6 October 2008
General Assembly
GA/SPD/396

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

Sixty-third General Assembly

Fourth Committee

2nd Meeting (PM)


ERADICATING COLONIALISM REQUIRES FRESH, CONCRETE, CREATIVE IMPETUS,


FOURTH COMMITTEE HEARS AS GENERAL DEBATE OPENS ON DECOLONIZATION


With Only Two Years Left to Second International Decade to Eradicate

Decolonization, Responsibility to Non-Self-Governing Territories Intensifies


Genuine dialogue aimed at finding fresh, concrete and more creative ways to eradicate colonialism was needed to fully implement the decolonization mandate, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was told, as it launched its general debate on decolonization issues this afternoon.


While decolonization was considered among the Organization’s most successful mandates, R. M. Marty M. Natalegawa, Indonesia’s representative and Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization -– which, since it was established in 1961, has monitored the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples -– said the United Nations, individually and collectively, had to be committed to its responsibilities towards the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories if progress was going to be made. 


There was a growing awareness that a magic “one formula fits all” no longer existed, and the situation of different Territories had to be tackled on a case-by-case basis, he said.  Towards that goal, flexibility and workability were important principles.  Yet the fact that only a little more than two years remained in the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism 2000-2010 highlighted the urgency of the task.


Indeed, today’s discussion took place in the shadow cast after four rounds of increasingly contentious negotiations on the question of Western Sahara -- which had received new momentum in June 2007 –- but then stalled recent months.  And, in Tokelau, any future act of self-determination had been deferred after referendums in February 2006 and October 2007 had failed to produce the majority of votes needed to change that Territory’s status.


In opening remarks, Fourth Committee Chairperson Jorge Arguello of Argentina underlined the urgency of the situation in the 16 remaining Territories.  While the untiring efforts of the United Nations, and its Special Committee on Decolonization in particular, meant that nearly all of the world’s population today was no longer under colonial rule, he stressed that the task was not yet complete.  “We must continue with our common endeavour in the spirit of cooperation among all parties involved to bring an end to colonialism,” he said.


The representative of Fiji said that the United Nations continued to have a valid role in the process of decolonization, but the mandate must be fulfilled in a proactive and focused manner.  Where there were no disputes over sovereignty, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, and the Committee must guard against attempts to disrupt national unity and territorial integrity.


The representative of the United Kingdom –- which, as the administering Power of 10 of the 16 remaining Territories, was involved in the future of the lion’s share of them -– said that, for its part, her Government approached its relationship with its overseas Territories as a modern one based on “partnership, shared values and the right of each Territory to determine if it wishes to retain the link to the United Kingdom, where that is an option”.


The United Kingdom had no intention of imposing independence against the will of the peoples concerned, she said.  Yet it had an established policy of giving every encouragement to those Territories where independence was the clear and constitutionally-expressed wish of the people.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group), Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Brazil (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), South Africa (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)), China, Venezuela and Uganda.  


The report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples was introduced by that body’s Rapporteur, Bashar Ja’afari ( Syria).


The representatives of the United Kingdom, Morocco, Argentina and South Africa spoke in exercise of the right of reply.


The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 7 October, to continue its debate on decolonization issues.


Background


As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) began its annual debate on a cluster of decolonization issues this afternoon, it had before it the 2008 Report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/63/23).


At its sixty-second session in 2007, the General Assembly adopted resolution 62/120, thereby requesting the Special Committee to continue to seek suitable means for the immediate and full implementation of the Declaration, and to carry out the actions it had approved regarding the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism in all Territories that had not yet exercised their right to self-determination.  In addition to resolution 62/120, the General Assembly adopted 10 other resolutions and one decision relating to specific items considered by the Special Committee in 2007.  They are listed in the report.


According to the report, the Special Committee intends, during 2009, to pursue its efforts in bringing a speedy end to colonialism, and to continue to intensify its dialogue and cooperation with the administering Powers in furthering the cause of decolonization.  The Special Committee’s members were particularly encouraged by the excellent cooperation of New Zealand and Tokelau at every stage of negotiations, including in the referendums held in 2006 and 2007.


The report says the Special Committee, in order to facilitate the implementation of its mandate, will continue to conduct regional seminars to assess, receive and disseminate information on the situation in the Territories.  It will hold its next seminar in the Caribbean region in 2009.  It will also continue to seek the cooperation of the administering Powers in facilitating United Nations visiting and special missions to the Territories under their administrations, during which it will collect first-hand information on the conditions there, and on the aspirations of the peoples concerning their future status.  These seminars and missions present opportunities to disseminate information, and to mobilize world public opinion to assist the people of the Territories in bringing about a speedy end to colonialism.


To address the specific problems of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Special Committee will continue to recommend measures to facilitate sustained, balanced growth of their fragile economies and increased assistance in the development of all the sectors of their economies.  It further intends to take into account economic and other activities that affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and to continue its cooperation with interested States to ensure that the interests of the peoples of those Territories are protected.


The Special Committee recommends that the Assembly renew its appeal to the administering Powers to take all necessary steps for the Declaration’s implementation, and requests those administering Powers that have not yet done so to become involved with the work of the Special Committee in the discharge of its mandate.  It also recommends that the Assembly continue to invite administering Powers to allow representatives of the Territories to participate in the Fourth Committee’s discussions.  It also recommends that the Assembly make adequate provision to cover the activities envisaged by the Special Committee for 2009.  Should any additional provisions be required over and above those included in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009, proposals for supplementary requirements will be made to the Assembly.


The report also summarizes the conclusions of the Pacific regional seminar held in Bandung, Indonesia from 14 to 16 May on the implementation of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010).  The seminar reconfirmed the valid ongoing role of the United Nations in the process of decolonization, and reaffirmed the Special Committee’s role as the primary vehicle for fostering the decolonization process and expediting the implementation of the Second International Decade’s plan of action.  It also underlined the importance for the Special Committee to develop, as a matter of urgency, a proactive and focused approach in fulfilling decolonization vis-à-vis the Non-Self-Governing Territories on the United Nations list.  Recommended efforts included embarking on public awareness and information campaigns; undertaking visiting missions; and convening regional seminars.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was encouraged to explore ways to assist with financial resources for the development of self-government structures and preparations for self-determination.


The report also outlines the Special Committee’s consideration of specific issues and actions taken on related draft resolutions during its 2008 session, including on the dissemination of information on decolonization; sending visiting and special missions to Territories; economic and other activities that affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self Governing Territories; implementation of the decolonization Declaration; and information from Non-Self Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter and on specific territories, including Gibraltar, New Caledonia, Western Sahara, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Tokelau, and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).


[Under Article 73 e, Member States with responsibilities for the administration of Territories whose peoples have not yet attained self-government agree to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General information on the socio-economic and educational conditions in those Territories, other than trusteeship Territories falling under Chapters XII and XIII.]


Also before the Fourth Committee was an addendum to the Special Committee’s report on Membership of the Special Committee (document A/63/23/Add.1).


The Fourth Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter (document A/63/65), which includes dates of transmission by Administering Powers of information on geography, history, population and socio-economic and educational conditions in 16 such Territories.


Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations (document A/63/61).  It contains a list of the agencies and institutions that were invited to submit information on their efforts to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions.  Summaries of the replies received from those bodies are contained in document E/2008/47.


[Document E/2008/47 describes programmes offered to several territorial Governments by the United Nations Development Programme, as well as by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); World Health Organization (WHO); Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; and International Maritime Organization.  They include projects to bolster health services and to raise the capacity of territorial Governments to manage disaster and risk reduction.  The FAO’s assistance focused on supporting sustainable development policies and practices in agriculture, rural development, forestry, fisheries and food security.  The assistance provided by UNFPA and WHO included family planning and public health initiatives, as well as programmes to prevent and control communicable diseases.]


The Committee would also consider the Secretary-General’s report on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/63/67), covering the period 29 March 2007 to 20 March 2008.  The report lists 59 Member States and the Holy See as having offered to make scholarships available for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  From the current period, it describes offers and awards from Argentina, Australia, Cuba, Japan, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the Holy See.


A report of the Secretary-General on the question of Western Sahara (document A/63/131) was also before delegations.  It summarizes the reports he submitted to the Security Council from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 on the matter.


The present report recalls that Morocco and the Frente Polisario participated in a second round of talks in August 2007, which was also attended by Algeria and Mauritania.  During that meeting, the parties agreed to a communiqué by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy that the situation was unacceptable, and that they were committed to negotiating in good faith.  In October 2007, the Security Council adopted resolution 1783 (2007), by which it called upon the parties to continue to show political will, and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue.  It also called on the parties to continue negotiations without preconditions and in good faith, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.  The Council also decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2008.


Also, according to the report, the Secretary-General submitted to the Council a report, dated 25 January 2008, on the status and progress of the negotiations on Western Sahara (document S/2008/45), in which he said the parties had participated from 7 to 9 January 2008 in a third round of negotiations facilitated by his Personal Envoy.  During the discussions, the parties had reiterated their commitment to the negotiating process.  Nevertheless, their stated positions remained far apart on ways to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.  At the end of the meeting, the parties agreed to a communiqué of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, in which it was acknowledged that they had continued to express strong differences on the fundamental questions at stake, but agreed on the need to move the process into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations.


The report further states that the Secretary-General had informed the Security Council in a report, dated 14 April 2008 (document S/2008/251), of his Personal Envoy’s visit to the region from 5 to 15 February for in-depth consultations.  He also reported to the Council that the parties had, with Algeria and Mauritania, participated in a fourth round of negotiations from 16 to 18 March, during which the parties reiterated their commitment to the negotiating process, and engaged in a broad exchange of views on the implementation of resolutions 1754 (2007) and 1783 (2007) and on the exercise of the principle of self-determination.  The parties finally agreed to explore the establishment of family visits by land, in addition to the existing programme by air.  Matters concerning respect for human rights in the Territory, as well as in the refugee camps in the Tindouf area, were also raised.  In concluding the meeting, the parties agreed to a communiqué of the Personal Envoy and reiterated their commitment to continue the negotiations at a date to be agreed.


The report also noted the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1813 (2008) on 30 April, by which it endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation that realism and a spirit of compromise by the parties were essential to maintaining the momentum of the talks.  It called upon the parties to continue to show political will to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations, and further decided to extend the MINURSO’s until 30 April 2009.


Opening Statement


In opening remarks, Committee Chairperson JORGE ARGUELLO ( Argentina) said that decolonization had been one of the defining issues of the latter half of the twentieth century.  Due to the untiring efforts of the United Nations, and particularly, its Special Committee on Decolonization, nearly all of the world’s population today was no longer under colonial rule.


He said that, since 1961, the year after the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People, the Special Committee had monitored that document’s implementation.  Its unstinting efforts in that regard had ensured that many of the 192 Member States of the United Nations were represented today as sovereign and independent nations.


Stressing that its sterling work was one of the Organization’s hallmark successes, he noted the number of ways the Special Committee had carried out its mandate:  by sending missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories; through careful analysis of the information submitted under article 73 e of the United Nations Charter; by hearing petitioners; and by formulating proposals and carrying out actions mandated by the General Assembly in the context of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism 2001-2010, among other efforts extended on behalf of the world’s colonized peoples.


Yet the task was not yet complete, he emphasized, underlining the situation of the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories on the United Nations list.  “We must continue with our common endeavour in the spirit of cooperation among all parties involved to bring an end to colonialism,” he urged in closing.


Introduction of Report


BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), introducing the report of the Special Committee on Decolonization (document A/62/23) as that body’s Rapporteur, said that, in 2008, the Special Committee had continued to analyze developments in the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories.  During its regular sessions and the Pacific Regional Seminar in Indonesia, its work had benefited from the participation of representatives from Non-Self-Governing Territories, three of the four administering Powers, as well as non-governmental organizations and experts.


He said that, in chapter I, the report addressed the pivotal role that must be played by administering Powers in making progress towards complete decolonization in the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The Special Committee appreciated the continuing exemplary cooperation of New Zealand with regard to Tokelau. A mission was dispatched in October 2007 to observe the Tokelau referendum on self-determination.  The report also noted the importance of its visiting missions to the Territories.


The specific recommendations of the Special Committee, in view of the constitutional, political, economic, social and public information and related developments pertaining to the Non-Self-Governing Territories, were presented in the form of draft resolutions, in chapter XII, he said.


Statement by Chairman of Special Committee


R. M. MARTY M. NATALEGAWA (Indonesia), Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization, said the Committee had, as its principal objective, the promotion of the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and other relevant resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, notably those adopted in the context of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, which aimed at achieving the complete eradication of colonialism.


If progress was going to be made on the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories, he said, the whole membership of the United Nations had to remain committed to their responsibilities towards those territories.  Although decolonization was to be considered among the Organization’s most successful mandates, the full implementation of the decolonization mandate had yet to be accomplished.  While the principle of decolonization still resonated, 16 territories remained on the United Nations list.


Noting that decolonization could indeed provide much-needed inspiration, he said reinvigoration of efforts, coupled with fresh deliberations, would have to be injected into the Organization’s work for progress to be made in today’s context.  The international community should redouble its efforts to seek workable and constructive ways to this end, based on genuine dialogue and on a case-by-case basis.


A collaborative effort by the international community, the administering Powers, and the Non-Self-Governing Territories themselves, was needed to implement the decolonization mandate, he said.  The administering Powers needed to work closely with the international community to advance internationally recognized status-related discussions in their respective Territories.   New Zealand continued to set an example in this regard.  At the same time, the peoples of the territories needed to have the full range of information on decolonization available to them.  There was a growing awareness that a magic “one formula fits all” no longer existed.  The situation of different Territories had to be tackled on a case-by-case basis.  Ways to exercise a measure of flexibility should also be explored.


He said the fact that only a little over two years were left in the Second International Decade highlighted the urgency of giving all possible assistance to the Territories in establishing conditions that would enable each one to express its will on its status.


The Special Committee had helped carry the decolonization work of the United Nations forward in several ways this year.  It wholeheartedly welcomed Ecuador’s application for membership as a positive gesture of interest and support.  It had convened the Pacific regional seminar on decolonization in Bandung, Indonesia, from 14 to 16 May.  During its substantive session in June, it had also considered 16 working papers on each Territory and taken action on the annual complement of resolutions.


The draft omnibus resolution contained in draft VI in its annual report, he said, had been crafted to facilitate a comparative understanding on where each Territory stood on its path to decolonization, and to encourage an action-oriented approach on each Territory dealt with therein.  The leaflet entitled “What the United Nations can do to assist Non-Self-Governing Territories”, published by the Departments of Public Information and Political Affairs, continued to help in the collective task of ensuring that such information effectively reached the peoples of the Territories.


As the close of the Second international Decade approached, he said, the international community was now at a critical juncture.  In light of this, the single most important lesson learned during 2008 was that the United Nations, individually and collectively, had to pursue a genuine dialogue to find fresh, concrete and more creative ways to conduct its decolonization work.  The issue of decolonization had to be put into today’s context.  To that end, a special effort would be made, in preparation for the 2009 Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization, to encourage optimum participation by the Non-Self-Governing Territories, particularly those of the region, and to hear their voices and explore the way forward based on concrete, real-life options.


Statements


PABLO MACEDO (Mexico) underscored the importance of ensuring that all the peoples of the world had the ability to exercise their inalienable right to self- determination –- a right that was affirmed in the United Nations Charter, as well as a number of General Assembly resolutions.  To date, the process of decolonization had made it possible for many peoples to win their independence, and the Special Committee’s establishment had been a milestone in this history.  Indeed, more than 80 countries had been aided by the Committee’s work.


The fact that 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remained on the United Nations list showed, however, that this task remained unfulfilled.  Thus, he appealed to the relevant administering Powers to adopt the necessary measures to achieve decolonization in each of them, taking their particular situation into account on a case-by-case basis.  He also expressed the Rio Group’s appreciation to the members of the Special Committee, and expressed further hope that its recommendations would be adopted by the General Assembly.  Noting Ecuador’s request to be granted membership, he expressed hope that this request would be granted.  Reiterating the Group’s appreciation for the work of the Department of Public Information in its efforts to promote the cause of decolonization, he asked that it redouble its efforts in this regard.


He also urged the Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and Argentina to find a peaceful solution with regard to the Malvinas and South Sandwich Islands, in accordance with the United Nations relevant resolutions.  As for the small island territories of the Caribbean and the Pacific, which made up the majority of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Rio Group felt that special consideration should be given to the various differing circumstances that affected their particular situations.  On Western Sahara, he expressed hope that the Sahawari people would be able to exercise their right to self-determination.  Taking into account the recent process of dispute settlement and the four of rounds of negotiations undertaken in the last year, he appealed to the parties to reinvigorate this effort.


Finally, the Rio Group commended the people of Tokelau and the work of New Zealand, as the administering Power, on the spirit of cooperation they had exhibited during the two recent referendums held in that territory, he said.  This work had been a step forward in the decolonization process.


RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ ( Cuba), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, requested that colonialist countries pay full compensation for the economic, social and cultural consequences of their occupation.  He also underlined the right of people currently or formerly subjected to colonial rule to receive fair compensation for all human and material losses suffered.


He renewed the call of the non-aligned countries that United Nations Member States speed up the process to achieve the complete elimination of colonialism, including the support of the Plan of Action of the Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010).  He reaffirmed the position on the question of Puerto Rico, contained in the Final Document of the fifteenth ministerial conference of the non-aligned nations held in Teheran, that the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Special Committee be implemented immediately.  He urged the General Assembly to actively consider the question of Puerto Rico in all its aspects, including its right to self-determination and independence on the basis of resolution 1514 (XV).


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil), speaking for the southern common market (MERCOSUR), said decolonization was an issue especially relevant to MERCOSUR and its associated States.  She said she supported Argentina, with regard to its right to sovereignty over the Malvinas, and with the 1 July 2008 joint communiqué of MERCOSUR and the associated States, stressing that unilateral actions were not helpful in this dispute, and calling for a solution as soon as possible to the extended sovereignty dispute.


She said the Argentine claim was a just one.  A number of General Assembly resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee since 1964 had stated that the question of the Malvinas was a specific and particular colonial issue to be ended only through a peaceful solution negotiated by the parties.  She said that, in 1833, the United Kingdom took the territory by force and expelled the native population, replacing them with British citizens who were not a subjugated people.  The United Nations had reiterated in 1985 that the path to resolving this particular dispute was not by the holding of a self-determination referendum.  MERCOSUR had repeatedly declared the only way to achieve a solution was by a resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.


DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa), speaking for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the continuous colonial occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco constituted a challenge to the principles of the United Nations Charter, and to the authority and credibility of the Special Committee.  He stated that Morocco’s territorial claims to Western Sahara had been rejected by both the International Court of Justice and the Legal Department of the United Nations, calling Morocco’s presence in Western Sahara a “continued occupation”.


He said that since the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic was a founding member of the African Union and a member of the Organization of African Unity, and Morocco was a “friendly African country”, he hoped the two parties would find a way to resolve their differences.  But he said he was concerned about the “alarming reports” of human rights violations and “even atrocities” perpetrated against the Saharawi people.  He said he hoped the Secretary-General would soon publish the findings and recommendations of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), since these violations stemmed from the non-realization of the right to determination for the people of Western Sahara.


It was odd, he said, that some Member States continued to refuse mention of human rights in United Nations resolutions, despite the continued reporting by the Secretary-General on the human rights situation in Western Sahara.  Both the parties had raised human rights concerns in letters to the Secretary-General, and a refusal to deal with these issues created a double standard, and a clear impression that the United Nations “simply does not care” about the human rights of the people of Western Sahara.


LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said the historic decolonization declaration adopted by the General Assembly in 1960 had served to “vigorously accelerate” decolonization throughout the world.  The outcome document produced at the World Summit in 2005 reiterated the need to “respect the right to self-determination of people which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation”; that reflected the common aspiration of the Member States.  Indeed, it was the duty of Member States to attach importance to the rights and interests of people of Non-Self-Governing Territories, and to help them exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.  The Special Committee shouldered major responsibility and had made vigorous efforts in that regard.


He said the Fourth Committee in recent years had strengthened its links with Non-Self-Governing Territories by various means, and China looked forward to closer cooperation between the Administering Powers and the United Nations.  The Chinese delegation would continue to take an active part in the Committee’s work, and collaborate with other Member States to ensure that the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism achieved gratifying results.


BERENADO VUNIBOBO ( Fiji) said the United Nations continued to have a valid role in the process of decolonization, and the mandate must, as a matter of urgency, be fulfilled in a proactive and focused manner.  Where there were no disputes over sovereignty, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, and the Committee must guard against attempts to disrupt national unity and territorial integrity.


Regarding American Samoa, he expressed support for the Samoan people’s wishes during negotiations for their status and future relationship with the United States.  He noted the Chamorro people of Guam’s request not to be removed from the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories.  He repeated Fiji’s request to the administering Power to establish programmes to promote the sustainable development of economic activities, noting the special role played by the Chamorro people in Guam’s development.  Furthermore, he stated his appreciation for the developments in New Caledonia and Tokelau, and called on all parties to the conflict in Western Sahara, and on the United Nations, to continue deploying all efforts to achieve a lasting and mutually acceptable solution.


He said he regretted that, despite international support for the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom, the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had not progressed satisfactorily.  He called for negotiations between the concerned parties and for the views of the inhabitants themselves to be considered.


JORGE VALERO (Venezuela), expressing support for the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Rio Group and the South American Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that the Special Committee’s work was highly relevant given the persistence of colonialism in the world, particularly in the southern hemisphere.  Special attention should be paid to the situation of the Malvinas Islands and Puerto Rico.  Despite the obvious success in the spectacular transformation of the world’s political map, 16 non-self-governing territories remained. 


He said that Venezuela, therefore, would continue to support the efforts of the non-self-governing territories.  Towards that goal, he asserted that the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands were an inalienable part of Argentina’s territory, citing resolution 1514 (XV),which declared that any attempt to break, totally or partially, the national unity and territorial integrity of a country was incompatible with the United Nations Charter.  On that question, it was not appropriate to invoke the self-determination principle since a transplanted, not a subjugated, population lived there.   Venezuela, on many occasions, had reiterated its solidarity with Argentina.  Today, it hoped a solution developed within the framework of the United Nations decolonization agenda would be found.


Noting his delegation’s support for the decolonization of Puerto Rico and the inalienable right of its people to self-determination, he appealed to the United States Government to undertake a process in which the people of Puerto Rico could exercise that right.  On Western Sahara, the human rights of the Sahawari people should be protected, and direct negotiations should be held in accordance with Security Council resolution 1754 (2007), in order to achieve a peaceful and just solution.  Today, colonial situations that violated the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the subjugated people around the world could not be ignored.  Venezuela welcomed the General Assembly’s adoption this year of resolution 62/120, which reaffirmed the need to definitively eliminate colonialism, racial discrimination and the violation of fundamental human rights.


FRANCIS BUTAGIRA (Uganda), expressing support for the statement of the Non-Alignment Movement, called for the speedy implementation of General Assembly resolution 1514 and welcomed the June 2007 negotiations between Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rió de Oro (POLISARIO Front) and Morocco.  Concerned that that dispute had not yet been settled, he reaffirmed a “profound desire” to see a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1754 (2007), and welcomed the progress achieved in the recent round of talks.  Additionally, he appealed to the parties to continue to cooperate with the Secretary-General’s Representative for Western Sahara.  He expressed Uganda’s support for the draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara.  It stated that the only way to end the conflict was through a negotiated settlement and that the parties should consolidate the dialogue and cooperation process through effective resumption of talks.  There was no justification for continued delay in the search for a lasting solution.


KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) characterized her Government’s relationship with its overseas Territories as a modern one based on “partnership, shared values and the right of each Territory to determine if it wishes to retain the link to the United Kingdom, where that is an option”.  It was committed to the future development and continued security of each of its overseas Territories for as long as they chose to retain that link.  The United Kingdom had no intention of imposing independence against the will of a people concerned.  It had been established policy in her country to give every encouragement to those Territories where independence was the clear and constitutionally-expressed wish of the people.


She said her Government carefully considered all proposals for constitutional change received from the Territories.  A review process with the Territories aimed at providing a modern constitutional framework reflecting the circumstances of each Territory was also under way.  Those reviews had updated provisions of existing constitutions, in such areas as good governance and human rights provisions, and those relating to the role of Governor and locally-elected politicians.  Progress had been made with most overseas Territories.  New constitutions had already come into force in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Gibraltar in 2006 and in the British Virgin Islands in 2007.  Reviews were under way in Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat and Saint Helena.


Other support for the Territories focused on capacity-building and sustainable development, she noted.  The United Kingdom also worked with them, as appropriate, in areas such as good governance, political and economic transparency, enhanced security, reduced vulnerability to natural and non-natural disasters and environmental management.  It promoted and defended Gibraltar’s rights as a Territory within the European Union and would continue to support those Territories not in the European Union to strengthen their relations with the European Commission.


Following that statement, the Committee decided to grant a number of requests for hearing, including one request on the question of Gibraltar (document A/C.4/63/2); four requests on the question of Guam (document A/C.4/63/3 and addenda 1 to 3); one request on the question of the United States Virgin Islands (document A/C.4/63/4); 63 requests on the question of Western Sahara (documents A/C.4/63/5 and addenda 1 to 62); and two requests on the question of New Caledonia (documents A/C.4/63/6 and addendum 1).  The Committee also decided to hear the petitioners on Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 and 8 October.


Rights of Reply


Exercising the right of reply, the representative of the United Kingdom, responding to the statement by Mexico’s representative on behalf of the Rio Group, and Brazil’s speaker on behalf of MERCOSUR, said that its position on the Falkland Islands was well known.  The United Kingdom had no doubt about its sovereignty in the Falkland Islands and that there could be no negotiations on the matter until such time as “the islanders so wished”.


The representative of Morocco, exercising the right of reply, regretted the “selective reading” by South Africa’s representative concerning the evolving situation in Western Sahara.  That could not mask South Africa’s isolation within the Security Council.  The representative of South Africa did not seem to be aware that it was Morocco’s suggestion to allow the opening of the current negotiation process.  The Moroccan proposal had, in fact, been recognized by the Council.  Furthermore, South Africa could have the position it wanted, but it could not be allowed to “torpedo” the actual process.


Responding to the statement by the United Kingdom’s speaker, the representative of Argentina said that the Malvinas were an integral part of his country’s territory.  Citing a number of United Nations resolutions -– General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX), among others -- he underlined that those texts recognized the existence of a sovereignty dispute and urged the Governments to resume negotiations to resolve that dispute.  For its part, the Special Committee had repeatedly taken a similar stand, most recently in its resolution of 12 June.


The representative of South Africa said that his country had been speaking, not only on its own behalf, but on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.  SADC’s position was based on the region’s history, experiences and values.  The Security Council was on record as recognizing both proposals.  The current stage in the negotiation had been the result of Morocco’s rejection of a proposal that the Security Council had noted was the optimum political solution. In 2007, all Council members had accepted the fact that all countries were willing to negotiate on both proposals that had been put forward.


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For information media • not an official record