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Innovative ways needed to revive decolonization process, Annan tells UN panel

Innovative ways needed to revive decolonization process, Annan tells UN panel

Kofi Annan addressing committee on decolonization
Citing the example of Timor-Leste, a former non-self-governing territory that recently joined the United Nations as a sovereign nation, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today stressed the need for innovative and practical ways to reinvigorate the decolonization process to close "this unfinished chapter in history."

Mr. Annan made his remarks at the opening of this year's session of the UN's Special Committee on decolonization, a 24-member panel that meets annually to discuss the developments in the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories and to hear statements from appointed and elected representatives of the Territories and petitioners.

Recalling that the administering Powers are obligated under the UN Charter to bring the Territories under their administration to an appropriate level of self-government, the Secretary-General stressed that assisting and expediting this process has been the Special Committee's main goal since its creation in 1961. "Let me, in this context, emphasize the importance of productive cooperation between the Special Committee and the administering Powers," Mr. Annan said.

He noted that through the Special Committee's work, the remaining Territories have made considerable progress by developing their constitutional, political and economic systems. "In recent years, the Special Committee has endeavoured to engage the administering powers in a transparent and creative dialogue on the future of the Territories - each of which has a unique set of circumstances and characteristics," he said.

The Secretary-General said he was pleased to note the progress made in establishing a Programme of Work for Tokelau, and that the Government of New Zealand and the people of the Territory cooperated fully with a visiting UN Mission last August.

"I trust that at this session, you will continue to seek appropriate arrangements for the remaining 16 non-self-governing territories," he told the panel, officially 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.

In his opening statement, the panel's newly elected Chairman, Earl Stephen Huntley of Saint Lucia, said that the issue of decolonization had been with the international community for too long, and by now should have disappeared from its agenda. That could be achieved, he emphasized, through faithful implementation of the mandate by all of the political actors in the process - Member States, the UN machinery and the wider UN system.

He stressed that the Special Committee remained the principal venue for the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to articulate their views before the international community, including through regional seminars in the Caribbean and Pacific. Among the important recommendations that arose from those exercises, and from increasingly targeted resolutions of the Assembly, was the plan of action of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, he noted.