Fifty-sixth General Assembly                                GA/SPD/214

Fourth Committee                                            12 October 2001

6th Meeting (PM)

 

 

ADMINISTERING POWERS’ RESPONSIBILITIES IN REMAINING TERRITORIES STRESSED,

 

AS FOURTH COMMITTEE CONCLUDES GENERAL DEBATE ON DECOLONIZATION

 

 

      Administering Powers must promote political and social development, protect human and natural resources and avoid victimizing the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories through military exercises, nuclear tests, and military bases, the representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said this afternoon, as the Fourth Committee concluded its general debate on decolonization issues.

 

He added that the administering Powers must ensure that those peoples knew their rights, especially through visiting missions.  Guaranteeing the right to self-determination meant guaranteeing the preservation of a people’s culture and the full protection of their rights.  Administering Powers must respect and guarantee equality and self-determination for all peoples under foreign rule.  It was hypocrisy for such Powers to speak of democracy and self-determination while continuing to subordinate the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

 

      The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories must be sensitized to the options open to them in order to freely decide their own future.  The regional seminars were important for that purpose and the recommendations of last May's Caribbean Regional Seminar in Havana, Cuba, deserved particular consideration.

 

      Uganda's representative said that peoples’ aspirations should not be dismissed on account of the small size of their Territories or populations.  They should be allowed to exercise self-determination, including the right to federate with larger entities, if they so wished.  He appealed to administering Powers to accelerate the decolonization process.

 

Regarding the question of Western Sahara, several speakers this afternoon stressed the need for speedy implementation of the Settlement Plan.

 

      The representative of Mauritius, noting that Western Sahara was Africa's last Non-Self-Governing Territory, said the Settlement Plan had been agreed upon by both Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front) and enjoyed widespread support from the international community.  Despite difficulties that had cropped up in its implementation and the proposal of an alternative draft framework agreement, that Plan remained the only viable premise for a successful settlement of the Western Sahara question.

     

     

(page 1a follows)

 

Fourth Committee                    - 1a -            Press Release GA/SPD/214

6th Meeting (PM)                                       12 October 2001

 

 

 

 

      Gabon's representative expressed his country's support for the draft framework agreement, saying it had given new impetus to the search for a settlement of the dispute.  Western Sahara was an issue of great significance to Gabon given its relations with the countries of the Maghreb, he added.

 

      Speaking before the general debate, Hasmy Agam (Malaysia), Committee Chairman, paid tribute to Secretary-General Kofi Annan for having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  The award should be a great inspiration for all at the United Nations, including members of the Fourth Committee, he said.

 

      Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Spain, Ghana, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Bahrain.

 

      Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the United Kingdom, India, Argentina and Pakistan.

 

      The Fourth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 16 October, to take action on draft resolutions and decisions relating to decolonization issues.

 

 

 

 

(page 2 follows)

 


      Background

 

      The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to conclude its general debate on decolonization issues.  [For further information, see Press Release GA/SPD/211 of 8 October 2001.]

 

      Statements

 

      HASMY AGAM (Malaysia), Committee Chairman, paid tribute to the Secretary-General for having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  It was a great day for the United Nations, of which all should be proud.  The award should be a great inspiration for all at the United Nations, including members of the Fourth Committee.

 

TARIQ S. CHAUDHRY (Pakistan) said there was a growing realization among the administering Powers that freedom could not be denied indefinitely.  However, some administering Powers continued to claim that the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories had accepted the existing arrangements and did not want to severe ties with them.  The international community could not accept such claims without independent verification under United Nations auspices to determine the wishes of the people concerned.

 

      The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (Declaration on decolonization) described the subjection of peoples to alien domination as contrary to the United Charter, he said.  Yet subjugation, domination and exploitation of peoples continued with impunity, Palestine and Kashmir being two glaring examples.  While the peace process involving Palestine still faced difficulties, it was in stark contrast to the situation in Kashmir, where no meaningful dialogue had taken place for more than half a century.  Kashmir was not presently an integral part of any country.

 

      He said attempts had been made in the Fourth Committee to confuse the just struggles for the right to self-determination with terrorism.  Such attempts besmirched the memory of those who had fought for freedom worldwide and particularly belittled the freedom struggles of many revered leaders, including those from South Asia.  What was happening in Kashmir was a just struggle against alien subjugation, domination and exploitation.  To deny that, or to try to prove otherwise, was a lie.

 

      Terrorism must be destroyed root and branch in all its forms and manifestations, he said.  Those who employed State apparatus to trample upon the fundamental and inalienable rights that the Declaration sought to protect were also perpetrators of terrorism.  If terrorism was defined by the act, and not by a description of the perpetrator, then alien occupiers and subjugators also fit that definition.

 

      MISHECK MUCHETWA (Zimbabwe) said that it was disheartening that there were still people living under the yoke of colonialism at the dawn of the Twenty-first Century.  Self-determination was a human right to be afforded to all, and, in order for one to make political decisions, it was necessary to receive adequate information on the choices available.  For those purposes, he called for total United Nations involvement in decolonizing all remaining Territories, and for cooperation from administering Powers in assisting that involvement.  East Timor was a test of the United Nations role in that regard, and he was grateful for the results.  He looked forward to that Territory’s admission to the club of sovereign nations.

 

      Zimbabweans knew from experience, he said, what it felt like to be treated like a tool in one’s own country, and to be required to follow laws imposed without one’s participation.  It was a dehumanizing experience.  In that regard, the tactics being employed in Western Sahara -- delaying the referendum -- were disgusting.  Every individual within colonial boundaries must be allowed to express their preferences, whether those pointed towards becoming independent or towards joining existing States.  States should not be able to block that for any reason.  He therefore called for speedy implementation of the Houston agreements, without dilution and with the threat of sanctions on any party that failed to comply.

 

      He concluded by drawing a distinction between terrorists, whose actions were criminal in nature, and freedom fighters, who fight for the right to self-determination as provided for by the Charter.  Freedom fighting was not necessarily terrorism and terrorism not necessarily freedom fighting.  He also pledged Zimbabwe’s cooperation in efforts to ensure speedy decolonization of the remaining Territories.

 

ROMAN OYARZUN (Spain) said that on 26 July, the Foreign Ministers of Spain and the United Kingdom had met in London to relaunch talks on Gibraltar.  In the spirit of good relations between the two countries, the Ministers had expressed their intention and political will to resolve all their differences relating to Gibraltar and to make all efforts to bring a rapid conclusion for the benefit of all the parties concerned.

 

Both sides had discussed approaches to the practical issues of cooperation and sovereignty, he said.  The Ministers had confirmed that the involvement of Gibraltar would be an important element in advancing the process and had decided to welcome the Chief Minister of that Territory to future ministerial meetings.  Regarding the appearance before the Committee by Gibraltar's Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition, he said his country's position had not changed.  He referred the Committee to Spain's statement before the Special Committee on Implementation of the Declaration on decolonization

18 June 2001.

 

      RI KYONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that it was abnormal to still have colonies on the planet in the new millenium.  Nations subject to their administering Power’s domination because of their strategic locations continued to be the victim of economic pillage and arms competition.  Their self-determination would not necessarily be ensured by annexation to the administering Powers nor by grants of autonomy.  Guaranteeing self-determination meant guaranteeing that a people’s culture be preserved and their rights fully enjoyed. 

 

      The miserable history of colonialism must end soon, he said.  Administering Powers must respect and guarantee equality and self-determination for all nations under such rule.  It was hypocrisy for such Powers to speak of “democracy” and “self-determination” while continuing to subordinate the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

 

      Administering Powers, he said, must ensure that those peoples know their rights through, especially, visiting missions.  They must promote political and social development, protect human and natural resources, and must not make local inhabitants into victims through military exercises, nuclear tests, and military bases.  In that regard, he supported the opposition of the Caribbean countries to military exercises of administering Powers in that region.  Furthermore, he hoped that other questions concerning the Non-Self-Governing Territories would be settled by negotiations, based on the principles set out in the Declaration on decolonization.

 

      YAW O. OSEI (Ghana) said colonialism undermined development, exploited people and denied them the right to determine their own state of affairs.  There could be no justification for its retention or defence at the present stage of humankind's evolution.  The Special Committee remained relevant to United Nations efforts to bring about a speedy conclusion to the decolonization process.

 

He said the Special Committee must continue to explore new ways to enhance its effectiveness, which should involve confidence-building measures for greater dialogue between itself and the administering Powers.  It would be worth considering more frequent consultations between the two sides on how best to make progress drawing on similar experiences within the United Nations framework.

 

      Regarding the question of Western Sahara, he said Ghana continued to uphold the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and shared their sense of frustration.  It was regrettable that despite the best efforts of the facilitators, the Settlement Plan, which should have paved the way for a self-determination referendum, had ended in deadlock.

 

Ghana maintained its support for the Houston accords and the Settlement Plan, he said.  The impasse must be broken.  Ghana urged all parties involved in the conflict not only to be accommodating, but also to demonstrate flexibility and a spirit of compromise in order to explore any avenues that would help overcome the deadlock and lead to the settlement of an issue that appeared intractable.

     

      SEMAKULA KIWANUK (Uganda) said that the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism must not be another lost decade for the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories around the globe.  It was the duty of the United Nations to complete the task of decolonization, even if much progress had already been made.  He called upon the international community to assist the remaining Territories on their road to independence without further delay. 

 

In addition, he said, no peoples’ aspirations should be dismissed on account of size or numbers.  All should be allowed to exercise self-determination, which would include demonstrating their willingness to federate with larger entities, if they wished.  He appealed to administering Powers to accelerate the decolonization process, and to assist Territories to total independence.

 

Concerning Western Sahara, he recalled General Assembly resolution 55/141, which called for the implementation of the Settlement Plan by the holding of a free and fair referendum.  Uganda was disappointed by the slow progress on that issue.  He urged the parties to remain engaged to bring an end to the conflict.  Uganda pledged its unflinching support for the self-determination of all remaining Territories.

 

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said that the relentless efforts of the United Nations and the international community, coupled with the strong determination of the East Timorese people, had finally paved the way for a self-governing, democratic East Timor.  The strong desire to lead the Territory to independence had been a very long and legitimate aspiration of the East Timorese and the high level of their participation during last August's elections showed their indomitable drive for self-rule.

 

      In contrast, he said, the Saharawi people were still struggling for their right to self-determination.  Western Sahara remained the last Non-Self-Governing Territory in Africa and it was the Committee's duty to take the process of its decolonization to a speedy conclusion.  The Settlement Plan agreed upon by both the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front ) and the Kingdom of Morocco enjoyed to a large extent the blessings of the international community.

 

      Noting that some difficulties had cropped up in the implementation of the Settlement Plan, he said, the POLISARIO Front had submitted proposals to overcome the obstacles.  In view of the impasse, a proposed draft framework agreement had been presented by the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, James Baker III.  Mauritius believed that the Settlement Plan remained the only viable premise for a successful settlement of the Western Sahara question, unless the two sides presented a mutually agreed alternative solution.

 

      MS. CEDENO REYES (Venezuela) said that the declaration of the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism was a call by the General Assembly for the redoubling of efforts to achieve a world free of colonialism.  She reaffirmed Venezuela’s commitment to the objectives of that declaration.  Seventeen remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories meant many people were not yet able to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, due to lack of political will, or a lack of effective cooperation. 

 

      As a member of the Special Committee, Venezuela had always emphasized fruitful dialogue as the priority in negotiations, she said.  It had also supported many of the measures advocated in resolutions.  There were differing views expressed in the Committee, but there was a shared objective -- fulfilling the aspirations of the peoples of the Territories and allowing them to realize their own destinies.  Regional seminars and visiting mission provided first-hand information, showing how interrelated the social and economic variables were in each case.  The regional seminar in Havana had been particularly valuable.

 

      The new challenge before the international community was developing a strategy that could overcome obstacles that were not overcome in the first Decade, the effectiveness of which depended on the support of the main players.  In supporting Chile’s statement on behalf of the Rio Group, she added Venezuela’s perspective on the question of Western Sahara, supporting the referendum within the Settlement Plan.  She deeply regretted the fact that no solution, agreeable to both sides was in sight, as yet.  In that regard, the position of the POLISARIO Front rejecting alternatives to that Settlement Plan should be respected.  She also supported the sovereignty claim of Argentina over the Malvinas islands, and called for dialogue at the highest level between that State and the United Kingdom.

 

      ABDUL MEJID HUSSEIN (Ethiopia) said Western Sahara was the only African Territory that was yet to be decolonized.  Ethiopia strongly supported the Saharawi people in their struggle for the right to self-determination.  It acknowledged and commended the efforts of the Secretary-General, in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU), on behalf of the people of Western Sahara, as provided for in the Settlement Plan.

 

      He expressed concern over the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan, despite the efforts of the Secretary-General's good offices to hold consultations with the two parties in seeking agreement on a mutually acceptable political solution.  Ethiopia urged the parties to cooperate fully with the Secretary-General, his Personal Envoy and his Special Representative in implementing the various phases of the Settlement Plan.

 

      Ethiopia remained fully committed to the ideals of decolonization, he said.  It was optimistic that the momentum that had inspired the international community to dedicate the period 2001 to 2010 as the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism would remain constant and that the Committee would achieve the goal of decolonizing the 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories.

 

      BENJAMIN VILLACIS (Ecuador) said that his country condemned the use of force in conflict resolution, and rejected all forms of colonialism and neocolonialism. It had always supported the right of people to control their own destinies in the interest of peaceful coexistence.  The existence of any form of colonialism was rightly recognized by the General Assembly as contradictory to the United Nations Charter. 

 

He supported Chile’s statement on behalf of the Rio group, particularly concerning the questions of the Malvinas Islands and East Timor.  Concerning Western Sahara, he supported the self-determination of the Sahawari people and thus the peace plan that had been accepted by both parties.  The complete implementation of that plan would bring an end to that conflict.

 

      Mr. AL-ZAYANI (Bahrain) recalled that in the Millennium Declaration, the heads of State and government had stated their rededication to supporting all efforts in realizing the rights of all peoples still under foreign domination and occupation.  The international community was painfully aware that the first International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism had been a sort of illusion.  But, while recognizing that it had not achieved a world free of colonialism, it was still an important link in the chain of means adopted by the United Nations in the decolonization role entrusted to it.

 

      The role of the United Nations in the decolonization process was a source of pride for the Organization, he said.  The subjugation of peoples by colonial domination violated the United Nations Charter and the Organization had striven throughout the four decades since the Declaration's adoption to attain the objective.  Colonialism hindered economic cooperation among countries and the international community must ensure its rapid and complete eradication.

 

      DAUDI MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) hoped that the work of the Special Committee would now be guided by a sense of urgency and determination in tackling the issues that still remained on the agenda.  Despite the remarkable achievements of decolonization in Africa, the question of Western Sahara remained.  He hoped that its solution would be in conformity with the Settlement Plan approved by the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations.

 

      The statutory responsibility for decolonizing the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories lay with the administering Powers, he said.  He commended the Special Committee’s efforts for dialogue with those Powers, and called for further cooperation from the latter.  Peoples of the Territories must be enabled to freely decide their own future and in order to do that they needed to be sensitized to the options open to them.  The regional seminars were important for that purpose.  The recommendations of the Havana seminar, in particular, deserved particular consideration.

 

      In addition, he said that military activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories should be curtailed.  He hoped that, unlike the last decade, significant progress would soon be made in the eradication of colonialism.  The achievements made in East Timor gave reason for that hope.  The Organization’s renewed resolve to fight terrorism should not distract it from the long-standing battle against colonialism and foreign occupation.

 

      ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said the question of Western Sahara was one of great significance to Gabon given its relations with the countries of the Maghreb.  Gabon had always advocated a peaceful negotiated settlement to the dispute over the Territory.  The search for a solution was experiencing a new impetus with the new proposals by the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy.  Gabon supported the draft framework agreement and urged the parties to pursue their negotiations in their customarily peaceful manner and in the spirit of the draft resolution before the Fourth Committee.

 

      Right of Reply

 

VANESSA HOWE-JONES (United Kingdom), responding to the representative of Spain, said her country's longstanding position regarding Gibraltar remained as set out by the representative of the United Kingdom on last 14 September.  She was grateful to his reference to the London Ministerial talks and it was particularly appropriate that he had drawn attention to the need for Gibraltarian involvement.  Like Spain, the United Kingdom would very much welcome the attendance of the Chief Minister at future meetings.

 

      Responding to the representatives of Venezuela and Ecuador, she said the United Kingdom's position on the Falklands Islands (Malvinas) was well known.  It had been set out in detail in her reply to the representatives of Chile, Cuba and Uruguay in the Fourth Committee on 8 October 2001.

 

      YASHVARDHAN KUMAR SINHA (India), in exercise of the right of reply,  categorically rejected the references to the  Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir made by the representative of Pakistan, which served to justify terrorist acts that were occurring.  Those provinces were part of India.  India’s position on Palestine was well known, but it was wrong for the representative  to connect that issue with recent, despicable acts of terrorism.  He also corrected Pakistan’s statement on the independence of Tokelau. 

 

      MATEO ESTREMÉ (Argentina), in exercise of the right of reply, said that he had no doubts of his country’s right of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands and other the islands in dispute in the South Atlantic.  It expressed appreciation to


those delegations who had supported that position, which was in the interest of the hemisphere and was aligned with the viewpoint of the United Nations.  The Organization had always made it clear that the issue be resolved through negotiation.  Argentina was prepared to carry out such negotiations as soon as possible, in an effort to reach a speedy solution.

 

      Mr. CHAUDHRY (Pakistan), clarifying an earlier reference, said his mentioning of the independence of Tokelau was the result of a typographical error.  He had intended to welcome Tuvalu to the community of nations.

 

Responding to India's representative regarding Kashmir, he said it was necessary to restate the facts, which were open for all to verify.  It was necessary to encourage rapid progress on that issue, which continued to have a negative impact on relations between Pakistan and India and on the South Asian subregion.

 

 

 

 

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