American Samoa To Participate In UN Decolonization Seminar

Head of new Office of Political Status, Constitution and Federal Relations to represent territory

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, May 31, 2016) – American Samoa has accepted the invitation to attend the United Nations Decolonization Committee’s Pacific Seminar, and will be represented at the seminar, held this week, by Tapa’au Dr. Daniel Mageo Aga, executive director of the newly established Office of Political Status, Constitution and Federal Relations.
The decolonization Pacific seminar opens today and runs through June 2 in Managua, Nicaragua — a country with both a Caribbean and a Pacific coast. It was also Nicaragua that hosted last year’s Caribbean seminar, which is rotated between the Pacific and Caribbean every year.
American Samoa is considered by the UN as one of the last remaining non-self governing territories on the globe.
The governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira confirmed last Thursday that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga had received the UN invitation for the Pacific seminar and that Tapa’au would represent American Samoa.
“The primary topic [at the Pacific seminar] is the status and progress of decolonization efforts in the existing territories and other insular areas still under the administrative umbrella of big countries such as the US, France, and others,” Iulogologo told Samoa News.
Asked as to some of the main issues from American Samoa to be presented at the seminar, Iulogologo said the “position of our government” was delivered at last year’s Caribbean seminar by Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale. “Tapa'au's function is to observe if there are decolonization strategies worth considering,” he said.
In the message delivered by Talauega at the Caribbean seminar last year, the governor suggested that the decolonization committee perhaps continue to keep American Samoa on the UN decolonization list until the people of American Samoa determine their own political status.
Other issues covered in the governor’s official statement are those which deal with “political aspirations and the progressive development of free political institutions” for American Samoa.
“... Whether the territory is delisted or not, what is more important to us, is the fact that our current legal status, as temporally satisfactory as it may be, leaves us exposed to vagaries in Washington D.C. that are beyond our control,” it says.
For example, and most importantly, “we are exposed to actions of Congress affecting us in ways not contemplated because of our tiny land area, located in a large ocean, thousands of miles from the continental US, and economic circumstance.”
The theme of the 2016 Seminar is “Commitments and Actions for Decolonization in the Non-Self-Governing Territories”. 
“Taking into consideration recent developments in the Pacific, Caribbean and other areas, the Seminar will review the situation with respect to the 17 territories, including the issue of support from various organizations within the United Nations system and other organizations,” the Decolonization committee said in a news release last month on the Pacific Seminar.
The Seminar’s conclusions and recommendations will be considered by the Committee at its June substantive session, and subsequently transmitted to the UN General Assembly, it says.
Besides American Samoa, the other two US insular areas on the UN list of Non-Self Governing Territories are Guam and the US Virgin Islands.  The administering powers of those territories are France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States.

The Samoa News
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