9 October 1998


9 October 1998

Press Release


19981009 Committee Continues Discussion of Decolonization Issues, Hears Petitioners on Western Sahara, Elects Vice-Chairman

The term "Non-Self-Governing" was not wholly applicable to people who were prosperous, free to establish their own constitutions and to elect their own public officers, the representative of the United States told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning as it continued its consideration of decolonization issues.

He said that words like "subjugation", "domination" and "exploitation" did not convey the true relationship between administering Powers and the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories under their jurisdiction. The United States continued to assert that the majority of Territories inscribed on the Special Committee's list should be removed. The time had come when the Fourth Committee no longer needed to operate through the filter of a decolonization Committee established during different era.

Regarding the issue of immigration to Guam, he said that no one without family ties or sponsorship had been allowed to migrate to that Territory. However, United States residents were allowed to live in Guam, just as the peoples of Guam could freely live in the United States. Moreover, while the draft resolution relating to Guam stressed the role the Chamorro people, the United States supported all the groups on Guam, regardless of how long they had lived.

The representative of Cuba, responding to the United States statement, called for a spirit of cooperation rather than a spirit of conflict, and asked how the United States could say that the Special Committee's mandate was no longer relevant. That claim was not only surprising, but also had many dangerous implications. The United States should allow a mission to visit Guam and ensure the existence of an effective and transparent dialogue based on good faith.

Also responding to the United States, the representative of Syria said that many countries were today Members of the United Nations as a result of the decolonization process. The problem faced by the Committee was that some

Fourth Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

countries did not allow it to play its proper role. Instead of trying to besmirch the Special Committee, those countries should cooperate with it and allow it to discharge its duties in accordance with the decolonization Declaration.

The representative of Iraq said that some administering Powers used Non-Self-Governing Territories as military bases, imposing through them, a policy of threats against neighbouring countries, as well as dumping nuclear waste and conducting other harmful activities. Statements by representatives of some Territories had highlighted the excesses of those administering Powers.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Fiji, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Australia, Kenya, Pakistan, New Zealand, Bahrain, India, Singapore, Tunisia, Iran, Nigeria and the United Republic of Tanzania. The Committee also heard two petitioners on matters relating to the situation in Western Sahara.

Also this morning, the Committee elected Ferden Carikel (Turkey) as its third Vice-Chairman.

The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday 12 October to continue consideration of decolonization issues.

Committee Work Programme

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its discussions of decolonization issues and hear from petitioners on Western Sahara. (For details of documents before the Committee see Press Release GA/SPD/133 issued 5 October.)

Statements on Western Sahara

MICHAEL BHATIA, research assistant at Brown University's Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, said the core weaknesses within the United Nations Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) mandate, force structure and timetable still remained. For an operation mandated to supervise the governance of a territory and the demobilization and cantonment of approximately 200,000 troops, the mandated deployment of 2,800 civilian and military personnel was woefully inadequate. Moreover, neither the Military Observers nor the Civilian Police (CIVPOL) were in a position to directly ensure conditions of security. Rather, they had only provided a monitoring role.

He said that the renewed hopes following the Houston Agreements -- which had been concluded between the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) and the Government of Morocco in September 1997, and allowed resumption of the identification process -- had proved futile and transparent. After a summer of dashed hopes and continued frustration, it had become clear that the resumption of high-level direct negotiations -- now slated for late October in Lisbon -- would be required to put the process back on track. Because a mechanism had not been created for the resolution of disagreements, problem solving was either separately addressed with the United Nations -- with limited success -- or allowed to intensify until high-level negotiations once again became an acute necessity. A joint-monitoring cell for Western Sahara must be created, which would directly involve the associated regional and international powers in order to monitor compliance and symbolize the continued attention of the international community.

Given the weaknesses of both the negotiation process and the peacekeeping force, it was necessary to evaluate their implications for the return of the Sahrawi refugees from the Tindouf camps to Western Sahara, he said. That would be the true test of whether peace would truly hold or whether conflict would acquire a darker character. The international community's role and responsibilities should not end with the holding of the referendum, yet the referendum had been viewed by the States as their sole exit strategy.

He said that the United Nations-monitored ceasefire allowed the Moroccan authorities to consolidate their presence and cohesively begin to alter the demographic character of the territory. That trend and the current conditions

Fourth Committee - 3 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

within the Moroccan-controlled western portion of the Territory necessitated a cautious response to the repatriation programme sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Neither MINURSO nor the UNHCR had freedom of movement within the Territory, which severely limited knowledge on the conditions. The repatriation of Sahrawi refugees could not be viewed as an independent component of the peace plan to be mechanically implemented at the directed time, without regard to the conditions in the territory.

EL HASSANE ZAHID (Morocco) referring to the petitioner's statement, said it was clear to those who had real knowledge of the situation in Western Sahara that the Committee had just heard an indictment, rather than a constructive statement on that situation. The petitioner had criticized the ceasefire, which the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and the international community had said from the beginning was the area that had shown the most improvement.

The petitioner had also criticized the settlement programme, he continued. Apparently MINURSO and the whole agreement must be reinvented. Had the petitioner read paragraph 1 of the report of the Identification Commission? he asked. True, it did say that the parties would not present the three contested tribes, other than those identified in the census. However, the paragraph went on to say that the parties would not prevent those individuals from presenting themselves. The parties had agreed that once individuals came forth, they would be identified. That was what had happened, as noted in the Secretary-General's reports.

The petitioner had questioned the matter of repatriation, he said. Morocco had been one of the first parties to ask for repatriation on the basis of free will. How could one now reasonably reproach a State for having an orderly public service and to criticize its law enforcement, which had been very useful? The petitioner's statement was evidence of his Government's contention that petitioners who had nothing to do with the issue had no place in the debate.

Mr. BHATIA, of Brown University, said that the key point was transparency, which meant that actors outside the Territory who had researched, visited and were interested in the area were important in ensuring that all parties remained true to the Houston agreements. Besides, the Moroccan delegate's questions were largely rhetorical.

EL HASSANE ZAHID asked why the petitioner had limited himself to the first part of the Houston agreements. His questions had been specific and not rhetorical, but he would not press the matter if the petitioner had no answer.

Mr. BHATIA, of Brown University, said that the key question regarding identification was whether those presenting themselves were being sponsored by the Moroccan Government.

Fourth Committee - 4 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

BOUKHARI AHMED, representative of the Frente Popular para la liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y Rio d'Oro (Frente POLISARIO), said that in contrast to the paralysis of previous years, significant progress had been made towards the holding of a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. The Houston agreements -- negotiated between the POLISARIO and the Government of Morocco -- had solved the major problems that had been impeding progress in the implementation of the 1988 joint United Nations/Organization of African Unity (OAU) peace plan. Those agreements had resolved the problem of identification of the electoral body for the referendum.

He said that the original peace plan approved by the Security Council in 1990-91 had established that the electoral body for the referendum would be determined on the basis of an updated 1974 Spanish census. With the aim of attempting to falsify the referendum, Morocco had imposed on the United Nations, the adoption of a retroactive approach -- to go backwards in time -- to encompass Moroccan populations of alleged Sahrawi origin. That claim had been the main reason for unnecessary delays in the implementation of the peace process. Clearly Morocco's official demands were in violation of the Houston agreements.

Contrary to its promises of cooperation in the implementation, Morocco had been creating innumerable difficulties and obstructions in other essential areas, which were absolutely unrelated to the identification process, he said. The POLISARIO had complied with its obligations and responsibilities under the Houston agreements. The obstructions to the process towards the referendum were a challenge to the authority of the United Nations and contradicted the promises of cooperation stated by the Moroccan delegate before the Fourth Committee last year.

He said that the many obstacles were designed to prevent the holding of a free and fair referendum through a "war of attrition" against the will and the resources of the international community. The Sahrawi people's faith in the determination of the United Nations remained intact and they looked to the Organization to help resolve the "anachronistic and unfair" conflict peacefully. The domestic pretexts so frequently resorted to by Morocco must not continue to overshadow international interest and challenge the consensus achieved by the Security Council and the General Assembly.

General Debate

POSECI BUNE (Fiji) said that his country's unwavering efforts to eradicate colonialism had not been fully successful, due principally to a lack of cooperation and full support on the part of the administering Powers. The Committee would continue to be hamstrung unless the administering Powers worked genuinely with it to find solutions to decolonization issues.

He said that Fiji had noted the willingness of the administering Powers to participate in informal dialogue with the Special Committee on

Fourth Committee - 5 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

decolonization. Such informal dialogue had been essentially an avenue to dilute or amend provisions contained in General Assembly resolutions. Such circumscribed informality did not, could not and would not assist, promote or accelerate the decolonization process nor contribute in any form or fashion to the eradication of colonialism. The Special Committee should formally invite the administering Powers to resume their membership in the Special Committee.

Furthermore, he continued, the administering Powers should take a leaf out of the book of New Zealand, which not only fully and actively participated with and in the work of the Special Committee, but genuinely continued to guide the people of Tokelau in deciding for themselves the form of government that best suited them. The Special Committee should, with its mandate nearing an end, set priorities. The top priority should be to obtain the free and voluntary choice of the peoples of the Territories on the options for their political future. In order to achieve that, referendums should be held in each of the Non-Self-Governing Territories where such referendums were not already scheduled.

The decolonization process was not an isolated one, he said. Concomitant with the pursuit of the process, the administering Powers should address, with greater urgency, programmes to promote economic, social and human development in the Territories. Political independence or association would mean little if there was no economic development. More attention must be focused on infrastructure development, business and commercial development, transfer of technology and constant flows of investment capital.

Also, particular attention must be paid to the rights of the indigenous peoples in those territories, he said. Their special rights should be guaranteed, protected and enhanced. Traditions, customs and culture must be respected and facilitated. Finally, their ancestral lands and land tenure must be guaranteed and protected. He reiterated that the relationship between the administering Powers and the Territories should be equality rather than adversity, and respect rather than degradation.

MACHIVENYIKA T. MAPURANGA (Zimbabwe) said his country urged the administering Powers to cooperate with and participate in the work of the Special Committee on decolonization. He also urged the administering Powers to consult with the peoples of the Territories to facilitate programmes of political education, to foster an awareness of the possibilities open to them in the exercise of their right to self-determination.

Western Sahara remained one of the unfinished items on the agenda of decolonization, he said. Serious difficulties still had to be overcome before a referendum took place and innovative ways to break the impasse in the identification process must be found. The Settlement Plan remained the best option for achieving a long-lasting solution. He urged all parties to engage in direct talks in order to resolve all outstanding issues. Thus, the

Fourth Committee - 6 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

long-suffering people of Western Sahara would then have the opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination, as stipulated in the Settlement Plan.

RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said that despite the repeated calls by the United Nations and the General Assembly, some administering Powers were still not transmitting in a timely manner, information on the Territories under their administration in accordance with article 73 e of the United Nations Charter. The transmission of information was an obligation, as long as the Assembly did not decide otherwise.

He said that the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories had the legitimate right to benefit from, and use their natural resources as they deemed best. He called on the administering Powers that had not done so, to adopt legislative, administrative or other measures to end those enterprises under their jurisdiction that made irrational use of those natural resources.

The Committee had expressed its concern every year about the military activities carried out by some administering Powers in the Territories under their administrations, he said. Those activities constituted a clear impediment to the right to self-determination of the peoples of those Territories. His Government strongly opposed nuclear and other military activities.

He said that the texts on Tokelau and New Caledonia were role models for the spirit of cooperation that should prevail in leading all parties on the road to self-determination. Regarding the omnibus text, it was unfortunate that a consensual text had not been achieved. It was hoped that the spirit of cooperation would prevail on that matter.

On Western Sahara, he said that the holding of a fair and impartial referendum and strict adherence to the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council was the only way in which the conflict in that Territory could be resolved.

JOHN CRIGHTON (Australia) welcomed the signing and implementation of the Noumea accord in New Caledonia, subject to its approval by the people of that Territory at a referendum in November. Moreover, his Government had been a strong supporter of the Matignon accords which were agreed to by the parties in New Caledonian in 1988.

The new statute provided a framework within which New Caledonia would gradually assume greater political and social powers over the next 15 to 20 years, he said. At the end of that time, New Caledonians would decide whether or not to assume the sovereign powers of currency, justice, defence, public order and external relations.

Fourth Committee - 7 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

MARK MINTON (United States) said the United States fully supported the right of peoples in Non-Self-Governing Territories. However, given the vast variety of people, places and political circumstances that existed around the world, his country did not believe that a single standard of decolonization applied to every Territory. The 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples did not take into consideration the wide variety of situations facing those Territories.

He said the term "Non-Self-Governing" was not wholly applicable to residents of a land who were: prosperous and healthy in social and economic terms; free to travel and migrate and return without restriction; able to establish their own constitutions; elected their territory's public officers; and had a voice in the United States Congress. Words like "subjugation", "domination" and "exploitation" did not at all convey the true relationship between Member States that had responsibilities for the administration of Territories and the people of those Territories.

Self-determination, by definition, was not limited to a specific outcome, he said. The United States continued to assert that the majority of those Territories inscribed on the Committee's list of Non-Self-Governing Territories should be removed. What right did the Committee have to tell the residents of a Territory that they must choose one of three changes in their status determined by others, if they preferred the current arrangement and freely selected that status? he asked. Perhaps the time had come when this Committee no longer needed to operate through the filter of a Special Committee on decolonization established during a time that no longer existed.

His Government was especially disappointed that the Special Committee had decided to roll back a year-long effort at dialogue -- a compromise that produced the omnibus resolution, he said. The resolution on Guam represented a step backward. The Special committee had even reinstated language previously revised through negotiation. He further regretted that the Special Committee had accepted Guam as a separate issue. The United Sates supported the right of all peoples to become self governing. What about peoples who wanted to remain within the United Sates political family?

On the issue of immigration, he said that no one without family ties or sponsorship had been allowed to migrate to Guam. However, United Sates residents were allowed to travel and live in Guam, just as the peoples from Guam were allowed to freely travel and live in the United States. Moreover, the draft resolution did not reflect all the peoples of Guam and stressed the role the Chamorro people. The United States supported all the groups on Guam, regardless of their longevity on the island.

On the question of sending visiting missions to the Territories, he said the continuing usefulness of regional seminars and the modalities of visiting missions were still subject to discussion. Given New York city as a significant transportation hub, it cannot be logically argued that Port

Fourth Committee - 8 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

Moresby was more convenient or cost-effective to reach from Pago Pago or Pitcairn. Conference facilities and interpretation services were already located here.

NJUGUNA M. MAHUGU (Kenya) urged all the administering Powers to continue cooperating with the Special Committee with a view to successfully accomplishing the Secretary-General's plan of action. Inadequacy of political, economic, social and educational preparedness should not serve as a pretext for delaying the rights to self-determination and independence, he said. In this context, he commended the Government of New Zealand for its cooperation and commitment in assisting the people of Tokelau to attain a greater degree of self-government and economic self-sufficiency, in preparation for the determination of their future status.

Regarding the situation in Western Sahara, UNHCR had continued with its preparatory work for the repatriation of refugees as provided for under the Settlement Plan, he said. He welcomed the Moroccan Government's decision to formalize UNHCR's presence and to allow free access in the Territory. However, UNHCR still awaited the designation of technical counterparts to undertake a joint mission to the territory. In addition, demining of sites for the repatriation of refugees eligible to vote, and their immediate families had also begun, but could not be completed until arrangements for the implementation of the repatriation programmes had been finalized between MINURSO and the two parties.

AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said there was no denying that every Non-Self-Governing Territory had its own peculiar conditions and circumstances which had to be taken into consideration while pursuing the case for freedom and self-rule. Unfortunately there was discrimination in upholding the principles of rights of self-determination. Despite concerted efforts by the United Nations, and the determination of Member States, the expression of self-determination continued to be curbed and throttled in many parts of the world.

He expressed Pakistan's deep concern at the failure of the international community in achieving the inalienable right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people, who had been under Indian occupation for more than half a century. The international community had recognized the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination enshrined in a series of Security Council resolutions. But, there was a lack of commitment in seeking implementation of those resolutions. All Security Council resolutions must be implemented without discrimination.

Over the past 10 years, India had used brute military force to suppress the indigenous struggle of the Kashmiri people for self-determination, he said. Today Kashmir was occupied by more than 650,000 Indian troops. Over 60,000 Kashmiris had been killed; women and girls were being systematically raped as a strategy of war; custodial deaths, arbitrary arrests, summary

Fourth Committee - 9 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

executions and disappearances were routine occurrences. In recent months, India had intensified indiscriminate artillery and mortar firing across the Line of Control in Kashmir. The unabated Indian atrocities, and the denial of the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination was a challenge to the conscience of the world, particularly for those who took pride in upholding freedom and fundamental human rights.

He said that Jammu and Kashmir was a clear and simple case of neo-colonialism. The Indian claim that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India was not legally or historically tenable. Jammu and Kashmir was an internationally recognized disputed territory and was so recognized by the United Nations. It remained on the agenda of the Organization as an unresolved dispute. The international community could not remain indifferent to the plight of the Kashmiri people and must respond to their cry for freedom. The denial of their rights was a violation of the United Nations Charter and of the principles outlined in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand) said this year had been an important one in New Zealand's relations with the Special Committee on the question of Tokelau. New Zealand had pledged its support and encouragement for Tokelau's constitutional, social and economic development and an agreement on reshaping New Zealand's Official Development Assistance Programme to better meet Tokelau's development needs had recently been recorded.

New Zealand recognized that putting in place the new constitutional and government systems and developing enterprises which could generate local revenue would take time, and might be affected by factors outside Tokelau's control, he said. In order to provide predictable and assured support, New Zealand was prepared to commit itself to allocating not less than NZ$4.5 million annually for "Ongoing Support for Self-Government" for the five-year period beginning 1 July 1999.

New Zealand applauded the signing of the Noumea Accords in May this year, he said. The Accords contained a concept of "evolutionary sovereignty" and provided a crucial framework for the future. They also addressed the past consequences of colonialism upon the identity of the Kanak people.

ROKAN HAMA AL-ANBUGE said many countries were unfortunately still chaffing under colonial domination, and that some administering Powers continued to say that those Territories either did not want independence, or that they did not matter because they were small and scattered. Also, some administering Powers used those Territories as military bases, imposing through them, a policy of threats to use force against neighbouring countries, as well as dumping nuclear waste and conducting other harmful activities. He added that statements made by members of the Non-Self-Governing Territories had highlighted the excesses of the administering Powers, and made it

Fourth Committee - 10 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

necessary to adopt a speedy series of measures in implementation of General Assembly mandates.

While humanity sought to rid itself of all forms of colonialism, it was important not to forget that there were new methods of hegemony which were no less brutal, he said. Such measures denied peoples their independent will and harnessed their resources to the service of the colonizers. Moreover, the administering Powers destroyed the environment of the developing countries and imposed foreign cultures on them. Colonial Powers did not hesitate to utilize their political, economical and military potential to repress peoples, he added. The comprehensive sanctions imposed, even when Iraq was effectively in compliance with the Organization's requirements, demonstrated such new measures of colonization.

AL ZAYANI (Bahrain) said that history would never forget the role played by the United Nations in the field of decolonization in different parts of the world. That role was derived from the declaration relating to foreign domination and the consideration that the suppression of peoples was a denial of fundamental human rights that could hamper relations among peoples.

He said that throughout the 38 years since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XIV), the United Nations had continued its strenuous efforts to eradicate colonialism. In the course of those years, colonized people had become independent and had taken up their seats in international organizations. Colonialism was a clear-cut violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.

ASLAM SHER KHAN (India) said the complexities of the situation of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories were indeed diverse and clearly known to all States, and rendered the tasks ahead extremely delicate. India called on all States to approach the remaining tasks in the spirit of cooperation, understanding, political realism and flexibility.

The administering Powers must bear the obligation of protecting the economies and ecologies of the Territories, while providing the people with the opportunity to determine freely, from a well-informed standpoint, what they perceived to be in their best interests. The core of the endeavour should remain that the desires of the people of those remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories remained paramount, and that the people there chose the kind of political system that they wanted for their own governance.

Member States should not shirk, or even appear to shirk, their collective responsibility, residual though it may appear to some, he said. That responsibility should not be lost among the growing concerns, or the new scourges that demanded urgent attention, for the international community was dealing with the future of peoples, with the future of nations, and with the fundamental constructs of political freedom, equality and the right to decide one's own destiny. India hoped that the wave of human rights and dignity,

Fourth Committee - 11 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

political freedom and overwhelming desire for equal opportunity that had emerged as a global norm, would also assist in washing away the last vestiges of a by-gone era.

CHIN SIEW FEI (Singapore) said that as a country whose only resource was people, Singapore believed that human resource development was vital for economic and social progress. Since the 1960s, Singapore had provided technical assistance to other developing countries, including Non-Self-Governing Territories. As Singapore progressed, it would expand its technical assistance programme. Through such programmes, it was hoped that Singapore would be able to share positive aspects of its development experience with other developing countries, including Non-Self-Governing Territories.

She said that in the past five years, 22 officials from seven Non-Self-Governing Territories had either attended short-term training courses in Singapore or made study visits under the Singapore Cooperation Programme. For the fiscal year 1997, eight officials from the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Tokelau and the Turks and Caicos Islands had participated in that Programme.

Under the framework of the Singapore Cooperation Programme, technical assistance programmes were formulated to match the training needs of the recipient economies with Singapore's capacity to assist. Singapore had provided training in several areas, including civil aviation, port management, environment management, telecommunications, community policing, information technology banking and finance and English language.

MOHAMED SALAH TEKAYA (Tunisia) said decolonization work still remained incomplete. Its completion was important as the Organization moved toward the end of the twentieth century. He noted that past achievements could only be strengthened by a consensus -- based on United Nations resolutions -- reached between the administering Powers, the peoples of the Territories and the Special Committee.

In view of their future political status, the dissemination of information would further help the needs of the people of the Territories and would help achieve a better awareness of their rights, he said. More information supplied by the Secretary-General, coordination by the administering Powers on economic and social conditions, and the continued holding of seminars and visiting missions would facilitate decolonization efforts.

MEHDI DANESH YAZDI (Iran) said that at the end of the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and on the eve of the new millennium, it was unfortunate that the decolonization process was yet to be concluded. Member States should redouble their efforts to fulfil the aim of a world free of colonial domination. The administering Powers were called upon

Fourth Committee - 12 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

to cooperate with the United Nations Special Committee in the discharge of its mandate and to participate actively in its work relating to the Territories under their respective administrations.

He said that the informal consultations held in recent years between the Special Committee and the administering Powers must be strengthened and transformed into formal cooperation and formal participation in the work of the Committee. It was imperative that the administering Powers consider a new approach vis-à-vis the work of the Special Committee in pursuing its vital tasks.

Iran emphasized the need to dispatch periodic visiting missions to the Territories in order to facilitate the full, speedy and effective implementation of the Declaration on decolonization. Iran also reiterated the necessity of transmitting information by the administering Powers under Article 73 e of the Charter.

HASSAN MOHAMMED HASSAN (Nigeria) said his delegation commended the innovative approach adopted by the Special Committee on decolonization. Nigeria welcomed the measures adopted for the dissemination of information in the Non-Self-Governing Territories. The involvement of United Nations agencies and of non-governmental organizations in that process was equally commendable.

He said that experience had taught all Member States, especially the formerly colonized countries, that for decolonization and self-government to be of any value to the colonial peoples, it must be pursued simultaneously with concrete social, economic and political development measures. Assistance should be given to the colonial Territories to help establish sound economic foundations and the good political education necessary to carry the responsibilities of self-government.

M.T. BANDORA (Tanzania) said progress towards the achievement of the fundamental right to determine one's own political destiny had been slow. The responsibility for that indictment would be found, not with the United Nations, but with those who continued to exercise colonial control over the remaining Territories and whose hands moved slowly and sometimes reluctantly towards the granting of that right to self-determination. The onus of the task rested with the administering Powers.

Tanzania believed that the right to self-determination was inalienable and sacrosanct, he said. It was important to continue to hold the administering Powers to their responsibilities towards the Territories, as well as to their obligations to the rest of the international community. Their responsibilities included the obligation to put in place effective social and economic development programmes which would help improve the conditions of the inhabitants of the Territories. Responsibilities also included giving the inhabitants a greater say in the preservation, as well as

Fourth Committee - 13 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

exploitation, of their natural resources, and use of accruing earnings. Along with their economic responsibility, the Powers should initiate and expand political education programmes to foster greater awareness.

Tanzania welcomed the positive developments and was encouraged by the progress made so far in Western Sahara, he said. As the relevant parties would complete the preparatory phase and hopefully move on to the Settlement Plan, Member States must continue to be focused on the process, and give it maximum political and material support. The parties must be urged to push forward with greater fortitude and in full accord with the letter and spirit of the Houston Agreement and Settlement Plan.

Right of reply

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the delegation of Syria, and others, took pride in the achievements of the Special Committee. Many countries were Members of the United Nations as a result of the decolonization process. The problem faced by the Committee was that some countries did not allow it to play its role in the necessary manner. While 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories continued to be ruled by certain forms of colonialism, reason for hope was given by the example of New Zealand and Tokelau, as well as that of France and New Caledonia. The Special Committee was more important today than ever before, especially in light of the fiftieth anniversary of the decolonization Declaration.

To whom would the fate of the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories be left? he asked. Regarding the Special Committee's activities, there was a need to give it all possible opportunities to establish contact with the peoples of those Territories. By preventing the sending of visiting missions, some States were preventing those peoples from expressing their wishes. The seminars, held by the United Nations in various parts of the world, were the only means by which those peoples could express their wishes. The attempt by some to close that window would mean suffocating their wishes.

He said that instead of trying to besmirch the Special Committee, those countries should cooperate with it and allow it to discharge its duties in accordance with the Declaration.

JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea), also speaking in right of reply, said the work of the Special Committee could move forward only with the total cooperation of the administering Powers, such as France in New Caledonia and New Zealand in Tokelau. The United States was called upon to work with the Special Committee. The call by the United States to do away with the Committee ran against the grain.

He said that the peoples of Guam had spoken and that that was a movement forward. Papua New Guinea supported the sending of visiting missions and called on administering Powers to allow them. It also supported United

Fourth Committee - 14 - Press Release GA/SPD/135 5th Meeting (AM) 9 October 1998

Nations seminars where the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories could be heard. He added that those seminars need not be held in Port Moresby or New York.

RODOLFO ELISEO BENITEZ VERSON (Cuba), exercising the right of reply, called for a spirit of cooperation rather than a spirit of conflict. How was it possible after dozens of resolutions that the United States could still say that the mandate of the Special Committee was no longer relevant? he asked. That claim was not only surprising, but also had many dangerous implications.

He noted that the United States had called into question the need to hold seminars which the United Nations had emphasized were an instrument to permit the exchange of views between the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories, the administering Powers and experts. It had also been said that the Special Committee had taken a step backwards in considering the interests of the people of Guam.

Cuba deplored the lack of cooperation by the administering Power, he said. The reality was that the Special Committee had done all it could, and the United States should allow a mission to finally visit Guam and see that there was an effective and transparent dialogue based on good faith.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.