New York

20 February 2014

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at the Opening of the 2014 Session of the Special Committee on Decolonization [as prepared for delivery]

I thank you for this opportunity to address the Special Committee, the “C-24”, at the start of its work this year.

We are now in the middle of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism – and we have already seen encouraging signs of rejuvenation of the work of the Special Committee.

For example, the General Assembly last year recognized that French Polynesia remains a Non-Self-Governing Territory. This effectively mandated the Special Committee to consider an additional item on the agenda.

For the first time in many years, the Bureau held several meetings with each of the four administering Powers, France, New Zealand, the UK and the US, as well as various other stakeholders, in order to identify next steps in the decolonization process. I welcome the intensification of the face-to-face talks among interested parties.  I also appreciate that all administering Powers have given the green light in principle for visiting missions where appropriate.

The voice of the C-24 is again becoming loud and clear.

To the international community colonialism is a historic aberration.

Thus, all of us must take up the challenge of eradicating remaining forms of colonialism in keeping with the principles of the Charter and relevant United Nations resolutions.

The decolonization message needs to reach a wide audience.

I call for inclusive, pro-active and forward-looking efforts by the Special Committee, the administering Powers and the Non-Self-Governing Territories, on a case-by-case basis.

This could help trigger a break in a deadlock on some cases, or encourage the Committee to become involved in situations between a Territory and its administering Power.

The 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories look to the United Nations for comprehensive and sustained initiatives for the future.

The Special Committee has begun to open a wider window of opportunities.  Still, the pace of decolonization remains slow.

I am confident that the year ahead will be a period of intensified diplomatic efforts on decolonization as the Committee continues to build on its recent steps forward in dialogue and consensus building.  These include the planned expansion of the Special Committee’s Bureau, with the addition of Indonesia, and the first visiting mission of the decade to New Caledonia.

The Special Committee is a unique platform to advance the historic decolonization mandate of the United Nations.

The Secretariat will continue to support the Special Committee in its important work. 

I count on your leadership and I wish you success.

Thank you.