Special Committee on Decolonization
2008 Organizational session
28 February 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, Mr. Secretary General, please allow me, on behalf of the Special Committee and on my own behalf, to thank you for convening and opening the first meeting of the 63rd session of the Special Committee in 2008. Your presence here today and your words of support reassure us of the continued commitment of the Secretariat, at the highest level, to the cause of decolonization and the work of the Committee.
I should also like to express my appreciation to the Special Committee for its support by consensus of Indonesia’s candidacy for the Chair.
At the same time, I would like to extend my congratulations to Bureau members on the assumption of their duties, namely, His Excellency Ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, the Permanent Representative of Cuba, and Mr. Luc Joseph Okio of the Republic of Congo, as Vice-Chairmen; and to the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, His Excellency Ambassador Bashir Ja’afari as Rapporteur. I trust that we have in the Committee the right mix of experience -- a blend of continuity and fresh ideas -- to make this year a success as we work together to seek progress in the area of decolonization, and I therefore look forward to working closely with them in the discharge of my mandates.
My appreciation also goes to Her Excellency Mrs. Margaret Hughes Ferrari of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, former Chairperson of the Special Committee, and again, His Excellency Ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, former Acting Chairperson of the Special Committee, for the outstanding manners in which they led the Committee through its deliberations in the previous year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Decolonization has been historically among one of the most challenging and surely most successful mandates of the United Nations, once that cannot be understated. Since the establishment of the United Nations, nearly 750 million people have exercised their right to self-determination, and more than 80 once-colonized territories have gained independence.
Despite all the achievements made, decolonization remains an unfinished business of the United Nations. We must therefore continue to give decolonization a high priority and seek effective ways to accelerate the process of decolonization in the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories. With less than three years to the end of the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, we face a formidable challenge to resolve their “permanent” international political status in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.
As the main UN body to pursue the cause of decolonization, it is essential that the Special Committee keeps its responsibilities towards the Non-Self-Governing Territories around the world that remain under its purview. In view of the limited progress in the area of decolonization in recent years, there is now an urgent need for the international community to establish a compelling and promising basis for its approach to decolonizing the Territories that would directly involve all concerned. There is therefore an urgent need for the Special Committee to identify innovative ways, means and options to move forward.
We need to approach each case with an open-mind, to build on the available options and bring about a pragmatic, results-oriented evolution of positions to help move the decolonization process forward. Each Territory has different needs and expectations, and should be considered on a case-by-case basis, if progress is to be made. We need to work in a more pro-active and pragmatic manner, to leave our comfort zone, and to make a serious, genuine effort to address the concerns and interests, even passions, of all relevant stakeholders. We need to fully engage all stakeholders, and most obviously of these are the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories and the administering Powers.
It bears repeating what many have come to realize in recent years: the full implementation and completion of the United Nations’ decolonization mandate can succeed only as a collaborative effort by the international community, the administering Powers and the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories themselves. The people of the Territories must have information on the range of decolonization options open to them under the General Assembly’s resolutions in order to be in a position to express their will on the matter. Administering Powers need to work within the parameters of the options enshrined in the General Assembly resolutions to advance status-related discussions in their respective Non-Self-Governing Territories in a manner that is suitable to prospective international scrutiny and approval.
In light of this, let me extend my appreciation to New Zealand for its much lauded example of Tokelau. Although the Territory is in a period of reflection after the results of last year’s referendum, New Zealand has committed itself to continuing its constructive support of Tokelau in its search for a self-governing future. We encourage other administering Powers to follow suit in pursuing real and meaningful collaboration with the Committee.
From our part, let us, members of the Committee, reaffirm our commitment for genuine and constructive dialogue with all stakeholders. Let us also reaffirm our continued commitment to give all possible support to the Non-Self-Governing Territories in establishing conditions that will enable them, through an internationally valid act of self-determination, to demonstrate their preference regarding their respective status.
We also look forward to convening the annual regional seminar on decolonization this year in the Asia and Pacific region in May, as well as the Special Committee’s substantive session the following month. The Special Committee will make every effort to put together action-oriented and focused recommendations to the General Assembly in order to promote the aspirations of the Non-Self-Governing Territories. The venue of the seminar will be explored and decided upon in due course, and let us aim to fully utilizing the seminar as a forum to explore innovative ideas in pursuing the course of decolonization.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Indonesia is indeed privileged to have the opportunity to Chair the Special Committee in 2008. Indonesia attaches great importance to the work of C-24, as it is our constitutional mandate to take part actively in international order based on independence, lasting peace, and social justice, of which decolonization is a fundamental element.
Not long after our own independence from colonial rule, as a very young nation, Indonesia took a bold step of hosting of the Asian-African Conference in Bandung, 1955. The Conference produced the 10 Bandung Principles which inter alia laid a new foundation for the cause of decolonization across the globe. Let me quote the statement of His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, “The assembled leaders underlined the fundamental right of all peoples to self-determination. They pledged their solidarity with each other in the fight against colonialism and in the struggle for economic and social development”.
Indonesia has come a long way, with all of its ups and downs, since we started to embark upon our path in fulfilling our Constitutional mandate. Yet, we have always kept the Bandung spirit alive in our heart, and it is with the spirit of the Bandung Principles that we have decided to accept this honour to Chair the Special Committee on Decolonization, and I thank you for your trust upon us.
With your help, I shall strive to fulfill our responsibilities to the Non-Self-Governing Territories and their peoples so as to further the complete eradication of colonialism. I shall be most grateful for the cooperation extended to me by the members of the Special Committee and each of the administering Powers in helping to advance the United Nations’ work on decolonization.