25 February 2013

U.N. Decolonisation Committee opens 2013 session

21 February 2013
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Special Committee on Decolonization
1st Meeting (AM)



Members Elect Bureau, Approve Holding Regional Seminar in Ecuador, 25-31 May

Opening the 2013 substantive session of the Special Committee on Decolonization, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on that body to devise “fresh and creative” approaches in mobilizing the political will needed to eradicate colonialism, saying it had no place in the modern world.

“It is time for a new kind of fully inclusive dialogue about decolonization,” he said, adding:  “We no longer have the luxury of indulging in rhetoric and rituals.”  The risk of movement, while sometimes frightening, was preferable to the stagnation of the status quo.

Urging the Special Committee to review its practices so as to “maximize its effectiveness”, the Secretary-General said the common endeavour of eradicating colonialism required its “constructive involvement” with the Non-Self Governing Territories under its purview and with their respective administering Powers.

The Special Committee reviews the political, social and economic conditions in the 16 United Nations-listed Non-Self Governing Territories, organizes regional seminars to discuss the challenges of decolonization and works to ensure that the United Nations aids their development.

Echoing the Secretary-General, Special Committee Chair Diego Morejón (Ecuador) said that, well into the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the body must create a “new momentum” and review each Territory to determine which should remain on its list and which should be removed.

Direct, constructive contact must be maintained with New Caledonia, which would enter a critical phase of self-determination in 2014, Mr. Morejón said.  He noted that the General Assembly had commended the positive steps taken by New Caledonian and French authorities since their signing of the 1998 Nouméa Accord giving the Territory transitional status until the holding of a referendum between 2014 and 2018.

Similarly, Papua New Guinea’s representative praised the active involvement of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and all parties under the Nouméa Accord.  Urging the Special Committee to break from “business as usual”, he called for concrete ways to help the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories achieve their respective aspirations, and for the Special Committee to liaise closely with each of the administering Powers in a holistic manner.  In that regard, he applauded the cooperation between Tokelau and New Zealand.

Mr. Morejón spoke after having been elected by acclamation as Chair for the current session.  Also elected were Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez (Cuba) and Shekou M. Touray (Sierra Leone) as Vice-Chairs, and Bashar Ja’afari (Syria) as Rapporteur.

The Chair proposed that the Special Committee’s annual seminar, scheduled for Latin America this year, be held in Ecuador during the last week of May, to coincide with the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self Governing Territories (25-31 May).

Cuba’s representative thanked Ecuador for its commitment to the Special Committee’s work.

The Special Committee approved the Chair’s proposal, as well as its proposed organization of work for 2013 (document A/AC.109/2013/L.2).  It invited Argentina, Costa Rica, Spain, Cyprus, Ghana, Mauritania, Namibia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to participate in the session as observers.

Remaining on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories are the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, New Caledonia and Western Sahara, as well as American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

The Special Committee will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

21 February 2013

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the opening of the 2013 session of the Special Committee on Decolonization in New York on 21 February:

Thank you for this opportunity to address the Special Committee at the start of its annual programme of work.  We are now well into the third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

Against the backdrop of ongoing financial crises and growing budgetary pressures, we must all strive to work with a results-oriented approach.  I have recently invited the General Assembly to consider reviewing mandated activities.  I would also appeal to this Committee to review its practices to maximize its effectiveness.

The international community is more convinced than ever that colonialism has no place in the modern world.  The eradication of colonialism, in keeping with the principles of the Charter and the relevant United Nations resolutions, is our common endeavour.  This requires the constructive involvement of all concerned — the Special Committee, the administering Powers and the Non-Self-Governing Territories — working on a case-by-case basis.

The Special Committee should be at the forefront in identifying possibilities for change and in promoting priorities in the decolonization process for the benefit of all.  As the intergovernmental body exclusively devoted to decolonization, the Special Committee is expected to devise fresh and creative approaches to mobilize the political will to advance its agenda.

As we know, the world is in a great transition.  Many old structures are breaking down.  New arrangements are taking shape.  In the area of decolonization, 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories require our attention.  As we look ahead, the narrative cannot again be portrayed as “decolonization deferred”.

We no longer have the luxury of indulging in rhetoric and rituals.  Concrete action and tangible results are essential.  It is time for a new kind of fully inclusive dialogue about decolonization.  The risk of movement, while sometimes frightening, is far more preferable to the stagnation of the status quo. (emphasis added - OTR)

As you begin your work, I assure you that the Secretariat will continue to provide the necessary assistance to the Special Committee.

I wish you every possible success in your efforts.

* *** *

See:  A Conversation on the Challenges to Contemporary Decolonisation

See also: Innovative Plan for International Decolonisation Proposed to UN

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