THE COMMITTEES: From the colonies to the space race – past, present, future converge in Fourth Committee

NASA/Johnson A Zinnia plant pillow floats in zero-gravity, on board the International Space Station. The football pitch sized space platform was built through combined efforts European countries, represented by the European Space Agency; the US Space Agency, NASA; Japanese space agency, JAXA; Canadian space agency, CSA; and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

A timeline that stretches from the colonial past, through the present, and into the future for the final frontier in space, defines one of the United Nations General Assembly’s most versatile Main Committees – the Fourth Committee.

In this feature series on the work of the General Assembly – the UN body which comprises representatives from all 193 Member States – UN News takes an in depth look into the Fourth Committee.

While its official UN name sketches out its historic role, the agenda before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, spells out the very diverse range of issues that it covers today.

Initially mandated to address decolonization in the post-World War Two era, the Fourth Committee took on “Special Political” responsibilities in the 1990’s, following the independence of most colonies and all the territories which began under the administration of the UN Trusteeship Council was complete.

That list of territories included Western Samoa, Tanganyika, Rwanda-Urundi, and what was then Togoland, which was split between British and French administration.

The Special Political remit, substantially broadened the scope of the Committee to include international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, the comprehensive review of UN peacekeeping operations, as well as UN special political missions – which do not have uniformed peacekeepers on the ground. The committee even has the job of looking at ways to “revitalize” the work of the General Assembly.

The original decolonization role continues alongside the newer responsibilities, clearly indicating the Committee’s commitment to seeing the world’s remaining colonial territories liberated.

At this meeting in November, 1978, the Fourth Committee discussed the matter of the Rhodesian Internal Settlement; the Oil Embargo against South Africa, and adopted drafts on Southern Rhodesia.

Officials

The Fourth Committee started its work on 4 October, following the conclusion of the annual high-level general debate of the General Assembly.

At its first meeting, the body elected Ambassador Dee‑Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., the Permanent Representative of Liberia, as the Chair, and Faisal Nasser M. Alhakbani (Saudi Arabia), Dániel Goldea (Hungary), and Michael O’Toole (Ireland), as Vice-Chairs.

Luis Mauricio Arancibia Fernández (Bolivia) was elected the Rapporteur, tasked with preparing the report of the Committee.

In its meetings, the Committee was supported by the Fourth Committee secretariat, led by Secretary Sangeeta Sharma.

Lesser known fact: Fourth comes after First

It’s counter-intuitive, but in many UN documents, the Fourth Committee is listed after the First Committee.

Historically, an unnumbered “Special Political Committee” used to be listed right after the First Committee, which deals with issues related to disarmament and international security. In 1993, the General Assembly decided to merge the “Special Political Committee” with the then Fourth Committee, with its focus on trusteeship and decolonization.

This merger created what is now known as the “Special Political and Decolonization Committee,” officially listed in the second place of the Main Committees, after the First.

Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah of Liberia, Chair of the Fourth Committee, convenes a discussion during a formal meeting in October, 2018.

What was on the agenda this year?

One of the key items on the agenda – decolonization – dates back to the scramble by European powers to carve out empires in the Americas, Africa and Asia.  While most of the former European possessions are now independent UN Member States, some territories remain classified by the UN as ‘Non-Self-Governing Territories.’

The list of these territories is not universally endorsed, and this year, the Committee discussed the status of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the US Virgin Islands and Western Sahara. Details can be found here.

The Committee also looked into economic and other activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories, study and training facilities for people living there, and the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

A delegate casts their vote on a report of the Fourth Committee, at a plenary meeting of the General Assembly.

Alongside, the Committee also debated assistance to Palestine refugees, and their properties and revenues; Israeli settlements and activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), adopting nine texts, which were forwarded to the General Assembly for its consideration. More details here and here.

Concerning, UNRWA, the Assembly voiced “deep concern” over the agency’s critical financial situation, caused by structural underfunding as well as rising needs and expenditures resulting from deteriorating socioeconomic and humanitarian conditions.

In addition, the Committee also looked into the peaceful uses of outer space, recommending that States which have not yet become parties to the international treaties governing the uses of outer space ratify or accede to those instruments and incorporate them into national legislation, as well as urging States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to help prevent an arms race in outer space.

The recommendations, made by the Fourth Committee, in form of draft resolutions and decisions, were tabled before the General Assembly for its consideration. On 7 December, the Assembly adopted 36 resolutions and 4 decisions, which began life in the Committee.

A stack of documents during a meeting of the Fourth Committee in 2018.

Find resources, navigating the UN system, to reach Fourth Committee resources

The Fourth Committee, like other Main Committees, uses UN PaperSmart, the Organization’s online platform providing delegates access to core documents. For delegates, Committee information, speaker lists, requests (and other resources) are available through the e-deleGATE portal.

On the UN Official Document System, Fourth Committee documents are numbered using the pattern “A/C.4/<session number>/<document number>.” For example, the document A/C.4/73/1, contains the agenda items allocated to the Committee. All official documents are issued in the six main languages.

Official and open meetings of the Committee are carried live in UN Web TV.

Additional information can be found at the Committee’s website, https://www.un.org/en/ga/fourth/

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Talent is worldwide. Opportunity is not. How can we redistribute it?

As ride-hailing firms drive into the future, who is being left behind?

What if big-tech companies became non-profits?

Mobile technology saving lives: Changing healthcare systems with simple technological solutions

Entrepreneur India Convention 2016: Bringing together Entrepreneurs, Investors, Startups and SMEs

Recovering from COVID-19: these are the risks to anticipate now – before it’s too late

Empty stadiums and online streaming: how coronavirus is affecting the media industry

Change is happening – and young people are leading the way forward

Can one FTA and 110 lobby meetings make the dirty oil clean in Europe?

Killing of Egyptian peacekeeper in Mali ‘may constitute war crimes’ Guterres warns, urging ‘swift action’

Prisoner executions in Belarus ‘simply unacceptable’, says UN rights body

Indexation of family benefits, child tax credit and family tax credits: Commission takes Austria to Court for discrimination

Why the Fourth Industrial Revolution needs more arts graduates

Questions and answers: Commission proposes SURE, a new temporary instrument worth up to €100 billion to help protect jobs and people in work

Greece returns to markets at a high cost to taxpayers, after four years out in the cold

Judges urge Security Council to serve interests of all UN Member States

Artificial Intelligence: guidelines for military and non-military use

5 factors driving the Chinese lawtech boom

This is how we can save millions of people from extreme poverty after COVID-19

Listen to the future – how 26 youth-led organizations are supercharging the UN’s Global Goals

State of the Energy Union: Progress made on the clean energy transition and a basis for green recovery

New UN-Syrian Action Plan signals an ‘important day’ for child protection, says UN envoy

‘We all must step up’ collective action on disability inclusion – UN deputy chief

Environmental Implementation Review: Commission helps Member States to better apply EU environment rules to protect citizens and enhance their quality of life

Clamp down on illegal trade in pets, urge Public Health Committee MEPs

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

4 steps towards wiping out cervical cancer

European Commission: Does Apple, Starbucks and Fiat really pay their taxes?

Consultant in Forensic Technology – 1969

Does the “climate change” require ombudsman services for environment?

Soil pollution ‘jeopardizing’ life on Earth, UN agency warns on World Day

The Brussels bureaucracy blocks the Youth Guarantee scheme

Groundbreaking cancer-fighting drugs now included in updated UN list of essential medicines

Parliament ready to fight for a different EU budget

China Unlimited and the Chinese dream

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

Are the G20 leaders ready to curb corporate tax-avoidance?

Make this the year of ‘transformative solutions’ to avert disastrous climate change: UN Deputy Chief

Migration: Better travel safe than sorry

3 strategies for Africa to thrive in this new era of globalization

Quantitative easing: how Mario can tackle low inflation in Eurozone

A 550 km-long mass of rotting seaweed is heading for Mexico’s pristine beaches

How AI is shaping financial services

From Grexit to Brexit: UK industry now says the in/out referendum is good for your health

It’s 100 years since US women got the right to vote, but how has gender equality changed?

The cost of housing is tearing our society apart

‘Champion for multilateralism’ readies to hand over UN General Assembly gavel

Climate change is a security threat. We must act now

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Metallo by Aurubis

Greece begins a new chapter following the conclusion of its stability support programme

EU: Centralised economic governance and bank supervision may lead to new crisis

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Europe’s children urge leaders to commit to climate action at UN Climate Summit in Paris

Almost all businesses expect to face a crisis. And how they deal with them really counts

UN chief commends Algerians for ‘mature and calm’ demonstrations for change, leading up to presidential resignation

Trump in London poisons UK and Europe

India: step up reform efforts to increase quality jobs and incomes

Why David Cameron’s large victory in UK elections will not pursue a ‘Brexit’

UK must end ‘unlawful’ administration of Chagos Archipelago ‘as rapidly as possible,’ top UN court rules

Latin America and Caribbean region deadliest for journalists in 2019

FROM THE FIELD: Enduring freezing winter in a war zone

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s