21 May 2003


NEW YORK, 20 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the opening of the Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization and the observance of the week of solidarity with the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, at The Valley, Anguilla, 20-22 May:

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all who have gathered in Anguilla for this regional seminar on decolonization -- the first time that such a seminar is being held in a Non-Self-Governing Territory. I would like to thank the Government of Anguilla for hosting this event, as well as the Government of the United Kingdom for the cooperation and assistance it has provided.

Achieving self-government for the peoples of the world has been one of the cardinal goals of the United Nations since its inception. Under the Organization’s auspices, more than 80 million people have exercised their right of self-determination, and decolonization can truly be considered a United Nations success story.

Today, there are 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining on the United Nations list. As an organ mandated to facilitate decolonization, the Special Committee organizes seminars such as this one to provide a forum for the 2 million people living in these territories to air their views about the unique problems they face, and to promote direct communication between the Special Committee, the representatives of the Territories and the administering Powers. This year, the Committee decided to focus on the specific problems of the territories in the Caribbean and on the practical steps that need to be taken to complete the decolonization process in the region.

According to the United Nations Charter and the Declaration on Decolonization, a full measure of self-government can be achieved by a Non-Self-Governing Territory through free association or integration with another State, or independence. Many of the territories have made considerable progress in their political, constitutional, economic and social development, and have gone a long way towards self-government. I urge you all to continue working together to find the appropriate format and timing for the completion of decolonization in each territory. And I wish you all a productive and successful seminar.


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