27 November 2012

Dormant decolonization process requires "Special Mechanisms" to implement international mandate - U.N. Council of Presidents

The Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly (CPGA) called for the use of special mechanisms, including the appointment of an Independent Expert or Special Rapporteur, to accelerate the pace of decolonization for the sixteen remaining non self-governing territories worldwide. The recommendation was contained in the Final Communique of the 2012 Session of the CPGA which convened in New York on 7th and 8th November 2012.
(excerpts below).
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The concern for the lack of movement in the   decolonization process at the present period of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism was discussed by the presidents in the context of the implementation of U.N. mandates. 

Council Chairman Julian Hunte, who was a  former Chair of the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization when he served as permanent representative of St. Lucia to the U.N., briefed the other presidents on the difficulties associated with carrying out the decolonisation mandate.  

"This is of special interest," the Council Chairman explained,  "because it is one of those issues which has remained on the U.N. agenda without resolution, and which has effectively resulted in a stalemate." 

He observed that "this could not be in the interest of the people of the territories themselves." 

The Chairman of the Council of Presidents went on to   note that his experience as twice chair of the Decolonisation Committee made it "increasingly clear that the U.N. system is in need of innovative means to address the self-determination process of the remaining 16 non self-governing territories, as well as the several sovereignty disputes among them."

During his chairmanship of the Decolonization Committee, the Plan of Implementation (POI) was produced and subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly in 2006 at the mid-point of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

 The POI was published as a document of the U.N. General Assembly and served to outline the actions to be undertaken by the UN system which had been called for in United Nations in decolonization resolutions. The aim was to develop a programme to implement the General Assembly directives.

The POI contained a number of conclusions and observations. Among these were the recognition that the "Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism  (had) passed its mid-point without sufficient realization of its plan of action (and this) only serves to underscore the urgency of accelerating the implementation phase."

The POI was designed "to generate some positive movement, where dormancy had often been the norm" and had been prepared "following extensive consultations with member States and senior officials of the U.N. Secretariat."

The POI had also raised the human rights dimension of the issue in noting that "the accelerated implementation of the self-determination and decolonization mandates of the United Nations is in furtherance of the promotion of democratic governance and the universal realization of  human rights." 

In this connection, reference was made in the POI to the major human rights conventions, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - all of which contain commitments to promote the right to self-determination among peoples.

In assessing the difficulties in implementing the United Nations unfinished agenda of contemporary decolonisation, the Council of Presidents included the following recommendations in its Final Communique: 

"Recognizes the historic role of the General Assembly in the self-determination process of dependent territories, and that the successful decolonization of over eighty territories since World War II was in large measure as a result of the political, material and other support provided by the United Nations;

Further recognises that sixteen dependencies remain on the United Nations list on non self-governing territories under Chapter XI of the Charter, but only two have successfully decolonized since the 1990s resulting in the process being effectively stalled; and concerned that the countries which administer the majority of the remaining territories have withdrawn their cooperation from the Special Committee on Decolonization resulting in little progress being made in the implementation of the United Nation decolonization mandate contained in the Charter, General Assembly resolutions and human rights instruments;

Endorses the use of innovative means to give effect to the United Nations decolonization process including the use of special mechanisms such as an Independent Expert/Special Rapporteur, expert groups or other relevant modalities to examine the political situation in each of the remaining territories, and to advise the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General of suitable means to implement the decolonization mandate in these territories."