St. Vincent and the Grenadines

17 May 2005

Secretary-General's message to the Caribbean regional seminar on decolonization and the observance of the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of the Non Self-Governing Territories [delivered by Maria Maldonado, Chief, UN Decolonization Unit]

It gives me pleasure to send my greetings to all the participants in this Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization, which takes place during the week of solidarity with the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories. The people and Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines merit our gratitude for hosting this event and for their ongoing support of the United Nations.

This gathering of representatives of the Territories, the administering Powers, and civil society provides a valuable opportunity to take stock of the progress that has been made in decolonization, and more importantly to formulate strategies for achieving the objective of eradicating colonialism before the end of this decade. I urge you to have an open, frank and constructive exchange of views.

The successes of the United Nations in decolonization should inspire and encourage us in our efforts to ensure that the people of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories can exercise their right to self-determination, in accordance with the 1960 Declaration regarding colonial countries and peoples. Toward that end, it is essential that they understand the options regarding their political status and their right to choose their future freely. It is also important that they are aware of the United Nations activities and programmes of assistance that are available to them.

As was seen in the case Tokelau, cooperation on the part of all concerned, especially the administering Powers, is vital. The Secretariat will continue to support your efforts, and stands ready to help develop decolonization plans on a case-by-case basis with the participation of the representatives of the people of the Territories.

I commend the Special Committee for its hard work, and offer all the participants in this seminar my best wishes for success.