Ensuring Non-Self-Governing Territories Can Address Challenges Key to Moving Decolonization Efforts Forward, Secretary-General Tells Regional Seminar
SAINT GEORGES, Grenada, 10 May — Noting that “decolonization is still incomplete”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the 2018 Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization today that ensuring the Non-Self-Governing Territories were able to address a host of economic, social and environmental challenges would be the key to moving forward in their decolonization efforts.
In a message delivered by Josiane Ambiehl, Chief of the Decolonization Unit in the Department of Political Affairs, the Secretary-General noted that the Seminar’s particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the Non-Self-Governing Territories was especially timely.
He continued: “This Regional Seminar is an opportunity to examine the situations in the remaining 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories from the political perspective and to consider the socioeconomic, environmental and cultural challenges that are relevant for the completion of the respective decolonization processes.”
The Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were a blueprint for a common future of peace and prosperity, he said, emphasizing that “for the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories facing the challenges of climate change, access to health care, diversification of economies, conservation of marine resources and scarcity of drinking water, implementing the Agenda is of particular importance”.
Peter David, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Labour of Grenada, said that the decolonization of the remaining Territories was “unfinished business” for the United Nations and remained integral to all regional integration processes. The 2018 theme for the Seminar was highly relevant and the event could influence the future course of the decolonization process, he added.
Grenada attached great significance to the work of the Special Committee on Decolonization, he continued, pointing out that the country had itself travelled along the decolonization path. The eradication of colonialism must remain high on the United Nations agenda, bearing in mind the principles enshrined in the Organization’s Charter.
At the start of the decolonization process, almost a third of the world lived in colonies, but since that time, more than 80 colonies had gained independence, he stated. Yet, there were still 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories, most of them in the Caribbean.
He went on to caution that the unilateral imposition of policies could have serious effects on the sustainable development aspirations of those Territories and impede their capacity to achieve the Goals. Non-Self-Governing Territories remained vulnerable to natural disasters, including hurricanes and cyclones, he said, recalling the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.