UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stressed that the decolonisation process should be guided by the needs of the local communities and the world has the responsibility to amplify their voices.
Guterres made the remarks at the first meeting of the 2020 session of the Special Committee on Decolonisation, a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly.
The UN chief said currently, 17 territories are on the list of non-self-governing territories, and the world must not forget that the people in those territories are still waiting for the promise of self-government to be fulfilled, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said the decolonization agenda is moving ahead, albeit at a slow pace, and noted that in September, New Caledonia will hold its second referendum on independence, following a first referendum in 2018.
"Decolonisation is a process that has to be guided by the aspirations and needs of the communities living in the territories," he said, adding their concerns are varied and "it is our collective responsibility to amplify their voices."
In particular, he said the vast majority of the territories are small islands on the frontlines of climate change and many have faced devastating natural disasters, while others are struggling to build sustainable and self-sufficient economies.
Addressing the members of the committee, Guterres said, "We must continue to serve as a forum for meaningful dialogue between territories and administering powers to enable the peoples of the territories to make informed decisions about their future."
He pledged to work with the committee as it makes another push to eradicate colonialism "once and for all."
At the organisational meeting of the committee, Keisha McGuire, permanent representative of Grenada to the UN, was re-elected as its chair for the 2020 session.