Polling station in Nouméa
3 November 2017

The Committee of Signatories of the Nouméa Accord: an important political agreement on electoral rolls

On 2 November, the Prime Minister, assisted by the Minister for Overseas France, Annick Girardin, chaired the 16th meeting of the Committee of Signatories of the Nouméa Accord.
 
The Committee of Signatories meeting resulted in an important political agreement on electoral rolls between the partners of the Nouméa Accord, prior to a consultation that will be "fair and indisputable", the Prime Minister stressed.
 
The agreement paves the way for the definitive settlement of the question of the automatic registration on the electoral roll for the consultation (which currently comprises 158,000 voters) of approximately 11,000 native residents of New Caledonia, who until now have not appeared on the roll. Approximately 7,000 of them have customary civil status, while 4,000 have ordinary civil status. 
 
The agreement also provides for the extension of the work undertaken with the United Nations General Secretariat within the framework of electoral commissions. In addition, the partners agreed that a UN mission of experts will be called on during the consultation process to verify that it is properly carried out.
 
The role of the United Nations (UN)
"The committee is pleased with the quality of the relationship established with the UN experts in the procedure to revise the electoral rolls, and it agrees that this work must continue under the same conditions in 2018, and likewise for any additional revision periods. The partners are agreed on the need to implement the recommendations of the UN mission reports of 2016 and 2017, and this must be done as soon as possible.
The partners are also agreed that a mission composed of UN experts will be called on during the consultation process. The question of coordinating other international stakeholders will be the focus of in-depth discussions with the United Nations.
Finally, the State informs the Committee of Signatories that the French Government will suggest to the Decolonisation Committee, known as the C24, that a further visit be organised in the first quarter of 2018. In any case, the partners unanimously agree that the report to be produced by the C24 must not be published during the election campaign itself, but without fail by the end of June 2018 at the latest.
The Caledonian Union asks that a decolonisation audit be sought from the UN. The partners agree that specifications on this question will be drawn up within the framework of the current working group for the agreement report. As with the C24 report, it is requested that this work be carried out before June 2018. The State will begin discussions with the UN as soon as possible."
Extract from the Statement of Conclusions of the 16th meeting of the Committee of Signatories of the Nouméa Accord.

This agreement, which was reached after nine hours of discussion, will thus guarantee the legitimacy and sincerity of the ballot.
 
It demonstrates the commitment of the Prime Minister and the Government, by the side of the Caledonian people, to conclude this "unique, complicated, risky process", initiated 20 years ago by brave men who "dared to shake hands, (…) talk, (…) break with the traditional canons of French constitutional law and French public law in order to seek new solutions", Édouard Philippe reiterated.
 
Questions concerning the organisation of the consultation, in particular the wording of the question being asked, have been referred to a working group tasked with reviewing these before a further meeting of the Committee of Signatories to be held next spring.
 
The Prime Minister will visit New Caledonia at the end of November, and the President of the Republic will do so at some point before May 2018.
 
16th meeting of the Committee of Signatories of the Nouméa Accord
The 16th meeting of the Committee of Signatories of the Nouméa Accord focused in particular on the question of the special electoral roll for the consultation on New Caledonia’s accession to full sovereignty in 2018.
Under the Nouméa Accord, the electoral roll for the referendum is smaller than the general electoral roll. One question raised was the possibility of automatically registering different categories of voters on this special electoral roll. The agreement reached on 2 November paves the way for their automatic registration.