UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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SPECIAL COMMITTEE APPROVES THREE TEXTS ON: VISITING MISSIONS TO TERRITORIES; DISSEMINATION OF DECOLONIZATION INFORMATION; INFORMATION FROM TERRITORIES
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Special Committee on
Decolonization
3 June 2002
3rd Meeting (AM)




    Committee Chairman, DPI Director,
    Department of Political Affairs Hail Independent East Timor


    The deletion of East Timor from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, with its recent independence on 20 May, was indeed a clear manifestation of the goals towards which the Special Committee on decolonization had been labouring for so long, its Chairman said this morning as the Committee met to resume its 2002 session.

    East Timor’s independence, noted Earl Stephen Huntley (Saint Lucia), was due, in no uncertain terms, to the work, perseverance and determination of the members of the Special Committee. He looked forward to welcoming East Timor into the family of the United Nations later this year.

    Thérèse Gastaut, Director, Public Affairs Division, Department of Public Information (DPI), noted that the independence of East Timor had been a subject of extensive coverage. Jointly with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), DPI had undertaken a number of activities to highlight the Territory’s accession to independence as a United Nations success story.

    The celebrations, she added, were broadcast by United Nations Radio in all six official languages of the United Nations as well as in Portuguese. In addition, DPI had produced a 20-minute video on the work of the United Nations in East Timor for distribution to broadcasters worldwide, in addition to deploying a video producer to cover the independence celebrations.

    Also addressing the Committee this morning, Maria Maldonado of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) said that the Department continued to cooperate with DPI in the preparation of materials on decolonization and in their dissemination. The DPA’s Decolonization Unit had drafted the text of the brochure entitled "The United Nations and Decolonization", which was distributed both through DPI’s Information Centres and at the Pacific regional seminar, held in Fiji in May.

    Among other things, the Department had provided a briefing to the United Nations Guides on the issue of decolonization, continued to expand its roster of individual experts, academics and organizations concerned with decolonization and the situation in the Territories, as well as continued to routinely collect, prepare and provide information on decolonization issues to Member States, representatives from the Territories, schools, organizations and individuals.

    Also this morning, the Committee adopted three resolutions without a vote. By the terms of the text on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories, the Committee requested its Chairman to enter into consultations with the administering Power of Guam to facilitate the dispatch of a United Nations visiting mission to that Territory to coincide with the proposed plebiscite to be conducted by the Guam Electoral Commission on or about 7 September.

    By the terms of its resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization, the Committee approved the activities in the field of dissemination of information undertaken by the DPI and the DPA and requested all States, including the administering Powers, to continue to extend their cooperation in the dissemination of that information.

    Also, the Committee requested both departments to take into account its recommendation that they continue their efforts to take measures through all the media available -- including publications, radio and television and the Internet
    -- to give publicity to the work of the United Nations in the field of decolonization.

    By the text on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations, the Committee reaffirmed that, in the absence of a decision by the Assembly itself that a Non-Self-Governing Territory has attained a full measure of self-government in terms of Chapter XI of the Charter, the administering Power concerned should continue to transmit information under Article 73 e of the Charter with respect to that Territory.

    In other action this morning, the Special Committee agreed to accede to the request for a hearing on the question of Gibraltar, contained in aide-mémoire 6/02, and to the request for a hearing on the question of Western Sahara, contained in aide-mémoire 7/02.

    Furthermore, it decided to approve funding to facilitate the participation of the Ulu of Tokelau and the representative of the United States Virgin Islands in the Committee’s discussions, and authorized the Secretariat to make the arrangements in that regard.

    The representative of Grenada addressed the Committee.

    The next meeting of the Committee -- 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 -- will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 6 June.


    Background

    The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this morning to hold the third meeting of its 2002 session.

    The Committee had before it a number of documents including the report of the Secretary-General on the question of dissemination of information on decolonization and a related resolution (document A/AC.109/2002/18 and L.5). Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter, as well as a related draft resolution (document A/57/74 and A/AC.109/2002/L.6). In addition, the Committee had before it a draft resolution on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories (document A/AC.109/2002/L.7).

    The Special Committee was created by General Assembly resolution 1654 of 1961 to examine and make recommendations on the application of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and to make suggestions and recommendations on the progress and extent of the implementation of the Declaration. The 17-member Special Committee was expanded to 24 members in 1962 and the size of its membership has varied since.


    Statements

    EARL STEPHEN HUNTLEY (Saint Lucia), Chairman of the Special Committee, noted with happiness the deletion of East Timor from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, with its recent accession to independence on 20 May. Its independence was due, in no uncertain terms, to the work, perseverance and determination of the members of the Special Committee. It was indeed a clear manifestation of the goals towards which the Committee had been labouring for so long. That attainment of independence was fully in consonance with the norms called for in the Declaration contained in resolution 1514 (XV) as well as resolution 1541 (XV), which provided the impetus and the guiding principles for the Committee’s work. He looked forward to welcoming East Timor into the family of the United Nations later this year.

    The Committee then agreed to accede to the request for a hearing on the question of Gibraltar, contained in aide-mémoire 6/02, and to the request for a hearing on the question of Western Sahara, contained in aide-mémoire 7/02.

    THERESE GASTAUT, Director, Public Affairs Division, Department of Public Information (DPI), said that the Department's activities on decolonization focused on coverage of the work of the General Assembly and Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization, building partnerships with civil society through the network of United Nations Information Centres, and strengthening the use of the Internet for the widest possible dissemination of information.

    The Department, she said, had provided full and comprehensive coverage of the General Assembly debate on decolonization, including the work of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), and the Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization. The Department had also provided coverage of the proceedings of the Pacific Regional Seminar organized by the Special Committee of 24 in Nadi, Fiji. The Secretary-General's message to the seminar was also issued and widely distributed.

    She noted that the accession to independence of East Timor, one of the territories to which the Declaration continued to apply until 20 May 2002, was a subject of extensive coverage. Jointly with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), DPI had undertaken a number of activities to highlight East Timor's journey to independence as a United Nations success story.

    The Department's Radio and Television Section covered various aspects of decolonization and related issues in its daily news programmes and current affairs magazines in both official and non-official languages. The celebrations of East Timor’s independence were broadcast by UN Radio in all six official languages of the United Nations as well as in Portuguese. United Nations Radio continued to report on the work of the Special Committee of 24 and of the Fourth Committee. She added that DPI had produced a 20-minute video on the work of the United Nations in East Timor for distribution to broadcasters worldwide.

    The English-language version of the Department's new brochure, "The United Nations and Decolonization", had already been distributed. The French and Spanish versions were now being printed and would shortly be available. The United Nations Chronicle magazine continued to provide in-depth coverage of the General Assembly's work in the field of decolonization. The Web site highlighting developments in the area of decolonization continued to be updated, she went on. In addition to posting decolonization-related United Nations documents in English, French and Spanish, the site provided a brief history of decolonization, explained the role and work programme of the Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization and updated its activities.

    The United Nations Information Centres, services and offices continued to promote the Organization’s work in the area of decolonization. That included the organization of press conferences and lectures, participation in round tables, production of information materials in local languages, issuance of press releases and the arrangement/distribution of audio and visual products on the issue. DPI, she said, would continue to promote awareness and understanding of United Nations work in the area of decolonization.

    MARIA MALDONADO, representing the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), said that the Department continued to cooperate with the Department of Public Information (DPI) in the preparation of materials on decolonization and in their dissemination.

    She said that the Decolonization Unit of DPA had drafted the text of the brochure entitled "The United Nations and Decolonization" which was issued in December 2001 as a DPI publication. The brochure was conceived as a response to the many queries received from individuals and organizations in the Non-Self-Governing Territories regarding the role of the United Nations system on decolonization, the work of the Special Committee on decolonization, on the future options available to the Territories, and on the assistance for which the Territories were eligible.

    She said that DPA’s Decolonization Unit had also provided a briefing to the United Nations Guides on the historical background to decolonization, on the 1960 Declaration and the Special Committee, and the characteristics of the remaining 16 Territories. The briefing was aimed at helping the Guides to respond to the many questions posed by visitors.

    The Department had also continued to expand its roster of individual experts, academics and organizations concerned with decolonization and the situation in the Territories. The roster was of benefit to regional Seminars, bringing together participants who were able to contribute with new insights and expertise both from the region and on the region.

    She said the regional seminars had also enabled the Decolonization Unit to establish direct contact with representatives of regional programmes. The Fiji Seminar, for instance, was attended by representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) all of whom had found the proceedings informative and enlightening. Further, DPA had continued to routinely collect, prepare and provide information on decolonization issues to Member States, representatives from the Territories, schools, organizations and individuals. In order to gain information on the Territories, she added, the Department had continued to seek the cooperation of the administering Powers.

    In the context of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and as the Special Committee continued to make progress in its consultations with the administering Power of Tokelau and with the representative of Tokelau, a new set of challenges in the information area would have to be addressed, she said. In the meantime, DPA, in close cooperation with DPI, would endeavour to anticipate and identify priorities to make the best use possible of the scarce resources available.


    Action on Texts

    The Committee approved the draft resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization, by whose terms it approved the activities in the field of dissemination of information on decolonization undertaken by the DPI and the DPA. In addition, it requested all States, including the administering Powers, to continue to extend their cooperation in the dissemination of such information.

    Also, the Special Committee requested both departments to take into account its recommendation that they continue their efforts to take measures through all the media available -- including publications, radio and television and the Internet -- to give publicity to the work of the United Nations in the field of decolonization. Among other things, the departments were also requested to continue to collect, prepare and disseminate, particularly to the Territories, basic material on the issue of self-determination, and to seek the full cooperation of the administering Powers in the discharge of the tasks referred to above.

    Next, the Committee approved the draft resolution on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations. By that text it reaffirmed that, in the absence of a decision by the Assembly itself that a Non-Self-Governing Territory has attained a full measure of self-government in terms of Chapter XI of the Charter, the administering Power concerned should continue to transmit information under Article 73 e of the Charter with respect to that Territory.

    Also, the Special Committee requested the administering Powers concerned to transmit or continue to transmit to the Secretary-General the information prescribed in Article 73 e, as well as the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments in the Territories concerned, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those Territories. It also requested the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that adequate information was drawn from all available published sources in connection with the preparation of the working papers relating to the Territories concerned.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories, whereby it stressed the need to dispatch periodic visiting missions to the Territories to facilitate the full, speedy and effective implementation of the Declaration. It called on the administering Powers to cooperate or continue to cooperate with the United Nations by receiving United Nations visiting missions in the Territories under their administration.

    The Special Committee also requested the administering Powers to consider new approaches in the work of the Committee and urged them to cooperate with it in its efforts. Further, the Committee requested its Chairman to enter into consultations with the administering Power of Guam to facilitate the dispatch of a United Nations visiting mission to that Territory, to coincide with the proposed plebiscite to be conducted by the Guam Electoral Commission on or about 7 September 2002.

    In other action, the Committee decided to approve funding to facilitate the participation of the Ulu of Tokelau and the representative of the United States Virgin Islands in the Committee’s discussions, and authorized the Secretariat to make the arrangements in that regard.

    LAMUEL A. STANISLAUS (Grenada) expressed his appreciation and gratitude with regard to the holding of the Pacific Seminar under the Chairman’s leadership. The brochures for the Seminar were particularly informative. Also, the reception received in Fiji was among the best of all the seminars held, and he complimented Fiji’s Permanent Representative for all the arrangements made.



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