21 June 2004


Press Release

decolonization committee adopts text welcoming assistance to remaining

non-self-governing territories by un specialized agencies

In Particular Cites Role of UN Development Programme;

Requests Strengthened Support to Accelerate Economic Progress

The Special Committee on Decolonization this morning, welcoming the assistance extended to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, in particular the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), urged those that have not yet provided assistance to the Territories to do so as soon as possible.

Adopting a draft resolution on the implementation of the Declaration of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations, the Special Committee recommended that all States intensify their efforts in the United Nations specialized agencies and organizations to ensure the Declaration’s full implementation.  The text (document A/AC.109/2004/L.12) was adopted without a vote.

By other terms of the text, the Special Committee requested United Nations specialized agencies and organizations and regional organizations to strengthen support measures and formulate appropriate assistance programmes to the remaining Territories, in order to accelerate progress in their socio-economic sectors.  They were also requested to provide information on environmental problems facing the Territories; the impact of natural disasters; ways and means to assist the Territories to fight drug trafficking, money laundering and other illegal and criminal activities, and the illegal exploitation of marine resources. 

The Special Committee, by further terms, recommended that the executive heads of the specialized agencies and United Nations system organizations formulate -- with the active cooperation of the regional organizations concerned -- concrete proposals for the full implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions.  It also welcomed UNDP’s initiative in maintaining close liaison with the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations, including the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in providing assistance to the peoples of the Territories. 

Bearing in mind the extremely fragile economies of the small island Territories and their vulnerability to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, cyclones and sea-level rise, the Non-Self-Governing Territories were encouraged to take steps to establish and/or strengthen disaster preparedness and management institutions and policies. 

By further terms, the administering Powers were requested to facilitate the participation of appointed and elected representatives of the Territories in relevant United Nations meetings.  The Secretary-General was requested to continue assisting the specialized agencies in working out appropriate measures for implementing the various United Nations resolutions and to prepare a report on action taken in the implementation of those resolutions.

Addressing the Committee before the text’s adoption, Carlyle Corbin of the United States Virgin Islands, said he continued to regard the resolution as one of the Committee’s most important outputs.  There remained little or no debate on the item.  He believed that common ground could be found to make the resolution a consensus text.  Efforts should be made to achieve that goal. 

There had been one substantive change in the text, namely the reference to the positive role played by the ECLAC and ESCAP in providing assistance to the Territories, he added.  The commissions were critical to regional integration and to the linkages with the wider United Nations system.  The Committee could enhance its own work through the development of constructive dialogue with the regional commissions.  One of the most interesting aspects of the work of the regional commissions was the participation of the Territories in various international conferences, he said. 

He said he was pleased that the Committee had retained language in the omnibus resolution adopted last week requesting UNDP to provide for the participation of United States Virgin Islands in its regional programmes.  He was puzzled, however, by the deletion of the request for participation of United States Virgin Islands in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) programme on archival management.  The Committee could assist by following up with UNESCO in that regard, and inserting a reference in the omnibus resolution. 

Matters addressed in United Nations budgetary committees had significant bearing on the decolonization process, he added.  The Department of Political Affairs’ (DPA) 2004-2005 budget included an activity to ensure assistance by the specialized agencies to the Territories.  As there was no such coordination by the Department in that area, it was puzzling that such activities were listed each year as part of DPA’s decolonization mandate. 

In other action this morning, the Special Committee adopted the draft report of its Pacific Regional Seminar, held at Madang, Papua New Guinea, from 18 to 20 May 2004.

Following its adoption, Special Committee Rapporteur, Fayssal Mekdad (Syria), thanked the Committee Chairman and the Government of Papua New Guinea for the facilities made available to the Special Committee.  Papua New Guinea’s record in that regard was long and singular. 

Regarding the adoption of the draft resolution, he said the statement by the United States Virgin Islands representative had raised a number of important considerations.  He was pleased that the text had been adopted by consensus.  Despite all of the efforts made to date, however, the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly had been unable to do the same.  He would welcome dialogue with delegations that had reservations with the text.  Such dialogue, however, must include the acceptance in principle of the need for specialized agencies to cooperate in the Declaration’s implementation. 

Committee Chairman, Robert Guba Aisi (Papua New Guinea) said it was important to remember that when the Special Committee adjourned its session tomorrow, its work would not end.  He would do everything possible to ensure that that the Fourth Committee reached consensus on the text.  The issues at hand were important for the remaining Territories. 

The representative of Papua New Guinea agreed that with the Committee’s work finishing tomorrow, it was important to think ahead.  In that connection, he expressed hope that the regional seminar next year would be held in Bermuda, or another Non-Self-Governing Territory in the Caribbean. 

The Special Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 22 June, when it is expected to conclude the work of its resumed 2004 session.

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For information media. Not an official record.