UN team heads to Pacific islands of Tokelau as its population prepares

In preparation for a landmark referendum on Saturday that could change Tokelau’s political status, a team of United Nations observers is going to the tiny South Pacific atolls that make up the Non-Self-Governing Territory, which is currently administered by New Zealand.The polls, which will allow all of Tokelau’s 1,500 citizens to vote, will give the islanders a further opportunity to decide their future after the Territory’s main representative body decided last year to move towards “self-government in free association with New Zealand.”Tokelau has decided that an overall majority of two-thirds of the valid votes cast would be required for a change in its status, according to UN officials familiar with the upcoming referendum. Polls will be open from Saturday to Wednesday.A UN spokesman in New York said the observer team would be made up of four officials, including a member of the world body’s Special Committee on Decolonization and two representatives from the Electoral Assistance Division.At the moment there are 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories left on the UN’s decolonization list, while there were 72 such territories when the Organization was established in 1945. The last Non-Self-Governing Territory that exercised the right to self-determination was East Timor, now known as Timor Leste, which gained independence in 2002.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *