|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Special Committee on
1st Meeting (AM)
Secretary-General Hails 2010 as Landmark Year for Special Committee
on Decolonization in Message to Organizational Meeting
He Cites End of Second International Decade for Eradication
Of Colonialism, Fiftieth Anniversary of Declaration on Granting Independence
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that 2010 would be an important year for the Special Committee on Decolonization because it marked both the end of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
In a message to the Special Committee, conveyed by B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Ban said the achievements of the Second international Decade (2001-2010) included a reduction in the number of United Nations-listed Non-Self-Governing Territories from 17 to 16 following Timor-Leste’s hard-won independence in 2002. The Special Committee had also assisted the people of Tokelau exercise their right to self-determination in two votes, he said, noting that it continued its annual deliberations, hearings, regional seminars and professional reporting, including on its website.
Heartened by the strengthened dialogue between the Special Committee and the administering Powers, he said it was crucial for those Powers to work with the people of the Territories under their administration to generate further momentum for self-determination. “What we need now are creative solutions for the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories,” he added. “If the United Nations is to fulfil its obligations in supporting the legitimate aspirations of the peoples of these Territories, a pragmatic and realistic approach -– taking into account the specific circumstances of each -– is most likely to lead to concrete results.”
In opening remarks this morning, Donatus Keith St. Aimee (Saint Lucia), the Special Committee’s newly elected Chairperson, noted that only one Non-Self-Governing Territory had been eliminated from the list during the Decade, emphasizing: “We need to do better than that.” There was a “crucial need” in its final year to generate new momentum so as to ensure that the 16 remaining Territories would be able to exercise their right to self-determination, on a case-by-case basis, through the follow-up to and application of the relevant United Nations resolutions.
There was a need to find creative ways to resolve the difficulties of the decolonization process while paying genuine attention to the socio-economic needs of the Territories’ peoples as well as their interests. The Special Committee must continue its work in a proactive, pragmatic, and innovative manner, he added, stressing also that the administering Powers must recognize their own responsibilities. Of special significance was the responsibility to disseminate information on the available self-determination options and the decolonization process to the remaining non-self-governing peoples, he said, noting that the example set by Tokelau and the Government of New Zealand could set a benchmark for all others to emulate.
He said regional seminars provided an excellent venue for enhancing education on and public awareness of decolonization, and welcomed an offer by the territorial Government of New Caledonia, in consultation with France, the administering Power, to host a regional seminar this year.
Taking unanimous action on a draft decision (document A/AC.109/2010/L.3) based on a letter from the Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to its Chairperson (document A/AC.109/2010/1), the Special Committee recommended that the General Assembly appoint that country as a member, raising the body’s membership from 28 to 29.
In other business, the Special Committee elected, by acclamation, Pedro Núñez Mosquera (Cuba) and Rupert Davies (Sierra Leone) as Vice-Chairs, and Bashar Ja’afari (Syria) as Rapporteur. It also invited the delegations of Algeria, Argentina and Spain to participate in its deliberations as observers.
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 Committee of 24) is the focal point for the implementation of the Declaration on Decolonization. Its current 28 members are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Chile, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Syria, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania and Venezuela.
Remaining on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories are: Gibraltar, New Caledonia, Western Sahara, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Tokelau and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
The Special Committee heard brief statements by representatives of Cuba, Dominica, Venezuela, Indonesia, Syria, Congo, Ecuador, Bolivia, Grenada, Tunisia, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia and Nicaragua.
The Special Committee will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.
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