17 June 2014

U.N. Decolonisation Committee adopts annual resolutions on information on the remaining non self-governing territories

General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Special Committee on Decolonization
3rd Meeting (AM)

Committee on Decolonization Approves 3 Draft Resolutions on Information Relating to Non-Self-Governing Territories

Committee Hears from Petitioners, Observers on Questions of Western Sahara, Gibraltar

Resuming its session today, the Special Committee on Decolonization approved, without a vote, three draft resolutions on information relating to the Non-Self-Governing Territories that remained under its purview.

Formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, the 29-member body also took up the questions of Western Sahara and Gibraltar.

By the text on “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/AC.109/2014/L.3), the General Assembly would request the administering Powers to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories, as well as the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments there.

By the text on “dissemination of information on decolonization” (document A/AC.109/2014/L.4), the Assembly would request the Departments of Political Affairs and of Public Information to implement the Special Committee’s recommendations and to continue their efforts to take measures through all the media available, including publications, radio and television, as well as the Internet, to give publicity to the work of the United Nations on decolonization.

In relation to that text, Laura Vaccari, Chief of the Decolonization Unit, Department of Political Affairs, and Margaret Novicki, Chief of the Communications Campaigns Service, Department of Public Information, briefed on their work.

The Special Committee also adopted, as orally revised, the draft resolution on “Question of sending visiting and special missions to Territories” (document A/AC.109/2014/L.5), by which it called upon the administering Powers that have not yet done so to cooperate or continue to cooperate with the Organization by facilitating United Nations visiting missions to the Territories under their administration.

Turning to the question of Western Sahara, Ahmed Boukhari, representative of the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente Polisario), said that the area was the last African colony awaiting decolonization.  Yet, the last time a mission had been sent there was 1975.  Morocco had replaced Spain as the colonizer.  The United Nations had convinced Morocco of the need to hold a referendum, but it had never been held due to obstruction by Morocco.  The Secretary-General’s report to the Security Council had stated that United Nations efforts should continue until the decolonization process took place. 

Moving to the next topic, Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, said its leaders had been addressing the Special Committee since 1963.  Gibraltar would have been delisted long ago if it were not for the Spanish Government’s repeated attempts to block it.  He urged the Committee to provide its opinion on whether Gibraltar’s 2006 Constitution would deliver sufficient measure of self-government short of independence.  It should visit Gibraltar, attend an upcoming symposium and seek an advisory opinion from the International Count of Justice on its right to self-determination.

Spain’s delegate, speaking as an observer, said that the inhabitants of some territories had given up their political independence in exchange for guarantee of their economic stability.  Those were cases of “colonialism by consent”.  The Spanish who lived there until 1704, the real Gibraltarians, were forced to leave and settled in the neighboring town of San Roque.  Furthermore, the United Kingdom illegally seized other territories not ceded under the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.  General Assembly resolution 2353 (1967) stated that the colonial situation of Gibraltar undermined the territorial integrity of Spain.  Furthermore, the administrating Power had admitted that the independence of its colony was not possible without Spain’s consent.  The United Kingdom, however, had been refusing for too many years to talk to Spain about the future of Gibraltar.

The Special Committee then heard from a petitioner, Denis Matthews, representative of the Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group.

Also participating as Observers during the meeting were representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Montenegro, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Turkey, Uganda and Uruguay.

The Special Committee will meet again on 23 June to hear petitioners concerning the situation in Puerto Rico.