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Secretary-General urges completion of global decolonization process

Secretary-General urges completion of global decolonization process

Strategies should be found for determining the future of each of the world’s 16 remaining territories that are not yet self-governing, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a United Nations seminar on decolonization in the Caribbean today.

“Achieving self-government for the peoples of the world has been one of the cardinal goals of the United Nations since its inception,” Mr. Ban told the Special Committee on Decolonization, which is meeting in St. George, Grenada, at a regional seminar that coincides with the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

In the statement, delivered by Freda Mackay of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), Mr. Ban recalled that “under the Organization's auspices, nearly 750 million people have benefited from the exercise of the right to self-determination, and decolonization can truly be considered a United Nations success story.”

The regional seminars are important part of completing this decolonization process, Mr. Ban noted, because they provide a forum for the two million people living in the remaining territories to air their views about the unique problems they face, and for direct communication between the Special Committee, the representatives of the territories and the administering countries.

As a result of that kind of dialogue, he said, the Pacific island of Tokelau will soon hold a second referendum on the option of self-government in free association with New Zealand, and other territories, some in the Caribbean, have also made considerable progress in their constitutional, political, economic and social development, moving a long way towards self-government.

At the time of the UN’s creation in 1945, there were 72 non-self-governing territories.

The Special Committee was established by the General Assembly in 1961, to further the application of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

In 1963, the Assembly approved a list of 64 territories to which the Declaration applied. Now, just 16 such territories remain, with France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States as administering powers.

The 16 remaining territories are Western Sahara, American Samoa, Guam, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Tokelau, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.