20 May 2004


Press Release

PAcific Seminar on Decolonization Concludes with Recommendations for increased

cooperation with UN system, public awareness campaigns on Self-Determination

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

MADANG, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, 20 May –- Fifty-one conclusions and recommendations regarding the situation in Non-Self-Governing Territories were put forward by the Special Committee of 24 today, marking the end of its three-day Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization.

The Seminar held six meetings in which representatives of United Nations’ Members States, Non-Self-Governing Territories, administering Powers, non-governmental and other organizations, as well as regional organizations and experts, took part.  The Seminar was organized to encourage an open and frank exchange of views.

The morning meeting saw the adoption of a resolution on expressions of appreciation to the Government and people of Papua New Guinea.  In proposing the resolution, the Rapporteur of the Special Committee, Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad (Syria), noted the outstanding contribution that the people and Government of Papua New Guinea had made to the success of the Seminar, including their warm hospitality.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The role of the Special Committee generated numerous conclusions and recommendations, including a mid-term five-year review of the implementation of the plan of action of the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, suggested for 2005.  Further, the Seminar recommended that the Special Committee play a catalytic role in the search for a specific solution for each of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories.

The participants affirmed the need for the Special Committee to actively embark on a public awareness campaign aimed at fostering an understanding among people of the Territories of the options for self-determination.  Information Centres, particularly those located in the Pacific and Caribbean regions, could play a significant role in disseminating information, promoting public awareness and mobilizing support for the work of the United Nations with respect to the decolonization process.

A more active role for the Electoral Unit of the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat was suggested, to provide support and assistance to any consultation process in a Non-Self-Governing Territory.

Seminar participants confirmed the need for visiting missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories, and their numerous requests were noted.

Greater cooperation with and assistance from agencies of the United Nations system also drew a number of recommendations, including that, subject to approval by the Economic and Social Council, Non-Self-Governing Territories should be given access to relevant United Nations programmes in the economic and social sphere.

A number of constitutional and self-determination issues in Non-Self-Governing Territories of the Pacific and other regions were noted in the Seminar’s draft report.  These included the situations of Pitcairn, New Caledonia, Guam, Western Sahara, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and the question of Gibraltar.

It was recognized that significant progress had been made in recent months towards an act of self-determination by Tokelau.  The Trust Fund set up to provide for the Territory’s future developmental needs was commended.  It was suggested that the Special Committee might look at ways of assisting Tokelau to publicize and promote the Trust Fund.

Participants also took note of the ideas expressed by the representative of the Governor of American Samoa, and expressed their willingness to support the choices of the people of American Samoa, to be determined through United Nations mechanisms.

Conclusions and recommendations regarding administering Powers and other State Members of the United Nations were also highlighted, with participants welcoming the presence of each to the Seminar.

Participants’ thoughts on the role of regional seminars also featured in the draft report of the Seminar.  The regional nature of the seminars, alternating between the Caribbean and the Pacific, remains a crucial element in their success.

The Seminar was officially closed by the Chairman of the Committee of 24, Robert Guba Aisi.  He thanked all participants and extended special gratitude to staff of the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea, and the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator.

The Chairman also thanked the host Government of Papua New Guinea for its support.  The Acting Chief of the Decolonization Unit and the United Nations Department of Public Information’s Information Centre in Sydney were also mentioned.  The DivineWordUniversity was commended for its technical assistance –- for the first time, the Seminar was digitally recorded.  The unofficial assistance of Nic Mclellan, an expert, in providing French-English translations for speakers was noted by the Chairman.

In closing, Mr. Guba Aisi said that he had been reminded that we all have one mouth and two ears, and that listening was a key component of the Seminars on Decolonization.

A final report will be issued by the Committee in due course.

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For information media. Not an official record.