Anachronistic, Irrelevant, Inefficient – the Decolonisation Committee

27 Feb

Last week the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, delivered his annual opening address to the Special Committee on Declonisation urging them to finish the task given them on their formation. In 1961.

” .. the process of decolonization is not complete. Sixteen Non-Self-Governing Territories across the globe — home to nearly 2 million people — remain to be decolonized, “ said Mr. Ban, via an envoy, to the opening session of the 2012 deliberations of this sub-sub-Committee of the General Assembly, adding, “The Special Committee is in a position to develop innovative approaches and generate new dynamics among all concerned.”

Mr. Ban did not sound convinced.

The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples, more commonly known as the C24, came about as a result of Resolution 1654 to make suggestions and recommendations with regard to the decolonisation process that was gaining impetus in the early 1960’s. Its effectiveness has long been in doubt.

There was a flurry of newly born States as a result of the decolonisation process in those years, although it can be argued that all would have become independent regardless of the existence of a monitoring committee. Those old colonies that were ready, willing and able found their seats at the UN. And now the list of colonies that was drawn up in the 1940’s contains only 16 names.

Not colonies anymore, Resolution 2625 detached them from their old masters back in 1970. Non-self-governing territories is now the correct title. Of the 16, ten once belonged to Britain. Of those, some, like Pitcairn Island, appear to small in size and population to be able to cope as an independent nation. Others, such as Bermuda, have opted to retain the status quo although that may change one-day. A few, like the Turks & Caicos Islands, have a vibrant independence movement and without doubt will be ready and able at some point in the future.

Also included on that list is Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

The C24’s only job is to assist these NSGT’s to achieve self-determination. To realise the future that they wish. Its only job.

In the case of Gibraltar and the Falklands however, the C24 attempts to exceed its remit and involve itself in sovereignty disputes that are none of its business. The UN itself, has no power to intercede in sovereignty disputes without the consent of the parties involved.

The United Kingdon, as the administering power in both cases, does not consent. Indeed, the UK has gone further and recognised, in the case of the Falkland Islanders, that only the Islanders themselves have the power and the right to make their own future. The C24 should applaud this. Sadly this sub-sub-Committee is heavily biased by its membership and refuses to recognise the modern relationship that the UK has with its Overseas Territories.

The Committee of Decolonisation has not led one of the NSGT’s on its list to independence in the last decade. It only managed one in the decade before that.

After more than 50 years, it is surely about time that this anachronistic, irrelevant, inefficient, old beast was quietly put down.


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