18 May 2004


Press Release



Secretary-General Hails Cooperation as Essential to Self-Determination

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA, 18 May -– Cooperation is essential to achieving self-determination for all the peoples of the world, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his message this morning to the opening meeting of the Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization.

While he noted the significant accomplishments of the United Nations in this field, the Secretary-General also pointed out that today, 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories still remained on the United Nations list.  He asked that those attending the Seminar listen to one another and he reminded the international community of its duty in bringing the process of decolonization to a successful conclusion.

These themes were reiterated in discussions throughout the first meeting, attended by representatives from numerous States and Territories.

The Seminar is being hosted by the Government of Papua New Guinea and convened by the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples –- the Special Committee of 24 on decolonization.

It is being conducted within the framework of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010).  At the end of 2000, the Special Committee concluded that the seminars had been an effective forum for focused discussion on matters of concern to the Non-Self-Governing Territories and had provided opportunities for representatives of the peoples of the Territories to present their views and recommendations to the Committee.

Opening the Seminar, the Chairman of the Special Committee, Robert Guba Aisi (Papua New Guinea), called for fresh, innovative and “out of the box” ideas and recommendations from delegates.  It was crucial that those ideas generated direct action in order to advance the implementation of the mandate entrusted to the Committee -– to bring an end to colonialism in the region.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Papua New Guinea, Rabbie Namaliu KCMG MP, welcomed delegates to the Pacific Seminar and reminded them of

the achievements of the Committee to date, across all continents.  Mr. Namaliu noted that in the Pacific region there are still five Territories on the United Nations list, with many common features and problems.

The role of the Special Committee generated some lively discussion following an address by its former Chairman, Ambassador Peter Donigi.  His introduction of the term the “way upward” and recommendations regarding the Seminar and Committee resources incited responses from representatives of independent and Non-Self-Governing Territories, including Spain, United States Virgin Islands, Papua New Guinea and Cuba.

There was significant support for a continuation of the annual Seminars and a call for more action on resolutions adopted by the Special Committee.

Proceedings included a case study on the process of decolonization in Tokelau.  Perspectives from the administering Power, New Zealand; the Ulu-o-Tokelau and views of experts were heard.  Each statement highlighted the unified approach adopted by all parties and the importance of empowering the people of Tokelau.  Several delegates congratulated New Zealand, Tokelau and the United Nations Special Committee of 24 on a successful triangular partnership to this point.

In other business this morning, the Special Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work, and appointed its officers.

The Pacific Seminar recommences at 3 p.m. today with presentations on the perspectives of representatives of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Pacific region on their present status and the completion of the decolonization process in those Territories.

The Seminar aptly commenced on the eve of the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Opening Statements

ROBERT GUBA AISI (Papua New Guinea), Chairman of the Special Committee, and Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations, opening the Seminar, said that unless work was intensified to implement the various resolutions and recommendations to eradicate colonialism, the Special Committee was going to have to call for more decades to complete its work.  While that might happen, it should not be accepted as a given.

The Chairman noted that the Committee must do more than inform, educate and pass resolutions to end colonialism.

The Special Committee’s purpose was to provide an opportunity to discuss many issues on decolonization, to focus on the specific issues pertaining to the Non-Self-Governing Territories in a given region, and to hear the concerns from the representatives of the Territories and the opinions and positions of experts and academics in that regard.

The Chairman said the Committee would be hearing from Tokelau and New Zealand and relevant experts.  By using Tokelau as a case study, the Seminar hoped that all could appreciate and learn how agreement on the final status of a Territory could be reached to the satisfaction of all concerned.

One of the aims of the Seminar was to pick up where the Committee left off last year in Anguilla and work with the United Kingdom and some of the Territories under its administration to reach a satisfactory solution that would take care of the aspirations of the people in the Territories, while addressing the main concerns of the administering Power.

It was hoped that the discussions and deliberations of the Seminar would result in action-orientated recommendations for the Special Committee, the administering Powers and the Territories themselves to start moving towards meaningful outcomes, he concluded.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD, Rapporteur, Special Committee of 24, and Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations, briefed delegates on developments since last year’s seminar in Anguilla.

The Seminar had been a landmark event -– for the first time, it was held in one of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The former Chairman of the Special Committee held a series of informal consultations with members of the Committee where he discussed his intention to engage with the administering Powers to build up the momentum created by Anguilla.  He then had meetings with the United Kingdom and the United States.  He also sent letters to those administering Powers containing proposals for the advancement of the decolonization process in some of their Territories.

The Rapporteur said that constitutional reviews were continuing in several of the Territories administered by the United Kingdom.  During the past year, Tokelau had made further significant advances to decolonization, both in its political evolution and in the management of its national and regional interests.

The new Chairman of the Special Committee took steps to further develop the working relationships with the administering Powers to carry forward the Committee’s mandate, he said.  The Special Committee would use a similar agenda to last year’s, which was new and more focused.  In addition, a case study (on Tokelau) would be included.

RABBIE L. NAMALIU, KCMG, MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Papua New Guinea, welcomed participants to the Pacific Seminar –- the third to be held in this country.

He noted that there were still 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories on the United Nations list, including five in the Pacific Region.  The decolonization process on all continents was one of the true success stories of the United Nations, and he believed that under the current Chairman’s guidance, the process achieved in recent years would be maintained and the mandate of the Special Committee progressively implemented.

The Minister also believed that the Seminar needed to examine the reform and revitalization process the General Assembly itself had driven in recent years to ensure that the United Nations remained relevant and effective in a rapidly changing, challenging world.

It was necessary to remember that this decade represented the midpoint of the Eradication of Colonialism charter adopted by the General Assembly, and overseen by the Special Committee, he continued.

In regard to goodwill, he included two examples of the success and effectiveness of the Committee:  the case of Tokelau, and the role of the Pacific Islands Forum and the Government of France in making progress under the Noumea Accords.  The Minister restated the commitment of the Government of Papua New Guinea to the work of the Special Committee on decolonization.

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For information media. Not an official record.