|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Special Committee on
3rd Meeting (AM)
special committee on decolonization approves 3 draft resolutions
During opening meeting of its 2009 resumed session
Acting by consensus as it began its resumed 2009 session this morning, the Special Committee on Decolonization approved three draft resolutions, on dissemination of decolonization information; the question of sending visiting and special missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories; and on information from those Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter.
By the terms of the text on dissemination of information on decolonization(document A/AC.109/2009/L.5), approved as orally amended, the General Assembly would approve activities of the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) in that field, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions on decolonization, particularly publication of the information leaflet titled What the UN Can Do to Assist Non-Self-Governing Territories, which was updated on the Organization’s decolonization website in May. The Assembly would also encourage continued updating and wide dissemination of the leaflet.
Also by that text, the Assembly would request that the Secretary-General further enhance information on the decolonization website and continue to include the full series of reports of regional seminars on decolonization, statements and scholarly papers presented during the seminars, and links to the full series of reports by the Special Committee. The Assembly would, by further terms, request that DPI continue efforts to update web-based information on the assistance programmes available to Non-Self-Governing Territories, and request that DPI and DPA implement the Special Committee’s recommendations and continue efforts to publicize the Organization’s decolonization work through all print, broadcast and Internet media.
At the outset of the Special Committee’s consideration of that text, Paula Refolo, DPI’s Director of Strategic Communications, and Freda McKay, Chief of DPA’s Decolonization Unit, highlighted their respective departments’ activities to disseminate information about the decolonization efforts of the United Nations.
Ms. Refolo, presenting the Secretary-General’s report on the dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/2009/18) covering April 2008 to March 2009, said DPI continued to provide coverage of decolonization activities, such as meetings of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and the Special Committee, formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Four recently issued press releases had resulted from coverage by a DPI press officer of the Special Committee’s Caribbean Regional Seminar in Saint Kitts and Nevis from 12 to 14 May. The Secretary-General’s message to that event had been highlighted by the United Nations News Centre.
The What the UN Can Do to Assist Non-Self-Governing Territories leaflet was updated to include the activities of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, which DPI planned to upload on the Organization’s decolonization website page. DPI also planned to work with DPA’s Decolonization Unit ‑‑ which maintained the decolonization page ‑‑ to create a mailing list for people interested in receiving up-to-date information on decolonization.
In sum, 51 press releases had been issued in English and French on meetings, statements and hearings of various United Nations bodies, she said, adding that the question of decolonization was discussed on the Department’s guided tours, in which more than 300,000 visitors had participated in 2008. In terms of DPI’s television and radio operations, an interview with the United Nations Envoy to Western Sahara, on his visit to Morocco and Algeria in February, had been aired on United Nations Radio, the Chinese Unit of which had also produced two features on the work of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
She said that the News Centre web portal, one of the most frequently visited areas on the United Nations website, had distributed articles on decolonization to 54,000 subscribers in French and English, which had been picked up by external websites, including popular news aggregators. For example, a story on the Secretary-General’s February address to the Special Committee had been carried by MercoPress, Scoop Independent News, EIN News and Indigenous People’s Issues Today. Also, decolonization issues had been written up in the United Nations Yearbook, the reference book The United Nations Today (formerly Basic Facts about the United Nations), the publication Sixty Ways the United Nations Makes a Difference, and the United Nations Chronicle Online.
In Geneva, the United Nations Information Service issued press releases summarizing meetings where human rights experts had discussed decolonization as part of the Human Rights Council’s country reviews, she said. The bi-weekly news briefing in Geneva addressed decolonization whenever it was in the news, and decolonization issues were included in guided tours of the Palais des Nations. The United Nations Regional Information Centre in Brussels addressed the issue in its speeches and lectures, and in response to public inquiries. Reports of the Secretary-General were regularly shared with various interested parties, including European Union institutions.
Ms. McKay said DPA’s annual working papers disseminated decolonization information gathered from information provided by administering Powers and supplemented by media reports, Internet sites and other sources. The information was collected and disseminated on request to Member States, representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories, schools, organizations and individuals. The material was distributed at the annual regional decolonization seminars. Information distributed in Saint Kitts and Nevis in May included three brochures prepared in collaboration with DPI, entitled The United Nations and Decolonization; The United Nations and Decolonization, Questions and Answers; and What the United Nations Can Do to Assist Non-Self-Governing Territories.
Having assumed responsibility for the decolonization website in 2004, DPA’s Decolonization Unit had begun exploring ways to make it more user-friendly. A new interactive website with more than 1,000 files of decolonization information, including reports, resolutions, working papers and press releases, would be launched soon. DPA would continue to expand its roster of experts, academics and organizations on decolonization, which were helpful in bringing new insights to the annual regional seminars. The Unit used that roster to widen its informal network of contacts. It continued to provide updated information to DPI’s Public Inquiries and Guided Tours Units in response to specific questions about decolonization matters, and to update the chapter on decolonization in the publication The United Nations Today.
By terms of the second text approved this morning, on the question of sending visiting and special missions to the Territories (document A/AC.109/2009/L.6), the Special Committee would have the General Assembly stress the need to dispatch periodic visiting missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories in order to facilitate full, speedy and effective implementation of the decolonization Declaration with respect to those Territories, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions on decolonization and the plan of action of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. The Assembly would also call upon the administering Powers that had not yet done so to facilitate United Nations visiting missions to the Territories under their administration. It would request that the administering Powers cooperate fully with the Special Committee in exploring the possibility of visiting or special missions in order to further the Assembly’s decolonization mandate.
According to the text on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter (document A/AC.109/2009/L.4), the Assembly would request that the administering Powers concerned, in accordance with their Charter obligations, transmit or continue to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General statistical and other technical information relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories for which they were respectively responsible, as well as the fullest possible information on the Territories’ political and constitutional developments, within six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those Territories.
Also during today’s meeting, the Special Committee agreed to accede to requests for hearings relating to the questions of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Western Sahara and Puerto Rico. Special Committee Vice-Chairperson Rupert Davies ( Sierra Leone) said 35 requests for hearing had been received to date.
The Special Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 June, to hear petitioners on the question of Gibraltar.
* *** *