Magazine article UN Chronicle , Vol. 23
Fourth Committee takes action on Western Sahara small Territories, other decolonization issues
The Fourth Committee (Decolonization) in November concluded its work for the fortieth session after considering the question of Western Sahara, the status of 14 other Territories, and the implementation of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
The Committee on 12 November approved a 44-Power resolution on Western Sahara, adopted by the General Assembly on 2 December by a vote of 96 in favour to 7 against (Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guatemala, Morocco, Philippines, Zaire), with 39 abstentions. By it, Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y Rio de Oro (POLISARIO), were asked to undertake direct negotiations, in the shortest possible time, with a view to bringing about a cease-fire so as to create the necessary conditions for a peaceful and fair referendum for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. The referendum was to be held "without any administrative or military constraints", under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations.
A resolution on implementation of the Declaration on decolonization by specialized agencies, recommended by the Committee, was also adopted in the Assembly on 2 December with a vote of 126 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 22 abstentions. By it, the Assembly expressed its concern that the assistance extended thus far by certain specialized agencies to the colonial peoples, particularly the people of Namibia, was far from adequate in relation to the actual needs of the peoples concerned and reiterated the appeal to the specialized agencies to intensify their efforts to assist dependent peoples. It also called on the IMF to end that collaboration and not to grant new loans to South Africa.
The Committee also recommended draft consensus texts relating to Tokelau, Pitcairn and Gibraltar, a draft decision concerning St. Helena and nine other resolutions relating to Anguilla, American Samoa, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands. In all those cases, the Committee acted on recommendations of the Special Committee on decolonization.
The Committee decided it would not act on a draft on the question of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. East Timor was not considered by the Fourth Committee, as the Assembly had decided to defer consideration of the question to its next session (see decision 40/402).
Other resolutions adopted dealt with information from non-self-governing Territories, the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa, and offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of non-self-governing Territories. All those drafts were approved on 2 December by the General Assembly.
During the general debate on decolonization issues in the Fourth Committee, the majority of speakers declared that, irrespective of the size, population or geographical location, the peoples of small Territories had the same right to self-determination and independence as those of the other Territories, stressed the need to continue to dispatch visiting missions to colonial Territories and urged the administering Powers concerned to permit access of such missions to the Territories concerned; expressed deep concern at the continuing critical situation regarding Namibia and called for implementation forthwith of Security Council resolution 435 (1978); reaffirmed that information under Article 73 e of the Charter should continue to be transmitted until the Assembly had determined otherwise; called for greater financial support to the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa and invited all States to make generous offers of study and training facilities to peoples of colonial Territories. …