Jul 17, 2001

The 26th UNPO Steering Committee Meeting, The Hague, 14-15 July 2001

The 26th Steering Committee (SC) meeting has proved decisive in certain aspects, certainly not the least in the admittance of two new members who, since 1996, have lobbied their cases. Ironically, as they were welcomed and accepted unanimously, SC members had to consider proposals for the possible trimming-down of UNPO as far as it concerns members who do not pay their membership dues and who do not actively involve themselves in the organization. Incidentally, the meeting also took place on Scania's national day and solidarity was expressed with Mr and Mrs Göran Hansson who enthusiastically raise a glass on this occasion. Dr Parris Chang (Taiwan) was unanimously re- elected President of the SC, while Mr Akhyad Idigov (Chechnya), was elected First Vice President (in his absence). Ms Chundak Koren (Tibet) was elected Second Vice Chairperson of the SC.

In the reports that followed the election of office bearers, both the SC President and General Secretary discussed the issues of UNPO membership, finances, fundraising, project proposals and ongoing Secretariat activities. Reference was made to the possibility of sending UNPO election observer(s) to Taiwan during parliamentary elections there on December 1, 2001, while Dr Chang also emphasized the need to network more actively with the UN and international organizations on key issues and developments concerning our Members (for example, developments in Indonesia and Chechnya). Mr Alptekin thanked those Members who have always been prepared to support the UNPO and the Secretariat, both morally and financially. He informed SC members present of the Secretariat's structural changes where five different departments have been established. Subsequently, each head of department was to present his or her report to the SC. Reference was made to activities under the EP and CP programmes since the previous SC, as well as plans for the future.
The marketing issue of the UNPO was discussed, requiring, for example, updating and improvement of our website. Funding should also be obtained to release a CD Rom on the UNPO. Regarding UNPO News, Dr Chang suggested that regular profiles be included on previous interns at the UNPO who have since reached senior positions in their respective communities and careers. Other future activities include attendance of the World Conference against Racism in South Africa (end August 2001), a Yearbook for 2001, the Lessons Learned Research Project, and the organising of a conference on decolonisation and a training workshop on self-determination and international law. The main objective is to draw increased international attention to the human rights issues of UNPO members. Good cooperation with other NGOs is an essential part of this.

The SC dealt extensively with the issue of finances, members who are in arrear of their membership dues, as well as steps that could be taken to effectively solve this ongoing problem. It was decided that a commission be established to review member status and possible downsizing of the organization's membership. The GS, Chairperson and President were to make a final decision at a later stage on the issue of finding new, more affordable accommodation for the Secretariat. Senator John Nimrod briefed the SC on his mission to the Lakota and his discussions with tribal leaders, including their declaration on the establishment of a first embassy of the Lakota nation. The SC also discussed the current situation of our Tartu and Washington offices, as well as the importance of these regional offices to the organization.

History was made with the admission of two new members, the Chin and the Khmer Krom Kampuchea.
Mr Sai Mio Win provided a very good and detailed submission for their acceptance, after which the SC admitted them unanimously. Attention was also given on how to deal with current outstanding membership applications as well as any future ones. The ability and willingness to pay membership dues in advance will be crucial in this respect. The meeting was adjourned after various SC members presented remarks and/or statements on the situations in their respective countries.