SAINT GEORGES, Grenada, 9 May — As the Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization opened today, participants called for renewed focus on supporting the Non-Self-Governing Territories to achieve the objectives laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, bearing in mind the need for greater collaboration in addressing the unique challenges faced by each Territory.
Walton Alfonso Webson (Antigua and Barbuda), Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization, called attention to this this year’s theme: “Implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism: towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Non-Self-Governing Territories: social, economic and environmental challenges”.
Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, he recalled, the Special Committee had engaged in fruitful discussions, stressing the importance of fostering the economic and social sustainable development of the Territories. He also recalled that in the concluding observations from the last Seminar, the Special Committee acknowledged that climate change had exposed many of the Territories to even greater environmental and economic vulnerability. Given the cross-cutting nature of the challenges confronting some Territories, efforts must be made for the continued strengthening of administrative capacity, good governance and economic sustainability, he said.
Carlyle Corbin, expert, told the Special Committee that the Sustainable Development Goals were constructs of the General Assembly, and for Non-Self-Governing Territories, the fundamental question remaining was how to interface with those United Nations mechanisms designed for independent States. The extent to which the Territories could realize the Goals was directly related to the extent to which the United Nations system could provide the political space for their engagement, which would require a better system of accountability for the implementation of United Nations resolutions on the issue, he said. Achieving the Goals would heighten the possibilities for further political advancement towards the full measure of self-government, he added.
Indonesia’s representative said it was essential to put in place a mechanism that would enable implementation of the Goals, and in that context, the Special Committee should undertake its discussions on the future development agenda in parallel with its decolonization efforts, bearing in mind the need for collaboration among all stakeholders under the principle of inclusiveness.
Papua New Guinea’s delegate noted that the Seminar’s theme was extremely timely and pertinent as countries sought to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. There were some 1.7 million peoples in the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories and their lives and livelihoods, human rights, dignity and natural resources were at stake, he emphasized.
The Seminar held four discussions throughout the day, addressing the following topics: the “role of the Special Committee in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Non-Self-Governing Territories towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”; “political developments and the Sustainable Development Goals in the Non-Self-Governing Territories” in the Caribbean and other regions; and the “role of the United Nations system in helping the Non-Self-Governing Territories to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.
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.