22 February 2001


NEW YORK, 21 February (UN Head quarters) -- Following is the text of remarks from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the opening of the 2001 session of the Special Committee on the Implementation of the Declaration on Decolonization (Special Committee of 24) in New York today:

This year, the opening of the session of the Special Committee of 24 coincides with the start of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. The timing should lend added impetus to your efforts. The Decade, proclaimed by the General Assembly, provides a framework for the continued decolonization activities of the Special Committee itself and those of the United Nations as a whole.

The activities of the Committee ensure that the issue of decolonization remains firmly on the agenda of the Organization. You review the political, social and economic conditions in the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Your Regional Seminars provide effective fora for in-depth discussion on the unique problems of the Territories. You strive to ensure that the United Nations system as a whole assists in the Territories' development.

We have yet to see full implementation of the objectives of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. But thanks to the efforts of the Special Committee, progress has been achieved. Let me highlight your initiatives to reinvigorate your working methods, and the steps you have taken towards a renewed dialogue with the administering Powers on the preparation of individual work programmes for specific Territories.

Last year it was agreed that such programmes would be prepared for American Samoa and Pitcairn, and that the administering Powers would ensure the participation of representatives of the Territories concerned at every stage of the discussions. The General Assembly has called on the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Committee to achieve this.

We all hope that the administering Powers will respond soon with specific work programmes for the Territories concerned; and that the Special Committee, with the cooperation of the administering Powers, will initiate in-depth consultations on the agreed Territories in the coming months. With the goodwill of all concerned, it will be possible to further advance the implementation of the 1960 Declaration and all other relevant resolutions on decolonization.

I wish the Special Committee every success in the year ahead.

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