MANAGUA, 21 May — The Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization had made strides in holding “frank, open dialogue” towards the decolonization of the world’s 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, said speakers as the Seminar concluded its third and final day.
“This seminar won’t end the decolonization process, but it will help,” said Xavier Lasso Mendoza (Ecuador), Chair of the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, informally the Special Committee on decolonization. The meeting, he said, had prompted several complex and enriching discussions, and work had been undertaken on a case-by-case basis and in line with United Nations resolutions.
Agreeing that progress had been made, Miguel d’Escoto (Nicaragua), Adviser to the President on Foreign Policy and former President of the General Assembly at its sixty-third session, said nevertheless that “we should not rest on our laurels and do nothing more.” He listed a number of painful “thorns in our side”, namely Western Sahara, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
He said that while human beings were relatively new to the planet, the human race was already in danger of extinction, due largely to the fratricide that the United Nations was intended to prevent. The greatest threat to peace and security in the world remained the United States, he said, urging brothers and sisters from that nation to work for peace. “If we do nothing, avarice and greed will drag us down into the depths,” he said. “The world needs you,” he told the Special Committee, asking its members to move forward with both speed and strength.
Also today, participants approved the draft report of the Seminar (document CRS/2015/CRP.23), which was presented by the Rapporteur, José Antonio Cousiño. It consisted of three parts: organization of the seminar; its proceedings; and conclusions and recommendations. The drafting of the latter section was started in Managua and would be finalized in New York.
In addition, participants approved a resolution expressing appreciation to the Government and people of Nicaragua for hosting the Seminar.
The Special Committee will reconvene for its 2015 annual session in New York in June.
DALE ALEXANDER, of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) subregional office in Trinidad and Tobago, said that the Caribbean was home to a number of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Seven of them had been admitted to ECLAC. They faced a number of challenges, including climate change, over-reliance on fuel imports, structural weaknesses, problems maintaining consistent growth, and a dearth of data for evidence-based decision-making for sustainable development. In that context, ECLAC’s mission was to stimulate and facilitate the search for solutions. The emphasis was on addressing growth alongside equity.
Since the convening of the last Caribbean regional seminar, he went on, ECLAC had continued to support its members, including through technical cooperation initiatives. Describing some of those activities, he said that, in 2012, ECLAC had admitted Bermuda as an associate member. Associate membership provided the context for inclusion in the wider processes of ECLAC. The Commission had also provided technical support for Turks and Caicos, which helped the Government better facilitate long-term planning. Finally, ECLAC had assisted the Territories of Anguilla, Montserrat and others to convene expert groups on pricing strategies.
SERGEI CHERNIAVSKY, expert, made a number of recommendations to the Special Committee. First, he proposed the establishment of two ad hoc working groups, beginning with a focus on Bermuda and American Samoa. Those groups could include three members of the Committee on as wide a geographical base as possible. Each group could begin making contacts with their counterparts in the administering Powers to initiate a discussion on the “case-by-case basis” approach.
Second, he suggested that the Special Committee identify Non-Self-Governing Territories for subsequent case-by-case programmes based on their readiness for self-governance in accordance with United Nations criteria. The Committee could, however, respect the wishes of the population of a Non-Self-Governing Territory in the case where they did not seek independence. Third, he proposed establishing contacts with the non-governmental organizations primarily based in the Non-Self-Governing Territories and encouraged establishing United Nations associations in the Territories, with a view to assisting in the educational campaigns regarding options and choices for future political status.
Next, he suggested that the Special Committee continue contacts and discussions with the administering Powers regarding visiting missions and/or missions of observers. Finally, based on the Committee’s past experience, he recommended the re-establishment of a working group with a mandate to discuss and recommend improvement in the working methods.
The representative of Ecuador said that the Special Committee should have a cross-cutting focus on all United Nations issues. The fact that the Special asking for the “permission” of administering Powers to undertake missions and other initiatives was unacceptable.
Iran’s delegate asked Mr. Cherniavsky why he had highlighted Bermuda and American Samoa in his proposal. Meanwhile, the representative of Papua New Guinea said that there were critics that saw the launch of the Third International Decade, in line with General Assembly resolution 65/119 (2010), as a failure on the part of the United Nations. In that connection, he proposed a mid-decade review of options and ways forward. Finally, he said that there was a need for coherence with other intergovernmental processes under way, including those within the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, among other bodies.
The representative of Indonesia asked for more information on the recommendation regarding contact with non-governmental organizations in the Non-Self-Governing Territories.
Also taking the floor, the representative of Algeria said that the recommendations made were too important to be considered in the framework of the two minutes allocated to each speaker. They required much deeper consideration. In general, the creation of a working group in a multilateral environment sometimes led to diluting the principles of the United Nations, instead of progress. They also did not fully reflect the Seminar’s discussion.
The representative of Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO) said that the work of the Special Committee was about people’s dignity. The prime motivation for any renewal or changes should be the legal, political and moral obligation of the Special Committee, not bureaucratic. No limitations should be placed on the right to self-determination, and the mechanism to decide those matters should not be downgraded. The proposals needed more consideration.
Syria’s representative agreed that the proposals before the Special Committee were important ones that required further consideration. However, the last proposal — the establishment of a working group to improve the working methods — deserved significant thought. The Special Committee was “so important for the aspirations and hopes of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories”, and, therefore, efforts must be stepped up in order to make serious progress in the second half of the Third International Decade.
Responding, Mr. CHERNIAVSKY said that he understood that some people believed that “when you want to kill a proposal, you create a committee”. His proposals were not intended to be a final recommendation of any kind, but should only spark discussion. Regarding non-governmental organizations, he said he recognized that the issue was very sensitive; some groups posed as non-governmental organizations while receiving funding from Member States. However, he felt that the Special Committee had the wisdom to sort out those organizations which were genuine in their aims. Previous vetting by the United Nations, including by the Department of Public Information, could also prove useful in that respect.
The representative of Nicaragua said that it was a source of pride that her country had been the first in Central America to host the Seminar. She thanked the participants for having attended, and highlighted, among other things, the participation of the representative of Saint Helena, who had had a long journey to Managua, and that of the representative of France as the only administering Power present in the seminar. She hoped that the world would be fully free of colonialism by 2020. Moreover, sovereign rights should be restored to all countries whose lands were usurped by colonial Powers. The year 2015 was critical for the work of the Special Committee. At the end of the Third International Decade, there must be an end to colonialism in all its forms. The report of the Seminar would enhance the work of the Special Committee at its next meeting in New York in June, she said.
The representative of Morocco said that he had heard delegations ask for a visit to Western Sahara; that was a “sabotage” of the work of the Security Council, which had been tackling the situation for 40 years. There was a Special Representative of the Secretary-General deployed on the ground who was responsible for that dossier.
* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).