Special Committee on Decolonization
1st Meeting (AM)
SECRETARY-GENERAL, AT OPENING MEETING OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION,
URGES ‘FRESH AND CREATIVE’ APPROACH TO ENDING COLONIALISM
Members Elect Bureau, Approve Holding Regional Seminar in Ecuador, 25-31 May
Opening the 2013 substantive session of the Special Committee on Decolonization, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on that body to devise “fresh and creative” approaches in mobilizing the political will needed to eradicate colonialism, saying it had no place in the modern world.
“It is time for a new kind of fully inclusive dialogue about decolonization,” he said, adding: “We no longer have the luxury of indulging in rhetoric and rituals.” The risk of movement, while sometimes frightening, was preferable to the stagnation of the status quo.
Urging the Special Committee to review its practices so as to “maximize its effectiveness”, the Secretary-General said the common endeavour of eradicating colonialism required its “constructive involvement” with the Non-Self Governing Territories under its purview and with their respective administering Powers.
The Special Committee reviews the political, social and economic conditions in the 16 United Nations-listed Non-Self Governing Territories, organizes regional seminars to discuss the challenges of decolonization and works to ensure that the United Nations aids their development.
Echoing the Secretary-General, Special Committee Chair Diego Morejón (Ecuador) said that, well into the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the body must create a “new momentum” and review each Territory to determine which should remain on its list and which should be removed.
Direct, constructive contact must be maintained with New Caledonia, which would enter a critical phase of self-determination in 2014, Mr. Morejón said. He noted that the General Assembly had commended the positive steps taken by New Caledonian and French authorities since their signing of the 1998 Nouméa Accord giving the Territory transitional status until the holding of a referendum between 2014 and 2018.
Similarly, Papua New Guinea’s representative praised the active involvement of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and all parties under the Nouméa Accord. Urging the Special Committee to break from “business as usual”, he called for concrete ways to help the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories achieve their respective aspirations, and for the Special Committee to liaise closely with each of the administering Powers in a holistic manner. In that regard, he applauded the cooperation between Tokelau and New Zealand.
Mr. Morejón spoke after having been elected by acclamation as Chair for the current session. Also elected were Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez (Cuba) and Shekou M. Touray (Sierra Leone) as Vice-Chairs, and Bashar Ja’afari (Syria) as Rapporteur.
The Chair proposed that the Special Committee’s annual seminar, scheduled for Latin America this year, be held in Ecuador during the last week of May, to coincide with the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self Governing Territories (25-31 May).
Cuba’s representative thanked Ecuador for its commitment to the Special Committee’s work.
The Special Committee approved the Chair’s proposal, as well as its proposed organization of work for 2013 (document A/AC.109/2013/L.2). It invited Argentina, Costa Rica, Spain, Cyprus, Ghana, Mauritania, Namibia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to participate in the session as observers.
Remaining on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories are the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, New Caledonia and Western Sahara, as well as American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.
The Special Committee will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.