The Special Committee on Decolonization (its full official title being the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples; also known as the U.N. Special Committee of the 24 on Decolonization, the Committee of 24, or simply, the Decolonization Committee) was created in 1961 by the General Assembly of the United Nations with the purpose of monitoring implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and to make recommendations on its application. The committee is also a successor to the former Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, with which it was merged in 1963. The full official name of the Special Committee is "Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples".
Hoping to speed the progress of decolonization, the General Assembly had adopted in 1960 the Resolution 1514, also known as the "Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples" or simply "Declaration on Decolonization". It stated that all people have a right to self-determination and proclaimed that colonialism should be brought to a speedy and unconditional end.
Subsequently, in 1990, the General Assembly proclaimed 1990–2000 as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and adopted a concrete Plan of Action to further its principles and relevant International Law on that matter. In 2001, the United Nations proceeded to proclaim the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. In 2011 - the International Year for People of African Descent - the 2011-2020 Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism was declared.
In the time since the UN was established in 1945 around 750 million people – roughly one in three people – lived non-self-governing territories. This has since reduced to under 2 million people.
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.
As of 2016[update], 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||Disputed||Africa||[note 10]|
The 17-member Special Committee was expanded to 24 members in 1962, and the size of its membership has varied since.
|Antigua and Barbuda||Ethiopia||Papua New Guinea||Tanzania|
|Chile||Grenada||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Congo||Indonesia||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Iran||Sierra Leone|
The Special Committee also has 14 observers.
The Special Committee on Decolonization refers to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (a 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 most recent 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 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.
The Chair of the Special Committee for 2016 is Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) . The two Vice Chairs are Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez (Cuba) and Vandi Chidi Minah (Sierra Leone). The Rapporteur is Bashar Ja'afari of Syria. The Bureau of the Committee comprises these officers.
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