07 October 2009

CARICOM Appeals for UN Restructuring of Decolonisation Approach

The fourteen members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have called for a total restructuring of United Nations working methods in decolonisation in the wake of the chronic lack of implementation of the General Assembly mandate over almost two decades.

In a clear and forward-thinking statement on the contemporary decolonisation dilemma facing the international community including the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador Delano Bart QC, speaking on behalf of the fourteen independent State CARICOM members, indicated that "it is evident that the present working methods do not lend themselves to implementation of the General Assembly mandate on decolonisation (and) need to be fundamentally revamped."

To accomplish the restructuring, CARICOM, in its statement, called for the relevant sections of the UN budget to be carefully revised to include special mechanisms to bring to bear necessary expert assistance to analyse the contemporary colonial dynamic, and to review the present dependency arrangements in place against the international standards of democratic governance. Such restructuring would have to be accomplished during the ongoing review of the proposed budget for the biennium 2010-11 presently before the UN busgetary committees.

So whilst CARICOM presented an extraordinarily insightful analysis of the state-of-play in UN consideration of the decolonisation process, action must be taken in the UN budgetary process to give effect to this political analysis.

The full CARICOM statement follows:

Statement of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
to the Fourth Committee of the Unitd Nations

delivred by

H.E. Delano Bart QC
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Prmanent Mission of St. Kitts and Nevis
to the United Nations

5th October 2009

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the fourteen members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). We congratulate you and your colleague members of the bureau on your election to lead the work of this committee. CARICOM offers you our full support as we deal collectively with the myriad of special political questions before us.

Mr. Chairman,

Our particular focus is to review the implementation of the decolonisation mandate, and to ascertain any progress made since the 63rd Session. Each year, the General Assembly adopts resolutions on the recommendations of this Committee, which contain concrete measures for advancing the decolonisation process, adding to the lengthy legislative authority already in place.

CARICOM wishes to reiterate its deep concern, that whilst certain internal reforms have been enacted in several territories, precious little progress has been made in actual decolonization, consistent with the recognised legitimate political status options of independence, free association and integration. In the absence of progress, CARICOM is concerned that decolonisation continues to slip further down on the list of United Nations priorities.

This is evidenced in the content of key United Nations reports. The annual Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organisation, for example, has not made reference to decolonisation for a number of years. The first and only report on implementation of decolonisation resolutions that was to cover the period 1992 to the present (A/64/70) totals a mere five pages, and relies solely on replies from a few member states, whilst containing no information on United Nations system implementation. This is contrasted with detailed reports on other issues which seemingly have a higher priority.

Mr. Chairman,

Since the beginning of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, CARICOM has consistently brought this to the attention of this Committee:

In 2001, we pointed out that “the information deficit on decolonisation was made far worse by the lack of real, basic analysis…on the constitutional, political and economic situation in the territories,” even as such analyses have been called for in the plan of action throughout the first and second International Decades. Most elements of the plan of action have yet to be carried out.

• In 2006, a mid-term review of the second international decade, conducted by an eminent decolonisation expert, revealed little progress in implementation. Similar conclusions were drawn by representatives of the territories in the various United Nations decolonisation seminars. CARICOM noted in its 2006 statement that “the level of political and constitutional advancement in the non self-governing territories remained insufficient.” It is still insufficient.

• In 2007, CARICOM pointed to a report of the UN Office of Internal Oversight which had concluded that UN consideration of decolonisation had effectively “stalled.” We noted the disregard for the plan of implementation, even as it was endorsed by the General Assembly in 2006 that had identified eight action areas to be undertaken, consistent with system-wide coherence. We further noted the lack of progress in carrying out the mandated case-by-case analyses on each territory, and other achievable actions contained in General Assembly resolutions.

• In 2008, CARICOM emphasized that it was “the very lack of implementation of measures adopted by the General Assembly, which remains the most fundamental impediment to the realisation of decolonisation.” We noted that any innovative measures to re-start the process, such as the use of special mechanisms successfully utilised by other UN bodies, were “curiously resisted on budgetary grounds” even as no budgetary implications were identified.

This is the scenario in 2009, one year before the end of the second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. In this connection, CARICOM concurs with the view expressed by President of the 64rd Session of the General Assembly Dr. Ali Treki who recognised in his inaugural address that the work of the United Nations continues to be hampered by the “obstacle of being unable to implement or enforce its resolutions.”

This is consistent with our concerns, which have always been expressed in the true spirit of constructiveness, that the United Nations work on contemporary decolonisation process, remains in a state of virtual inertia. Unless fundamental action is taken, this world body is complicit in stymieing the legitimate aspirations of Peoples whose fullest human rights it was created to protect and foster.

The United Nations must also be a consistent and accountable check and balance for the Administrators of Territories which have not yet fully achieved decolonisation.’ Decolonisation has moved from the ‘unfinished agenda’ of the United Nations to the ‘un-attended agenda.’ The repetition of resolutions and process year after year, and the publication of reports satisfying bureaucratic deadlines but lacking in sufficient analysis, are not helpful.

Mr. Chairman,

Emerging from the vacuum created by this political environment is an attempt to redefine the non self-governing status as that of self-government. The aim appears to be the hurried removal of these territories from the United Nations list - even as they remain non self-governing. The international community cannot countenance such acts. The verifiable attainment of a full measure of self-government, based on the longstanding United Nations criteria which continues to be relevant today, is what determines whether a territory has achieved self-government and subject to removal from United Nations oversight. The present stalled decolonisation process, however, provides fertile ground for attempts at such “colonial legitimization.”

The United Nations has, thus, arrived at an historical crossroads. We as Member States consistently reaffirm support for the principles of self-determination and decolonisation in our statements, and in our resolutions. But these endorsements are not sufficient if the corresponding mandates are not operationalised. We must decide if we are going to remain true to the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter governing self-determination and decolonization. If so, we have to re-start the dormant decolonisation process. If not, then we can capitulate to the dubious arguments that would give justification and political cover for the legitimization of contemporary colonialism, and simply declare decolonisation to be complete. In the process, of course, we would have abandoned the very people of the territories whose interests it is our Charter responsibility as Member States to protect.

Six of these territories are in the Caribbean, and are full or associate members of CARICOM and its affiliated institutions. The issue, therefore, is of special importance to us as this dormancy impedes regional integration. It was not so long ago that each of the fourteen CARICOM Member States, and numerous other states around this table, were listed as non self-governing. Many of us only achieved decolonisation through the active support and vigilance of the United Nations. This active support and vigilance has significantly declined, and it is evident that the present working methods do not lend themselves to implementation of the General Assembly mandate on decolonisation. These need to be fundamentally revamped. This restructuring should include the use of special mechanisms, as a matter of urgency, to undertake for the first time a comprehensive examination of the implementation of the decolonisation mandate in order to present a full picture of the present level of progress. It is only then that we may better ensure that the decolonisation mandate can be implemented in a third decade which will be clearly necessary, given the present state-of-play. To this end, the Strategic Framework on Decolonisation, and the proposed programme budget for 2010-2011 should be carefully revised with the aim of achieving real and concrete results.

CARICOM also is willing to work with interested delegations in the modernization of the decolonisation agenda as a whole, beginning with the simplification of the lengthy formal name of the Committee of 24, and the relevant agenda item on assistance to the territories from the United Nations system.

Mr. Chairman,

With respect to the political crisis in the Turks and Caicos Islands, CARICOM has expressed its “profound concern and deep disappointment over the decision of the administering power to dissolve the Government and legislature of the territory, as well as to suspend the right to trial by jury, and to replace the elected government with direct rule by the administering power. We reiterate our position that “the imposition of direct rule is a regrettable forced step backward” for the territory which is an associate member of CARICOM, and that the democratic process cannot be strengthened by removing representative democracy. We remain convinced that it would have been far more beneficial, and the results more sustainable, to involve the people of the territory through their elected representatives in the efforts required to strengthen good governance. Accordingly, CARICOM aligns itself with the position adopted at the 15th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non Aligned Movement last July which “called for the urgent restoration of the constitutional government” of the territory.

Mr. Chairman,

CARICOM maintains its longstanding support for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. We take note of the appointment of a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General who has visited the region, and who has held consultations with the parties, neighbouring states and other interested countries, on ways to move the process of negotiations forward. CARICOM welcomes the humanitarian efforts of the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP), particularly in providing food aid in the refugee camps, but expresses our concern over the findings of the 2008 assessment that malnutrition remained a major problem. CARICOM concurs with Security Council Resolution 1871 in support of a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.” In this connection, we concur with the recommendation of the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union last August which called for the intensification of efforts towards the holding of a referendum to enable the people of the Territory to choose between the option of independence and that of integration into the Kingdom of Morocco.

In closing, Mr. Chairman,

It is often the case that the price of staying the same is far greater than the price of change. We cannot afford to continue to pay the price of delirious repetition without concrete results when it comes to the decolonisation process. Critical change in approach and working methods is vital if the decolonisation mandate is to be realized.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.