14 September 2010

Major Conference on Small Islands to Convene at United Nations Headquarters

Most Overseas Countries & Territories Eligible to Participate

United Nations member States will undertake a 5-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States at the beginning of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly. The session will convene for two days on 24-25 September 2010.

Those overseas countries and territories (OCTs) which are associate members of the United Nations regional economic commissions are eligible for participation in the conference in the capacity of official observer providing for full participation in the proceedings including the right to address the session from the podium, and participation in all other events consistent with established practice. The legislative authority for the participation of the OCTs in the conference is U.N. General Assembly 64/199 of 21 December 2009 which:

"Invites the participation of associate members of regional commissions in the high-level review, subject to the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, and in the preparatory process thereof, as observers, in the same capacity specified for their participation at the International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Mauritius from 10 to 14 January 2005."

Eligible Associate Member Countries

(Bermuda) 1/ 
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Netherlands Antilles
Puerto Rico
(Turks & Caicos) 2/
US Virgin Islands
American Samoa
Cook Islands
French Polynesia
New Caledonia
Northern Mariana Islands
Tokelau 1/

1/ Territory is not an associate member of a UN regional economic commission
2/ Due to suspension of elected government eligibility for participation is in question.

The genesis of participation of the associate member countries in United Nations world conferences emerged from the Working Group of Non-Independent Caribbean Countries (NICCs) of the Caribbean Development & Cooperation Committee (a subsidary body of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) dating to the early 1990s.

The category of participation of "Associate Members of Regional Economic Commissions" in United Nations world conferences and special sessions of the General Assembly was initiated by the associate members of ECLAC in the run-up to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), otherwise known as the Earth Summit. The result was the establishment of a mechanism through which the overseas countries and territories (OCTs) could engage the international debate on issues in the economic and social sphere as it directly affects them. It should be noted that for those OCTs whose international relations are controlled by an administering power, the eligibility criteria for participation of the territories has been adopted by consensus in the UN General Assembly with the support of the cosmopolitan countries.

Several United Nations studies were undertaken to bring to light modalities for the participation of OCTs in the UN world conferences, and in the wider United Nations system, respectively. These studies serve as a blueprint for participation.

Governments of associate member countries of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) are urged to communicate their interest in participation to the United Nations Department of General Assembly and ECOSOC Affairs, or alternatively to contact their respective regional commission offices in Trinidad and Tobago (for the Caribbean), and Fiji (for the Pacific) for further information.