St. George's

22 May 2007

The Secretary-General's message to the Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization and the Observance of the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories Delivered by Ms. Freda Mackay, Chief of Decolonization Unit in the Departme

In this Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories, it gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to all who have gathered in Grenada for the Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization, my first message to a meeting convened by the Special Committee of 24. I would like to express my appreciation to the Government and people of Grenada for their generous hospitality in hosting this gathering.

Achieving self-government for the peoples of the world has been one of the cardinal goals of the United Nations since its inception. Under the Organization's auspices, nearly 750 million people have benefited from the exercise of the right to self-determination, and decolonization can truly be considered a United Nations success story.

Today, there are 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining on the agenda of the United Nations. As an organ mandated to facilitate decolonization, the Special Committee organizes seminars such as this one to provide a forum for the two million people living in these Territories to air their views about the unique problems they face, and to promote direct communication between the Special Committee, the representatives of the Territories and the administering Powers. As we all know, cooperation between the administering Power, the Territories and the United Nations is essential for there to be progress in discharging the mandate of the Special Committee on Decolonization.

Later this year, in an important act of self-determination, Tokelau will hold a second referendum on the option of self-government in free association with New Zealand. The path followed by this small Pacific territory in close cooperation with the administering Power is an example of what can be achieved when there is constructive political will. The close cooperation extended to the Committee by both parties stands out as exemplary.

Some of the other Territories, particularly in the Caribbean, have also made considerable progress in their constitutional, political, economic and social development, and have gone a long way towards self-government. I urge you all to continue working together to find the appropriate format and timing for the completion of the decolonization process in each Territory.

I wish you a productive and successful seminar.