26 October 2011

Guam Legislature to conduct Forum on Decolonization

Pacific Islands Report 
By Therese Hart
Marianas Variety

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Oct. 26, 2011) – The Legislature, in collaboration with the University of Guam (UOG), will host a forum on Guam’s quest for decolonization on Friday, Oct. 28 in the Legislature’s session hall from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Speaker Judi Won Pat yesterday said she looks forward to the dialogue, and her hope is that the forum will further solidify the determination of Guam’s people to realize a dream that has been kept alive, generation to generation.

The forum will feature speakers Dr. Carlyle Corbin, an international advisor on governance and self-determination, and Dr. Robert Underwood, former congressman and current president of UOG.

Included in the program are perspectives from the legal community presented by a panel that includes former Chief Justice and current Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz, in addition to Attorneys Julian Aguon, Leevin Camacho, and Therese Terlaje.

"As we move forward, we realize that there are those who do not wish us to achieve self-determination. As a person who comes from a unique indigenous people, I believe that as we move forward, we will encounter more resistance, but we must prevail; failure is not, and never was, an option. Believe me, we will prevail," said Won Pat.

Counteractive dialogue, which could be misconstrued, does promote lively debate, but even those who have fought for Guam’s political self-determination know this is part of the process, said Won Pat.

[Pacific Islands Report editor’s note: As the Westernmost U.S. soil in the Pacific, Guam today remains a strategic outpost for the U.S. military. In 1949, U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed the Organic Act making Guam an unincorporated territory of the United States with limited self-governing authority and granting American Citizenship to the people of Guam.]

The Speaker and her colleagues are encouraging and inviting the island community to participate in the forum. "This is the opportunity for our community to hear from a world-renowned speaker of the challenges we on Guam and other colonized indigenous natives experience, and the tools we need to move forward."

During the "Second International Decade For The Eradication Of Colonialism" held in Nouméa, New Caledonia in May 2010, Dr. Corbin spoke about the United Nations’ responsibility in recognizing the existence of the international mandate of the integration of the non-self-governing territories in the work of these organizations, and devising ways and means of implementing that mandate.

"The extent of participation of the territories in these UN bodies is not as extensive as it could be, owing mainly to insufficient awareness on the part of the territories regarding their eligibility to join such UN bodies," said Corbin in his speech.

Corbin also said many of the agencies do not consider the participation of the territories a priority, despite annual resolutions of the General Assembly 13 and the Economic and Social Council requesting that the issue be taken up in the governing councils of these agencies.
"Thus, when the Secretary-General makes his annual request for information from the specialized agencies on their assistance programs to the territories, only a few agencies reply. Even a number of agencies which include territories in their programs do not reply," said Corbin.
The international advisor said a better approach needs to be found for the UN system "to acquire this important and relevant information."

He said: "The direct participation of the territories in the UN system provides the territories with access to the dialogue on some of the major economic and social issues facing the sustainable development of small island countries. Equally as important, it provides them with essential exposure to the international dialogue, and the developmental space to enhance their capacity building."

Corbin said the support for principles of self-determination and decolonization by the General Assembly is useful, "but it is the support for such tangible assistance, such as the participation in the technical work of the UN system, that is equally important to the development process of the territories in a globalized world. Flexibility must be shown by member states if these territories are to be adequately prepared to assume increasing levels of self-government."

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