Caribbean Regional Seminar,
AM & PM Meetings

Dialogue, Collaboration Key to Advancing Decolonization, Speakers Stress on Day Two of Caribbean Regional Seminar in Caracas

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

CARACAS, 15 May — Participants of the 2024 Caribbean Regional Seminar continued their deliberations on day two, reflecting on the Seminar’s theme “Pursuing goals and addressing needs of the Non-Self-Governing Territories”.  Discussions centred around four agenda items.

The Seminar, organized by 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”), is being held from 14 to 16 May within the framework of the Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2021-2030).


Teslyn Barkman, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)* informed the Special Committee that she and other “Falkland Islanders choose to be British”.  She said, “We are a people who choose our association with the United Kingdom.”  She requested that Committee members support that their “voice must be included in any conversation on the Falkland Islands”.

Karl Thrower, Saint Helena, updated the Committee that “the United Kingdom, through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, provides crucial financial aid to support the delivery of public services and access to the island and this dependency on long-term financial aid from the United Kingdom poses a significant barrier to genuine self-determination”.  However, he noted that the Territory “made strides towards addressing this challenge and paving the path for a brighter, better future”.

In his presentation, Mr. Thrower made a request for the support of the Special Committee to help the Territory become an associate member of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) since key focus areas of the regional commission closely align with the Territory’s developmental priorities, including sustainable development, gender equality and economic growth.  “This would represent a substantial achievement towards Saint Helena’s overarching goals of achieving financial independence and true self-determination,” he said.

Sidi Mohamed Omar, Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguía el-Hamra and Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO), stated that all legitimate means will be used to resist Morocco’s occupation of part of the Territory’s land.  He added that the UN Charter continues to be flagrantly violated.  He noted the need to use international law for a united, prosperous and peaceful solution rather than force and expansionism.

M’hamed Abba said the Moroccan Sahara has become a fast-developing region using a model that aims to ensure democratic governments.  He added that there is full conformity with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a focus on health, education, training, agriculture, renewable energy, among others.  He stated that the population actively participates in national policies and management of natural resources.

Discussions ensued, with interventions from experts, speakers from countries and Territories and invitees in the following order – Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, Cuba, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierre Leone, Dominica, Indonesia, Chile, Bolivia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Syria, Belize, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gabon, Gambia, Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Angola, Algeria and Morocco.  The following are highlights of the discussion.

Facundo Rodriguez, expert, said that the present inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands do not constitute a people - in the legal sense - subject to the right to self-determination.  He noted that none of the more than 50 resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and its Special Decolonization Committee have recognized the existence of a separate people subject to self-determination in the Malvinas Islands but have correctly interpreted the manner in which resolution 1514 (XV) applies to this particular case by taking into consideration the respect for the territorial integrity of Argentina.

Spain’s representative reiterated that eradicating colonialism is a priority in the Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2021-2030).  It was noted that the country continues to suffer from the colonization of part of its territory and that the United Nations has been reiterating for six decades that Gibraltar is a colony that violates the territorial integrity of Spain and that it should be decolonized through bilateral negotiations between Spain and the United Kingdom.

Argentina’s representative said his country would continue to support the Special Committee’s efforts to put an end to unresolved colonial situations, applying a case-by-case approach and taking into account the recommendations of the General Assembly on each of the Territories still under colonial occupation.  Regarding the Malvinas Islands, the representative drew attention to General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX) adopted on 16 December 1965, which recognizes the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom concerning the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  He noted that the dispute should be resolved through negotiations between the two parties, while taking into account the interests of the inhabitants of the Islands.

The representative of Venezuela reaffirmed its support for Argentina, including its legitimate rights, in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgias, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas which are an integral part of Argentina’s national territory.  The representative called on the United Kingdom to resume direct negotiations to find as soon as possible a peaceful, just and definitive solution to this issue.  Regarding Western Sahara, the country reaffirmed its position in support of the exercise of the inalienable right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.

Cuba’s representative reiterated the country’s support for Argentina regarding the situation in the Malvinas Islands.  Also, it was noted that Cuba champions a mutually acceptable solution which exercises the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.  It was stated that Cuba offers training to young people from Western Sahara in education and health care.

Côte d’Ivoire gave its full support to the United Nations, which constitutes the appropriate framework for the settlement of this long-standing regional dispute of Moroccan Sahara.  The country welcomed the visit of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Staffan De Mistura, on 4 April 2024 to Morocco, as well as his consultations in March 2023 with Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and POLISARIO in New York.  The parties were urged to intensify the Secretary-General’s good offices with a view to resumption of the round-table process.

Sierra Leone’s representative noted its unwavering support for the ongoing United Nations political process under the auspices of the Secretary-General and the facilitation of Mr. De Mistura, aimed at reaching a realistic, practicable, enduring and mutually acceptable political solution based on compromise.

Dominica’s representative noted that the country fully supports the United Nations involvement in the political process aimed at reaching a realistic, practicable and mutually acceptable solution to the regional dispute over Moroccan Sahara.  Dominica continued to call for the continued engagement, between Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and POLISARIO, in the UN process of round-table talks in accordance with Security Council resolution 2703 (2023).  Also, the Government of Morocco was commended for its efforts at developing the Sahara, resulting in improved quality of living and broader opportunities for inhabitants of the southern provinces.

Indonesia’s speaker, on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), underlined the importance for both sides to take into account the interest of the population of the island and reiterated its position that the best way forward for this issue is through negotiated settlement and peaceful dialogue.  The Governments of the United Kingdom and Argentina are encouraged to resume their dialogue and cooperation to find a peaceful, just and lasting solution.  On Western Sahara, Indonesia supported the efforts taken under auspices of the Secretary-General to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.  They expressed appreciation for the works of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General in advancing the political process, including his visits to Rabat, Algiers and Nouakchott.

Chile’s speaker noted that in relation to the situation of the Malvinas Islands, since 1992 the country has maintained a consistent and sustained State policy recognizing Argentina’s legitimate sovereign rights over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  With reference to the question of Western Sahara, Chile reiterated its position that the situation must be resolved by peaceful means, primarily through the various mechanisms established in the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance with international law, in order to reach a just and lasting solution, in accordance with the various relevant resolutions of this Organization, including those emanating from the Security Council.

The representative of Bolivia noted their firm support for the cause of the Saharawi people in their struggle for self-determination and independence, in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.  Regarding the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, Bolivia maintains a historical and principled position of support for the Argentine people in accordance with the repeated resolutions and declarations of regional organizations, as well as of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines recognized the Autonomy Plan Initiative presented by Morocco as a unique solution to the regional dispute.  They implored the parties involved to remain engaged in the political process and to work together towards achieving a realistic, practicable and enduring solution to this long-standing sovereignty dispute.  Regarding the dispute over “Las Islas Malvinas”, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines adamantly believes that protracted disputes can find satisfactory resolutions through persistent and meaningful dialogue, no matter how insurmountable they may appear.  The Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom were urged to immediately recommit to the resumption of bilateral negotiations, characterized by a spirit of cooperation.

The representative of Timor-Leste, on Western Sahara, encouraged the Special Committee to utilize multilateral efforts, including those of the African Union, to mediate the conflict between the two African Union members, the Sahrawi Republic and Morocco, with the goal of achieving a peaceful and enduring resolution consistent with the African Union Constitutive Act and relevant Organization of African Unity (OAU)/African Union resolutions.

Papua New Guinea’s speaker encouraged inclusive dialogue at all levels for all the relevant stakeholders on Western Sahara, as this lays the pivotal foundations and essential building blocks needed to build mutual trust and confidence that will assist in paving the way forward to a lasting political settlement that benefits all concerned parties.  The speaker commended Morocco for continuing to strengthen substantive support for sustainable development through infrastructure and socioeconomic investments in the Sahara region that is positively improving the lives and livelihoods of the people of Western Sahara.

Saint Lucia’s representative noted that the country has a sustained interest in the decolonization processes of remaining Caribbean Territories.  The representative noted that Non-Self Governing Territories in the Caribbean are integral parts of the economic, social and cultural space of the Caribbean and are members of regional institutions, including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Association of Caribbean States.  Further, the representative noted that Saint Lucia supports the Government and people of the British Virgin Islands in calling on the United Kingdom to remove the unilateral Order-in-Council it is holding in reserve that threatens to suspend elected government and to impose direct rule by the administering Power.

Syria’s speaker encouraged negotiation between the two parties directly involved regarding Western Sahara.

Belize’s representative noted that the people of Belize have always espoused the right of self-determination and territorial integrity.  Regarding Western Sahara, Belize is concerned about the international community’s apparent indifference.  Belize remains steadfast in urging the Special Committee, the Security Council, the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to urgently put in place the measures necessary to enable the Sahrawi people to finally exercise their right to self-determination.  The representative added that Belize’s delegation looks forward to going to Timor-Leste for the 2025 Pacific Regional Seminar.

Comoros’ representative noted that, regarding Western Sahara, the Comoros fully subscribes to the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative.  The representative noted that the commitment of Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and POLISARIO, which are the pillars of this dialogue, is extremely crucial for a political resolution.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the Moroccan initiative for the negotiations of an autonomy status of the Western Sahara region deserves special attention from the Secretariat of the Special Commission in order to try to settle this issue of the status of the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara.

The speaker from Djibouti highlighted that the serious and credible efforts made by Morocco within the framework of the Autonomy Initiative deserves more encouragement.

Gabon’s speaker, regarding the case of the Moroccan Sahara, commended the efforts of Mr. De Mistura, who is working tirelessly to revive the political process under the exclusive auspices of the United Nations. They request resumption of the round-table process around the four actors:  Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and POLISARIO.

Gambia’s representative reaffirmed its firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Morocco over the Sahara region.  The Gambia further recognizes the constructive and cooperative approach that has been consistently demonstrated by Morocco towards resolving this dispute.

Senegal’s representative noted the opportunity to magnify the positive developments in the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara and the progress made, within the framework of the process conducted under the exclusive auspices of the United Nations, on the basis of the resolutions adopted by the Security Council since 2007.

South Africa’s representative stated that the Special Committee intensify its efforts to effectively carry out its responsibility towards the people of Western Sahara.  This entails ensuring the protection of the political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Sahrawi people, including their right to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources, and regular reporting to relevant UN bodies on the situation in the Territory.

Zimbabwe’s representative noted that the country stands in solidarity with the people of Western Sahara as they continue their struggle for self-determination and independence.  As a nation that has itself fought against colonialism, Zimbabwe recognizes the importance of supporting all peoples in their quest for freedom.  The situation in Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa, serves as a poignant reminder of the obstacles encountered in the implementation of the UN Settlement Plan and the holding of a referendum.  As a former colony, Zimbabwe stands in solidarity with the people of Western Sahara and calls for the international community to redouble its efforts to facilitate a just and lasting resolution to this protracted conflict.

Mexico’s speaker reaffirmed commitment to the decolonization of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  Mexico supports Argentina’s claim on the Malvinas Islands.  The speaker said the voice of the Sahrawi people must be heard and their right to self-determination respected.  The speaker expressed support for the work of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General and also highlighted the work and role of MINURSO.

Angola’s speaker noted that the country rejects colonialism and neocolonialism.  They noted that no effort should be spared to find a solution to the Western Sahara issue.

Further exchanges followed between Algeria and Morocco.  Interventions were also made by Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Omar and Ms. Barkman and the representative from France.


Mickael Forrest (New Caledonia) stated that there is an ongoing critical situation in New Caledonia.  He stated that a state of emergency was declared.  He noted that there needs to be an exploration of how the UN can support New Caledonia directly to help emerge from the current political situation.  He added that there are legal mechanisms that the Territory may be eligible to receive support from the UN to address issues related to the SDGs.

Benito Wheatley (British Virgin Islands) stated that climate change is an existential issue.  He updated that the British Virgin Islands recently experienced torrential rains that caused considerable damage to the Territory’s infrastructure, while they are still recovering from 2017 natural disasters.  He informed that in April 2024 the British Virgin Islands and the UN system (including 10 agencies) held a dialogue on financing for development.  Participants agreed to the development of a road map for Eastern Caribbean Territories.  He requested that the Seminar report should capture the gap in support for Non-Self-Governing Territories for climate change.  He noted that it would be helpful for Non-Self-Governing Territories to have access to the UN system in their Territories.

Magalie Tingal, expert, informed that on 14 May, four people died in New Caledonia, including three children.  She repeated her call for a visiting mission to New Caledonia while Nina Julié, another expert, expressed deep compassion for the grieving families.

Mr. Omar highlighted two main challenges before Non-Self-Governing Territories to pursue the SDGs.  The first being the ownership of development itself.  He said there is an urgent need for continued dialogue between administering Powers and Non-Self-Governing Territories to devise ways by which the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories can own their development and chart their path forward.  Second, he noted that it is important for people to own their resources.  He gave the example of Western Sahara, where people are deprived their resources while the occupying State — Morocco — extracts, exploits and trades the country’s resources.

Julien Tran Ap, expert, stated that the people of New Caledonia have never been responsible for creating trauma since they are a peaceful people.  Levar Roy, Marie Ukerie and Naïa Wateou, experts, also contributed to discussions on the recent situation in New Caledonia.

Richard Tuheiava, expert, requested the creation of a work programme on colonization for French Polynesia.

Antony Geros, expert, noted that in May 2013 French Polynesia was added to the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He said they have been expecting a dialogue since 2013 and would like some clarity from France.

Melvin Won Pat-Borja, Guam, updated that Guam experiences climate change.  He noted that the Territory lacks the opportunity to have a position on the international stage.  He updated that a UN SDGs project was launched, “Guam Green Growth”, which is the largest private-public partnership in the Territory.  He noted that Guam’s policies on climate change are mainly reflections of the US policy agenda.

Karl Thrower, Saint Helena, noted that Saint Helena recently experienced one of the heaviest rains.  He noted the limited infrastructure (one hospital and one airport) in the Territory and the impact it would have if any of them is affected by climate change.  He said it is important for administering Powers to fully support Territories, not only when emergency happens, but before.  He stated that there is need for funding to support infrastructural development.

The speaker from France noted that there has been a disruption to public order and the state of emergency declared in New Caledonia was in an effort to restore public order.  The speaker emphasized that contrary to what was previously said, dialogue has not halted.

Antony Geros indicated that there is need for a decolonization process that prioritizes dialogue.  He asked France when dialogue would be opened.


United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Dale Alexander, Chief, Caribbean Knowledge Management Centre, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), provided the following updates.

Non-Self-Governing Territories of the Caribbean continue to experience serious sustainable development challenges, as well as barriers to access funds to address those challenges.

The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Agenda is highly relevant for the Territories, considering, in particular, their limited voice on the global stage.

ECLAC is proud to count all the Non-Self-Governing Territories of the Caribbean among its Associate Members.  The Territories are included in all activities, and in this regard, they have remained engaged participants in the wide variety of intergovernmental and technical meetings, capacity-building efforts and studies conducted by the Commission over the past year.

ECLAC’s mission to deepen the understanding of the development challenges facing the Caribbean, including the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and to contribute to solutions remains resolute.

However, the lack of access to funding, including from United Nations sources, remains a challenge for conducting activities with the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  This is unfortunate, given the increasing severity of the challenges experienced by the Territories, and the numerous requests received from them for support.

An appeal was made to the Committee to assist in addressing the barriers preventing the establishment of a predictable and durable programme of support for these Territories, in line with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO)

Cristián Morales, WHO Representative offered the following updates.

PAHO/WHO works closely with Caribbean countries that started their decolonization process several decades ago, in improving the health and well-being for all.  Supporting the construction of universal health systems, publicly funded and based on primary health care, is a very concrete way to contribute to the development of healthy societies in this post-colonialism era.  The organization is convinced that to discuss challenges and opportunities of decolonization including the health perspective, helps move this important agenda forward.

Caribbean countries face significant challenges in the health of their populations, but they have also attained important achievements.  Among the latter, the certification of the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission and congenital syphilis.  Seven Caribbean countries and territories have received the dual certification:  Cuba in 2015 (first country in the world) and then in 2017 Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The challenges come mainly from non-communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes, cancer and their risk factors (obesity, sedentarism, etc.).  These health conditions are hampering not only the improvement of health indicators like quality of life and lifespan, but also, the economic and social development and the capacity to attain the SDGs.

Benito Wheatley noted that there are close working relationships with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office in Tortolla.  Special mention was also made of the support from the Special Committee as a critical platform for advocacy and engagement.  He acknowledged the support of the Chair, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia.

Carlyle Corbin, expert, commended ECLAC’s work and assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He noted that the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) also provides significant assistance to Associate Members including Non-Self-Governing Territories in that region.  He highlighted that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and PAHO have space for the participation of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He noted that overall, assistance from the UN system is very valuable to Non-Self-Governing Territories.  It is valuable in the preparatory process leading to self-government.


Kenneth Hodge, Anguilla, extended an invitation for the Special Committee to consider hosting the Caribbean Regional Seminar in Anguilla in 2026.

The representatives of Argentina and Cuba indicated their support for Timor-Leste’s offer to host the Pacific Regional Seminar in 2025.


In her closing remarks, Menissa Rambally (Chair) expressed condolences and sympathies to the victims and families that have lost loved ones in New Caledonia.  She called on all parties in New Caledonia to exercise maximum restraint and to bring back peace.  She encouraged and called on all parties to return to dialogue to discuss the future of New Caledonia.

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), 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.


* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.