|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
2nd Meeting (PM)
Calling Decolonization ‘One of Most Defining Issues’ of Twentieth Century,
Committee Chair Urges End to Colonialism for Non-Self-Governing Territories
Decolonization was one of the most defining issues of the latter part of the twentieth century, and the untiring efforts of United Nations had ensured that nearly all of the world’s population no longer lived under colonial rule, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was told as it began its annual general debate on that issue.
However, that task was not yet complete, the Committee’s Chair, Simona Mirela Miculescu (Romania), told delegations as Member States were urged to continue their common endeavour to bring an end to colonialism for the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories on the United Nations list.
No effort should be spared in ensuring that the numerous United Nations resolutions on decolonization were implemented and that the dream of all peoples to self-determination was fulfilled, Lesotho’s representative said. Regarding one such Non-Self-Governing Territory, Western Sahara, he supported the mediation efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy and urged the parties to commence formal negotiations without delay, saying that the time for concluding that issue was long overdue.
He also called for allocation of adequate financial resources for the Special Committee on Decolonization within the regular budget, and appealed to that Committee to craft tailored solutions that took into account the varied circumstances involved. Administering Powers must evince renewed political will to end colonialism and to show good faith in negotiations, and adequate funding should be provided to the Department of Public Information to disseminate information to local populations on the available political options.
Chile’s representative, on behalf of the Rio Group, urged resumption of negotiations regarding the Malvinas islands to find a peaceful and definitive solution as soon as possible to that dispute, as well as to the questions of sovereignty over South Georgias and South Sandwich islands, and the surrounding maritime areas.
He further said that the actions of the United Kingdom in exploring and exploiting hydrocarbons in areas of the Argentine continental shelf ran counter to General Assembly resolution 31/49, which called on the parties to avoid unilateral modifications to the Territory before a resolution could be reached.
Also on that issue, Argentina’s representative said that further delay of the application of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples was a continuing source of a lack of harmony, created “a dangerous situation” in various parts of the world, and posed a threat to international peace and security. The sovereignty dispute in the Malvinas islands was an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation.
It was a “peculiar and particular colonial situation”, he said, since there was not a subjugated population in the South Atlantic, but rather British subjects whose situation had not changed since the United Kingdom had put them there. Thus, there existed a colonial situation, but not a colonized people.
Countering that claim, the United Kingdom’s representative said his country’s relationship with the Territories it administered was based on the choices of the people, and that it would not force populations into independence. Where they wished to keep the link, the British Government would assist the Territories with development and good governance, according to the specific conditions of each Territory.
He stressed that good governance was the central theme in the United Kingdom’s engagement with Territories. Where Territories were felt to fail in that area, the issue would be addressed and occasionally intervention would take place, such as had been the case with the Turks and Caicos Islands. Milestones had been identified that must be attained before the Islands were able to return to elected Government, and a new Constitution that would underpin good governance had been completed.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Egypt, Uruguay, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Nicaragua, China, Comoros, Brazil and Benin. Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the United Kingdom and Argentina.
The full press release is available here.