Special Committee on Decolonization Concludes Session with Approval of Draft Resolution on Tokelau, Another Containing Report on Organizational Matters

24 June 2011

Special Committee on Decolonization Concludes Session with Approval of Draft Resolution on Tokelau, Another Containing Report on Organizational Matters

24 June 2011
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Special Committee on Decolonization

9th Meeting (AM)

Special Committee on Decolonization Concludes Session with Approval of Draft

Resolution on Tokelau, Another Containing Report on Organizational Matters


Chair Urges Members to Explore Ways to Guide Decolonization Process

Through Complexities of Contemporary World, with Clear Sense of Realistic Goals

The Special Committee on Decolonization concluded its 2011 substantive session today with the passage of a draft resolution on the Question of Tokelau, which would have the General Assembly acknowledge the Territory’s decision that consideration of any future act of self-determination would be deferred and that Tokelau and New Zealand would renew efforts to ensuring that essential services and infrastructure in the Pacific Territory’s three atolls was enhanced.

With that in mind, the text would also have the Assembly acknowledge Tokelau’s adoption of a National Strategic Plan for 2010-2015 and that the Joint Commitment for Development between Tokelau and New Zealand, its administering Power, would focus on a viable transport arrangement, development of infrastructure and fisheries, human resources capacity and strengthened governance.  It would further acknowledge New Zealand’s ongoing and consistent commitment to meeting the social and economic requirements of the people of Tokelau, as well as the Territory’s need for continued international support.

Updating the Special Committee on progress in the last year, Ulu O Tokelau, the Titular Head of Tokelau, said the Territory had taken charge of its development with the implementation of the National Strategic Plan, the first of its kind.  While some had been “weary” about its potential impacts, one year on, it had allowed the Territory to better manage its relationships with its donors.

He also reported that Tokelau’s relationship with New Zealand continued to gain strength, as New Zealand had granted Tokelau a substantial degree of autonomy and it was now at the helm of its own development.  That had led to various improvements, including progress on the construction of two schools and a hospital, which had been very slow to start, but was “forging ahead” now that Tokelau was in charge of its overall management.  Other projects involved a transport solution and renewable energy.

“The pieces of this jigsaw puzzle are fitting together well,” he said, noting that never before had Tokelau been so confident it could direct its own development and determine what assistance it required.  Nevertheless, as a Territory of New Zealand, Tokelau was not eligible for many of the United Nations development funds— an “ironic” situation, which made it even harder to “shrug off the shackles” of colonialism towards independence.  Tokelau planned to hold a round-table discussion with United Nations agencies on that matter and asked States to consider amending such policies.

Territories should be given more than simply the promise of self-determination, he said, adding:  “Tokelau has done its homework and we now know what developments are required before we can be in a position to make a well-informed decision on self-government”.  The spirit of self-determination was alive, seen in Tokelau’s determination to ensure that its infrastructure could provide the services required by its communities.  Limited resources must be used to achieve the vision that everyone wanted for his nation.

Jonathan Kings, Administrator of Tokelau, on behalf of New Zealand, said little attention had been given to decolonization issues, as the leaders from both sides had agreed in 2008 there should be a period of time before Tokelau undertook any further act of self-determination.  The timing was not yet right for further constitutional change.  Calling New Zealand’s relationship with Tokelau strong and “very positive”, he said his Government was committed to working with Tokelau as it determined its future.

New Zealand had always seen it as a duty to support Territories along the path to greater self-reliance, he said, with the understanding that it was for the people of a Territory to determine the direction and pace of their political evolution.   New Zealand sought to work fully with the Special Committee in discharging its responsibilities as the administering Power.  It would respect the wishes of the people of Tokelau and be receptive to advice from its leaders on how to improve the relationship, he added.

Presenting the draft on Tokelau (document A/AC.109/2011/L.15), Robert G. Aisi (Papua New Guinea), a co-sponsor, said the text contained technical updates to that adopted by the Assembly on 10 December 2010.  Two referendums had been held, in 2006 and 2007, on the status of Tokelau and, while the General Fono had decided to defer any future acts of self-determination, he noted New Zealand’s supportive role in providing development assistance to the Territory.  He also noted the adoption of the National Strategic Plan 2010-2015, which underpinned the desire of the people of Tokelau for an improved quality of life.

Luke Daunivalu (Fiji), associating himself with his co-sponsor, Papua New Guinea, called the relationship between Tokelau and New Zealand a “model”, in that the two parties were working closely to find solutions that effectively addressed the will and needs of the people of Tokelau.  He acknowledged the decision to defer any act of self-determination and instead emphasize development, which showed that, while it was critical to strive for political independence, it was also important to focus on the social and economic needs in Non-Self-Governing Territories.

The Special Committee capped its meeting today with approval of a resolution containing its report on decisions concerning organizational matters (document A/AC.109/2011/L.14).

In closing remarks, Special Committee Vice-Chair Pedro Núñez Mosquera ( Cuba), on behalf of Chairman Francisco Carrión-Mena ( Ecuador), said that work going forward must focus on ensuring that the decolonization process was practical and beneficial to the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories.  “That number has to be reduced wherever possible,” he declared.  To that end, the Special Committee had endorsed its annual draft resolutions and reports of the substantive session, and would submit all relevant documents to the General Assembly for its consideration in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).

The Special Committee must continue exploring ways to guide the decolonization process through the complexities of a contemporary world, he said, with a clear sense of realistic goals.  Discussions throughout the session had shown the clear need for more active pursuit of “imaginative” ways of implementing the decolonization mandate with all concerned.  There was growing awareness that such work must be done through improved cooperation with administering Powers and in full recognition of the aspirations and interests of the people of the Territories on a case-by-case basis.

Also speaking today was the representative of Saint Lucia in support of the draft resolution on the Question of Tokelau.

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