Special Decolonization Committee Approves Draft Resolutions on 8 Non-Self-Governing Territories, Also Considers Status of French Polynesia, New Caledonia

GA/COL/3339
27 June 2019
2019 Session 9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)

Special Decolonization Committee Approves Draft Resolutions on 8 Non-Self-Governing Territories, Also Considers Status of French Polynesia, New Caledonia

The Special Committee on Decolonization today approved draft resolutions on self‑determination questions in eight Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, heard petitioners from the British Virgin Islands, Guam, and Turks and Caicos, and took up the question of French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

On the penultimate day of its two-week session, the entity — 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 — approved drafts for submission to the General Assembly on Montserrat, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Pitcairn, Saint Helena and United States Virgin Islands.

It also approved its annual texts on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, the implementation of that Declaration by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations, and economic and other activities which affect the interests of the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

In addition, it approved the conclusions, recommendations and draft procedural report of its Caribbean Regional Seminar, held in Saint George’s, Grenada, from 2 to 4 May.

Focusing on France’s Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Pacific, the Special Committee heard from a representative of French Polynesia, who said that the institutional autonomy negotiated 35 years ago with the administering Power “suits us perfectly”.  Acknowledging dissatisfaction among autonomists, as well as economic and social disruption caused by the 1996 cessation of nuclear testing, he said France continues to support French Polynesia’s sustainable development with an annual investment of more than €1.5 billion.

Taking a different perspective, a representative of the Association Moruroa E Tatou said the administering Power’s wilful absence from the work of the Special Committee precludes the opportunity to assess compliance with international law.  A speaker for the Association Union Chretienne des Jeunes de Polynesie, recalling that Maòhi Nu’s addition to the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories was accompanied by great expectations, was optimistic that relevant mandates will be implemented with renewed energy.  Another petitioner said the health and social consequences of nuclear testing remain a major challenge and that the mishandling of nuclear waste endangers the entire Pacific region.

The speaker for the Congress of New Caledonia said a 2018 referendum, in which 43 per cent, including most Kanaks, voted in favour of independence, was followed by elections for the Congress in which parties in favour of independence won a majority of seats.  “We have seen the desire of the citizens to build a new country in their image,” he said, adding that two political groups in Congress have officially requested another referendum.  He emphasized the need for properly drawn up electoral lists and voiced concern that immigration from France will make it hard for New Caledonia’s youth to find jobs upon graduation from university.

Elaborating, a representative of the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste said a second referendum envisaged by the Noumea Accord must allow the restoration of justice for 2,800 Kanaks who were not allowed to vote in 2018.  Underscoring the Front’s intention to implement the Noumea Accord to the letter, he said it is vital that countries in the region form strong, direct partnerships with New Caledonia in a wide variety of areas.  He expressed hope that the Special Committee would support a proposal to hold a future referendum, with the United Nations providing technical support.

Earlier in the day, the Special Envoy of the Premier of the British Virgin Islands, briefed the Special Committee on the Government’s key priorities:  recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and sustainable development.  On the Territory’s relationship with the United Kingdom, he said that country has been “on balance” a good partner.  He requested the Special Committee to send a visiting mission to the Territory, adding that while independence is not a priority, its people must be aware of available options, such as free association, as they consider the future.

The Lieutenant Governor of Guam, speaking on behalf of the Governor, encouraged the Special Committee and Member States to maintain pressure on the United States to decolonize the Territory.  Also requesting a visiting mission, he said a process under the aegis of Guam law that would allow native inhabitants to express their preference for political status has been halted by the Courts of the administering Power, for whom nothing has been acceptable except the status quo.

“In the absence of sovereignty and mutual consent, the United Nations has a responsibility to advocate on our behalf until our voices are heard,” echoed a speaker for the Commission on Decolonization of Guam.  It is no secret that the militarization of Guam plays a huge role in maintaining a colonial strangle-hold on the island, he said, adding that its people are sceptical of empty promises of increased autonomy and equity that have gone unfulfilled.

A petitioner from Turks and Caicos said its fortunes at the hands of the United Kingdom, the administering Power, are deteriorating.  Drawing attention to recent recommendations by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, he wondered how an almost exclusively white and male group of Parliamentarians can dictate the fate of millions of people in Territories an ocean away that have kept an empire afloat for centuries.

Another petitioner added that the United Kingdom continues to appoint Governors on a rotating basis with no input from elected representatives or citizens.  A new one is due to arrive in July, he said, with the costs borne by the Territory’s public treasury.  He requested the Special Committee to dispatch a visiting mission.

Also addressing the Special Committee today were representatives of the Ma’ohi Protestant Church, Tavini Huirratira Group and Pacific Council of Churches.

Representatives of Syria, Chile, Sierra Leone, Dominican Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Grenada, Indonesia, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Fiji also participated.  The representative of Papua New Guinea spoke on behalf of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Front de Liberation Nationale et Kanak Socialiste.

The Special Committee will meet again on Friday, 28 June, to take decisions on draft resolutions on the British Virgin Islands, Guam, Turks and Caicos, French Polynesia and New Caledonia and to conclude its work for this session.

Question of Montserrat

The Special Committee first approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on Montserrat (document A/AC.109/2019/L.17), as orally revised.

By its terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right of the people of that Territory to self‑determination, in conformity with the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.  It would also call upon the administering Power, the United Nations system, and regional and other organizations to continue to assist to Montserrat in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption of 1995.

Question of British Virgin Islands

BENITO WHEATLEY, Special Envoy of the Premier of the British Virgin Islands, made it clear that he was not taking the floor to embarrass the United Kingdom nor demand independence.  The Government’s priorities are recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the islands’ sustainable development.  It does, however, have an obligation to update the Special Committee on conditions on the ground and to highlight areas which require attention.  Two years on, the British Virgin Islands are recovering from the two hurricanes, and while a sense of normalcy is returning, full recovery will require support from regional and international partners, he said, noting the assistance that has been provided by the United Kingdom and the United Nations as well as the Territory’s interest in assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in developing a blue economy strategy.  On the Territory’s relationship with the United Kingdom, he said that country has been “on balance” a good partner.  There have been positive exchanges on financial services, including a welcome acknowledgement that the British Virgin Islands is at the forefront of efforts to safeguard the integrity of the global financial system.

Meanwhile, the Government of the United Kingdom has said that its policy is not to use Orders in Council — “which are very blunt colonial instruments” — to legalize same-sex marriage, to extend voters rights and eligibility for elected office to persons not covered by the Constitution, or to abolish “belonger” status as a category of citizenship conferred by Territory Governments.  Such developments pave the way for the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories to reset their relationship when a new Prime Minister and Government are in place in London in July.  He went on to request that the Special Committee send a visiting mission to the British Virgin Islands, noting that the last one took place in 1976 and that the United Kingdom agreed to a similar mission to Montserrat.  He reiterated that the Territory’s priorities are post-hurricane recovery and sustainable development, not independence, but its people must be aware of available options, such as free association, as they consider the future.

KEISHA MCGUIRE (Grenada), Chair of the Special Committee, said it will take a decision on the draft resolution on British Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2019/L.14) at its plenary meeting on 28 June.

Question of Guam

JOSHUA TENORIO, Lieutenant Governor of Guam, speaking on behalf of the Governor, said that although Guam has been under the rule of external powers for almost five centuries, its aspirations for self-determination and true self-government remain, until a process of decolonization is complete.  He encouraged the Special Committee and Member States to maintain pressure on the administering Power, the United States, to decolonize Guam.  The United Nations should enable a visiting mission to examine and record the situation in the Territory, thus elevating the issue of decolonization to the highest levels of the administering Power.  The last visiting mission in 1977 brought tremendous attention to Guam’s status, resulting in the drafting and approval of the Guam Commonwealth Act by Guam voters in 1987, its introduction in the United States Congress, and a decade of talks and engagement with the administering Power.  But that was arguably the farthest Guam’s decolonization has ever gone.  Thirty-two years ago, Guam voters called on the administering Power to recognize the right of the native inhabitants, the Chamorro people, and to decolonize their homeland.

When the administering Power failed to act on Guam’s proposal for a constructive path toward its sovereign status, Guam embarked on a decolonization process of its own, he said.  Under the aegis of Guam law, a process to allow the native inhabitants to express their preference for political status began, consistent with General Assembly resolution 1541 (XV).  But this process has now been halted by the Courts of the administering Power.  Nothing has been acceptable to the administering Power, except for the status quo, which is not the desire of Guam.  Referring to the proposal in the draft resolution titled “Question of Guam” (document A/AC.109/2019/L.16), he said that the text incorrectly describes the administering Power’s responsiveness to conditions in Guam.  It notes “the importance of the administering Power continuing to implement its programme of transferring surplus deferral land to the Government of Guam.”  The reality is the administering Power has not transferred land since 2011.  In this regard, the term “continuing” is incorrect.

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA, Commission on Decolonization of Guam, said that decolonization education remains a priority for the Government of Guam as it sets in motion a strategic education plan.  It is unclear whether the administering Power will continue to fund self-determination education.  The federal justice system is currently being used to slow and impede Guam’s movement forward and litigation has brought almost all activities to a screeching halt.  The local law deliberately reflects Assembly resolution 1541 (XV), yet the political status options for its future plebiscite continue to be a point of contention with the administering Power.  “In the absence of sovereignty and mutual consent, the United Nations has a responsibility to advocate on our behalf until our voices are heard,” he said.  It is no secret that the militarization of Guam plays a huge role in maintaining a colonial strangle-hold on the island.  Its territorial status rendered Guam powerless in the negotiations between the United States and Japan for the relocation of the former’s Marines.  The United States military has stated in its environmental impact study that Guam is an ideal site for the relocation of Marines from Okinawa, because Guam is considered sovereign United States soil, he said, noting the blatant disregard for historical sites, artefacts and ancestral remains.  In engaging with the administering Power, the local government has participated in good faith.  “But we grow tired of running this rat race and we have become sceptical of the carrots dangled in front of us – empty promises of increased autonomy and equity that have historically gone unfulfilled,” he said, adding:  “Time is a price that our people can no longer afford to pay.”

Question of Turks and Caicos

BENJAMIN ROBERTS, Petitioner, said the fortunes of the Turks and Caicos at the hands of the United Kingdom, the administering Power, are deteriorating and running counter to Article 73 of the United Nations Charter.  Recently, he said, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom recommended the enforcement – by decree or otherwise - of same-sex marriage in the Turks and Caicos; establishing an automatic right to full citizenship in the Territory for any United Kingdom or Commonwealth citizen; and the imposition of a register of interest that would allow the United Kingdom to pry at will into the financial assets of offshore bank accounts in the Territory.  Wondering how such a brand of “rule by decree” could be in line with Article 73, or how an almost exclusively white and male group of Parliamentarians an ocean away can dictate the fate of millions of people different from them in Territories that have kept their empire afloat for centuries, he said it is imperative for the Special Committee to send a visiting mission to Turks and Caicos post haste.  Recalling the last time he addressed the Special Committee, he added that a crippling tidal wave of mass migration from one of Turks and Caicos’ neighbours is continuing unabated, with the United Kingdom looking on “like a cow looks at a calf, to use one of my parents’ pet phrases”, meaning total unconcern.

ALPHA GIBBS, Petitioner, said the United Kingdom continues to appoint Governors on a rotating basis with no input from the Territory’s elected representatives or citizens.  “Every three years, one character vacates the Office of the Governor and another appears,” he said, with the Territory’s people never privy to any accounting of their performance.  Noting that a new Governor is expected in July, and that the National Audit Office of the United Kingdom has indicated that few appointed Governors are prepared for their assigned roles, he underscored that Governors in the Turks and Caicos are exempt from law enforcement oversight and from citizen’s complaints.  Moreover, the full costs of Governors are borne by the Territory’s public treasury.  Ten years after the then-Governor installed an unelected interim Government, he added, trials undertaken by a Special Investigation and Prosecution Team are continuing at a reported total cost of more than $100 million - “a very significant sum for Turks and Caicos” that should be borne by the United Kingdom.  Emphasizing the need for an impartial and neutral assessment of conditions in Turks and Caicos, he requested the Special Committee to convene a visiting mission that would assess the human rights situation, help implement United Nations resolutions and seek to hold the administering Power accountable under the Charter of the Organization.

Ms. MCGUIRE (Grenada), Chair of the Special Committee, said it will take a decision on the draft resolution on the “Question of Turks and Caicos Islands” (document A/AC.109/2019/L.20) at its plenary meeting on 28 June.

Report of Caribbean Regional Seminar

The Special Committee then adopted the draft procedural report of the Caribbean Regional Seminar (document A/AC.109/2019/CRP.1) and decided to annex it to the Special Committee’s final report to the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly.

The representative of Syria raised the issue of non-funding by the United Nations for the participation of a representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Frente Polisario) in the Seminar.  After the permanent representative of Syria – Rapporteur of the Special Committee – received a letter on 16 April from Frente Polisario, his delegation requested an urgent meeting to discuss the matter.  He expressed grave concern that there was no reply to the letter or the request for the meeting, and the Chair made a unilateral decision about the funding issue without consensus from the Bureau.  Financing participation is an issue that must be dealt with in the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

KEISHA MCGUIRE (Grenada), Special Committee Chair, said that the decision was made in accordance with the Guidelines and Rules of Procedure for the conduct of the Caribbean Regional Seminar adopted by the Special Committee on 15 March.  She made a decision under Rule 6 based on the principle of fairness and equity and in consultation with the Secretariat and Bureau members.

The representatives of Chile, Sierra Leone, Dominican Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Grenada, Indonesia, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis expressed their support for the Chair’s decision.

The representative of Syria said that Rule 6 does not indicate whether to finance or not to finance participation.

Question of French Polynesia

ENGEL RAYGADAS, French Polynesia, noting that French Polynesia has not always been French, said the large majority of the islands’ people – whether native Tahitians or of European or Asian lineage - do not question that denomination.  Underlining French Polynesia’s diversity, tolerance and uniqueness, he said the situation of institutional autonomy negotiated with the French 35 years ago “suits us perfectly”.  Moreover, he declared:  “We are not affected by any form of oppression or confiscation of wealth from France.”  Outlining the history that led up to French Polynesia’s current status, he recalled that 65 per cent of its population voted in favour of remaining within the French community in 1958.  Still, he said, autonomists are not satisfied with the current status and consider that they lack territorial power on international matters.  Noting that nuclear testing ceased in the territory in 1996 – which caused economic and social disruption - he said France continued to support French Polynesia’s sustainable development with an annual investment of more than €1.5 billion.  Indeed, French Polynesia is not a colony but an autonomous country that governs itself freely while also being part of the French Republic, he said.

TIARE MAOHI TAIRUA, Association Union Chretienne des Jeunes de Polynesie, said independent analysis contained in several published reports separate fact from political spin concerning challenges facing the Territory, including the illusion of autonomy exercised by proxies.  The lack of action since the first International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism is disturbing and it is no surprise that there has been limited progress in achieving genuine decolonization.  The addition of Maòhi Nu to the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 2013 was an historic moment accompanied by great expectations, she said, expressing optimism that relevant mandates will be implemented with renewed energy and political will to advance the Territory to self-government.

PHILIPPE NEUFFER, Cabinet d’avocat Neuffer, describing nuclear weapons testing as one of the most egregious acts ever perpetrated on mankind, said the aftermath of 30 years of French nuclear testing continues to plague the people of French Polynesia.  France tested the equivalent of 720 Hiroshima atomic bombs in the atmosphere and another 210 conducted underground.  The intergenerational health and social consequences remain a major challenge, he said, adding that the mishandling of nuclear waste is a lingering danger for the entire Pacific region.  While hundreds of compensation claims have been submitted, only a handful have been completed, he said, adding that it is highly deceiving that the spouses and children of the veterans of French nuclear testing are not recognized as direct victims and thus do not get the compensation they deserve.

FRANCOIS PIHAATAE, Association Moruroa E Tatou, said the General Assembly has recognized the inalienable right of the people of French Polynesia to own, control and dispose of their natural resources, including marine resources and undersea minerals, beginning with resolution 71/120 of 6 December 2016, and most recently resolution 73/112 of 7 December 2018 which “urges the administering Power to ensure this permanent sovereignty pursuant to relevant resolutions of the General Assembly”.  The annual resolution on implementing the Decolonization Declaration in all Non-Self-Governing Territories, including Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia, consistently urges the administering Powers to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources.  The wilful absence of the administering Power to participate in the Special Committee’s work on the question of Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia, in violation of the United Nations Charter, precludes the opportunity to assess its level of compliance with international law - or lack thereof – which clearly confirms that the ownership of these resources lies with the people of the Territories.  Such violations were examined in depth in the 2019 report “Enduring Colonization:  How France’s Continuing Control of French Polynesian Resources Violates the International Law of Self-Determination,” published by Blue Ocean Law, the Pacific Network on Globalisation, and the International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at Allard Law School, University of British Columbia.

TAAROANUI MARAEA, Ma’ohi Protestant Church, drew attention to the early October 2018 communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and a second communication submitted on 30 October 2018 to the Special Rapporteur on the human rights implication of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, in relation to the 30 years of French nuclear testing in the Territory.  He commended the International Law Commission’s ongoing work on the draft articles on crimes against humanity, which is essential for further clarifying what constitutes such a crime and the requisite recompense.  The 2019 Working Paper on Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia makes only a short reference to complaints by the Court and the Human Rights Committee while the draft resolution on Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia omits any reference to it altogether.  He wondered why these developments are not worthy of United Nations consideration, or whether there is undue pressure exerted by the administering Power behind the scenes to censor such references.  Recalling that as a presidential candidate, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that:  “Colonization is a crime.  It’s a crime against humanity.  It’s truly barbarous and it’s part of a past that we need to confront by apologizing to those against whom we committed these acts…  At the same time, we must not sweep this past under the rug…”  The current French President must be held to this commitment.  However, the actions of that country are that of a contemporary colonial Power dismissive of Article 73 of the Charter, reflecting the opposite of his earlier lofty words.

RICHARD TUHEIAVA, Tavini Huirratira Group, said that the political status of Ma’ohi-Nui has not changed since 2013 despite cosmetic adjustments to France’s so-called Autonomy Statute which attempts to avoid a true self-determination process.  The Special Committee, in its next resolution, may wish to consider strengthening its repeated language which only politely expresses “regret that the administering Power has not responded to the request to submit information on French Polynesia under Article 73(e) of the United Nations Charter”.  The text should reflect this non-compliance as a Charter violation.  Since Ma’ohi-Nui was re-inscribed on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 2013, a five-part work programme for Ma’ohi-Nui has been requested repeatedly to start the self-determination process.  It calls for an in-depth examination of the dependency relationship between the Territory and the administering Power, an extensive public education programme in the Territory followed by a visiting mission, an act of self-determination to choose from the legitimate political status options and the transition to self-government.  The Special Committee’s 2018 resolution inexplicably recommended to the Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) the deletion of the entire operative paragraph that would have requested the Secretary-General to “provide continuous updates to his report on the environmental, ecological, health and other impacts of the 30-year period of nuclear testing in French Polynesia”.  He said he was pleased to see the language restored in this year’s draft.

JAMES SHRI BHAGWAN, Pacific Council of Churches, said there is a clear lack of accountability vis-à-vis implementation of decolonization resolutions.  Recalling that the third International Decade was supposed to focus on small island Territories, he said the Special Committee’s silence on the implementation of decolonization mandates is “deafening”.  A work programme would give Member States valuable insight into the situation and separate fact from fiction, he said, recommending that such an approach be initiated without the participation of the administering Power.

Question of New Caledonia

ROCH WAMYTAN, Congress of New Caledonia, said the 2 November 2018 referendum in New Caledonia in which 43 per cent, including most Kanaks, voted in favour of independence was followed by elections for the Congress in which parties in favour of independence won a majority of seats.  “We have seen the desire of the citizens to build a new country in their image,” he said, adding that two political groups in Congress have officially requested another referendum.  When issues such as economic development and the environment are addressed in depth, the people of New Caledonia will be able to vote with full knowledge of the facts pertaining to full autonomy.  He emphasized the need for electoral lists to be properly drawn up, stating that many Kanaks were off the lists even though they met all the criteria.  He went on to discuss the impact of immigration from France to New Caledonia, saying it is impossible to measure its scale and underscoring its effect on elections.  If uncontrolled, university graduates will have to go abroad to work because expatriates will have taken jobs in the Territory.

MICHAEL FORREST, Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste, noted that in the 4 November 2018 referendum on New Caledonia’s status, 43.33 per cent of the population voted in favour of full sovereignty.  The second referendum envisaged in article 217 of the Noumea Accord must also allow the restoration of justice for the approximately 2,800 Kanaks who were not allowed to vote in November 2018.  The Front intends to implement the Noumea Accord to the letter.  It is vital that countries in the region form strong, direct partnerships with New Caledonia on economic, security, food solidarity, health-care cooperation and training and environmental protection.  Taking into account the legal provisions in force, he called on the administering Power to create a platform for future cooperation with New Caledonia as a real diplomatic partner.  Economic interdependencies are a reality, France must recognize as such.  Nickel is in high demand.  Profits generated from the Territory’s natural resources must be returned based on the relevant United Nations resolutions on economic activities in the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The establishment of future diplomatic cooperation between France and the Front must be a priority.  He expressed hope that the Special Committee would support a proposal to hold a future referendum, with the United Nations providing technical support.  As the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism comes to an end, decolonization must remain a priority of the United Nations.

MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Front de Liberation Nationale et Kanak Socialist, emphasized that New Caledonia’s self-determination remains an unfinished agenda under the United Nations decolonization process.  Pledging to work with the government of President Roch Wamytan and the people of New Caledonia as they continue to strive for their self-determination, he recalled that the Melanesian Spearhead Group adopted a 2018 action plan in support of the Front de Liberation Nationale et Kanak Socialist aspiration to those ends.  Calling for full respect for the Noumea Accord, as well as relevant international conventions, he said the 2019 version of the annual draft resolution on New Caledonia retains important elements from previous iterations.  The most significant new development was the peaceful and successful holding of a self-determination referendum in New Caledonia on 4 November 2018, and the provincial election conducted on 12 May 2019.  Congratulating the people for both milestone events, he said the referendum favoured the status quo but was not as convincing as predicted by some pundits.  “It instead underscored the upswell of support for the contrary status, which is noteworthy,” he said.

Noting that much work remains to be done, he said the resolution before the Special Committee clearly recognizes the importance of and respect for the self-determination road map provided for New Caledonia under the Noumea Accord, which includes subsequent referendums in 2020 and 2022.  In that context, he called on the relevant parties, the administering Power and the Special Committee to ensure that all the next steps in the process are just, fair, transparent and inclusive of the aspirations of all New Caledonians.  Noting that another fundamental element of the draft resolution speaks to the critical importance of the electoral list for the self-determination referendum, as well as municipal and provincial elections, he warned that the list’s complexity and accessibility remains a serious concern and drew attention to irregularities in the recent referendum.  Among them were difficulties in proxy voting, the poor functioning of decentralized polling stations, the automatic denial of many Kanak people from voting and problems with the emergency call centre established to receive reports of voting problems.  In addition, he expressed concern about the continued gap in access to basic services between different ethnic groups, especially the Kanaks, in New Caledonia.

The representative of Fiji expressed his delegation’s support for the statement delivered by the speaker for Papua New Guinea, underlining deficiencies identified in the lead-up to the 2018 referendum.  He called on the administering Power to overcome these deficiencies and asked the United Nations to stand ready to provide technical capacity-building support for the 2020 and 2022 referendums.

Other Territories

In other action, the Special Committee approved, without a vote, draft resolutions on American Samoa (document A/AC.109/2019/L.10), Anguilla (document A/AC.109/2019/L.11), Bermuda (document A/AC.109/2019/L.12), Cayman Islands (document A/AC.109/2019/L.15), Pitcairn (document A/AC.109/2019/L.18), Saint Helena (document A/AC.109/2018/L.19) and United States Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2019/L.21).

By their terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right of the people of those Territories to self-determination, in conformity with the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Special Committee also approved, without a vote, draft resolutions titled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document A/AC.109/2019/L.9); Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/2019/L.6); Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/AC.109/2019/L.25); and “Conclusions and Recommendations of the Caribbean regional seminar and Draft Procedural Report of the Caribbean regional seminar” (document A/AC.109/2019/L.25).

For information media. Not an official record.