6 October 2006
General Assembly
GA/SPD/345

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

Fourth Committee

6th Meeting (PM)


WESTERN SAHARA REMAINS FOCUS AS FOURTH COMMITTEE ENDS GENERAL DEBATE;


ACTION SET FOR NEXT WEEK ON DRAFT RESOLUTIONS


As the Fourth Committee concluded its general debate on decolonization issues this afternoon, the question of Western Sahara was the focus of seven petitioners and some ten country representatives, with Morocco’s representative saying that “the Kingdom of Morocco is keen to close, once and for all, this dispute”.


Highlighting the historical and political benchmarks of the matter, he said that in 1912 the Moroccan territory had been split up.  Forty years later, negotiations with Spain had resulted in the recovery of some territories, including the Sahara following the 1975 Madrid Agreement.  The process of recovering the territorial integrity would have been completed had Algeria not interfered in a hostile manner.


He said the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum, had presented the Security Council with an analysis of the reality, urging the international community to persuade Algeria to participate in negotiations because “it holds the key to the solution”.  Algeria had chosen, once again, to ignore the Personal Envoy’s approach and decided not to receive him during his last visit to the region.  Morocco “resolutely” supported negotiations by all the parties, driven as it was by a sincere will to reach, under the aegis of the United Nations, a final settlement to that regional dispute.


The representative of Guinea said his country was linked with the fraternal countries of the Maghreb, and that it welcomed the establishment of the Royal Advisory Council, which was a sign of Morocco’s desire to find a solution.  While he regretted that the deadlock continued, he noted that the release of Moroccan prisoners of war, resumption of family visits, extension of MINURSO’s mandate and progress in that body’s restructuring were all encouraging signs.


Other speakers remained opposed to the notion of the Western Sahara as part of the territorial integrity for Morocco.  The representative of Lesotho, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the Community regretted that the Saharawi people continued to be denied their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.  The United Nations Settlement Plan and the “Baker Plan” remained unimplemented.  He urged the Government of Morocco to accept the Baker Plan as the only viable option of resolving the question, through the holding of a free and fair referendum.


The Committee also heard from petitioners voicing support for Morocco’s position.  Gajmoula Ebbi, a member of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharawi Affairs (CORCAS), said that Morocco was ready to grant to the Saharawi the management of political, economic, social and cultural affairs within the sovereignty of Morocco.  She said the autonomy proposal would guarantee the stability of the region, as well as the rights of the people.


The representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO), however, said the occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco was a challenge to the Charter of the United Nations and the credibility of the Organization.  The Secretary-General had reminded the Security Council that no State in the world had recognized the sovereignty of Morocco over the region, and that nobody could deny the rights to self-determination of the Saharawi people.  After having sabotaged the referendum process, Morocco was now proposing a “pseudo” solution that ran counter to the right to self-determination.  His organization’s rejection was categorical and not open for appeal.  He warned Morocco that putting an end to the Baker Plan would put an end to ceasefire.


Other petitioners included representatives of the Unity and Reconciliation Association; the Association of the Sahraouis Parents and Victims of Repression; ASADEDH; and the Independence Party of Lanzarote.  A former member of the Political Office of POLISARIO petitioned the Committee as well.


The representatives of Bahrain, Liberia, United Republic of Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Angola, Libya, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of the Congo also spoke.


The representatives from Algeria and Morocco spoke in the right of reply.


At the end of the debate, the Committee decided that action on draft texts for the Committee would be taken on 11 October.


The Fourth Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 11 October, at 10 a.m. to take action on draft texts regarding decolonization issues and to start its consideration of the peaceful uses of outer space.


Background


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was this afternoon expected to conclude its general debate on decolonization issues, to hear the last petitioners on the question of Western Sahara and to take action on nine draft resolutions, eight of them recommended to it by the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in its report (document A/60/23).  Consideration of draft texts on the questions of Western Sahara and Gibraltar were postponed to a later date.


Draft Resolutions


By the terms of draft resolution I in the Special Committee’s report on Information from Non-Self Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations, the Assembly would request the administering Powers concerned to transmit, or continue to transmit, to the Secretary-General, the information prescribed in Article 73 e of the Charter, as well as the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments in the Territories concerned.  It would request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that adequate information is drawn from all available published sources in connection with the preparation of the working papers relating to the Territories concerned.


Draft resolution II, on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories, recommends that the Assembly reaffirm the right of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination in conformity with the United Nations Charter and with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), containing the Declaration on Decolonization, as well as their right to enjoy their natural resources, and to dispose of them in their best interest.


Affirming the value of foreign economic investment in collaboration with the people of the Territories, the Assembly would, by the terms of the draft, also reaffirm the responsibility of the administering Powers to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, reaffirming also the legitimate right of their peoples over their natural resources.  It would reaffirm its concern about any activities aimed at exploiting the natural resources that are the heritage of the peoples of the Territories, including the indigenous populations, in the Caribbean, the Pacific and other regions, and of their human resources, to the detriment of their interests, and in such a way as to deprive them of their right to dispose of those resources.


By further provisions of the text, the Assembly would call upon all Governments that have not yet done so to take, in accordance with relevant provisions of Assembly resolution 2621 of 1970, legislative, administrative or other measures in respect of their nationals and the bodies corporate under their jurisdiction that own and operate enterprises in the Territories that are detrimental to the interests of the inhabitants, in order to put an end to such enterprises.  The Assembly would also reiterate that damaging exploitation and plundering of the marine and other natural resources of the Territories, in violation of the relevant United Nations resolutions, are a threat to the integrity and prosperity of those Territories.


Also, according to the text, the Assembly would urge the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of the Territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of the resources.  The administering Powers would also be requested to take all necessary steps to protect the property rights of the peoples in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions.


The Assembly would, by further provisions, call upon the administering Powers concerned to ensure that no discriminatory working conditions prevail in the Territories under their administration and to promote, in each Territory, a fair system of wages applicable to all the inhabitants without any discrimination.  It would request the Secretary-General to continue, through all means at his disposal, to inform world public opinion of any activity that affects the exercise of the right of the peoples of the Territories to self-determination in conformity with the Charter and Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).


By yet further provisions, the Assembly would appeal to trade unions and non-governmental organizations, as well as individuals, to continue their efforts to promote the economic well-being of the peoples of the Territories, and also appeal to the media to disseminate information about developments in that regard.  It would also decide to follow the situation in the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories so as to ensure that all economic activities in those Territories are aimed at strengthening and diversifying their economies in the interest of their peoples, including the indigenous populations, and at promoting the economic and financial viability of those Territories.


By the terms of draft resolution III, on the implementation of the Declaration of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations, the Assembly would recommend that all States intensify their efforts in the specialized agencies and other United Nations system organizations to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and other relevant United Nations resolutions.  It would also reaffirm the recognition by the General Assembly, the Security Council and other United Nations organs, that the legitimacy of the aspirations of the peoples of the Territories to exercise their right to self-determination entails, as a corollary, the extension of all appropriate assistance to those peoples.


By further terms, the Assembly would request the specialized agencies and other United Nations organs, and international and regional organizations, to review conditions in each Territory, so as to take appropriate measures to accelerate progress in the economic and social sectors of the Territories.  It would urge those specialized agencies and United Nations organizations that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.


By other provisions, the specialized agencies and United Nations system organizations would be requested to provide information on environmental problems facing the Territories; the impact of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, and other environmental problems, such as beach and coastal erosion and droughts, on those Territories; ways and means to assist the Territories to fight drug trafficking, money-laundering and other illegal and criminal activities; and the illegal exploitation of the marine resources of the Territories and the need to utilize those resources for the benefit of the peoples of the Territories.


The Assembly would also recommend that the executive heads of the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system formulate, with the active cooperation of the regional organizations concerned, concrete proposals for the full implementation of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and submit the proposals to their governing and legislative organs.


Also according to the draft, the Assembly would welcome the adoption by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of its resolution 598 (XXX) of 2 July 2004, in which it welcomed the participation of associate members in the United Nations world conferences and special sessions, and reiterated its earlier request for the establishment of necessary mechanisms for the participation of associate members of regional economic commissions in the work of the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies.


The Chairman of the Special Committee, in consultation with the President of the Economic and Social Council, would be requested to explore the potential modalities for the implementation of the relevant ECLAC resolutions.  The Department of Public Information, in consultation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the specialized agencies and the Special Committee, would be requested to prepare and disseminate an information leaflet on assistance programmes available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The Territories would be encouraged to take steps to establish and/or strengthen disaster preparedness and management institutions and policies.


By other terms of the text, the Assembly would request the administering Powers concerned to facilitate, when appropriate, the participation of appointed and elected representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the relevant meetings and conferences of the United Nations specialized agencies and other organizations, so that the Territories may benefit from the related activities.  It would also recommend that all Governments intensify efforts in the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system to accord priority to the question of providing assistance to the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.


By provisions of draft resolution IV on the Question of New Caledonia, the General Assembly would welcome the significant developments that have taken place in New Caledonia, as exemplified by the signing of the Nouméa Accord in May 1998, and urge all parties involved to maintain, in the framework of the Accord, their dialogue in the spirit of harmony.


Further by the text, the Assembly would note the relevant provisions of the Accord aimed at taking more broadly into account the Kanak identity in the political and social organization of New Caledonia, and also those provisions of the Accord relating to control of immigration and protection of local employment.  It would also note the relevant provisions of the Accord to the effect that New Caledonia may become a member, or associate member, of certain international organizations, such as those in the Pacific region and the United Nations.


The Assembly would further welcome the fact that the administering Power invited to New Caledonia, at the time the new institutions were established, a mission of information which comprised representatives of countries of the Pacific region.  It would call upon the administering Power to continue to transmit information to the Secretary-General as required under article 73 e of the Charter.


Further, the Assembly would invite all the parties involved to continue promoting a framework for the peaceful progress of the Territory towards an act of self-determination in which all options are open, and which would safeguard the rights of all sectors of the population, according to the letter and the spirit of the Nouméa Accord.  The Assembly would also decide to keep under continuous review the process unfolding in New Caledonia as a result of the signing of the Accord and request the Special Committee to continue examining the question of New Caledonia and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its sixty-second session.


The Question of Tokelau is addressed in draft resolution V, by which the Assembly, noting that considerable progress had been made towards the adoption of a Constitution and that the referendum had failed by a narrow margin to produce the two third majority required to change Tokelau’s status as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, would welcome New Zealand’s agreement to the request by the Tokelauan Council on Ongoing Government to maintain the referendum package, and request that the Special Committee continue examining the question and report thereon to the General Assembly at its sixty-second session.


Also before the Committee is draft resolution VI, concerning the Questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands, contained in the report of the Special Committee.


The draft’s general section, part A, would have the Assembly reaffirm that, in the decolonization process, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which was also a fundamental human right.


The Assembly would also stress the importance of implementing the Decade’s action plan, particularly by expediting the application of the work programme for the decolonization of each Non-Self-Governing Territory, on a case-by-case basis and by completing the periodic analyses of the progress and extent of implementation of the Declaration.


The Assembly would reaffirm that it was ultimately for the peoples of the Territories themselves to determine freely their future political status and, in that connection, would reiterate its long-standing call for the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial governments, to promote political education in the Territories, in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.


The Assembly would stress the importance of the Special Committee being kept apprised of the views and wishes of the peoples of the Territories, enhancing its understanding of their conditions including the nature and scope of the existing political and constitutional arrangements between the Non-Self-Governing Territories and their respective administering Powers.


By a further provision, the Assembly would reaffirm the responsibility of the administering Powers to promote the economic and social development, and to preserve the cultural identity, of the Territories.  It would recommend that priority continue to be given, in consultation with the territorial governments concerned, to strengthening and diversifying their respective economies.


Further, the Assembly would stress the importance of implementing the plan of action for the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, particularly by expediting the application of the work programme for the decolonization of each Non-Self-Governing Territory, on a case-by-case basis.


Part B of the text takes up the question of the specific Territories.  On American Samoa, the Assembly would, among other things, call on the administering Power to assist the territorial government in the diversification of its economy, and help facilitate a visiting mission to the Territory, as expressed in the invitation of Governor of American Samoa to the Special Committee.  The Assembly would also request the administering Power to assist the Territory in facilitating the work of the newly established Future Political Status Study Commission, consistent with Article 73 b of the Charter of the United Nations.


On Anguilla, the Assembly would welcome the establishment of a new constitutional and electoral reform commission in 2006 that would aim to make recommendations to the administering Power on proposed changes to the Territory’s Constitution.  It would also welcome the participation of the Territory as an associate member of the Caribbean Community, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and ECLAC.


With respect to Bermuda, the Assembly would welcome the dispatch of the United Nations special mission to Bermuda on the legitimate political status options as defined in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).  It further welcomed the 2005 report of the Bermuda Independence Commission, which provided an examination of the facts surrounding independence and noted plans for public meetings and the presentation of a green paper to the House of Assembly, followed by a white paper outlining the policy proposals for an independent Bermuda.  The Assembly requested that relevant United Nations organizations provide assistance to the Territory in the context of its public education programme, if requested.


Regarding the British Virgin Islands, the Assembly would welcome the 2005 Constitutional Commission report, which contained recommendations on constitutional advancement, including the scaling back of powers of the appointed Governor.  It further welcomed talks started in 2006 between the elected government and the administering Power on devolution of power.


Concerning the Cayman Islands, the Assembly would note the Territory’s decision to reopen discussions with the administering power in 2006 on constitutional modernization.  It would further note the 2005 statement made by the representative of the Non-Governmental Organizations Constitutional Working Group of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce that called for a comprehensive educational programme on the issue of self-determination and a visiting mission to the Territory.


On the situation in Guam, the Assembly would call on the administering Power to take into consideration the expressed will of the Chamorro people as supported by Guam voters in the plebiscite of 1987 and as provided for in Guam law, and it would encourage the administering Power and Guam’s territorial government to enter into negotiations on the matter.  It would further request that it continue to transfer land to the original landowners of the Territory and cooperate in establishing programmes intended to promote sustainable development.


On Montserrat, recalling the 2002 report of the Constitutional Review Commission that put forth recommendations on constitutional advancement, the Assembly would welcome the convening of a committee of the House of Assembly in 2005 to review the report.  It further would welcome the subsequent discussions between the elected Government and the administering Power on the devolution of power.


Taking into account the unique nature of Pitcairn in terms of population and area, the Assembly would request the administering Power to continue its assistance for the improvement of the economic, social, educational and other conditions of the population of the Territory and to continue its discussions with the representatives of Pitcairn on how best to support their economic security.


Concerning St. Helena, the Assembly would welcome the continuing constitutional review process and the 2005 consultative poll led by the government in cooperation with the administering Power, whose decision to provide funding for the construction of an international airport in the Territory to become operational in 2010 it would also welcome.  It would also ask the administering Power and relevant international organizations to continue to support the Territorial government’s efforts to address the socio-economic development challenges, including the high unemployment and the problem of limited transport and communications, as well as to support the additional infrastructure required for the airport project.


The Assembly, welcoming the dispatch of the United Nations special mission to the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2006, would take note of the statement made by the Chief Minister of the Territory at the 2005 Caribbean regional seminar that his government was in favour of a reasonable period of full internal self-government before moving to independence. It would further note the concluded discussions between the Territory and the administering Power that resulted in an agreement for an advance constitution.


On the United States Virgin Islands, the Assembly would ask the administering Power to continue to assist the territorial government in achieving its political, economic and social goals, once again requesting it to facilitate the participation of the Territory in various organizations, particularly the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Caribbean States.


Similarly, it would call for the Territory’s inclusion in regional programmes of UNDP, and welcome the establishment of the Inter-Virgin Islands Council as a mechanism of functional cooperation between the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.


Draft resolution VII, on dissemination of information on decolonization, would have the Assembly approve the activities of the Department of Public Information and the Department of Political Affairs in the dissemination of information on decolonization.  It would consider it important to continue and expand the Special Committee’s efforts to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information on decolonization, with particular emphasis on the options of self-determination available for the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.


The Assembly would request both Departments to implement the recommendations of the Special Committee to continue their efforts to take measures through all the available media, including publications, radio and television, as well as the Internet, to publicize the work of the United Nations in the decolonization field.


Among other things, the two Departments would be requested to develop procedures to collect, prepare and disseminate, particularly to the Territories, basic material on the issue of self-determination; to seek the full cooperation of the administering Powers in the discharge of the above tasks; to develop a working relationship with the appropriate regional and intergovernmental organizations, particularly in the Pacific and Caribbean regions, by holding periodic consultations and exchanging information; and to encourage the involvement of non-governmental organizations, as well as the Non-Self-Governing Territories, in the dissemination of information on decolonization.  Additionally, all States would be requested to accelerate the dissemination of information referred to above.


By the terms of draft resolution VIII, on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, the Assembly would reaffirm, once again, that the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation, including economic exploitation, is incompatible with the United Nations Charter, the Declaration on Decolonization and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It would call upon the administering Powers to take all necessary steps to enable the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories as soon as possible to exercise fully their right to self-determination, including independence.


The Assembly would also affirm, once again, its support for the aspirations of peoples under colonial rule to exercise their right to self-determination, including independence.  It would call upon the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee to finalize, before the end of 2007, a constructive programme of work on a case-by-case basis for the Territories to facilitate the implementation of the Special Committee’s mandate and the relevant decolonization resolutions, including those on specific Territories.


By further terms of the text, the Assembly would welcome the agreement of New Zealand and the Tokelau Council on Ongoing Government to maintain the referendum package of a draft Constitution and draft treaty of free association as a possible future basis for an act of self-determination by Tokelau.


Further, the Assembly would welcome the dispatch of the United Nations special mission to the Turks and Caicos Islands, at the request of the territorial government and with the concurrence of the administering Power, which provided information to the people of the Territory on the United Nations role in the process of self-determination, on the legitimate political status options, as clearly defined in resolution 1541 (XV) of 15 December 1960, and on the experiences of other small States that have achieved a full measure of self-government.


The Assembly would request the Special Committee, by further terms, to continue to seek suitable means for the immediate and full implementation of the Declaration and to carry out the actions approved by the Assembly regarding the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and the Second Decade in all Territories that have not yet exercised their right to self-determination, including independence.  In particular, it would be asked to formulate specific proposals to end colonialism; examine the implementation by member States of resolution 1514 (XV) and other relevant resolutions; finalize, before the end of 2007, a constructive programme of work on a case-by-case basis for the Territories to facilitate the implementation of the Committee’s mandate.


The Special Committee would also be requested to continue dispatching visiting missions to the Territories, to conduct seminars for the purpose of receiving and disseminating information on the Committee’s work, and to take all necessary steps to enlist worldwide support among Governments, as well as national and international organizations, for achieving the objectives of the Declaration.


By other terms of the draft, the Assembly would call upon all States, in particular the administering Powers, as well as United Nations specialized agencies, to give effect within their respective spheres of competence to the Special Committee’s recommendations for the implementation of the Declaration and other relevant United Nations resolutions.  It would call upon the administering Powers to ensure that the economic activities in the Territories under their administration do not adversely affect the interests of the peoples, but instead promote development, and to assist them in the exercise of their right to self-determination.  It further called upon the administering Powers that have not participated formally in the Special Committee’s work to do so at its session in 2007.


The Assembly would also approve the Special Committee’s report covering its 2005 session, including the programme of work for 2007.


The Committee also had before it a draft text –- the ninth on its agenda -- on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/C.4/61/L.4), by which the Assembly, expressing its appreciation to those Member States that had made scholarships available to the inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories, would invite all States to make or continue to make generous offers of study and training facilities to the inhabitants of those Territories and, wherever possible, to provide travel funds to prospective students.


The Assembly would also urge the administering Powers to take effective measures to ensure the widespread and continuous dissemination in the Territories under their administration of information relating to such offers, and to provide all the necessary facilities to enable students to avail themselves of such offers.


Petitioners on Question of Western Sahara


BABA AHL MAYARA, Unity and Reconciliation Association, said the conflict was a threat to peace and stability in the region.  The underlying causes of the conflict were the difficulties facing the referendum and the inability of the United Nations to find a solution.  He hoped for a just and speedy solution to put an end to the suffering of the refugees and to restore stability.


The best solution to the problem was the plan for autonomy declared by the King of Morocco, aimed at finding a lasting and fair solution to the matter.  There was a clear will in Morocco to take all necessary measures to implement the initiative of autonomy as a way of solving the conflict and a way to find development.


BRAHIM BLLALI, Association of the Sahraouis Parents and Victims of Repression, said that, after Spain had departed from Western Sahara, Morocco had not entered the territory as a colonial Power.  It had always considered the territory part of its country.  If accepted by the international community, the autonomy plan as proposed by Morocco could help in overcoming the conflict.


He said a negotiated solution would prevent much tension in the region and would make it possible to integrate the Maghreb region.  International terrorism in the region would thereby be prevented.  He urged Algeria to help in overcoming the crisis and help in restoring stability.  The implementation of an autonomous regime would be positively received by the Saharawi, and others.  He asked the United Nations to convince the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) to consider the proposal.


INES JAVEGA SOLEY, of the ASADEDH Group, said part of the Saharawi population was completely isolated from the world.  Much had been said about self-determination of the Sahara; the conflict had been drawn out for the last 30 years.  His association proposed a solution that made it possible to recover a population and cultural identity that should not have ever been lost, namely self-government within the territory of Morocco.  It would be an autonomous region.


He said Spain should be looked at as an example.   Spain was a nation that had been divided into 19 regions or autonomous communities.  The Spanish model had functioned well for 25 years.  The real problem came from Algeria, which provided arms and support to POLISARIO.  That was hurting Morocco and the lives of compatriots who were in enforced exile.  The solution could be a peaceful one.  He proposed the constitution for the Sahara as an autonomous region in the Moroccan State.  He said there were serious human rights violations in the camps on Algerian territory.


FABIAN MARTIN MARTIN, Independence Party of Lanzarote, said the Canary Islands had witnessed the conflict from a short distance.  Its civil society was one of few in the world directly concerned with the conflict, since several of its sailors had been injured as a result of it.


He said the humanitarian conditions in prison camps exemplified an atmosphere of brutality.  Many families had seen prisoners tortured.  The constant threat of return to armed conflict was unacceptable in the current context.  Autonomy within the sovereign State of Morocco would be a good solution.  Saharawi independence within the Morocco territory was a possibility to keep the Saharawi culture and traditions intact.  The Canary Islands wanted stability in the Maghreb.


GAJMOULA EBBI, Royal Advisory Council for Saharawi Affairs (CORCAS), said that given the objection by people who wanted an exclusive referendum, as well as by a minority who supported the Baker Plans, there was a need to find a just solution for the parties.  Morocco was ready to grant to the Saharawi the management of political, economic, social and cultural affairs within the sovereignty of Morocco.  The Royal Advisory Council, established following the speech by the King in March 2006, comprised 141 members who made up modern Saharawi society.  It had five committees, including those that dealt with human rights, the populations of the Tindouf camps and foreign affairs.


She said Morocco was providing discussion for the autonomy project proposal, which would guarantee the stability of people, as well as their rights.  This was a formula that would provide a successful outcome, with no winners or losers.  She applauded the Secretary-General’s efforts to achieve a just and peaceful solution to the conflict and asked the international community for its assistance in that just and noble cause.


MUSTAPHA BOUH, a former member of the Political Office of POLISARIO, said he had held different posts in that movement.  People who had nostalgia for Spain should not presume to teach lessons to others.  Their bellicose behaviour would serve only to strengthen the positions of others.


He said the Saharawi were used as “tools and hostages” by Algeria, which was the real protagonist against Morocco and the Sahara.  An example of Algeria’s behaviour was its direct involvement in the events of 1988, when there was a rift in leadership of POLISARIO.


He said most of the population of Sahara live peacefully in Southern Morocco participating in their towns.  The Royal Advisory Council supported the intention of Morocco.  The majority of Saharawi fully supported this model for autonomy, which also existed in Germany, Spain and elsewhere.  He appealed to friends of POLISARIO to build a better future and heal wounds of the past.


AHMED BOUKHARI, POLISARIO, said the occupation of the Western Sahara by Morocco was a challenge to the Charter of the United Nations and the credibility of the Organization.  The Secretary-General had reminded the Security Council that no State in the world had recognized the sovereignty of Morocco over the region and that nobody could deny the rights to self-determination of the Saharawi people.  The Moroccan oppression was of barbaric cruelty.  Dozens of Saharawi had been imprisoned and tortured in medieval ways by being set on fire.  Committing such crimes was a shameful act, unworthy of a member State that was also a member of the Human Rights Council.  On 23 September, pro-independence demonstrations in the occupied Territory had been crushed with brutal oppression.  The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights had reported a serious human rights situation in the occupied territory.


He said the United Nations had been put in a delicate situation.  After having sabotaged the referendum process, Morocco was now proposing a “pseudo” solution that ran counter to the right to self-determination.  His organization’s rejection was categorical and not open for appeal.  It was up to only the Saharawi to decide on the question by a free and fair referendum on self-determination organized by the United Nations.  If they decided to be part of Morocco, that would be their right.  However, if the Saharawi chose to be independent, their position should also be respected.  That was the essence of the decolonization Declaration in resolution 1415 (XV).


The Moroccan Government should not lose sight of the fact that putting an end to the Baker Plan would put an end to ceasefire, he said.  Morocco was, once again, playing with fire.  His organization’s position was clear; faced with a decolonization problem, the United Nations must assume its responsibility and could not forsake the people of Western Sahara for Morocco’s “siren song of real politik”.


Statement by United States Virgin Islands Representative


JEFFREY J. JONES (United States), addressing a procedural matter regarding the request of a United States Virgin Islands resident to address the Committee in an official capacity, said the United States Virgin Islands was an insular territory of the United States.  The Government of the United States, as administering Power, had sole jurisdiction over foreign representation of the islands.  Mr. Carlyle Corbin was not a member of the United States delegation and had no standing in an official capacity.  Nevertheless, in a spirit of cooperation and in order to expedite the important work of the Committee, his delegation would not object to Mr. Corbin addressing the Committee.  That should not be regarded as his delegation’s final views on the matter, however.


CARLYLE CORBIN from the United States Virgin Islands then spoke.  He asked that his statement be distributed in the same manner as that of the Government of Gibraltar.  His Government had addressed the Decolonization Committee since 1975.  He commended the member States of the Fourth Committee for recognizing that the lack of implementation continued to delay the decolonization process.  Only Timor-Leste had achieved a full measure of self-government since the 1990s.  He supported the Plan of Implementation of the Decolonization Mandate, and asked that the United Nations system carry out all its provisions.  It was critical to the self determination process.  He said his Government had been an associate member of the ECLAC since 1984, with the concurrence of the administering Power.  Territories, including his, had maintained Observer status at the United Nations General Assembly between 1992 and 2005, with the concurrence of the administering Powers.


He said many territories had participated in the regional commissions, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other bodies with no constitutional implications.  He asked that the United States reconsider that proposition.  Territorial governments should be treated no less favourably.  He said the people of the Virgin Islands were largely the descendants of the survivors of captured Africans of the transatlantic slave trade.  He supported CARICOM’s commemoration of 2007, recognizing the abolition of the slave trade.


Continuation of General Debate


The committee’s general debate then continued.  F. AL-ZAYANI ( Bahrain) said history books had conveyed the sufferings of the many generations of peoples in colonies; those were unspeakable sufferings which were now difficult to imagine.  In 1960, the Assembly had adopted the decolonization Declaration, resolution 1514 (XV).  The efforts of the United Nations aimed at decolonization had continued through innovative means and approaches, to achieve the end of colonialism.  Every 10 years, another resolution had been adopted that reaffirmed the need to end colonialism.  In the year 2000, in the Millennium Declaration, Heads of States and Government had once again reaffirmed the right to self-determination.


He said the resolution announcing the Second Decade to Eliminate Colonialism had also reaffirmed that the world should be free of it.  All cherished the work done within the United Nations, in particular in the Fourth Committee, aimed at achieving the ultimate goal of eliminating colonialism and foreign domination.  The role of the United Nations in the area was based on the principles of the Charter and on the provisions of the decolonization Declaration.  Colonialism was a denial of human rights of the people and hindered international cooperation.


NATHANIEL BARNES ( Liberia) said that, as a founder of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union, which was a catalyst for the liberation struggle of the African continent, his country was dismayed that, in this day and age, there were territories still being administered by other member States, in violation of the United Nations Charter.


He asked member States that administered territories to adhere to the rule of law and democratic principles, and grant those territories the right of self-determination.  He said his Government had endorsed the 1979 OAU decision to recognize POLISARIO as the legitimate political leadership for Western Sahara, and today, endorsed the position by the AU and the Security Council to hold a referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.


ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW ( Guinea), said the adoption of resolution 1514 and the creation of the Special Committee to study implementation were assets to be maintained and strengthened, until the complete eradication of colonialism.  Despite those achievements, it was regrettable that a long road to travel remained, with 16 Territories still on the United Nations list.  He welcomed the continuing visiting missions to Non-Self Governing Territories, as well as the participation of administering Powers in the work of the Special Committee.


He said Guinea was linked with the fraternal countries of the Maghreb, and he hoped for a speedy solution to the question of Western Sahara.  He regretted that the deadlock continued, despite the efforts of the Secretary-General.  A prolonged deadlock would lead to continued suffering of people in the region.  However, he noted, the release of Moroccan prisoners of war, resumption of family visits, extension of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) mandate and progress in that body’s restructuring were all encouraging signs.  The next visit to the region by Special Envoy Peter van Walsum also was a source of hope.  Guinea encouraged parties to cooperate with him to find a just and politically acceptable solution. Guinea welcomed the establishment of the Royal Advisory Council, which was a sign of Morocco’s desire to find a solution.


GRACE MUJUMA (United Republic of Tanzania) said it was clear that the second international Decade was running behind schedule.  The lack of progress should revitalize efforts to support those who looked to the Fourth Committee to help fulfil their aspirations.  The Committee should focus seriously on implementing the Decolonization Mandate 2006-2007, as outlined in the Plan of Action.  Stressing the vital role of the administering Powers in moving forward, he said all identified actors must play an active role in facilitating the implementation of resolutions on decolonization.


He said that although Tokelau’s 11-15 February referendum to determine its future had fallen short of the two-third majority needed to change its status as a non-self-governing Territory, the agreement between New Zealand and the Tokelau Council to maintain the referendum “package” of a draft constitution and draft treaty of free association was a “great assurance.”


Administering Powers should cooperate in support of the right to self-determination and decolonization.  It was regrettable that the question of Western Sahara remained far from being resolved.  He said that an already grave situation must not be left to worsen.  A mutually acceptable solution must be found that would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.  That solution should be addressed through direct talks without preconditions between the parties.


MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said that, in a global context, colonialism remained an important issue.  The United Nations had constantly affirmed the right of all peoples to self-determination, among other things, through resolution 1514 and the creation of the Special Committee on Decolonization.  Meaningful results had been achieved, in particular regarding the decolonization in Africa.  However, while the Second Decade (on decolonization) was now in its second half, there were still territories under foreign occupation.  Hopefully the year 2010, the end of the Second Decade, would coincide with the end of “the shame of mankind”.


He said the question of Western Sahara was sensitive and complicated.  The United Nations, to whom the parties in the conflict had attributed a central role, had spent much energy on several initiatives.  Eager to avoid spreading unrest to the entire sub-region, the United Nations had always appealed to the parties to fully cooperate in achieving a political solution acceptable to all.  Peace in the Maghreb was important for the region as well as for the world.  A consensual and negotiated solution was, therefore, important.


He said it was reassuring to note that Morocco had said it stood ready to get involved in negotiations to reach a political solution acceptable to all.  As long as the other parties committed themselves to the same approach, there was hope.  Any other way would lead nowhere.


TETE ANTONIO ( Angola) expressed appreciation to the Committee, noting that November would mark the thirty-first anniversary of Angola’s independence.  As an anachronism of modern times, he said, colonialism required an innovative approach to avoid the status quo.  Self-determination was an issue of great value to all people and should not, therefore, be denied to any.  “We have all aspired to it, or fought for it, at different stages of world history”, he added.


He said he was concerned at the lack of progress on the question of Western Sahara.  It was necessary to preserve the United Nations credibility by reaffirming agreed-upon principles.  He said he appreciated the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy to break the current deadlock; the search for a way of the question should take into account the people’s right to choose their own destiny in conformity with Security Council resolution 1429 (2002), which provided for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.  The Parties should not make proposals that would impair the Secretary-General’s and the Council’s efforts to make progress.  He was also concerned by signs of unrest in Western Sahara.


Angola, which had good relations with both Morocco and POLISARIO, would like to see progress on this crucial issue, he concluded.  In that regard, he appealed for a fraternal and principle-based solution to the problem.


A.A. ABU SHAGOUR ( Libya) said the United Nations had achieved a great deal in the way of helping territories achieve their right to self-determination.  Two thirds of the Organization’s members were under foreign domination when the body had first been created.  Resolution 1514 was a decisive turning point in the decolonization process.  The first Decade had made it possible for several countries to achieve independence.  However, Libya was currently disappointed that actions in the Second Decade had not met aspirations.


She called for all to cooperate with the Special Committee, and implement resolutions in that area.  The international community should help Non-Self-Governing Territories express their will freely.  Administering Powers should respect the resources and environment of the Territories, and pay them damages for any abuse of those assets.


People under foreign domination must achieve their right to self-determination and obstacles should be eliminated.  In that context, she said, Palestinians were suffering under Israeli domination, and were being denied their right to self-determination and to create their own independent State.


LEBOHANG F. MAEMA ( Lesotho), speaking on behalf of Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the Community attached great importance to the issue of developing countries on the basic principle of self-determination for all peoples under foreign occupation.  The struggle for independence in the sub-region had been largely fought on the basis of that principle.  The Special Committee on Decolonization should be commended for its efforts in the decolonization process, particularly with regard to visiting missions to individual territories.  He said he was concerned that, past the midpoint of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, 16 territories remained on the list of the non-self-governing.  There had been no progress since the independence of Timor-Leste.


He said SADC regretted that the Saharawi people continued to be denied their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.  He urged the Government of Morocco to accept the Baker Plan as the only viable option for resolving the question, through the holding of a free and fair referendum.


SADC strongly believed, he said, that decolonization -- one of the principal objectives of the United Nations -- was a process that needed to be expedited.  It was incumbent upon all to see to it that the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories were supported and assisted in their quest for freedom and independence.


A.T. VAKULHAVANJI ( Mozambique) said the question of Western Sahara deserved the particular attention of the United Nations General Assembly, since the issue remained unresolved.  He noted resolutions 658 (1990) and 690 (1991) for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, and deeply regretted the continued delay of the Settlement Plan that would allow people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.


He said the Settlement Plan was the only definitive framework for a solution for Western Sahara and urged parties to cooperate with the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy to ensure its implementation.  Mozambique reiterated its full support for resolutions that would help achieve a just, lasting and definitive solution to the question.


EL MOSTAFA SAHEL ( Morocco) said that, once again, the question of the Sahara was before the Committee.  Had Algeria chosen the path of wisdom, the Committee could have avoided that tedious exercise.  Highlighting the historical and political benchmarks of the dispute, he said that, in 1912, the Moroccan territory had been split up.  Forty years later, negotiations with Spain had resulted in the recovery of some territories, including the Sahara, following the 1975 Madrid Agreement.  The process of recovering the territorial integrity would have been completed had Algeria not interfered in a hostile manner.  Describing the situation in the Tindouf camps, of which Algeria was the host country, he said Algeria was responsible and “directly involved in the drama”.  Algeria was liable to be prosecuted before the competent jurisdictions, as crimes against humanity should not remain unpunished.


He said: “The Kingdom of Morocco is keen to close, once and for all, this dispute and to expedite the return to Morocco of the sequestrated [refugees]…”  The solutions recommended by the United Nations had either been declared inapplicable by the United Nations itself, as in the case of the Settlement Plan, or they had not met with the consent of the parties, which was a sine qua non for implementation, as had been the case with the Framework Agreement and the Peace Plan submitted by Mr. Baker.  The draft Framework Agreement had been immediately supported by Morocco as a basis for negotiation, but had been rejected by Algeria.  Algeria had suggested a partition of the territory and population of the Sahara.  The Peace Plan, or Baker Plan II, did not meet the preliminary agreement of the parties and had, therefore, been rendered invalid.


He said the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum, had presented the Security Council with an analysis of the reality, urging the international community to persuade Algeria to participate in negotiations because “it holds the key to the solution”.  Algeria had chosen, once again, to ignore the Personal Envoy’s approach and decided not to receive him during his last visit to the region. Morocco “resolutely” supported negotiations by all the parties, driven as it was by a sincere will to reach, under the aegis of the United Nations, a final settlement to that regional dispute.


Faced with the present deadlock, Morocco had undertaken a number of initiatives, he said.  One of those was the proposal for a “viable, credible and definite autonomy status” for the inhabitants of the region “in the framework of the sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity of the Kingdom”.  A representative body of all tribal constituents and others, CORCAS, had pledged its full commitment to the process of elaborating that autonomy status.  Morocco was ready to cooperate with the other parties and the Personal Envoy and to engage, in “good faith and with utmost determination”, in negotiations contributing to the success of that solution.


ATOKI ILEKA ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said his delegation associated itself with the statement of Lesotho, which had set out the position of SADC countries on all agenda items.  However, on the question of Western Sahara, he repeated his country’s national position, which remained unchanged.  It fell within the context of the United Nations that had reaffirmed its will to help achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution, within accordance of its Charter.


Thus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo once again called on parties in the region to cooperate fully with the United Nations to end the current deadlock, and to make progress toward a politically acceptable solution.


Rights of Reply


Speaking in right of reply, the representative of Algeria said Morocco’s representative had completely distorted the facts and delivered an outrageous speech regarding Algeria.  The speech was outrageous and the representative had disgraced himself.  The history of the last 30 years had taught the world that Morocco had constantly claimed to accept negotiations and agreements, and afterwards had rendered them invalid.  After 30 years, Morocco had said again that it was ready to negotiate, on its conditions.


He said it was not a question between Algeria and Morocco.  Rather, it was about a non-autonomous territory that was put on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories and that fell under the provisions of resolution 1514 (XV).  The only way to resolve the matter was through the exercise of the right to self-determination.  No country in the world recognized the sovereignty of Morocco over the Territory.  That sovereignty would be determined by a referendum on self-determination.  Algeria would continue to defend peoples’ right to self-determination in Africa, where a country continued to be oppressed by a neighbouring country that had been a colony itself.  It was the more scandalous that the country could occupy another country, simply because, in its dream, it felt that that country belonged to it.


He said the Moroccan representative did not know what he was talking about when he addressed the “Baker Plan II”.  In 2001, Baker had submitted a framework agreement to the Council and had requested the parties to negotiate.  The framework had not been adopted by the Council. It was one of several options.  The Baker Plan itself had been approved by the Security Council.  For a long time now, Morocco had been living outside the law and history.  The country would be well advised to listen to what the international community had been saying, namely that the Saharawi people alone were able to decide their own fate.


The representative of Morocco, in his right of reply, said he had been expecting something more elaborate from the delegate from Algeria.  If there was a specialist in “perverted truth”, it was Algeria’s representative.  The Moroccan delegation had not forgotten a single phrase of the dispute imposed upon it; however, the Algerian memory ignored structural phases in the development of the issue.  The draft framework agreement had been rejected by Algeria.   Algeria had amnesia.  Did Algeria have the basis to discuss the right to self-determination?  Not a single word had been said by Algeria regarding the partition.


In the discussion of the situation in Tindouf, he said the census issue had been raised.  Why was Algeria against the numbers of refugees in Tindouf being known?  Algeria officially objected to the census being carried out according to established standards; that was a truth that needed to be restored, and spoken of again.


The representative of Algeria, taking the floor for the second time under the right of reply, referred to the matter of partition and said he challenged the representative of Morocco to provide to the Committee, or the Security Council, one Algerian document addressing the partition of Western Sahara between Morocco and Algeria.  It was easy for him, as a “specialist in manipulation”, to say that Algeria had submitted such a proposal, but he should prove it.  In 1975, however, in the Madrid Agreement, Morocco had accepted a partition of the territory between Morocco and Mauritania.  If Morocco wanted sovereignty over the territory, why had it accepted to split up the territory with Mauritania?  It was not by stating lies, that Algeria made itself understood.


The representative of Morocco, taking the floor for the second time in right of reply, said selective reading had just been exercised.  Why did Algeria refuse the counting of refugees in Tindouf?  Algeria had avoided answering that question.  As for the matter of partition, the representative was giving his own version of the truth.  People following the debate were very well aware of this.


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For information media • not an official record