The United Nations Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, or the Special Committee on Decolonization (C24), is a committee of the United Nations General Assembly. It is exclusively devoted to the issue of decolonization.
|Special Committee on Decolonization|
|Formation||27 November 1961|
|Headquarters||New York, United States|
Walton Alfonso Webson
|United Nations General Assembly|
When the United Nations was created, there were 750 million people living in territories that were non-self-governing. However, the Charter of the United Nations included, in Chapter XI, provisions calling for recognition of the rights of inhabitants of territories administered by its Member States. It called for these Member States to aid in the establishment of self-governance through the development of free political institutions, as well as to keep in mind the political aspirations of the peoples.
The Charter also created, in Chapter XII, the international trusteeship system. This system allowed for the administration and supervision of territories placed under the control of the United Nations by Member States wishing to grant independence to their colonial possessions. These "Trust" territories were administered by the United Nations Trusteeship Council, which was created by Chapter XIII of the Charter.
Hoping to speed up the process of decolonization, the General Assembly passed Resolution 1514 (XV), also known as the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The Declaration stated that all peoples have the right to self-determination, and that immediate steps should be taken to end colonialism unconditionally.
On 27 November 1961 the General Assembly created the precursor to the modern Special Committee via Resolution 1654 (XVI). This Resolution established a Special Committee of 17 Members to examine the application of the Declaration and to make recommendations on how to better implement it. The following were the original members:
On 7 December 1962, the General Assembly added seven additional seats to the Committee, bringing the total number of members up to 24. This number is used when describing the Committee even though it now has 29 members as the Committee consisted of 24 members from 1962 to 2004, a majority of the time it has existed. It was expanded again in 2004, 2008 and 2010.
In 1990, the General Assembly proclaimed 1990–2000 as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism via Resolution 43/47, with the ultimate goal being the full implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The General Assembly adopted the report of the Secretary-General dated 13 December 1991 as the Plan of Action for the Decade.
On 8 December 2000, the General Assembly proceeded to proclaim the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, lasting from 2001 to 2010 via Resolution 55/146. The Resolution called upon Member States to redouble their efforts to implement the Plan of Action during the Second Decade.
On 10 December 2010, the General Assembly proclaimed 2010–2020 as the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism via Resolution 65/119. The Resolution called upon Member States to intensify their efforts to continue to implement the Plan of Action during the Third Decade.
The Committee holds its main session in New York in June, as well as an annual seminar in the Caribbean and Pacific in alternate years. In 2018, the seminar was held in St. George's, Grenada.
At each main session, the Committee reviews the list of territories to which the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples is applicable and makes recommendations on its implementation and on the dissemination of public information on decolonization to the local population. It also hears statements from Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs), dispatches missions to these NSGTs and organizes seminars on the political, social and economic situation in the NSGTs.
The Committee reports to the General Assembly on its work through the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).
As of February 2017, there are 17 territories listed on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories:
|American Samoa [note 1]||Pago Pago||United States dollar||English||United States||Oceania||[note 2]|
|Anguilla||The Valley||East Caribbean dollar||English||United Kingdom||Americas||[note 3]|
|Bermuda||Hamilton||Bermudian dollar||English||United Kingdom||Americas|||
|British Virgin Islands||Road Town||United States dollar [note 4]||English||United Kingdom||Americas|||
|Cayman Islands||George Town [note 5]||Cayman Islands dollar||English||United Kingdom||Americas|||
|Falkland Islands||Stanley||Falkland Pound||English||United Kingdom||Americas||[note 6]|
|French Polynesia [note 7]||Papeete||CFP franc||French||France||Oceania|||
|Gibraltar||Gibraltar||Gibraltar pound||English||United Kingdom||Europe|
|Guam||Hagatña||United States dollar||English||United States||Oceania|
|Montserrat||Plymouth||East Caribbean dollar||English||United Kingdom||Americas|
|New Caledonia||Nouméa||CFP franc||French||France||Oceania|
|Pitcairn [note 8]||Adamstown||New Zealand dollar||English||United Kingdom||Oceania|||
|Saint Helena||Jamestown||Saint Helena pound||English||United Kingdom||Africa|||
|Tokelau||Fakaofo||New Zealand dollar||English||New Zealand||Oceania|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||Cockburn Town||United States dollar||English||United Kingdom||Americas|
|United States Virgin Islands||Charlotte Amalie||United States dollar||English||United States||Americas|
|Western Sahara [note 9]||El Aaiún||Sahrawi peseta||Arabic||Morocco/SADR||Africa||[note 10]|
As of 2016, several of the territories on the list have rejected independence (or any other change of status) through referendums, such as Gibraltar in 2002 and the Falkland Islands in 2013. Likewise in 2013 the elected Assembly of French Polynesia objected to that territory's inclusion on the list. There is also controversy surrounding the viability of several of the listed territories as independent nations, such as Pitcairn, which had a population estimated at just 57 in 2015.
Various members on various occasion have blocked the admission and re-admission of their respective territories for decolonization, despite various independence movements within those territories.
As such, various organizations have stated that the committee is 'no longer relevant' as many of its members are colonizers themselves, controlling various territories wanting independence.
|Walton Alfonso Webson||Antigua and Barbuda||Chair|
|Dian Triansyah Djani||Indonesia||Vice-Chair|
|Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo||Cuba||Vice-Chair|
|Adikalie Foday Sumah||Sierra Leone||Vice-Chair|
|Bashar Ja’afari||Syrian Arab Republic||Rapporteur|
The Special Committee on Decolonization refers to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (an unincorporated territory of the United States) as a nation in its reports, because, internationally, the people of Puerto Rico are often considered to be a Caribbean nation with their own national identity. Most recently, in a June 2016 report, the Special Committee called for the United States to expedite the process to allow self-determination in Puerto Rico. More specifically, the group called on the United States to expedite a process that would allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise fully their right to self-determination and independence. ... [and] allow the Puerto Rican people to take decisions in a sovereign manner and to address their urgent economic and social needs, including unemployment, marginalization, insolvency and poverty".
In one of the referendums on the political status of Puerto Rico held in 2012, only 5.49% of Puerto Ricans voted for independence, while 61.16% voted for statehood and 33.34% preferred free association. Another then-recent referendum was held in 2017 with over 97% voting in favor of statehood over independence, though historically low voter turn-out (23%) has called into question the validity of the poll. Much of the low turn-out has been attributed to a boycott led by the pro-status-quo PPD party.
A referendum on the political status of Puerto Rico was held in Puerto Rico on November 6, 2012. It was the fourth referendum on status to be held in Puerto Rico and the first in which a majority voted for statehood. Puerto Rico has been an unincorporated territory of the United States since the Spanish–American War in 1898.
Puerto Rican voters were asked two questions: (1) whether they agreed to continue with Puerto Rico's territorial status and (2) to indicate the political status they preferred from three possibilities: statehood, independence, or a sovereign nation in free association with the United States. 970,910 (54.0%) voted "No" on the first question, expressing themselves against maintaining the current political status, and 828,077 (46.0%) voted "Yes", to maintain the current political status. Of those who answered on the second question 834,191 (61.2%) chose statehood, 454,768 (33.3%) chose free association, and 74,895 (5.5%) chose independence.The governor-elect Alejandro García Padilla of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) and several other leaders who favor the present status had recommended voting "Yes" to the first question, and leaving the second question blank as a protest to what they said was "an anti-democratic process" and "a trap".Puerto Rico's nonvoting Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, has said that he will "defend the people's decision" in Washington, D.C. He plans to introduce legislation in Congress to admit Puerto Rico to the Union. Although García Padilla questioned the validity of the results, he stated that he planned to go forward with what President Barack Obama had suggested, and convene a constituent assembly to resolve the status issue. Such an assembly was not ultimately held under García Padilla's governorship.
Previous referendums had been held on the island to decide on the political status of Puerto Rico, most recently in 1998.Adolfo Matos
Adolfo Matos Puerto Rican member of the FALN (a group which fought for Puerto Rican independence during the 1970s) who received a sentence of 70 years for seditious conspiracy and other charges. He was sentenced on February 18, 1981, and incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. However, he was released early from prison, after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to him on September 7, 1999.Alberto Rodriguez (FALN)
Alberto Rodriguez was a Puerto Rican member of the FALN who received a sentence of 35 years for seditious conspiracy and other charges. He was sentenced in 1985, and incarcerated first at United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg (USP Lewisberg), PA, and later at the federal penitentiary at USP Beaumont, TX. However, he was released early from prison, after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer in August 1999. Alberto and 10 other Puerto Rican prisoners were released on September 10, 1999.Alicia Rodríguez (FALN)
Alicia Rodríguez Puerto Rican member of the FALN who received a sentence of 55 years for seditious conspiracy and other charges. She was sentenced on February 18, 1981, and incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. However, she was released early from prison, after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to her on September 7, 1999.Argentina–Chile relations
Argentina–Chile relations refers to international relations between the Republic of Chile and the Argentine Republic. Argentina and Chile share the world's third-longest international border, which is 5,300 km (3,300 mi) long and runs from north to the south along the Andes mountains. Although gaining their independence during the South American wars of liberation, during much of the 19th and the 20th century relations between the countries were chilled as a result of disputes over the border in Patagonia, although Chile and Argentina have never engaged in a war. In recent years relations have improved dramatically. Despite increased trade between the two countries, Argentina and Chile have followed quite different economic policies. Chile has signed free trade agreements with countries such as China, the US, Canada, South Korea and the EU and is an active member of the APEC, while Argentina belongs to the Mercosur regional free trade area. In April 2018, both countries suspended membership of the Union of South American Nations.Carmen Valentín Pérez
Carmen Hilda Valentín Pérez Puerto Rican member of the FALN (a Pro-Independence group which fought for Puerto Rico's Independence from the United States during the 1970s) who received a sentence of 90 years for seditious conspiracy and other charges. She was sentenced on February 18, 1981, and incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. However, she was released early from prison, after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to her on September 7, 1999.Dylcia Noemi Pagan
Dylcia Noemi Pagan (born 1946) was a Puerto Rican member of the FALN (a group which fought for Puerto Rican independence during the 1970s) who received a sentence of 55 years for seditious conspiracy and other charges. She was sentenced on February 18, 1981, and incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. However, she was released early from prison, after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to her on September 7, 1999.Edwin Cortes
Edwin Cortes was a Puerto Rican nationalist and member of the FALN who received a sentence of 35 years for seditious conspiracy and other charges. He was sentenced on February 18, 1999, and incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. However, he was released early from prison, after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to him on February 19, 1999.[see also Edwin Cortez https://www.sis.utk.edu/users/edwin-cortez]Ida Luz Rodríguez
Ida Luz Rodriguez is a Puerto Rican nationalist. She was previously a member of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN) and was sentenced to 75 years for charges that included seditious conspiracy. She was sentenced on February 18, 1981, and incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. She was released early from prison after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to her on September 7, 1999.Independence
Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over the territory. The opposite of independence is the status of a dependent territory.List of ambassadors of Venezuela to China
The Venezuelan Ambassador in Beijing is the official representative of the Government in Caracas to the Government of China.Luis Rosa
Luis Rosa is a Puerto Rican nationalist and member of the FALN who received a sentence of 75 years for seditious conspiracy and related charges. He was sentenced on 18 February 1981 and subsequently incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. He was released early from prison after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to him on 7 September 1999.Political status of Puerto Rico
The political status of Puerto Rico is that of an unincorporated territory of the United States. As such, the island is neither a sovereign nation nor a U.S. state. Because of that ambiguity, the territory, as a polity, lacks certain rights but enjoys certain benefits that other polities have or lack. For instance, in contrast to sovereign nations, Puerto Rico does not have voting rights in its federal legislature nor in electing its federal head of state. But, in contrast to U.S. states, residents of Puerto Rico are not subject to federal income taxes. The political status of the island thus stems from how different Puerto Rico is politically from sovereign nations and from U.S. states.
The status of the island is the result of various political activities within both the United States and Puerto Rican governments. The United Nations removed it from the list of non-self-governing territories in 1953. But it remains subject to the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution. According to the Insular Cases, Puerto Rico is "a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States within the revenue clauses of the Constitution".American and Puerto Rican political activities regarding the status question have revolved around three sets of initiatives: presidential executive orders, bills in the U.S. Congress, and referenda held in Puerto Rico. U.S. Presidents have issued three executive orders on the subject, and Congress has considered four major bills on Puerto Rico's political status. Puerto Rican status referenda have been held four times to determine the desired political status of Puerto Rico in relation to the United States of America. In 1967 and 1993, Commonwealth won. In another plebiscite held on November 6, 2012, 54% of respondents voted to reject the current status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution. In a second question, 61% favored statehood as the preferred alternative, however, when blank ballots were counted, statehood support dropped to 45%. Another referendum was held on June 11, 2017, in which voters had three options: "Statehood", "Free Association/Independence" or "Current Territorial Status". While 97% of voters chose "Statehood", turnout was only 23% (the lowest in history) due to a boycott from pro-Independence and pro-Commonwealth supporters.
Internationally, several organizations have called for the U.S. government to expedite the process to allow self-determination in Puerto Rico while considering Puerto Rico a Caribbean nation with its own national identity. For instance, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization has called for the United States "to allow the Puerto Rican people to take decisions in a sovereign manner, and to address their urgent economic and social needs, including unemployment, marginalization, insolvency and poverty."Proposed political status for Puerto Rico
The proposed political status for Puerto Rico encompasses the different schools of thought on whether Puerto Rico, currently a Commonwealth of the United States, should change its current political status. Although there are many differing points of view, there are four that emerge in principle: that Puerto Rico maintains its current status, becomes a state of the United States, becomes fully independent, or becomes a freely associated state.
Even though Puerto Rico was granted local autonomy in 1952, it remains a territory of the United States. Its ambiguous status continues to spark political debates which dominate Puerto Rican society. The debate over Puerto Rico has been discussed at various UN hearings where it has been declared a colony of the United States by the UN Special Committee on Decolonization. Various Presidents of the United States have expressed themselves in favor of statehood but ultimately left the decision to Puerto Rico. President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status were published in 2005, 2007 and 2011. Non-binding referenda regarding Puerto Rico's status have been held in 1967, 1993, 1997, 2012, and 2017.
The results of the referenda have favored the commonwealth status until the Puerto Rican status referendum, 2012, when for the first time, the majority (54%) of Puerto Ricans voted against it. Full statehood was the preferred option of those who wanted a change. The results were highly controversial: many ballots were left blank and the results were criticized by several parties. The federal government took no action except to provide funding for a subsequent referendum.The Puerto Rican status referendum, 2017 was the fifth, held on June 11, 2017.Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico (Spanish for "Rich Port"; abbreviated PR), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit. "Free Associated State of Puerto Rico") and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.
An archipelago among the Greater Antilles, located between the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico includes the eponymous main island and several smaller islands, such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. The capital and most populous city is San Juan. The territory's total population is approximately 3.4 million. Spanish and English are the official languages of the executive branch of government, though Spanish predominates.Originally populated by the indigenous Taíno people, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was contested by the French, Dutch, and British, but remained a Spanish possession for the next four centuries. The island's cultural and demographic landscapes were shaped by the displacement and assimilation of the native population, the forced migration of African slaves, and settlement from the Canary Islands and Andalusia. In the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico played a secondary but strategic role compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and New Spain. Spain's distant administrative control continued up to the end of the 19th century, producing a distinctive creole Hispanic culture and language that combined indigenous, African, and European elements. On September 23, 1868, Ramón Emeterio Betances unleashed a revolt against Spanish rule, declaring for the first time the idea of Puerto Ricans as a distinct people, with right to sovereignty. This revolt, known as El Grito de Lares, was eventually put down by Spanish forces, but the movement continued. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Since then, Puerto Rico has remained an unincorporated territorial possession, making it the world's oldest colony.Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917, and enjoy freedom of movement between the island and the mainland. As it is not a state, Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the United States Congress, which governs the territory with full jurisdiction under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. However, Puerto Rico does have one non-voting member of the House called a Resident Commissioner. As residents of a U.S. territory, American citizens in Puerto Rico are disenfranchised at the national level and do not vote for the president or vice president of the United States, and only some residents pay federal income tax. Like other territories and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico does not have U.S. senators. Congress approved a local constitution in 1952, allowing U.S. citizens of the territory to elect a governor. Puerto Rico's future political status has consistently been a matter of significant debate.In early 2017, the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis posed serious problems for the government. The outstanding bond debt had climbed to $70 billion at a time of an unemployment rate of 12.4%. The debt had been increasing during a decade-long recession. This was the second major financial crisis to affect the island after the Great Depression when the U.S. government, in 1935, provided relief efforts through the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration. On May 3, 2017, Puerto Rico's financial oversight board in the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico filed the debt restructuring petition which was made under Title III of PROMESA. By early August 2017, the debt was $72 billion with a 45% poverty rate.In late September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, causing devastating damage. The island's electrical grid was largely destroyed, provoking the largest power outage in American history. Recovery efforts were slow in the first few months, and over 200,000 residents had moved to the mainland state of Florida alone by late November 2017.Ricardo Jiménez
Ricardo Jiménez Puerto Rican member of the FALN who was sentenced to 90 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and other charges. He was sentenced on February 18, 1981, and incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. However, he was released early from prison, after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to him on September 7, 1999.Robert Guba Aisi
Robert Guba Aisi is the former Permanent Representative (ambassador) of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations in New York. He presented his credentials to the Secretary General on June 25, 2002. Prior to being appointed to the United Nations, Aisi was Councillor of Papua New Guinea’s Legal Training Institute.Aisi obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Papua New Guinea in 1979. The following year, he was admitted to the practice of law in both the National and Supreme Courts of Papua New Guinea. From 1986 to 1990, he was Principal Legal Officer to the regional authorities in Port Moresby. From 1990 to 1992, he was Principal Legal Officer and Deputy Commission Secretary to Papua New Guinea’s Electricity Commission. He has also served with the Executive Branch (Legal Affairs) of UNESCO.Aisi is also Honorary Consul of Papua New Guinea to South Africa, President of the Business Council of Papua New Guinea, and a member of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Business Council.In February 2004, he was elected Chairman of the United Nations' Special Committee on decolonization.Addressing the United Nations Security Council on the topic of climate change in April 2007, Aisi stated: “The dangers that the small island states and their populations face are no less serious than those nations threatened by guns and bombs.”Statehood movement in Puerto Rico
The statehood movement in Puerto Rico aims to make Puerto Rico a state of the United States. Five referenda have been held on the topic, most recently in 2017. The population of Puerto Rico in 2015 was over three million people and larger than 21 states.In November 2012, a referendum, the fourth as of that date, was held. A full 54.00% voted "No" to maintaining the current political status. Of those who voted against remaining a commonwealth, 61.11% chose statehood, 33.34% chose free association, and 5.55% chose independence. On December 11, 2012, the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico enacted a concurrent resolution requesting the President and the Congress of the United States to respond diligently and effectively on the demand of the people of Puerto Rico to end its current political status and to begin the transition of Puerto Rico to become a state of the union.In 2014, resolutions were introduced in both houses of the United States Congress (H.R. 2000; S. 2020) to hold a yes-or-no referendum among the residents of Puerto Rico on statehood. If a "yes" majority prevailed, the President would have been required to submit legislation to Congress enacting Puerto Rican statehood. Both resolutions died in committee.A fifth referendum was held on June 11, 2017. Turnout was 23%, a historical failure in a nation where voting turnout usually hovers around 80%. A boycott of the vote was led by the citizenry at large, citing discontent over never-ending non-binding referenda, and protesting Ricardo Rosselló's pro-statehood administration's choice to spend public funds in subsidizing this vote when the island was in the midst of a devastating fiscal crisis and battered by the imposed austerity measures of a non-elected fiscal control board regarded as the height of colonial imposition. Some would later try to attribute the boycott to the PPD party, citing its support for the status quo. The numbers, however, do not support the notion that the boycott was divided along party lines. Of the minimal number of voters who participated, 97.18% chose statehood, 1.50% favored independence and 1.32% chose to maintain the commonwealth status.
In June 2018, Rep. Jenniffer González filed a bill that would pave the way for Puerto Rico to become a state in 2021; the bill was not acted upon after introduction.United Nations Security Council Resolution 1290
United Nations Security Council resolution 1290 was adopted on 17 February 2000. Resolution 1290 examined Tuvalu's application to become the 189th member of the United Nations (UN). Tuvalu achieved independence in 1978 after over eighty years of British colonial rule. The country has struggled economically, and it took the 2000 sale of Tuvalu's Internet country code top-level domain .tv for the nation to be able to afford UN membership. Resolution 1290 was adopted unopposed, although China abstained due to concerns over Tuvalu's relationship with Taiwan.
|Spain / Morocco|