Special Committee on Decolonisation (Committee of 24)
About the Special Committee:
In 1961, the United Nations General Assembly created a Special Committee with the purpose of monitoring the implementation of the Declaration (General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960) and making recommendations as to its implementation. Commonly referred to as the “Special Committee on Decolonisation or C-24”, this entity is officially called Special Committee and is to monitor the situation regarding the application of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
The Committee meets annually to review and update the list of Territories to which the Declaration is applicable. It hears statements from NSGTs elected representatives as well as petitioners, dispatches visiting missions, and organises seminars on the political, social, economic and educative situation in the Territories. Further, the Special Committee annually makes recommendations regarding the dissemination of information to mobilise public opinion in support of the decolonisation process, and observes the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
The C-24, which today brings together 29 UN members as opposed to 24 previously, with the support of the Political Affairs Department of the United Nations Secretariat General, is responsible for the evaluation of the decolonisation processes acknowledged by the United Nations in 16 “Non Self-Governing” Territories according to the 1946 list.
Beyond the permanent work of public servants appointed to this committee and to its board, headed by the rotating chair of the committee, this subsidiary organ of the United Nations meets twice a year in plenary sessions to examine the actual progress as part of the different decolonisation processes which have begun.
First of all, the Special Committee organises a regional seminar in May. These seminars are generally held in States which are members of the committee. Yet, twice, these seminars were held in Non-Self Governing Territories (NSGTs), as was the case in May 2010 in New Caledonia. During these “relocated” seminars, the Special Committee members unite with experts on decolonisation issues, academics and NGO representatives. The latest regional seminar took place in Nadi, Fiji between May 21 and 23, 2014.
The Special Committee then meets in New York at the UN headquarters at the end of June every year to prepare its recommendations for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). During this key meeting, the committee members can audition the Non-Self Governing Territories and the petitioners. On this occasion, they establish the preliminary resolution drafts for the relevant NSGTs. It is also on this occasion that every year, a resolution draft for New Caledonia is drawn up by the Committee: It takes into consideration the progress made in New Caledonia and the noticeable developments.
At the end of this second plenary session, the Committee adopts a report on these activities. This comprehensive document is then submitted to the UNGA to support its draft resolutions, amongst which the “draft resolution on the question of New Caledonia”.
The Special Committee thus concludes its annual session by transmitting the “decision-making” to the United Nations General Assembly.
As for the special case of New Caledonia, it is noteworthy that for nearly 36 years, it was not on the UN decolonisation list. It is in the context of troubled times in the 1980s that Jean-Marie Tjibaou obtained the re-listing of New Caledonia by the UNGA on 12 December 1986, supported by the South Pacific Islands Forum (which was later to become the Pacific Islands Forum).
In a resolution dated 4 December 1987 (n°42/79), the General Assembly denounced the colonial status of the territory and asked of France to cooperate with the United Nations.
In 1990, as if to breathe new life to this UN arrangement, the UNGA decided to announce the First International Decade on the Eradication of Colonialism, adopting an action plan on this occasion. In 2010, as recommended by the Special Committee members during their regional seminar in Noumea, a Third Decade of the same name was proclaimed. In its resolution dated 10 December 2010, the UNGA requests that: “the administrative powers fully cooperate with the Special Committee to draw up a constructive working programme, on a case-by-case basis, for Non-Self Governing Territories, so as to facilitate the Committee’s mandate and the application of the relevant United Nations resolutions on decolonisation, including the resolutions regarding specific territories”.
New Caledonia is therefore on the list of the 17 territories regarded as non-self-governing. The Committee travelled to New Caledonia for a mission from 10 to 16 March, 2014 to check on the state of the self-determination process, and in particular on the issue of the Special electoral roll.
11 December Resolution on New Caledonia: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/68/92
Secretariat’s working document on New Caledonia:
For more information, visit: http://www.un.org/en/decolonization/specialcommittee.shtml