UN urges US to not exploit American Samoa

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations has "strongly urged" the United States to refrain from using American Samoa as, among other things, a tax haven as well as for harmful and unproductive activities, that are not aligned with the interests of the people of the territory, according to a U.N. report released this week, reports The Guam Daily. 

The "Working Papers on American Samoa" report was prepared by the Secretariat for the U.N. committee on decolonization, which convenes annually – usually late May into early June – for the Pacific or Caribbean seminars. Last year the Pacific seminar was held in Managua, Nicaragua, but this year's host country for the Caribbean seminar is not available on UN online records.

The working paper provides background information on each of the world's 16 non-governing territories, including American Samoa. In the report, the UN General Assembly stressed the importance of fostering the economic and social sustainable development of the territory by promoting, among other things, sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living and fostering equitable social development.

It also stressed the importance of facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration, restoration and resilience in the face of new and emerging challenges.

And it "strongly urged the administering power (the United States) to refrain from undertaking any kind of illicit, harmful and unproductive activities, including the use of the Territory as a tax haven, that are not aligned with the interest of the people of the Territory," according to the report, which elaborated on what it meant by "illicit, harmful and unproductive activities."

Protect and conserve

The General Assembly requests that American Samoa and the administering power take all measures necessary to protect and conserve the environment of the territory against any degradation, and once again requested the specialized agencies concerned to monitor environmental conditions in the territory and to provide assistance to the territory, consistent with their prevailing rules of procedure.

It requested that the Committee of 24 (Special Committee on Decolonization) continue to examine the question of American Samoa and to report it to the General Assembly.

American Samoa's working papers provided a long summary of the Resolution on American Samoa adopted last December by the General Assembly. The resolution, according to the report, "reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of American Samoa to self-determination."

It also reaffirmed that, in the process of the decolonization of American Samoa, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which was also a fundamental human right, as recognized under the relevant human rights conventions.

And it further reaffirmed, "it was ultimately for the people of American Samoa to determine freely their future political status," and called on the U.S., in cooperation with the territorial government and appropriate bodies of the U.N. system, to develop political education programs for the territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.

The U.N. says it welcomes the territorial government's work with respect to moving forward on political status, local autonomy and self-governance issues with a view to making political and economic progress, and also welcomed the establishment in April 2016 of the Office of Political Status, Constitutional Review and Federal Relations.

It recalled Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga's statement two years ago that American Samoa should remain on the list of non-self-governing territories, under the purview of the Special Committee, until such time as its people have exercised their right to self-determination.

Also two years ago, the governor had extended an invitation to the decolonization committee to send a visiting mission to the territory and the U.N. called on the U.S to facilitate such a mission if the territorial government so desires.

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