Decolonization is not trivial, but rather an intense issue that speaks to the rolling back of the conditions of colonialism.
This sentiment was expressed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves during his welcome address at the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization conference at the National Insurance conference room on Tuesday.
During his address, Gonsalves acknowledged the important role of the UN in decolonization and thanked its leaders for their continued interest.
âAt the same time we must not be too self congratulatory, because the record shows that [since] the independence of Namibia in the 1990s, only one country has become independent … and that is Timor-Lâest [East Timor]…. There are many, many countries across the world which are still living in the colonial condition,â the Prime Minister pointed out.
He stated, however, that in the midst of the anti-colonial struggle, persons have to sit and talk with one another to resolve the question of decolonization.
âEven when you have armed struggle, the experience has been in recent times that you have at the end of armed struggle, you need to sit down and talk,â Gonsalves said.
The Prime Minister added that in cases like the American and Haitian revolutions there was âno sit downâ.
However, in the English speaking Caribbean, while there was no armed struggle, but an intense anti-colonial struggle, the departing British held discussions and came to conclusions as to how to arrive at independence.
âStill within our region, I think it true to say that it is the region in the world with the most territories still under colonial rule in whatever form.â
He said, however, it does not mean that all colonial subjects necessarily want to move to independence at this time.
âThis committee has had to reflect upon this on more than one occasion that the colonial mind is a peculiar construct,â Gonsalves said. âVery often the colonial mind for material and security reasons, depending on the nature of colonialism, have a preference for that political construct over them.â
He admitted that some countries that have become independent emerged with institutions that have not endeared themselves to their people.
âAnd that is why the United Nations has correctly established this as a guiding principle â the right to self-determination, the right to independence and the importance of the territorial integrity of peoples occupying the landscape and seascape with which they have been endowed.â
The UN special committee annually reviews the list of territories to which the declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples is applicable and makes recommendation as to its implementation. The seminar ran from May 16 to18 and ended with a cocktail reception at the official residence of the Prime Minister.