Friday, May 19, 2017

Decolonization in the Caribbean #2: Statement from UN Secretary General

Each regional seminar for the Committee of 24 begins with a reading of a statement by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The Secretary General himself would probably never attend the seminar itself, as he is a busy person with many things to do, and in the UN hierarchy decolonization issues are a very low priority. This year the statement was read by Rie Kadota, who is the officer-in-charge for the UN Decolonization Unit.

The statement from the secretary general, like the press release, both of which I've attached below, don't change much from year to year, at least not recently. Part of this is because decolonization is one issue where the UN can claim a great historical victory, but over the past few decades, has not been able to accomplish much. There are 17 non-self-governing territories that remain officially considered to be colonies in need of decolonization. They are a diverse group in political, economic, cultural terms, however most tend to be small islands or island groups, both larger and smaller than Guam. I wrote last year at the regional seminar in Nicaragua, that I both envied and did not envy whoever has to write these press releases or statements. On the one hand, as little changes year to year, they can be written in a quick manner by changing locations, maybe a name or two and then of course the numbers to represent passage of time. But on the other hand, there has to be a pull to try to say something significant, to make some rhetorical indication that not only has time passed, but some progress has been achieved.

The United Nations keeps track of this issue through the concept of International Decades, or ten year target periods, where substantive progress is meant to be achieved or even the entire mission of eradicating colonialism itself from the world is to completed. Right now, we are in the 7th year of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. It remains to be seen at this seminar if we will move forward in significant ways and how.


May 16, 2017
UN Secretary-General's message to Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization
Delivered by Rie Kadota, Officer-in-Charge, Decolonization Unit, DPA

It is a pleasure to greet the 2017 Caribbean regional seminar on decolonization, organized on the occasion of the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Since its establishment by the General Assembly, the Special Committee on Decolonization has played an important role in advancing the decolonization agenda.

The work ahead is a reminder that we all have contributions to make. Upholding the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and all relevant resolutions is our collective responsibility.

Cooperation is essential to bring about the effective and complete implementation of the Declaration as we approach the end of the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

In that spirit, I wish to again reaffirm my commitment to the decolonization agenda.

I thank the Government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for hosting this event for the third time since the establishment of the Committee. Please accept my best wishes for a successful seminar.


12 May 2017

Special Committee on Decolonization to Hold Caribbean Regional Seminar in Kingston, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 16-18, May 2017

The Special Committee on Decolonization will hold the 2017 Caribbean Regional Seminar in Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, from 16 to 18 May with a view to accelerating action in implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020).
The Seminar is held under the auspices of the Special 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 (also known as the Special Committee of 24, or the “C-24”).

The theme of the 2017 Seminar is “Implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism: the future for decolonization in the Non-Self-Governing Territories: what are the prospects?”.

There are 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining under the Special Committee’s purview:  American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.  The administering Powers are France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.

Taking into consideration recent developments in the Caribbean, Pacific and elsewhere, the Seminar will review the situation with respect to the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories, including the issue of support from various entities within the United Nations system and other organizations.

The Special Committee will consider the Seminar’s conclusions and recommendations at its June substantive session, and subsequently transmit them to the General Assembly.

Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela), Chairman of the Special Committee, will preside over the Seminar.

Invited participants include a Special Committee delegation comprising the Bureau and members of regional groups; United Nations Member States, including administering Powers’ representatives of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, civil society and non-governmental organizations; as well as experts.

The 29 members of the Special Committee are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Chile, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Syria, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania and Venezuela.

The 2017 annual Secretariat working papers on each Non-Self-Governing Territory are available on the United Nations decolonization website:

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines previously hosted the Caribbean Regional Seminar on Canouan Island in 2005 and in Kingstown in 2011.


*      A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

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