Magazine article UN Chronicle

Deliberating Decolonization

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Deliberating Decolonization

Article excerpt

Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be held by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21

The Special Committee on decolonization conducted a Seminar in the Pacific region from 16 to 18 June as requested by the General Assembly. The Government of the Republic of the Fiji Islands generously agreed to host the event, which was held in Nadi, with the participation of some 45 representatives of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, United Nations Members States, including the administering Powers, intergovernmental organizations and programmes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and experts. The majority of participants in the Seminar were from the Pacific region. Its main objective was to assess the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories, particularly their constitutional evolution towards self-determination by the year 2000 - the target date set by the General Assembly in 1991; identify areas in which the international community could increase its participation in programmes of assistance; and adopt a comprehensive and integrated approach to ensure the political and sustainable development of the Territories concerned.

The agenda for the meeting included, inter alia, the enhancement of the attainment of the right to, and options of, self-determination; economic and social developments in the small-island Territories and their impact on the realization of the right to self-determination; the constraints they face and the available development options, environmental issues and human resources development; international and regional cooperation and the role of the specialized agencies, international organizations and regional organizations in the economic and social development of the Territories; and the impact of international conferences on Non-Self-Governing Territories.

In addressing the various subjects in the agenda, participants made several important points, amongst them:

First, the process of decolonization was not over, emphasis should be given on putting in place unique remedies to protect the inalienable rights of the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories. given the unique character of each of these.

Second, as long as there were Territories that were not self-governing, the inalienable rights of the people must be guaranteed by an independent broker. Thus, the United Nations and its Special Committee on decolonization must continue to function in that capacity until the chapter on colonialism in the history of the world is closed once and for all.

Third, Member States should make efforts, when submitting recommendations to the General Assembly, to consider and reflect the views of the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories and their legitimate interests.

Fourth, the Special Committee should consider broadly the issue of self-determination broadly and not only look at the political independence but also at matters relating to cultural identity, language and tradition. The situation of the indigenous populations in some Territories, which had become minorities in their own homeland, was discussed, particularly in connection with the immigration policies of the administering Power.

Fifth, access by Non-Self-Governing Territories to relevant United Nations programmes in the economic and social sphere, including those emanating from the plans of action of United Nations international conferences, is in furtherance of capacity-building and consistent with necessary preparations for the assumption of full internal self-government. …

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