providing Tokelau with substantially increased levels of financial support.

New Zealand had also accepted the decision of the General Fono to move quickly to a second self-determination referendum, based on the same criteria as the first, he continued.  Last year, he had stated that he did not know how long the position of the Administrator of Tokelau would continue to exist.  That question was in the hands of the people of Tokelau, and that was a testament to New Zealand’s commitment to decolonization.  Last year, he had witnessed the conduct of Tokelau’s second self-determination referendum.

The leaders of Tokelau had decided that the closeness of the results of the February 2006 referendum had warranted a further opportunity for the voters to undertake an act of self-determination, he said.  People on Tokelau’s three atolls had been very well-prepared to respond to the question:  do you support Tokelau moving from the status of a Territory of New Zealand to that of a self-governing country in free association with New Zealand?  A majority of two thirds of the votes cast were needed to trigger a change of status.  That threshold, set by General Fono, reflected recognition that a decision of that magnitude deserved to have the unequivocal support of the people.  Tokelau’s leaders had also reached out to the wider Tokelauan community outside the atolls -– in New Zealand, Australia, American Samoa and Samoa, and the family of Tokelau had been fully informed of the proposals.

Continuing, he described the efforts to ensure that the referendum was conducted in accordance with United Nations standards, adding that the size of the electorate, at less than 800, had made tallying the results a relatively quick process.  As for the referendum’s outcome, the voters had supported the proposed change of status by a margin of over 64 per cent.  However, the threshold of the two-thirds majority had been missed by less than 2 per cent.  There would be no change of status as a consequence of that second act of self-determination.  Those who were in Atafu on the evening of 24 October would remember well the mix of emotions following the referendum.  Those who had worked so hard and who were certain that Tokelau’s people would overwhelmingly endorse change had found that outcome hard to accept.

He said that the next morning, when the General Fono had convened in Atafu, disappointment was still evident, but so was the commitment of Tokelau’s leaders.  Addressing the General Fono that morning, the administrating Power had recorded New Zealand’s acceptance of the decision of the people and reaffirmed New Zealand’s commitment to Tokelau.  The previous evening, the Prime Minister of New Zealand had spoken with the Ulu of Tokelau over the phone, inviting Tokelau’s leaders to meet with her in Wellington, after the January 2008 elections for Tokelau’s leaders.

In January, a new General Fono had been elected, which were accompanied by some changes in the Council for the Government of Tokelau, he said.  The following month, all six members of the Council visited New Zealand.  In their meetings with the Prime Minister and senior Government members, they conveyed their decision that there would be a period of reflection before consideration was given to a possible further act of self-determination, and that priority attention would be devoted to improving basic services and infrastructure on the atolls.   New Zealand had accepted the decision of Tokelau’s leaders and General Fono for a shift in priorities.

He said there was ample scope for strengthening the delivery of quality services on each of Tokelau’s small and isolated atolls.  A major infrastructure renewal programme was well under way.  Atafu and Fakaofo were receiving new school buildings, and a hospital was being improved on Nukunonu.  Major progress had also been achieved in upgrading Tokelau’s shipping service, and efforts had been made to strengthen the public service.

Last October, in what had been acknowledged as an exceptionally well-prepared referendum, more than 35 per cent of the voters had felt unable to support a change of status, he continued.  The willingness of Tokelau’s leaders to reflect on the concerns of that sizeable minority, rather than push immediately for a third ballot, was a mark of their clear determination to be leaders.  They were to be commended for that attitude, and New Zealand supported them in their efforts.

Tokelau was a Non-Self-Governing Territory exercising its right to self-determination, and also as a collection of three, isolated and vulnerable atoll communities, which looked to New Zealand for almost all of their needs, he said in conclusion.  Today, it was important to acknowledge the open and committed manner in which the people of Tokelau had exercised their right to self-determination.  It was also necessary to acknowledge and respect the outcome of that act.  Most importantly, it was necessary to reaffirm to Tokelau “our ongoing commitment to supporting it in the years ahead”.   New Zealand was committed to supporting Tokelau moving forward and to finding solutions that worked for it.

Mr. AISI (Papua New Guinea), introducing the draft resolution on Tokelau (document A/AC.109/2008/L.15), sponsored by his country and Fiji, said the draft provided the most up to date situation on Tokelau and reflected the continuing exemplary working relations between the Governments of Tokelau and New Zealand, which stood out as a role model for a working relationship between a Non-Self-Governing Territory and an administering Power.  Since the last referendum, both parties had decided to review matters fully.  He considered that to be in the best interest of both parties.  He called on the Committee to remain supportive of Tokelau and New Zealand in their joint endeavours.

By the draft text, the General Assembly would note with appreciation the considerable progress made in the negotiation of a draft constitution by New Zealand and Tokelau, as well as the decisions on proposed national symbols by Tokelau, and the steps taken by the Territory and New Zealand on a draft treaty of free association as a basis for an act of self-determination.  It would also note that the 2006 and 2007 referendums did not produce the two-thirds majority of the valid votes required to change Tokelau’s status from that of a Non-Self-Governing Territory under the administration of New Zealand to the status of self-governing in free association with New Zealand.  It would also commend the professional and transparent conduct of the referenda.

The Assembly would acknowledge the decision of the General Fono of Tokelau that consideration of any future act of self-determination by Tokelau would be deferred and that New Zealand and Tokelau would devote renewed effort and attention to ensuring that essential services and infrastructure on the atolls would be enhanced and strengthened, thereby ensuring an enhanced quality of life for the people of Tokelau.  The Assembly would further welcome the commitment of both Tokelau and New Zealand to continue to work together in the interests of Tokelau and its people, taking into account the principle of the right to self-determination.

The Assembly would recall with satisfaction the establishment and operation of the Tokelau International Trust Fund to support the future development needs of Tokelau, and call upon Member States and international and regional agencies to contribute to the Fund and thereby lend practical support to assist this emerging country in overcoming the problems of smallness, isolation and lack of resources.  It would further call upon the administering Power and United Nations agencies to continue to provide assistance to Tokelau as it further develops.

The Special Committee then approved the draft resolution on Tokelau (document A/AC.109/2008/L.15), as orally amended, without a vote.

LUC JOSPEH OKIO (Congo) said he had been following the Committee’s work for some six years and had participated in seminars and visiting missions, during which he had had the chance to listen to and learn of the pain and despair of the people in non-self-governing territories, their expectations of the Committee and the United Nations, and sometimes their disappointment.  For some time now, he had started to wonder about his responsibility, his country’s and the Committee’s, especially as representatives and petitioners from non-self-governing territories had stepped up their criticism of the Committee. 

He said that the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001–2010) would end without any substantial progress.  While decolonization had been one of the great success stories, the situation of the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories could become the Achilles heel of that success.  He had not lost hope that the Special Committee, together with the administering Powers, would be able to come up with the necessary resources to fulfil its mandate.  As long as the right to self-determination was considered a basic human right, colonialism would be considered an anachronism.

MICHELLE JOSEPH ( Saint Lucia) welcomed the achievements in Tokelau and expressed appreciation for the support of the administering Power.  Her delegation was aware of the complexities of the Special Committee’s role and the difficulties it encountered, however, it appeared that the 2008 session had been an important wake-up call.  The Committee had heard a number of criticisms over the lack of implementation of the decolonization mandate.  Recognizing that the Committee could not do it alone, she had to say that there were specific activities that it had not carried out sufficiently since the First Decade to Eradicate Colonialism, which had begun in 1992.  The critics of the Committee’s work should be seriously taken into account.  Unless the criticism was addressed in earnest, the very future of the decolonization process would be in jeopardy, and that was unacceptable.

She said that the plan of the implementation of the decolonization mandate had been recognized by the General Assembly as an important legislative authority for the attainment of self-determination by the Non-Self-Governing Territories by 2010.  However, the plan had gone largely ignored.  Further, development of the case-by-case plan for each Territory had not been initiated.  There was also a provision for special procedures through independent expertise to undertake analytical work, but based on the budgetary considerations, that work had also not been undertaken.  Special procedures might be accommodated through existing resources, but no programme budget implication had been undertaken in that regard.

The present mechanism could not lead to implementation of the decolonization mandate and it appeared to be too inflexible, she said.  The Special Committee needed to seriously examine that situation, with the aim of changing it.  Decolonization was now at a critical stage, two short years before the end of the Second Decade.  The time had come for the Committee to regroup along the lines that the General Assembly had provided.

Concluding the 2008 session, Chairman of the Special Committee, MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia), underlined his firm belief that the Special Committee’s work in the area of decolonization must focus on tangible results for the benefit of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The Committee had a responsibility to do everything possible, with a view to achieving real progress towards complete eradication of colonialism in application of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, subsequent General Assembly resolutions and the principles and provisions of the Charter.  Various constructive feedback, and the concerns expressed by many stakeholders, should also be taken into account.  Only two and a half years remained of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.  That highlighted the urgency of giving all possible help to Non-Self-Governing Territories in establishing conditions that would enable them to demonstrate their will on the issue of their respective status through a valid, internationally recognized act of self-determination.

The Special Committee, for its part, through the so-called “omnibus” resolution dealing with 11 of the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories, had asked the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session on the implementation of the decolonization resolutions adopted in connection with the First and Second Decades for the Eradication of Colonialism.  In contributing to that report, Member States would have the occasion to take stock of the support given to Non-Self-Governing Territories in their quest for decolonization.  That exercise would afford the opportunity to review those efforts and chart the way forward.  In that connection, he also noted the efforts by the Special Committee in its work on the omnibus resolution this year, which had been crafted to encourage an action-oriented approach on each of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, with a view to facilitating a comparative understanding of where each of the Territories stood on the path to decolonization.  Additionally, throughout the session, the Committee had endorsed 10 other resolutions, three reports and would submit all relevant information and documents to the Assembly for its consideration through the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).

Much preparatory work had laid the foundation for the Committee’s 2008 substantive session, he added.  He would particularly like to express the Committee’s gratitude for the working papers prepared by the Secretariat, as well as the efforts that had gone into the Pacific regional seminar in Bandung, Indonesia, in May.  If there was one conclusion one could draw from the session, it would surely be that the Special Committee had to strive to find new, more proactive ways of going about its important work -– through improved cooperation with administering Powers and in full recognition of the aspirations and interests of the people and Governments of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, on a case-by-case basis. 

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