24 February 2012

U.N. Special Committee on Decolonisation begins 2012 session to examine remaining sixteen non self-governing territories

23 February 2012
General Assembly

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


In a message to the first meeting of the 2012 substantive session of the Special Committee on Decolonization, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today for “constructive involvement” between the Committee, the administering Powers and the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

“The Special Committee is in a position to develop innovative approaches and generate new dynamics,” said Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on Mr. Ban’s behalf.  In that, emphasizing the importance of sustained and improved official and informal communication between the Committee and administering Powers.

The Special Committee then went on to elect its officers for the year:  Diego Morejón Pazmino ( Ecuador), Chair; Pedro Núñez Mosquera ( Cuba) and Shekou M. Touray ( Sierra Leone), Vice-Chairs; and Bashar Ja’afari ( Syria), Rapporteur.

Speaking after the elections, Mr. Morejón Pazmino said that it was necessary to develop new strategies to ensure the “final disappearance of the archaic concept of colonialism”.  Frank and sincere dialogue was necessary, as was a focus by the Special Committee on economic and environmental considerations.  The populations of the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories on the United Nations list had suffered and continued to suffer from the financial crisis and climate change.  A prime aspect of the Committee’s work was the gathering of information, he added, and that would take place during the annual seminar, to be held this year in the Pacific region, and at various round tables, as well as informal dialogues in New York.

Taking the floor in support of the Special Committee’s work, various delegations pledged their commitment to its success.  The representative of Papua New Guinea called on the administering Powers to work with the Committee to facilitate “concrete results”.  He also suggested that the annual seminar, set to take place in the Pacific region this year, could be held in Papua New Guinea.

The representative of Cuba stated that the election of his delegation to the Bureau was a symbol of his nation’s ongoing commitment to combating colonialism.

The Special Committee also heard brief statements by the representatives of Sierra Leone and Mali.

After inviting the delegations of Argentina, Azerbaijan, Liberia, and Spain to participate in the Committee’s opening session as observers, the Committee went on to approve, by consensus, as orally amended, resolutions and decisions relevant to its work, as contained in a note by the Secretary-General (document A/AC.109/2012/L.1); and the organization of its work, programme of work and timetable (document A/AC.109/2012/L.2).  The Chair indicated that on 14 June, the Committee would hold hearings on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) with the participation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina and his delegation.

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

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

Secretary-General's message to opening of the 2012 session of the Special Committee on Decolonization [Delivered by Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs]

New York, 23 February 2012 

I am pleased to greet the Special Committee as it begins its work for 2012.

The creation of new sovereign nations was once described as one of the great liberating movements of history.

Yet the process of decolonization is not complete.

Sixteen Non-Self-Governing Territories across the globe -- home to nearly 2 million people -- remain to be decolonized.

In keeping with the principles of the Charter and subsequent mandating resolutions, the international community continues it efforts to make tangible progress in assisting those territories to achieve self-determination.

To do so, we will need the constructive involvement of all concerned – notably this Committee, the administering Powers and the Non-Self-Governing Territories themselves.

The Special Committee is in a position to develop innovative approaches and generate new dynamics among all concerned.

Together with the administering Powers and the Territories, suitable pragmatic partnerships leading to the full implementation of the decolonization process should be elaborated on a case-by-case-basis.

Sustained and improved official and informal communication between the Special Committee and the administering Powers will be essential.

The Secretariat, for its part, will continue to assist the Committee in implementing its annual programme of work. 

I wish you every success.  

Also see: 

UN Releases Report on Territories