14 October 2012

Dependency governance is the problem, it cannot be the solution

Statement of Dr. Carlyle G. Corbin
 International Advisor on Governance

United Nations Special Political and Decolonisation Committee 
(Fourth Committee)
(Agenda Items 58 and 60)

9th  October 2012


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

            Permit me to congratulate you and other members of the bureau on being elected to conduct the affairs of this committee.

            Mr. Chairman,

          The implementation of decolonisation resolutions is critical to carrying out the  mandate of the General Assembly to give effect to Article 73 (b) of the UN Charter. In this connection, a number of U.N. bodies are to be commended for implementing  resolutions which call for support to the small island non self-governing territories from the UN system. UNDP has been properly recognised for its longstanding coordination of assistance to the territories from the wider United Nations system provided to many of the territories for several decades. Other agencies (UNCTAD, ILO, FAO, ICAO,  UPU and IMO)  have included territories in various programmes during the period.

Most recently,  UNICF provided  assistance to several Caribbean and Pacific territories as reflected in the 2012 Report of the President of ECOSOC (E/2012/47). This report also provided information on technical training, policy planning and other assistance from WHO and UNICEF to a number of territories. UNESCO has also afforded scope for some Caribbean territories to participate in its regional climate change monitoring programme and tsunami exercises. Respective UNDP regional programmes for the Caribbean and Pacific also provide for participation by many territories. The associate membership of most territories in UN-ECLAC and UN-ESCAP, and in the specialised agencies of UNESCO, FAO, IMO, the UN-WTO has proven to be a successful modality.

The number of agencies responding to the Secretary-General’s request for information on such activities in implementation of the Decolonisation Declaration has declined from past years, and the agencies do not routinely address this committee under Agenda Item  58. In future, perhaps the request for information from UN bodies might be re-worded to focus attention on their assistance programmes, rather then on their implementation of the Decolonisation Declaration.

Mr. Chairman,

The participation of the territories in UN world conferences is important to their  capacity building. This is reflected in previous resolutions of the General Assembly, and again contained in the resolution before you. This longstanding provision provides for the participation of many territories in the relevant UN world conferences beginning with the Earth Summit in 1992 through the International Meeting on Small Islands in 2005.

Consistent with established practice,  the rules of procedure for the recently-completed  Rio + 20  included the category for the participation of the territories. Yet, they were not permitted to participate contrary to General Assembly resolutions. This is un-helpful and inconsistent with the UN mandate. Member states are requested to adhere to decades-long established practice of territorial participation for future UN world conferences, including  the 2014 Barbados + 20 conference on small island developing states.

Mr. Chairman,

          General Assembly resolutions designed to involve the wider UN system in implementing the decolonisation process are again before this committee under Agenda Item 60. There is reference in the small territories resolution to collaboration with the Human Rights Committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and reference to political education programmes to be undertaken by ‘appropriate UN bodies.’ There are the annual references in the reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which have called for collaboration with the Decolonization Committee since 2001.

The Plan of Implementation endorsed by the General Assembly in 2006 [1] identified a range of U.N. bodies and special mechanisms to accelerate implementation. Coordination with the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was requested in 2004 and again in 2008. These and other innovations constitute part of the legislative authority on decolonisation. If these had been implemented, we would be further advanced in the decolonisation process today.

To conclude, it has long been established by the General Assembly that self-determination is a fundamental human right. It is therefore to be recognised that the status quo dependency models in the small island dependencies, however complex or ‘modernised’, are inconsistent with the principle of self-determination, and are contradictory to democratic governance. The status quo is the problem, It cannot also be, simultaneously, the solution.  

In this context, “members States have adopted numerous actions in the General Assembly to give effect to the decolonisation mandate – to correct the political inequality of the status quo – not to legitimise it. However, the UN has not yet entered the actual implementation phase where initiatives proposed, would become initiatives completed.  The discussion which needs to be held is on this precise point of implementation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[1] UN General Assembly Res. 61/130 of 14 Dec. 2006

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