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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 25 February 2010 - Secretary-General's message to the 2010 Session of the Special Committee of 24 [Delivered by Mr. B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs]

It gives me pleasure to greet the Special Committee of 24 on decolonization.

This is an important year for the Committee. December marks both the end of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and the 50th anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The Committee should use the occasion to reflect on progress, with a view toward completing this historic task.

Among the achievements during the Second International Decade was the reduction in the number of Non-Self-Governing Territories from 17 to 16 as the result of Timor-Leste's hard-won independence. The Special Committee also assisted the people of Tokelau to exercise their right to self-determination in two votes.

More generally, the Committee has continued its annual deliberations and hearings; its discussions at regional seminars; and its professional reporting, including via the United Nations website on decolonization.

What we need now are creative solutions for the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories. 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 recent years, I have been heartened by the strengthened dialogue between the Special Committee and the administering Powers. As the Committee charts the way forward, I encourage all concerned to continue in this spirit. It is likewise crucial for those Powers to work with the people in the Territories under their respective administrations to generate further momentum.

I commend the Special Committee for its accomplishments to date and for its steadfast commitment to ridding the world of colonialism. The Secretariat stands ready to continue lending all possible support to your important work in the year ahead.