Special U.N. Session on the Eradication of Colonialism

A major United Nations seminar on decolonization was scheduled to wrap up Tuesday, May 31 in Kingstown, the St.Vincent capital.

The seminar, which began May 31, was held under the auspices of 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, otherwise known as the “Special Committee”.

The Special Committee “hopes to [use the outcomes St. Vincent and the Grenadines seminar] to assess the progress and set new benchmarks for the eradication of colonialism in this Third Decade,” St.Vincent and the Grenadines Permanent Representative to the U.N. Camillo Gonsalves said in statement issued in New York prior to the conference.

About 60 participants were expected to participate in the 2011 Caribbean Regional Seminar concerning the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, which begins this year..

The eradication of colonialism was made an international priority 50 years ago, with the U.N.’s adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

“That declaration proclaimed the right of all peoples to self-determination and stressed that the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation,” , Gonsalves said.

In the past, he added, over 750 million people lived under colonial rule. Today the efforts of the international community have reduced that number to two million people living in 16 remaining non-self-governing territories, he added.

Many of those 16 territories – including Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico – are in the Caribbean region.

“The Special Committee continues to grapple with the thorny political issues of countries and territories that still remain under some degree of foreign control,” the Vincentian envoy said, adding that “issues related to all occupy the agenda of the Special Committee.”

The Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and Western Sahara, among others, will also be discussed by the Special Committee during the meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Caribbean Regional Seminar takes place every other year. This is the second time that the seminar is being held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2005, the seminar was held on the St. Vincent Grenadine island of Canouan.

“This gesture of solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories, particularly in 2011, the first year of the third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, will strengthen the mandate of the Special Committee on Decolonization,” said Francisco Carrion-Mena of Ecuador, current president of the Special Committee, in a letter to Gonsalves.

The seminar was held in the conference facilities of the National Insurance building in Kingstown.

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