25 June 2014

U.N. Decolonization Committee adopts resolutions on small territories

24 June 2014
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Special Committee on Decolonization
6th Meeting (AM)


Tokelau, New Zealand Agree to ‘Park’ Referendum Question, Focus on Basic Needs

Acting without a vote, the Special Committee on Decolonization approved four draft resolutions today to accelerate efforts to create a world free of colonialism.

By terms of the text aimed at furthering the implementation of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (A/AC.109/2014/L.9), the General Assembly would call on the administering Powers to take steps to enable the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to fully exercise their right to self-determination and independence.

The Assembly, through the text on economic and other activities affecting the Non-Self-Governing Territories (A/AC.109/2014/L.11), would call on all Governments that have not yet done so to take legislative, administrative or other measures to end enterprises detrimental to the interests of the inhabitants.  Further, it urged the administering Powers to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the inhabitants to their natural resources and property.

By the text concerning implementation of the Declaration by the United Nations specialized agencies and other associated institutions (A/AC.109/2014/L.10), the Assembly would recommend that those organizations’ executive heads formulate concrete proposals to fully implement the relevant United Nations resolutions and submit them to their governing and legislative organs.

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking before action, said his Government actively supported the rights of people of Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination and independence.  However, attention of that highly political issue within the Economic and Social Council distracted from the Council’s main role of coordinating socioeconomic activities.  As such, his Government would abstain from the vote on the draft.

The Special Committee also approved a text (A/AC.109/2014/L.8), which covered the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

Nicaragua’s delegate, in a general statement, reiterated his Government’s commitment to fight colonialism and support self-determination among peoples in Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He underlined the importance of regional seminars, as well as the need for increased resources to foster greater participation among representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Aliki Faipule Kuresa Nasau, Titular Head of Tokelau, in other business today briefed the Special Committee on elections held earlier this year for the 20-member General Fono and the six-member Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau.  The results were positive, with the first woman ever elected to the six-member Council.  Next month, the National Fono would endorse its 2014/15 budget, which was focused on fully implementing the national strategic plan 2010-2015.  That plan was supported by the Joint Commitment for Development between Tokelau and New Zealand, and 60 per cent of its targets had been met. Gains also had been made in the areas of education, health and energy efficiency.  On the issue of self-determination, he said that, following the 2007 referendum, it was agreed with New Zealand to “park” the question of holding another referendum, and instead, focus on meeting basic needs.

Jonathan Kings (New Zealand), Administrator of Tokelau, described his country’s relationship with Tokelau as “extremely positive”.  He noted that Tokelau’s extreme geographic isolation and small population were factors that would continue to shape New Zealand’s engagement.  With reliable transport now in place, his Government was focused on basic services, with efforts centred on improving education and health-care delivery.  New Zealand was supporting Tokelau in implementing recommendations from the recent education review, which showed the need for action.  It was also focused on governance, an overarching theme of other reviews under way in health, telecommunications and transport, as well as on fishing revenues.  Those issues remained a focus before any further act of self-determination would be considered.

Also delivering statements on the question of Tokelau were the representatives of Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Fiji.

Consideration of the draft resolution on the question of Tokelau was postponed to a later date.

The next meeting of the Special Committee will be on 26 June, when it will take up the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).