American Samoa asks again to be removed from U.N. colonies list

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

American Samoa's government delivered another message to United Nations representatives asking to be removed from the U.N.'s list of world colonies. Commerce Department Deputy Director Lelei Peau was participating in a regional seminar held from May 17-19 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by the U.N. Decolonization Committee.

The U.N. has promoted decolonization since its founding, particularly since its Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples was adopted in 1960. In 1945, about one-third of the world's population lived in dependent, non-self governing Territories. Today the U.N. lists 16 remaining colonies with fewer than 2 million total people.

American Samoa is asking to be removed from that list, on the grounds that it wishes to remain a freely associated territory of the United States. Its position has remained unchanged since the Lieutenant Governor first asked to be removed from the list in 1993.

"The position of the people of American Samoa, and its duly elected legislative representatives and government officials is that the current status of the Territory and the United States government is the desired relationship we wish to have," said Governor Togiola T. A. Tulafono last year. His message was delivered to the U.N. Decolonization Committee in their regional seminar held in the Pacific island country of Papua New Guinea.

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American Samoan Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono

"It has been a partnership that has aided both our peoples and the bonds of friendship between us are strong. We ask again that American Samoa be delisted as a 'colony' of the United States," said the governor's message.

The United States position, expressed to the U.N. General Assembly in 2003, is that its remaining territories are already in large measure self-governing. These territories should be able to choose whether to be independent states as "equal and sovereign partners" of the United States, or remain integrated within the United States.

The legislature of American Samoa, called the Fono, has approved a Future Political Status Commission to study public opinion on possibly becoming a commonwealth or freely associated state.

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