Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Special Committee on Decolonization as it opened its 2014 substantive session that it was becoming loud and clear and that the time was opportune to push forward on pending issues.
Mr. Eliasson said that although the pace of decolonization was historically slow, the prospects for breaking the deadlock in some of the cases of Non-Self-Governing Territories looked positive in the year ahead.
He urged the Committee to spread its message to as wide an audience as possible in order to eradicate all forms of colonialism.
The Committee, formally, the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, reviews the political, social and economic conditions in the 17 United Nations‑listed Non‑Self‑ Governing Territories. It also organizes regional seminars to discuss the challenges of decolonization and works to ensure that the United Nations assists in the process of resolving them.
Xavier Lasso Mendoza (Ecuador), having been elected by acclamation as Chair of the current session, echoed the Deputy Secretary-General when he said that decolonization should be addressed seriously and with sensitivity. He agreed that the upcoming year would be important, including because agreement on New Caledonia was now in place.
Also elected by acclamation were Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez (Cuba), Vandi Chidi Minah (Sierra Leone) and Desra Percaya (Indonesia), as Vice-Chairs, and Bashar Ja’afari (Syria), as Rapporteur.
The Committee, moving forward with its work, voted to hold its 2014 Pacific Regional Seminar in Fiji from 21 to 23 May, and to undertake a visiting mission to New Caledonia. The team would include the member delegations of Ecuador, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea and Sierra Leone, with one electoral expert and three Secretariat staff to support it. The dates of the mission would be announced.
Also today, the Special Committee approved its proposed organization of work for 2014 (document A/AC.109/2014/L.2), and it invited Argentina, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Montenegro, Panama, Solomon Islands, Spain, Suriname, Turkey, Uganda and Uruguay to participate in the session as observers.
The following delegations are Committee members: Antigua & Barbuda; Bolivia; Chile; China; Congo; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Dominica; Ecuador; Ethiopia; Fiji; Grenada; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Mali; Nicaragua; 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 the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, New Caledonia and Western Sahara, as well as American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.
* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).