17 May 2010

UN decolonisation talks to open in New Caledonia

5:03 am on 17 May 2010

The chairman of a UN committee on decolonisation says the rights of small territories to determine how they wish to be governed should be respected.

The United Nations General Assembly's Special Committee on Decolonisation begins a three-day Pacific Regional Seminar in Noumea tomorrow.

Representatives from states and territories including New Caledonia, Tokelau, American Samoa, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand are expected to attend.

The committee's chair, Dr Donatus St. Aimee, says if small territories decide it's in their interest to maintain a connection with their coloniser that should be respected.

But he says size often does not deter smaller groups or territories from seeking independence.

"Smallness may not necessarily in itself be an impediment to development. How you approach it would be the deciding factor. It's not just an issue of the independence, it's an of an issue of what kind of a relationship you want with the administrative power in terms of the maintenance and preservation of your culture."

Dr St. Aimee says the seminar will inform territories about the options available to them.