Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guam Decolonization at the UN

Decolonization Commission testifies before UN
Posted: Oct 18, 2011 4:56 PM
Updated: Oct 18, 2011 7:10 PM
by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Island leaders are continuing the push for self-determination. Just recently a delegation from Guam appeared before the United Nations and over the next couple days meetings and seminars will be held to discuss the process of decolonization.

Before the United Nation's Committee of Four in New York, Commission on Decolonization executive director Ed Alvarez and Speaker Judi Won Pat presented testimony regarding Guam's quest for self-determination. From October 4-6, Alvarez says he let the committee know the time is now to strengthen Guam's relationship with the United States. "We let them know that we were serious about embarking on this question for political destiny," he said. "We let them know about the brief history of what's happened and that it's time, it's time to modernize the relation between Guam and the United States as far as political status."

Speaker Won Pat meanwhile appealed for the assistance of the UN. In the political evolution of Guam and suggested three steps for the consideration of the committee, including to rebuke administering powers that continued the practice of colonialism; dispatch a special mission to Guam to provide information to the people of Guam on the role of the United Nations in the process of self-determination; and recognize Guam and other non-self- governing- territories as member states of the United Nations.

It's been 30 years since the UN has dealt with decolonization with 16 colonies currently remaining, including Guam. "The other was to present a plan, a call for action by this committee because they have decided to make this the third decade and I've asked not to make this just a third decade, which is 30 years, but they pass a resolution to make this the final decade in which then they should be able to eradicate the colonies," said Won Pat.

Although it may be costly to send delegates to the UN, Won Pat adds the Guam Legislature will continue efforts for decolonization by spearheading a series of conferences regarding Guam's political self-determination. She adds a presence must be made to continue dialogue and educating them about Guam.

Moving forward, international advisor on governance and former minister for external affairs for the U.S. Virgin Islands Dr. Carlyle Corbin is on Guam to provide training on the UN process and a history of other countries who had gone through decolonization. He says other territories are in the same situation and there are various stages of political evolution and modernization that need to be addressed.

He said. "This is important to know because we're not all isolated in that respect and what we can do together and with the information we can exchange is always useful. It is also important to have to the highest degree possible common message and common information and moving forward so that the message coming from five or four is stronger than coming from one."

Corbin has served for more than a decade as a United Nations expert on self-determination and will discuss his experiences with relating issues in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the CNMI and the Virgin Islands as well. The seminar takes place on Thursday at Adelup from 2-5pm. Alvarez says the Commission will reconvene its meetings once the governor returns from off-island.

Meanwhile, Alvarez says he didn't get any specific feedback from the UN, but requested the committee send experts to Guam in order to reignite the discussion on self-determination. He also hoped that the next Regional Experts Seminar could be hosted in Guam, which would enable the international community to see the great potential of the people of Guam.

Meanwhile Dr. Corbin is scheduled to speak tomorrow at the University of Guam where a public forum explaining political decolonization is being held. Dr. Corbin will speak on the topic of the role of the United Nations in the self-determination process.

Also speaking is Attorney Julian Aguon from the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice. Aguon will talk on the topic of "Defrosting the Self-Determination Imagination: The Trajectory of Right Under International Law". The forum is being hosted by the Division of Social Work in partnership with the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice. It's scheduled for 5:30 to 8:30pm at the Class Lecture Hall.

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