|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
6th Meeting (PM)
Self-determination Important, but for Some Vulnerable Communities, Status Quo
Option Deserves Respect, Fourth Committee Hears in Decolonization Debate
Speakers Laud Progress towards Self-Determination in Pacific,
But Voice Frustration at Remaining Number of Non-Self-Governing Territories
As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its general debate on decolonization issues today, delegations praised the progress that had been made towards self-determination in the Pacific region, while expressing frustration with the scant progress towards reducing the number overall of United Nations-listed Non-Self-Governing Territories, including Western Sahara.
Many of the nearly 30 speakers today noted the convergence this year of the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples with the end of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. They looked forward to approval in the Committee of a draft resolution to establish a third such decade, in the ongoing quest to prompt settlement of the long-disputed territories.
The representative of Australia pointed out, however, that while the decolonization process was vital, each of the Non-Self-Governing Territories was unique in terms of histories, cultures, peoples, constitutional situations and challenges and, thus, no “cookie-cutter” solution would fit them all.
Because some of the territories were small in size and population, he said they required significant support from their administering Powers. This “sacred trust” was crucial, and, in many cases, was well provided. In addition, many of the territories were island States, and faced the challenge of climate change and fragile ecosystems, so it was important to address those challenges.
Owing to challenges such as those, New Zealand’s representative suggested that Tokelau’s electorate, in two referendums, had not reached the threshold they had set for a change of status from that of territory to one of self-government in free association with New Zealand. Twice in the past five years, the people of Tokelau had voted in an United Nations-supervised self-determination referendum.
She said that while self-determination was important, so too was development, and the very viability of small and vulnerable communities, like those in Tokelau. For that reason, in early 2008, leaders from New Zealand and Tokelau had agreed to focus on further improving essential services on the atolls, rather than moving in the medium term to a further act of self-determination.
“While it might seem strange to some that the self-determination votes resulted in the status quo,” she said, “it was important — not least in this stage — that this remain an option, and one that should be fully respected.”
At a time when global challenges added extra pressure to small and vulnerable communities, such as Tokelau, a focus on the core needs of the atoll populations seemed appropriate, she added.
Counter to those arguments, the representative of Lesotho stressed that colonization was not an option and had no place in today’s world. It was “fruitless and served to exacerbate antagonism and rebellion,” while meeting the aspirations of the people living in colonies was vital for peace worldwide. He said that Africa suffered immensely as a result of colonization and, regrettably, Western Sahara remained under the colonial yoke.
Speaking for the only Non-Self-Governing Territories to gain independence since 1992, Timor-Leste, that country’s representative said that the histories of her country and Western Sahara had run parallel until 1999, when the Timorese had been granted their right of self-determination through a referendum. Meanwhile, the Saharawi continued to struggle for the opportunity to determine their future. Continuing with the status quo was unacceptable and would bring serious risk to the stability in the region.
“As the United Nations succeeded in organizing a referendum on self- determination in Timor-Leste in 1999, we hope it will do so in Western Sahara in the near future,” she said.
While there had been major achievements, Ethiopia’s representative said he was frustrated with the scant progress. Meanwhile, the activities of the international community in the Territories should be enhanced to improve the socio-economic conditions of the inhabitants. Similarly, the oversight function of the Special Committee on Decolonization, although often carried out against the backdrop of some resistance on the part of administering Powers, should be bolstered.
The representative of Iran said that the administering Powers, for their part, had a significant and demanding task, as they were responsible for political, economic, social and educational processes of the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Yet, it was vital to note that their military installations and activities in some Territories ran counter to the rights and interests of the peoples of those erritories.
Speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the representative of Namibia stressed that SADC would work relentlessly to ensure the attainment of independence and self-determination for the people of both Western Sahara and Palestine. “Their victory over colonialism would be a victory for humanity,” he said.
Also speaking were the representatives of China, Pakistan, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Tanzania, Uruguay, Benin, Indonesia, Comoros, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Gabon, Nicaragua, Bahrain, Bolivia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the United Kingdom and Argentina.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 11 October, to resume consideration of the cluster of items on decolonization and to take action on draft proposals submitted under those items. It will also take up the issue of the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to convene a general debate on all decolonization issues. It was also expected to hear additional petitioners on the question of Western Sahara.
WILFRIED I. EMVULA (Namibia), speaking on behalf of Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that the group had repeatedly raised its voice in the Fourth Committee in calling for the inalienable rights of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and urging the international community not to turn a blind eye. The Security Council and the United Nations had sought a solution in recent years to the plight of the Saharawis through a referendum supervised by the Organization, and SADC supported Security Council resolution 1920 (2010), which called upon the parties to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue and negotiations.
He expressed concern that the Secretary-General’s report (document A/65/306) indicated that virtually no progress had made during the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 with respect to the question of Western Sahara. SADC was also concerned with reports of frequent human rights violations perpetrated against the Saharawis, and urged the Security Council to mandate the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor such abuses across the Western Sahara.
The Community was deeply concerned about the prolonged crisis in the Middle East, which continued to cause untold suffering to the people of Palestine, he said. Encouraging the resumption of direct talks between the parties, he expressed hope that a durable solution would be sought without further delay, on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions. SADC would work relentlessly to ensure the attainment of independence and self-determination for the people of both Western Sahara and Palestine. He pledged not to let them down, because their victory over colonialism was a victory for humanity.
MOTLATSI RAMAFOLE ( Lesotho) said that after 65 years, the United Nations was still grappling with decolonization, with more than a dozen territories under the authority of colonial masters. Colonization was not an option and had no place in today’s world. It was fruitless and served to exacerbate antagonism and rebellion. Moreover, meeting the aspirations of the people’s living in colonies was vital for peace worldwide. Africa suffered immensely as a result of colonization and, regrettably, Western Sahara remained under the colonial yoke. Lesotho would continue with its longstanding principled support of the just cause of the Saharawi people. An independent Western Sahara was a realistic proposition, and he called on the parties to continue negotiations on an equal footing, in order to pave the way for a lasting solution.
He stressed that people in Non-Self-Governing Territories must be empowered on all fronts, and he urged the international community to make offers of study and training available to them. He underscored that it was a collective responsibility to hasten the realization of a just, peaceful, and permanent solution to colonization. “Sixty-five years is a long time. The need to eradicate colonization is as much relevant today as it was 65 years ago,” he said.
RAO WU ( China) said that helping colonial countries and their people was the goal set by the United Nations Charter and was the obligation of the Member States. In 1960, the General Assembly had adopted the historical Declaration, vigorously advancing the process of decolonization. With the support of the United Nations, the international community’s achievements in that regard had been historical. The Special Committee on Decolonization should be commended for its work, however, there remained 2 million people living in 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories around the world, and the decolonization process promised to still be a long one.
He said that, according to the United Nations Charter and the Decolonization Declaration, Member States were obligated to remain seized of the interests of the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories and to help them exercise their right to self-determination. China supported the launching of a third International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism, and hoped that the United Nations would strengthen contacts with the Non-Self-Governing Territories in new ways. The administering Powers should carry out closer cooperation in that regard.
China had always supported the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories in their efforts to pursue the exercise of their right to self-determination and would actively participate in the work of the United Nations Decolonization Committee. It would carry out cooperative efforts with other Member States, in an effort to accomplish the historical mission mandated by the Charter.
MOHAMMAD REZA SAHRAEI ( Iran) said that decolonization, as a founding mandate, had evolved over the years. The Second International Decade was coming to an end. It had assisted nearly 750 million people to exercise their right to self-determination. The General Assembly and the Special Committee on Decolonization had played a significant role in the decolonization process and squarely succeeded in keeping the issue on the international agenda. However, there were still 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining, and, thus, the essential task of the United Nations was to accelerate the decolonization process in those Territories, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and relevant General Assembly resolutions.
He said that the implementation of the United Nations decolonization mandate required the collaborative efforts of the international community, the administering Powers and the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The administering Powers, for their part, had a significant and demanding task, as they were responsible for political, economic, social and educational processes of the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories. It was vital to note that their military installations and activities in some Territories ran counter to the rights and interests of the peoples of those Territories. Iran reiterated its support of the activities and hard work of the Special Committee, and he commended the Department of Political Affairs in furthering the cause of decolonization.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan) said the General Assembly had reaffirmed time and again that colonialism was incompatible with the Charter and Universal Declaration on Human Rights. In its historic resolution 1514 (1960), the General Assembly emphatically stated that the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation was a denial of fundamental human rights. However, despite such unambiguous pronouncements, decolonization was painstakingly slow. The latest report of the Special Committee (document A/65/23) had put forth concrete ideas to address colonialism and identified the challenges facing the Territories. He agreed that cross-cutting issues like climate change, global finance, education, governance and empowerment of vulnerable people should be addressed holistically. In that context, sustained dialogue between the administrative Powers and Non-Self-Governing Territories was necessary.
He said his country, mindful of the Decolonization Committee’s central aim, hoped that the deliberations would review the status of implementation of earlier United Nations resolutions. The Committee could only be as effective as the wider United Nations membership. Political will from the General Assembly and Security Council should be shown in greater earnest. Concerted efforts should be made for uniform and non-selective implementation of the Security Council resolutions and the recommendations contained therein. Selective implementation should be avoided as it eroded confidence in the system. In the Middle East, the continued denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people ignited conflict and threatened peace. In South Asia, the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute was at the heart of conflict. That dispute, recognized by many United Nations resolutions, was about the exercise of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people.
JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), echoing the statement made on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and on behalf of the Rio Group, said that in 1945, almost one third of the global population lived in Non-Self-Governing Territories, dependent on and answering to colonial Powers. The remaining cases of colonialism contravened the provisions of the Charter and the Declaration, as well as principles of international law.
He said his country had been unswerving on the matter of the Malvinas Islands, regarding the legitimate right of Argentina in that long-standing dispute. That had been expressed 14 years ago in June 1996, in the Declaration of the Malvinas Islands held in Potrero de Funes. He expressed “hemispheric interests” that that prolonged dispute should reach a just and satisfactory solution. It was both timely and important to underscore the need for both parties to find a peaceful settlement to the enduring dispute and put an end to the colonial situation in those islands.
In that vein, he lamented the lack of real progress in the dialogue, and stressed that it was only with firm and sustained political will that the parties would be able to see a satisfactory solution regarding sovereignty that would no doubt restore the sovereign right of Argentina upon those islands. He reiterated the rejection of the activities of exploration by the United Kingdom of non-renewable natural resources in the Argentine natural shelf. Both parties should strengthen bilateral relations to allow to satisfactory settlement of the dispute.
ROBERT AISI (Papua New Guinea) said that in the Pacific, marked progress had been made in the efforts towards self-determination of the two remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, namely New Caledonia and Tokelau, and he commended the administering Powers of France and New Zealand for their supportive and constructive role in that regard. He welcomed the participation in the United Nations of the new Government of New Caledonia, as well as the representative of the Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation.
On the question of Tokelau, while the people had yet to decide their future status, he welcomed the progress being made towards the devolution of powers to the village councils, in particular, the delegation by the administering Power of the three village councils, with effect on 1 July 2004, and the assumption by each council of full responsibility for the management of all public services. He also noted the commendable efforts by New Zealand to strengthen the socio-economic development and well-being of the islands.
His delegation was also pleased that a constitutional review process was taking place in American Samoa, and while that had yet to be formally concluded, he encouraged the process to move forward. He also noted the representations made by various groups from Guam and encouraged an open and transparent process to take place between the people of the Territory and the administering Power.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said that the close of the Second International Decade at the end of the year and the United Nations celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of resolution 1514 (1960) would coincide. He called the commemoration a “major event” that showed the importance to the international community’s quest to end colonialism. Nevertheless, amid the upcoming celebration, many territories remained disputed. The situation in Western Sahara was a concern for all and continued to trouble Senegal, especially as a friend of Morocco, with which his country had unbreakable ties through a shared history and fraternal relations. He supported the Moroccan initiative for broad autonomy of Western Sahara, while respecting Morocco’s sovereignty. That was the only new and positive approach.
He was committed to consolidating the positive relations throughout the region. Senegal discouraged all forms of separatism and disintegration of the social fibre of the region. Thus, he supported the Secretary-General and personal envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross, in their efforts to have a lasting solution. Maintaining the momentum of the Secretary-General was key, and the Security Council must work harder regarding Western Sahara. Senegal called for a consensus on the draft resolution on Western Sahara; the settlement of that painful question should emanate from dialogue and negotiation.
SEIF ALI IDDI (United Republic of Tanzania), also noting that this year was the fiftieth anniversary of resolution 1514 (1960), said that, regrettably, colonialism in all its manifestations persisted. It was unfortunate Western Sahara remained the only colony on the African continent that was yet to gain its independence. The struggle of the people of Western Sahara was a struggle for self-determination, based on the principles of decolonization, promotion of human rights, international legality and the stability and security of Africa. His delegation aligned itself once again with the African Union position that supported ongoing United Nations efforts to overcome the current impasse, on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the issue. His country commended the ongoing efforts of the Secretary-General and his envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross, and welcomed the four rounds of small informal meetings between the Moroccan Government and the Frente Polisario.
Also welcome, he said, had been the reference in Security Council resolution 1930 (2010) to the humanitarian dimensions in Western Sahara. That was a confidence-building step that would lead to all human rights issues in the territory being addressed by the relevant organs. The Security Council should use its authority to advance the process and break the stalemate in that conflict.
BERNADETTE CAVANAGH ( New Zealand) said that twice in the past five years, the people of Tokelau voted in United Nations-supervised self-determination referendums. In each, Tokelau’s electorate did not reach the threshold they had set for a change of status from that of territory to one of self-government in free association with New Zealand. The details of that process had been thoroughly reported by the Secretariat and were well-known to those who took a close interest in the issue of self-determination. While it might seem strange to some that the self-determination votes had resulted in the status quo, it was important, not least at this stage, that that remain an option and be fully respected.
She said that self-determination was important, as was development and the very viability of small and vulnerable communities, like those in Tokelau. For that reason, in early 2008, leaders from New Zealand and Tokelau had agreed to focus on further improving essential services on the atolls, rather than on moving in the medium-term to a further act of self-determination. That remained the approach of both partners. At a time when global challenges added extra pressure to small and vulnerable communities, such as Tokelau, the focus on the core needs of the atoll populations seemed appropriate. The right to self-determination was fundamental and deserved full support.
JOSE LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), associating his delegation with the statements made on behalf of MERCOSUR and the Rio Group, said that the recent years had not seen significant progress in the decolonization process. The fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration should be a call to the consciences of the international community to redouble its effort to help the Non-Self-Governing Territories and promote dialogue between them and the administering Powers.
He said that his delegation’s position on the mater of the Malvinas Islands was one of support for Argentina’s claims, which had a legitimate right over those islands. That was not just because Argentina was a sister nation, but because Uruguay shared the historical significance of that claim. To put an end to that special and particular colonial situation, the Government of Argentina and the United Kingdom must renew negotiations to find a solution as quickly as possible.
With regard to Western Sahara, he said the international community should give the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy the broadest possible support, so that negotiations between Morocco and the Frente Polisario could be renewed, to attain a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable end to the conflict. It was also important to support those positive and constructive actions that, when well used, brought the parties together, such as confidence-building measures, like the family visits, and others along those lines. He supported the consensus adoption of a draft resolution on that matter in the Committee, as that was a concrete display of the international community’s support for a speedy, peaceful settlement to the dispute.
JEAN-FRANCIS RÉGIS ZINSOU ( Benin) said he was convinced that the international community would make notable progress in seeking out satisfactory solutions to the areas of concern for the Committee, among them the situation in the Western Sahara. The Secretary-General’s report described a situation that was teetering on the brink; it analysed, with a clear awareness, the importance of overcoming the deadlock paralysing that situation for so many years. It was up to the parties themselves to take advantage of the historic opportunities presented now. However, he noted with concern the accusations and counter-accusations of human rights violations, urging the international community to step up its support for institutions that helped the population. For example, such institutions must work to stop malnutrition. The suspension of flights must also be corrected, among other things, to relieve the psychological suffering borne of keeping families apart.
He said that the Secretary-General had stressed the need for the parties to negotiate in good faith, and that should motivate all parties to show realism for a negotiated settlement. Regarding the new threats in the region, it was important to explore solutions to rapidly snuff out threats that could seriously undermine regional stability. Morocco’s plan deserved the necessary attention of the international community to examine the modalities of its implementation, in order to allow the reunification of Saharawi families.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said that the work of the Special Committee would always be important to the people of Indonesia and, therefore, his delegation would stay engaged with it as long as there was a Territory still seeking liberation from colonial bondage. As was well known to all, Indonesia went through the turmoil of colonial struggle and it was still guided by the principles of the Charter, relevant resolutions and the Decolonization Declaration. He reiterated that decolonization was ultimately a political process aimed at reaching a peaceful permanent political status.
As a member of the “Special Committee of 24” on decolonization, Indonesia continued to uphold that body’s central role in the United Nations decolonization process. He appealed to administering Powers that had not yet done so to become involved with and lend full support to the work of the Special Committee in discharging its mandate, and in particular, to participate actively in the work relating to the Territories under their respective administrations.
OUSSEIN SAID MOHAMED ( Comoros) said that “we must find courageous solutions” for the entire population throughout the Maghreb. The Moroccan population sought to advance the self-determination of the people. The right of self-determination was found in the proposal for large autonomy, and was a viable option, which would lead to coherence in the region. He supported the commitment of the Secretary-General and the special envoy to find a fair solution that was acceptable to all. He encouraged a frank dialogue, stressing that, without it, the efforts of the international community would be in vain.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) welcomed and supported the tireless efforts of the United Nations to allow the many non-autonomous territories to exercise legitimately their right to self-determination. It was absolutely vital to intensify efforts for the total decolonization of the remaining territories now on the Committee’s agenda. It was also vital to have coordinated, permanent dialogue and sustained efforts, as only that would achieve decisive results. The international community, including the United Nations, would have to support the socio-economic development of the territories.
Regarding the application of the Decolonization Declaration to Western Sahara, he stressed the importance of considering the impact of an unresolved conflict on peace and security in the subregion and at the international level. He welcomed the efforts of Christopher Ross to generate new life into the political negotiations, on the basis of Security Council resolution 1813 (2008), including the advantage taken of the progress already achieved. Despite difficulties encountered, the parties remained determined to explore the best way and means of reaching a fair and consensual political settlement for the people of the Western Sahara. That status quo was neither feasible nor beneficial to the parties.
ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW ( Guinea) regretted that the international community was unable to celebrate the end of the Second Decade, because 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories still existed. At the same time, he congratulated the Special Committee on its work. Turning to Western Sahara, he welcomed the autonomy initiative presented by Morocco, which sought to reignite the negotiation process. Guinea supported the appeal by the Security Council to the parties to show political will and to engage, in good faith, in constructive dialogue, leading to a more intense negotiation phase. The speaker urged a spirit of compromise and a willingness to move forward. He hoped for a successful next informal meeting, under the auspices of the special envoy.
DAVID WINDSOR ( Australia) said that the process and success of decolonization over the decades had meant that much of the United Nations machinery established for it was no longer needed. The Trusteeship Council, for example, existed now only as a name of a room in the old building next door. But the United Nations had some ongoing responsibilities, specifically for the Non-Self-Governing Territories that were before this committee. Australia had deep and long-standing relations with many of the Territories, particularly those in Australia’s part of the world, in the Pacific. This year marked his country’s seventieth anniversary of direct official relations with New Caledonia, and the consulate general in Noumea was Australia’s fourth oldest diplomatic mission overseas. He welcomed the President of the Government of New Caledonia back to this committee.
He said there were certain things that should be kept in mind while doing work this year. Each of the Non-Self-Governing Territories was unique, in terms of histories, cultures, peoples, constitutional situations and challenges; there was no “cookie-cutter” solution that would fit all of them. Some of the Territories before the Committee were small in size and population, and required significant support from their administering Power. The obligations of the administering Powers — in exercise of the “sacred trust” that had been granted them in the United Nations Charter — were significant and in many cases done well.
He noted the Special Committee’s praise for New Zealand for its excellent cooperation with Tokelau. Other territories, while still requiring support, were relatively well off, too. New Caledonia, for example, had the second highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the Pacific. He briefly touched on other issues concerning the Territories, many of which were island States facing the challenges of climate change and fragile ecosystems. Working to address those challenges was a priority for his country, and he looked forward to the constructive work at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun.
MICHEL REGIS ONANGA NDIAYE ( Gabon) said that his country remained concerned that there were still 16 territories under colonial rule, and thus, he supported the work of the “Committee of 24”. Regarding Western Sahara, he noted the work of Mr. Ross, and recognized that, despite the current deadlock, the dispute had made progress through the Moroccan autonomy initiative, which had been described by the Security Council as “serious and credible”. Noting the various negotiating rounds, he called for a redoubling of efforts and for the countries of the region to truly apply themselves to the search for a solution. For Gabon, the status quo was no longer acceptable and could destabilize the region. He hoped the consensual spirit of the Committee would continue, and was convinced that was the way to break the deadlock. Differences should be turned into opportunities to enable Maghreb to pursue its development in harmony and peace.
MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua), associating herself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Rio Group, said that the Second Decade had played an important role, but it had not attained its primary objective. Non-Self-Governing Territories remained, whose people still suffered the vestiges of colonialism in all forms and manifestations. That made it essential for the international community to redouble its efforts for the immediate implementation of the Decolonization Declaration to attain the total and complete eradication of colonialism.
She welcomed the fact that a seminar had been held in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of New Caledonia, and she supported continuing such initiatives. It was urgent to give greater momentum to the decolonization process. The resolution declaring 2011 to 2020 as the third international decade for the eradication of colonialism was essential to give the additional necessary momentum. The Committee should also consider the colonial situation in Puerto Rico, and the administering Power there should allow for those human beings to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. She paid homage to two of the independence leaders lost this year — Lolita Lebron and Juan Mari Bras — and stressed that Nicaragua would continue to support efforts until independence was attained for that sister nation of Latin America.
FAISAL EBRAHIM AL-ZAYANI ( Bahrain) said that through efforts to eradicate colonialism, especially those of the Special Committee, the United Nations and the Fourth Committee had explored various ways and means to rid the world of colonialism. He noted that steps had been taken to implement the Declaration and related decisions, but, alas, the international community had failed to achieve the purposes and goals of the Second International Decade. Still, his delegation was still imbued with hope that in the Third International Decade, the world would achieve those goals in accordance with its visions.
As was presented in the statement made on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement, he said that emphasis should be laid on the steps that must be taken so as to expedite the comprehensive and total eradication of colonialism, in accordance with the United Nations resolutions. Many declarations and relevant resolutions were based on the Charter, especially with regard to the speedy eradication of colonialism.
AMAN HASSEN (Ethiopia), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement on decolonization, said that much had been achieved in decolonization since the early years of the United Nations. However, he deplored the stalled process to effectively implement the United Nations decolonization mandate. His delegation was of the strong opinion that in order to accelerate and conclude the process of eradicating colonialism, the support of the administering Powers was vital. Like previous speakers, he noted that this year marked both the end of the Second International Decade and the fiftieth anniversary of the Decolonization Declaration.
He said there had been major achievements, but the process of decolonization had become frustrating, with little progress towards reducing the number of United Nations-listed Non-Self-Governing Territories. The activities of the international community in the Territories, particularly the United Nations funds and programmes, especially the specialized agencies, should be enhanced, with a view to improving the socio-economic conditions of the inhabitants. Similarly, the oversight function of the Special Committee, although often carried out against the backdrop of some resistance on the part of administering Powers, should be bolstered.
JAVIER LOAYZA BAREA ( Bolivia) said that all sectors of the population should be allowed to be masters of their own destiny. Only that would allow the international community to ensure that those still dominated by colonialism could have their needs and specific situation taken into consideration. For the administering Powers, this century was the one that would bear fruit in concluding the decolonization process for those territories that remained non-self-governing. The world must move ahead with the process of decolonization; that could no longer be put off. He reiterated the legitimate rights of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination, and for Argentina to have sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands.
ELDA SANTOS (Timor-Leste) said the histories of Western Sahara and Timor-Leste had run parallel until 1999, when the Timorese had been granted the inalienable right to exercise their right of self-determination through a referendum. The Saharawi continued to struggle for the opportunity to determine their future. In support of the people of Western Sahara, her country was guided by the position taken by the African Union, and by General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, as well as by the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which unequivocally recognized the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.
She said that the core of the issue was the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination. It was also the root cause for the ongoing conflict. The international consensus was unequivocal; continuing with the status quo was unacceptable and would bring serious risk to the stability in the region. The United Nations also had a responsibility towards Western Sahara as a Non-Self-Governing Territory on the decolonization agenda. “As the United Nations succeeded in organizing a referendum on self-determination in Timor-Leste in 1999, we hope it will do so in Western Sahara in the near future,” he said. Welcoming the recent visit by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, to the refugee camps in Western Sahara, she was concerned about the human rights abuses and suffering of the Saharawi people in the occupied Western Sahara.
AUGUSTINE U. NWOSA ( Nigeria) said that “the existence of colonies in the twenty-first century challenges our collective conscience and makes mockery of modern civilization.” The right of self-governance must be exercised in a transparent manner that reflected the wishes of the majority of the colonized peoples and did not hinge on the wishes of the settler population. Calling Western Sahara “the last colony in Africa” and an “abnormal” case, he said that Nigeria was persuaded to recognize the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic because the inalienable rights to self-determination and freedom of the people were sacrosanct. Nigeria’s approach rested on the same principles that had led it to make tremendous sacrifices to support the independence of many other African countries.
He said that with the ultimate goal of peace in Western Sahara and the return of displaced persons to a normal life there, he endorsed the efforts of the United Nations at finding a lasting solution and remained supportive of the work of MINURSO, heartened by the endurance of the ceasefire since 1991. Reiterating condemnations of human rights violations in the territory, he supported any measures that would punish offenders and discourage them from future impunity. Nigeria, he declared, remained committed to diplomacy and, accordingly, regarded the holding of a referendum as “a viable option to determining the choice for the self-determination of the Sahawari people”.
CHARLOTTE OMOY MALENGA ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that when it came to the thorny question of Western Sahara, her position was unswerving; her country supported the Security Council and the Secretary-General in working to reach a fair political solution. The Democratic Republic of the Congo called on the parties to move towards a political solution and supported the credible efforts undertaken by Morocco during the drafting of the plan for autonomy status. Her country urged engagement and political will to reach a solution acceptable to all, and a spirit of compromise. It also urged an end to the woeful humanitarian situation of the Saharawi people. In conclusion, she hoped the work of the Committee in this session would help further advance resolution of the issue.
Rights of Reply
The representative of the United Kingdom, in response to statements by Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Bolivia on the Falkland Islands, said that his country had no doubt about its sovereignty over them, and said there could be no sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless the islanders so wished.
He said that the United Kingdom’s relationship with all of its overseas territories was a modern one based on partnership. The democratically elected representatives of the Falklands had expressed their views in this year’s debate in the “Committee of 24”. They had asked the Committee to recognize that they, like anyone else, were entitled to exercise the right of self-determination. They had reiterated the historical facts: that the Falklands had no indigenous population; and that no civilian population had been removed prior to their people settling on the islands more than eight generations ago. They had confirmed that they were and had been the only people settling on the islands and that they did not wish for any change in the status of the islands.
On the issue of development of the hydrocarbon industry, he noted that article 1.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights supported that right. It stated that all people may dispose of their natural resources and wealth, and in no case, may people be deprived of their own means of subsistence.
The representative of Argentina, in relation to the United Kingdom delegation’s statement on the question of the Malvinas Islands, said that the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, were an integral part of the Argentine national territory and that, being illegitimately occupied by the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, were subjected to a sovereignty dispute between both countries.
The representative noted several General Assembly resolutions that recognized a sovereignty dispute and called upon Argentina, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland to resume negotiations and find a peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute. The representative reaffirmed Argentina’s legitimate sovereignty rights over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands.
* *** *For information media • not an official record