16 May 2008


16 May 2008
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

BANDUNG, INDONESIA, 16 May -- The 2008 Pacific Regional Seminar on decolonization convened under the auspices of the General Assembly’s Special Committee on the situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples -- better known as the Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization -- concluded its work today.

In today’s wrap-up meeting, participants considered the Seminar’s draft report, introduced by Rapporteur Jorge Leon Cruz of Cuba, containing conclusions and recommendations.  The report will be considered by the Special Committee in June at its forthcoming substantive session, for submission to the General Assembly.

The draft report reaffirmed the Special Committee’s role as the primary vehicle for fostering the process of decolonization and for expediting the implementation of the United Nations decolonization mandate, in particular under the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonization.  It noted that the Regional Seminar considered cooperation from the administering Powers to be imperative if progress was to be achieved during the remaining two years of the Second International Decade.  In that connection, the presence at the Seminar of the representatives of France, New Zealand and the United States was welcomed, and the paper circulated to the Seminar by the United Kingdom was noted.

Further, the draft report said that the Seminar recommended that the Special Committee, the administering Powers and the Non-Self-Governing Territories engage in constructive discussions and innovative ways to expedite the implementation of the goals of the Second International Decade.  It noted that participants reiterated that “the Special Committee will consider whether it might be useful to reiterate the request for the use of the Secretary-General’s ‘good offices’ in this process.”

The importance of education, awareness-raising and continued dialogue on self-determination and decolonization issues aimed at and involving the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories was highlighted in the draft report.  It reaffirmed the need for the Special Committee, in collaboration with the United Nations Secretariat’s Department of Public Information, to actively embark on a public awareness campaign aimed at fostering an understanding among the peoples of the Territories of the options for self-determination.

As well, the United Nations Secretariat was encouraged to continue and intensify its efforts to facilitate the advance dissemination of information on world summits, conferences and special sessions of the General Assembly to Non-Self-Governing Territories that are granted observer status at those events.

The Special Committee’s visiting and special missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories -- aimed at affording Committee members the opportunity to see conditions there for themselves -- represent key factors in raising public awareness of decolonization issues and options available for self-determination, the draft report noted.  It added that such missions be undertaken as soon as possible, and called on the administering Powers to cooperate in their facilitation, where there were no sovereignty disputes.

While regretting that only one representative from the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Pacific region had been able to participate in the Regional Seminar, the draft report noted the effectiveness of the Special Committee’s seminars as forums for focused discussion.  In addition, there was general agreement on the need to fully facilitate the attendance of representatives of the Non-Self-Governing Territories at future seminars.

“Following the example set by New Zealand, other administering Powers are called upon to cooperate fully with the Special Committee in pursuing a proactive approach in order to achieve concrete results in fulfilment of the Special committee’s mandate,” the draft report said, adding that participants were appreciative of New Zealand’s continued involvement with Tokelau.

With regard to the issue of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the report noted that participants had reiterated that the Special Committee should continue to encourage the resumption of negotiations between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom with the aim of finding a lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute, taking into account the interests of the population of the Territory, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and decisions of the United Nations.

The draft report noted that the Seminar’s participants had reiterated the importance of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) role in providing assistance to the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and encouraged it to further explore ways to assist with financial resources for the development of self-government structures in preparation for the attainment of a full measure of self-government.

While considering the draft report, some participants requested that their disagreement with some parts of the report be noted in the final version.  As well as the aforementioned section dealing with the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), other paragraphs that were noted as having been the subject of some disagreement included a paragraph calling upon the parties involved in Western Sahara to continue to show political will and to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General in good faith; a paragraph in which the Seminar noted the United Kingdom’s position paper; and a paragraph regarding a presentation on the situation in Guam.

The Seminar closed with the adoption of a resolution expressing appreciation to the Government and people of Indonesia for providing the Special Committee with the facilities for the Seminar, as well as their generous hospitality and warm reception.  In his closing remarks, the Special Committee’s Chairperson, the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations, R. M. Marty Natalegawa, extended the Committee’s appreciation to all the participants, particularly the representatives of and experts from the Non-Self-Governing Territories, as well as the Government of Indonesia and the regional authorities of the province of West Java, of which Bandung is the capital, for hosting the Regional Seminar.

Since 1945, more than 80 once-colonized territories have exercised their right to self-determination.  The remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories are American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the United States Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.