TOKELAU TELLS UN: NOT READY FOR DECOLONIZATION

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Nation’s leader says New Zealand support still needed

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 6, 2009) – Tokelau’s leader has told a United Nations committee that his country recognizes the importance of strengthening its essential services before it can revisit the issue of self-determination in the future.

Hon. Faipule Foua Toloa, the Ulu [leader] o Tokelau, said in his Statement to the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, that the General Fono (the national Parliament of Tokelau) had decided that consideration of any future acts of self-determination would be deferred until such time that Tokelau is ready.

Faipule Toloa was addressing the annual session of the Special Committee held in New York, last week.

[PIR editor’s note: Tokelau is a self-administering territory of New Zealand. The tiny nation of three atolls has agreed with New Zealand to a draft constitution as Tokelau moves toward free association with New Zealand. UN-sponsored referendum on self governance in October 2007 did not produce the two-thirds majority vote necessary for changing the country’s political status.]

He went on to state that New Zealand and Tokelau would devote renewed efforts to strengthen essential services and infrastructures on atolls, thereby ensuring an enhanced quality of life for the people.

The purpose of the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonisation is to monitor the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of the Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

Tokelau appears before this UN Committee annually to report on its efforts towards achieving self-determination. The Ulu o Tokelau took this opportunity to not only report on his nation’s progress towards autonomous government, but to give the Committee an update on developments in Tokelau and the challenges that confront it.

Climate change is a very real issue for Tokelau and the effects of this on its pristine environment were also raised by the Ulu. He asked for the support of the Committee and other States in their own efforts to minimize gas emissions but specifically for Tokelau, in her economic and political aspirations to address the effect of climate change on the atolls. Tokelau is working on an energy policy that would allow its atolls to operate on 100 percent renewable energy in the future.

The shipping service is the lifeline for Tokelau, as it provides the only means of transport out of the atolls through Samoa. A new customized ship to meet the passenger and freight requirements for Tokelau is under discussion with New Zealand with the hope that it will be operating by the end of 2010. Other infrastructure development projects include the construction of two schools and one health centre which will strengthen the delivery of these services on Tokelau. The Ulu stated to the Committee of 24, the financial supported afforded by New Zealand is much appreciated and continues to strengthen the relationship between the two nations.

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