Caribbean Regional Seminar,
AM & PM Meetings

Supporting Non-Self-Governing Territories in Efforts towards Decolonization Ensures None Will Be Left Behind in Achieving Sustainable Development

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

CARACAS, 14 May — “Our work is unfinished” declared Menissa Rambally of Saint Lucia, Chair of 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 as “C-24”), during the first day of the 2024 Caribbean regional seminar of the Special Committee on Decolonization.  She noted that Venezuela’s hosting of the seminar “is indicative of its robust dedication to the decolonization agenda”.

Under the theme “Pursuing goals and addressing needs of the Non-Self-Governing Territories” the Seminar is being held from 14 to 16 May within the framework of the Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2021-2030).

Ms. Rambally said:  “We gather today with determination, to pursue the historic mandate of the United Nations, that is, eradication of colonialism.”  The annual regional seminar provides a unique opportunity and space for Non-Self-Governing Territories, administering Powers, Member States, experts and civil society representatives, as well as representatives of regional and subregional organizations and the United Nations system, to share unique experiences.

The Chair announced that there are plans to dispatch a mission to the British Virgin Islands in July 2024 after the Committee’s June substantive session.

Delcy Rodríguez Gómez, Executive Vice-President of Venezuela, highlighted the need for the UN to complete its task of decolonization.  She stated that “the right to political, economic and social self-determination are not choices that are imposed through hegemonic processes.”  She opined that new forms of colonialism have been imposed on humanity and threaten the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  She highlighted the need for respect for international law and multilateralism.

Organization of Seminar

The seminar’s agenda (contained in document CRS/2024/CRP.1) and the provisional programme of work (document CRS/2024/CRP.2) were adopted.  This was followed by the announcement that the Vice Chairs for the seminar were representatives from the Mission of Venezuela to the United Nations and the Mission of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations.  Further, the representative of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations was identified as the Rapporteur.

During discussions on the Committee’s role to respond to the goals and needs of Non-Self-Governing Territories and strengthening cooperation with the administering Powers and relevant stakeholders, there was a resounding call by participants that the Committee should not lose sight of the promise to “leave no one behind” and eliminate barriers to sustainable development.  Highlights from statements delivered during this segment were as follows:

  • Addressing the needs of Non-Self-Governing Territories means a holistic assessment of the political, social, economic and environmental challenges faced by these territories.  Administering Powers are obliged under international law to create conditions to support the inalienable right of Non-Self-Governing Territories to independently determine their future without manipulation and interference.[1]
  • The vulnerability of these territories to environmental changes, economic volatility and social inequities demands concerted efforts to integrate them into the broader framework of sustainable development and 2030 Agenda process.[2]
  • Neocolonial practices, such as unilateral coercive measures, restriction of access to new technologies, foreign interference and destabilization, have major detrimental implications for the development opportunities of affected peoples.[3]
  • Raising awareness about the continued existence of colonialism in the twenty-first century is vital in garnering international support for decolonization efforts.[4]

Speakers noted that the persistence of colonialism in the twenty-first century was a step backwards and an affront to the fundamental principles of sovereignty, self-determination and human rights.  They reiterated their full support to the activities and the hard work of the Special Committee and indicated a willingness to contribute to the efforts aimed at eradicating colonialism. 

During this session, statements were delivered by representatives of the Russian Federation, Cuba, Iran, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Syria, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Bolivia, Côte d’Ivoire, India, Zimbabwe, Azerbaijan, Argentina, South Africa, Angola and Papua New Guinea.  Interventions were also received from France and several experts. 

Discussions then turned to the perspectives of the administering Powers, the Non-Self-Governing Territories and other stakeholders, with a focus on political developments in the Caribbean region.  Highlights of these discussions were as follows:

  • There is need to diversify economies and build up financial autonomy and resilience as well as resilience in other areas, such as to the impacts of climate change to support the path to self-determination for Non-Self-Governing Territories.
  • The inalienable rights of the people of Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands were reaffirmed. 
  • Several countries indicated their willingness to support the territories in their decolonization efforts.

Statements were delivered during this segment by representatives of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.  Interventions were also made by representatives from Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Bolivia, Syria, Saint Lucia and experts.

Discussions on political developments in the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Pacific region focused on issues relating to French Polynesia, Guam and New Caledonia.

The following highlights were presented regarding the situation in French Polynesia:

  • There is a continuing concern over the failure of the administering Power to submit information on the territory pursuant to Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • The territorial government fully supports a proper decolonization process and self-determination process under the scrutiny of the United Nations.
  • The territorial president stands ready to co-construct a programme of work with the administering Power.
  • It is essential to work to ensure that a visiting mission is dispatched in 2024 and that the programme of work shared with the C-24 and the Fourth Committee is included in the resolution on the question of French Polynesia in 2024.

Regarding Guam: 

  • The Committee’s assistance was sought to rectify Guam’s colonial status through the attainment of a full measure of self-governance.
  • There has been a consistent request for a UN visiting mission to provide an opportunity for the Committee to ascertain the progress the territory has made and the obstacles it faces hindering the achievement of self-governance. 

There were divergent views regarding the situation in New Caledonia, with positions expressed by experts from pro-independence and pro-France camps.

  • New Caledonia is at a political crossroads and differences between the different parties have led to defiance of the electoral amendments tabled by France.
  • A request was made by the representative for technical and legal support through a visiting mission, mediation or special envoy in order to help the parties break the deadlock.

Statements were delivered by representatives of French Polynesia, Guam and New Caledonia.  Interventions were also made by representatives from France, Papua New Guinea, Azerbaijan and experts.

Hosting of the 2025 Pacific Regional Seminar

Expressions of interest to host the 2025 were made by Timor-Leste, Azerbaijan and Guam.

Note: Conference Room papers and discussion papers from experts will be available upon completion of the Seminar here.

About the C24

Since the 1990s, the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24) has been organizing regional seminars, alternately in the Caribbean and the Pacific, to review the progress achieved in the implementation of the Plan of Action for the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism

The purpose of the regional seminars is to enable the C-24 to obtain the views of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, experts, members of the civil society, Member States and other stakeholders that can assist the C-24 in identifying means that can be pursued in the United Nations decolonization process.

There are 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories under the purview of the Special Committee:  American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)[5], 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, the United Kingdom and the United States.


[1] Sierra Leone and Russian Federation

[2] Indonesia

[3] Russian Federation

[4] Timor-Leste

[5] A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.