It gives me pleasure to greet all the participants in this Pacific Regional Seminar –the second time such an event is taking place in a Non-Self-Governing Territory. I convey my appreciation to the Government of New Caledonia for hosting this gathering, and to the Government of France for its cooperation and assistance.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the General Assembly's landmark Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. It also marks the completion of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, intended to further the objectives of the UN role in this area.
During the Decade, the number of Non-Self-Governing Territories declined as a result of Timor-Leste's successful quest for independence. In addition, the Special Committee helped the people of Tokelau to exercise their right to self-determination through the holding of two referenda.
Nonetheless, 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remain on the UN list. This seminar is intended to hear the views of their representatives about the unique problems they face, and to promote direct communication among the Special Committee, the representatives of the territories and the administering Powers.
Our common challenge remains the full implementation of the Declaration. I urge all involved to undertake fresh and creative efforts toward this end. In particular, I encourage the administering Powers to work with the Special Committee and the people in the Territories under their administration towards a genuine and action-oriented dialogue. It is essential for the people concerned to understand the options regarding their political status and to be able to exercise their right to freely choose their future.
I look forward to working with you to complete the process of decolonization on a case-by-case basis. Please accept my best wishes for a productive and successful seminar.