11 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/SPD/455

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

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

7th Meeting (AM)


Fourth Committee Sends 12 Draft Texts to General Assembly on Decolonization,


Including Request for Third International Decade, Concludes Debate on Topic

 


United Nations Decolonization Effort in ‘Virtual Inertia’, as It Devolved

From Unfinished Agenda to Unattended One, Warns Caribbean Community Countries


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), guided by the fundamental and universal principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, would have the General Assembly declare the period 2011-2020 as the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, by one of 12 draft texts approved today, capping its general debate on decolonization.


That draft, which also calls upon Member States to intensify their efforts to continue to implement the plan of action for the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and use those efforts as the basis for a plan of action for the next Decade, was approved by a recorded vote of 130 in favour and 3 against (Israel, United States, United Kingdom), with 20 abstentions.


The Committee also proposed, in a resolution on the Fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, that the Assembly urge Member States to do their utmost to promote effective measures for the full and speedy implementation of the Declaration in all Non-Self-Governing Territories to which the Declaration applied.


Also by that text, similarly approved by a recorded vote of 150 in favour and 3 against (United States, United Kingdom, Israel) and no abstentions, the Assembly would urge the administering Powers and other Member States to ensure that the activities of foreign economic and other interests in colonial Territories did not run counter to the interests of the inhabitants of those Territories and did not impede the implementation of the Declaration.


The representative of the United Kingdom, explaining his delegation’s opposition to both those texts, said the proposals for the Third International Decade and the Fiftieth anniversary of the Decolonization Declaration were “unacceptable”, as the texts failed to recognize the progress that had been made in the relationship between the United Kingdom and its territories.  With regard to the text relating to the Third International decade, his delegation strongly considered the “Special Committee of 24” to be outdated, and believed that the United Nations should devote its resources to more urgent issues.


Five other drafts also required recorded votes for passage.  Those texts were on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories; and 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.


Three resolutions and one draft decision on four of the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories were approved without a vote, as was a resolution on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  An omnibus resolution on the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands was postponed until a later date.


Prior to consideration of the drafts, the Committee wrapped up its general debate on decolonization, begun on 4 October.  Jamaica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it was not so long ago that each of the 14 States in that group had been colonies, having since been decolonized with the United Nations support.  However, in recent years, the work of the United Nations remained in a state of “virtual inertia” and was devolving from an “unfinished agenda” to an unattended one.


He went on to say that the United Nations stood at a historical crossroads.  While there was a reaffirmation of decolonization in statements and resolutions, this was insufficient if the corresponding mandates were not operationalized.


Zambia’s representative said that it was regrettable that the process of decolonization was still incomplete, leaving the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to endure suffering.  He urged parties to continue engaging in dialogue in order to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution, and expressed the hope that the Organization’s efforts would accelerate the process leading up to self-determination, especially by the people of Western Sahara.


Also speaking to the conflict over Western Sahara, the representative of Algeria said the exercise of the right of self-determination was a permanent axis of his country’s foreign policy.  Faithful to its commitments to Africa, he reaffirmed Algeria’s “brotherly solidarity” and pledged support to the inalienable right to self-determination, such as through Security Council resolution 1754 (2007) which aimed to re-launch negotiations to end the impasse and promote dialogue in Western Sahara.


While the differences that had undermined the first four sets of formal negotiations were widely known, Algeria’s speaker welcomed the re-launch of informal negotiations, as long as the parties ascribed to a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution.  Participating in formal and informal talks, Algeria was fully aware of its responsibilities to the people in the region and in recognition that peace was in everyone’s self-interest.  He reiterated his support for expansion of confidence-building measures, as the building of a prosperous Western Sahara was part and parcel of its historical fate.


The representative of Morocco said that prior to submitting its autonomy plan to the Security Council three years ago, Morocco had ensured the plan’s “national legitimacy” by involving representatives of the population and the entire political spectrum in its drafting.  Still, he said Algeria and the Polisario persisted in their “business as usual” attitude, putting forth a whole gamut of subterfuges to undermine a fragile and difficult negotiating process.


The Maghreb needed Morocco, just as it needed Algeria, he stressed.  The united Maghreb was grounded on respect for the territorial integrity of all, reconciliation, and a sincere commitment to build on a Maghreb edifice that was strong, politically supportive, and capable of taking its rightful place.  “We reach out to our Algerian brothers and have made the strategic choice of negotiation to achieve this common future,” he said.


Also speaking in the debate were the representatives of Kenya, India, Libya, South Africa, Ecuador and Uganda.


During consideration of the various draft texts, the representatives Argentina, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Fiji, Saint Lucia, and Bolivia spoke in explanation of position.


Background


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to conclude its consideration of questions relating to decolonization and to take up the cluster of resolutions and decisions on that item.  Action was expected on 13 draft texts — 10 of them recommended by the Special Committee on Decolonization in its report on the situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (documents A/65/23).  Among those texts on which it was expected to take action was a draft decision on the question of Gibraltar (document A/C.4/64/L.4), a draft resolution entitled Question of Western Sahara (document A/C.4/65/L.5), and a draft resolution on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/C.4/65/L.3).


Draft Texts


By the terms of draft resolution I, on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73e of the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly would request the administrating Powers concerned to transmit, or continue to transmit, regularly to the Secretary-General information relating to economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories, for which they are responsible.  It would also request the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments in the Territories concerned, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those Territories.


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


Also according to the text, the Assembly would call once again on all Governments that have not yet done so to take legislative, administrative or other measures to put an end to enterprises in the Territories ­ undertaken by those Governments’ nationals or corporate bodies under their jurisdiction ­ that are detrimental to the interests of the inhabitants, in accordance with the relevant provisions of resolution 2621 (XXV) of 1970.


By further provisions, the Assembly would call upon the administrating Powers to ensure that the exploitation of the marine and other natural resources in the Non-Self-Governing Territories under their administration was not in violation of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and did not adversely affect the interests of the peoples of those Territories.  The Assembly would also call upon the administrating Powers concerned to ensure that no discriminatory working conditions prevailed in the Territories under the administration.


By other provisions, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to continue informing world public opinion of any activity that affected the exercise of the right of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination in conformity with the Charter and resolution 1514 (XV).  It would also decide to follow the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories, so as to ensure that all economic activities in those Territories were aimed at strengthening and diversifying their economies in the interest of their peoples, including the indigenous populations, and at promoting the Territories’ economic and financial viability.


By the terms of draft resolution III, on implementation of the Declaration 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 organizations of the United Nations system in which they were members 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.


The Assembly would, by other provisions, request the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system to examine and 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 also urge those specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.


By that same draft, the Assembly would request the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system concerned to provide information on:  environmental problems facing the Non-Self-Governing Territories; the impact of natural disasters and other environmental problems in those Territories; ways and means to assist the Territories to fight drug trafficking, money-laundering and other illegal and criminal activities; and illegal exploitation of the marine and other natural resources of the Territories and the need to utilize those resources for the benefit of their peoples.


Also according to the text, the Assembly would recommend that the executive heads of the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations formulate, with the active cooperation of the regional organizations concerned, concrete proposals for the full implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions and submit the proposals to their governing and legislative organs.  It would also ask the Secretary-General to assist the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations in working out appropriate measures for implementing the relevant United Nations resolutions and to prepare for submission to the relevant bodies a report on the action taken in implementation.


By the terms of draft resolution IV, on the question of New Caledonia, the Assembly would urge all the parties involved to maintain, in the framework of the Nouméa Accord, their dialogue in a spirit of harmony and in this context welcomed the unanimous agreement, reached in Paris on 8 December 2008, on the transfer of powers to New Caledonia in 2009 and the conduct of provincial elections in May 2009.  It would also call upon the administering Power to continue to transmit to the Secretary-General information as required under 73 e of the United Nations Charter, and welcomed all measures taken to strengthen and diversify the New Caledonian economy in all fields.


By further provisions of that text, the Assembly would decide to keep under continuous review the process unfolding in New Caledonia as a result of the signing of the Nouméa Accord.  It would also request the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples to continue the examination of the question of New Caledonia and to report on it to the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session.


As for draft resolution V, on the question of Tokelau, the General Assembly would note New Zealand’s exemplary cooperation and ongoing recognition of the complete right of the people of Tokelau to undertake the act of self-determination when they consider it to be appropriate.  It would also commend the professional and transparent conduct of both the February 2006 and October 2007 referendums, monitored by the United Nations, and would acknowledge General Fono’s decision that consideration of any future act of self-determination by Tokelau will be deferred.  It would acknowledge Tokelau’s initiative in devising a strategic economic development plan for the period 2007-2010, and the ongoing and consistent commitment of New Zealand to meeting the social and economic requirements of the people of Tokelau, as well as the support and cooperation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


Also, the Assembly would note that a referendum to determine the future status of Tokelau held in February 2006 failed to produce the two-thirds majority of the valid votes cast required by General Fono to change Tokelau’s status. It would further note that the October 2007 referendum also did not produce a two-thirds majority, and acknowledged General Fono’s decision that consideration of any future act of self-determination by Tokelau will be deferred, and that Tokelau and New Zealand remained firmly committed to the ongoing development of Tokelau for the long-term benefit of the people of Tokelau, with particular emphasis on the further development of facilities on each atoll that met their current requirements.


By further provisions, the Assembly would acknowledge Tokelau’s need for the international community’s continued support, and recalled with satisfaction the establishment and operation of the Tokelau International Trust Fund to support that Territory’s ongoing needs.  It would also call upon the administering Power and United Nations agencies to continue to provide assistance to Tokelau as it further developed


Draft resolution VII, on dissemination of information on decolonization, the Assembly would approve the activities of the United Nations Departments of Public Information and Political Affairs for disseminating decolonization information, particularly the leaflet entitled “What the UN Can Do to Assist Non-Self-Governing Territories”, which was updated in March 2009.  It would urge the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Non-Self- Governing Territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources.  It would request the administering Powers to take all steps necessary to protect the property rights of the peoples of those Territories.


The Assembly would further urge all States, directly and through their action in the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, to provide moral and material assistance, as needed, to the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and would request the administering Powers take steps to enlist and make effective use of all possible assistance, on both a bilateral and a multilateral basis, in the strengthening of the economies of those Territories.


By the terms of draft resolution VIII, on the implementation of the Declaration, the Assembly would reaffirm, once again, that the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation, including economic exploitation, was incompatible with the United Nations Charter, the Declaration on decolonization and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


By the terms of the draft resolution on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/C.4/65/L.3), the Assembly would 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 offers of study and training facilities made by States, and to provide all the necessary facilities to enable students to avail themselves of such offers.  It would also request the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth session on the implementation of the present resolution.


By the terms of the draft decision on the question of Gibraltar (document A/C.4/65/L.4), the General Assembly would urge both the Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom, while listening to the interests and aspirations of Gibraltar, to reach a definitive solution to the question of Gibraltar, in the light of relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and applicable principles, and in the spirit of the United Nations Charter.


By the terms of the draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara (document A/C.4/65/L.5), the Assembly would welcome the process of negotiations initiated by Security Council resolution 1754 (2007), and welcomed the commitment of the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, in order to enter into a more intensive phase of negotiations.


The Committee also had before it draft resolution IX on the fiftieth anniversary of the decolonization Declaration, and draft resolution X on the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, both contained in document A/65/23.


Statements


RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that people had an inalienable right to self-determination.  Continued colonialism in any form was an impediment to social, economic and cultural development.  December marked the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of General Assembly resolution 1514, which laid the foundation to ending the “shackles of colonialism.”  It was not so long ago that each of the 14  CARICOM States and others had been colonies, and many had been decolonized with the support of the United Nations.  Today, there were still 16 territories that did not have the right to choose their own fate.  Thus, the fiftieth anniversary would serve to renew a commitment to the noble cause of self-determination.  This year was also the end of the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and CARICOM welcomed a third decade, as it wanted to ensure the end of colonialism.


For CARICOM, he said, the work of the United Nations remained in a state of “virtual inertia” and was now an unattended agenda.  Stock must be taken of all activities.  The United Nations was at a historical crossroads.  There was a reaffirmation of decolonization in statements and resolutions; however, that was not sufficient if the corresponding mandates were not operationalized.  There was a decision to be made as to whether or not to remain true to the United Nations Charter governing self-determination and decolonization.  The Third Decade was an opportunity to correct the inertia that had plagued the decolonization agenda for the past two decades.  CARICOM recognized the progress that had been made in many Non-Self-Governing Territories, but there were many regressive steps, especially with regard to the Turks and Caicos Islands.


CARICOM took note with deep regret the recent regressive steps recently undertaken in the Caribbean Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands, he said.  It was concerned over the decision of the administering Authority to dissolve the government and legislature of the Territory, as well as to suspend the right to trial by jury, and to replace the elected Government with direct rule by the administering Power over the Territory.  CARICOM was also greatly concerned with the recent announcement of the administering Authority to postpone elections previously scheduled for July 2011.  As CARICOM had preciously stated, the decision to impose direct rule was “totally at odds” with the development of good governance, including improved fiscal and administrative management in Turks and Caicos, the professed aim of the British Government.  Good political and fiscal governance could not be handed down; its nature and contours must be moulded by the people of Turks and Caicos.


CARICOM also maintained its support for the people of Western Sahara, and for all other Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He noted the suspension of family visits by air and urged their resumption.  He concluded by saying that, “The price of staying the same was far greater than the price of change.”


JOSEPHINE OJIAMBO ( Kenya), aligning herself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said she attached great importance to the exercise of the right to self-determination for all peoples under colonial domination.  As the Second International Decade came to a close, the task of decolonization remained incomplete.  Declaring a third decade would add great value towards the endeavour, and Kenya urged the Fourth Committee to redouble its efforts.  It was her conviction that the implementation of the United Nations decolonization mandate required a collaborative effort and, as such, she encouraged the “Special Committee of 24” to pursue genuine dialogue aimed at finding fresh and more creative ways to eradicate colonialism.


She appealed for the cooperation of the administering Powers to ensure that United Nations visiting and special missions would get the necessary assistance.  The natural resources of the Territories were the heritage of the peoples, and so there should be no activities that harmed their rights and interests.  Kenya recognized the rights of every people to conserve their national heritage, and thus, she urged implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) concerning restitution of cultural properties.


CHARAN DAS MAHANT (India), broadly aligning himself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that colonialism was not only anachronistic, archaic and outmoded, but also contravened the fundamental tenets of democracy, freedom, human dignity and rights.  Decolonization was one of the more visible achievements of the United Nations, and the fact that fewer than 2 million people lived under colonial rule in the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing-Territories, when compared to 750 million in 1945 was a testimony to this august body.  However, there still was a long way to go; the journey was not complete.  Efforts should be maximized and commitments reaffirmed; the task needed a sense of urgency and activism, on the one hand, and sensitive and circumspect handling on the other.  Ascertaining the political aspirations of the people in each of the remaining Territories was a critical input.


In India, he said, the milestone poverty eradication programmes, such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme aimed at ensuring inclusive growth so the benefits of development reached every section of society, would help make it possible to do away with even the residual vestiges of colonialism, which only exacerbated societal divisions and disadvantages.  The State of Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, and its people have regularly exercised their franchise in free and fair elections.  He concluded with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, who said that:  “Just as a man would not cherish living in a body other than his own, so do nations not like to live under other nations, however noble and great the latter may be.”


EZZIDIN Y.A. BELKHEIR ( Libya) said that more than two thirds of Member States had achieved independence after the establishment of the United Nations.  However, millions were still living under foreign occupation, or settler colonialism.  The worst colonial settler was that under the Zionist occupier, which demolished Palestinian houses and expelled the Palestinian people from their lands.  The exploitation of the natural resources of small peoples and the imposition of cultural hegemony were reprehensible.


He said that the colonized Territories faced stupendous harm, owing to the illegitimate economic exploitation and environmental pollution, caused by nuclear testing in some areas.  Many people risked their lives to emigrate to rich countries.  It was urgent to establish, promote and reinforce literacy programmes, combat poverty and fight disease.  Previous tragedies should not be repeated, and the crime of colonialism could never be forgiven.


BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said the United Nations Charter had not been fulfilled in Africa, because of the remaining conflict over Western Sahara.  After five decades of the adoption of resolution 1514, the self-determination of the peoples of Western Sahara remained deferred.  Morocco’s presence in Western Sahara was still a concern.  The continued occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco undermined the integrity of the Fourth Committee, the General Assembly, and the broader Organization.  He supported the need to hold a referendum to enable the people of Western Sahara to decide their own fate.


He said it was worrisome to note the deterioration of the human rights situation in Western Sahara, and he expressed concern over those violations of rights which were carried out under the guise of counter-terrorism measures.  The alleged illegal exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara was also of great concern.  His delegation would continue to support the cause of the Saharawi people until their right to self-determination was fully exercised.


DIEGO MOREJON ( Ecuador) said administering Powers should cooperate fully, and the decolonization process should remain one of the United Nations key priorities.  His delegation was concerned that the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom was still unresolved after so many years, and his country had lent support to Argentina in that regard.  Argentina and the United Kingdom should renew negotiations to find a solution to that conflict, in step with the pertinent United Nations resolutions, aimed at a peaceful and definitive solution to that anachronistic colonial situation in South America.  The matter of Puerto Rico should be considered in all its aspects, as the principles of freedom and self-determination were of the utmost importance.


MUYAMBO SIPANGULE (Zambia), associating himself with the statements made on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for the decolonization of all the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He reaffirmed the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination and independence, in accordance with the principles set forth in the Charter and Assembly resolution 1514.


Noting that this year marked 50 years since that resolution was passed, he said on the expectation was that colonial oppression would have been confined to history by now.  It was regrettable that the process of decolonization was still incomplete.  The Committee should reaffirm its commitment to the decolonization of the Territories, including of Western Sahara.  His delegation reaffirmed its support for the African Union and United Nations plans for Western Sahara.  He hoped the efforts would accelerate the process leading up to self-determination by the people of Western Sahara.  The people of Non-Self-Governing Territories continued to suffer.  Thus, he urged the parties to continue to engage in dialogue, in order to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said the exercise of the right of self-determination was a permanent axis of his country’s foreign policy.  Africa, a continent that had freed itself from almost all the vestiges of colonialism, faced the remaining issue of Western Sahara, which had not been successfully brought to a conclusion.  Faithful to its commitments to Africa, Algeria reaffirmed brotherly solidarity and pledged support to the people’s inalienable right to self-determination.  Security Council resolution 1754 (2007) aimed to re-launch negotiations to end the impasse and promote dialogue.


Continuing, he said the differences that had undermined the first four sets of formal negotiations on Western Sahara were widely known.  With the international community, Algeria welcomed the re-launch of informal negotiations, as long as the parties ascribed to a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution.  Algeria participated in formal and informal talks, fully aware of its responsibilities to the people in the region and in recognition that peace was in everyone’s self-interest.  He reiterated his support for expansion of confidence-building measures, through United Nations measures.  There was will to build a prosperous Western Sahara, which was part and parcel of its historical fate.  He noted that a just solution was liberation of the African continent.


RUHAKANA  RUGUNDA (Uganda), aligning his delegation with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the fact that there were still more than 2 million people living under occupation constituted a blot on the universal freedom and cherished rights that should be enjoyed by all people.  It was unfortunate that at the end of the Second Decade to stamp out colonialism that not much progress had been achieved.  He, therefore, reaffirmed unequivocal support for all people of all the Non-Self-Governing Territories.


He said that tangible progress must be seen in the forthcoming decade, which should see the “absolute” end of all forms of colonialism and colonial occupation. Western Sahara, which had been a member of the African Union since 1982, had yet to gain independence, and its decolonization was yet to be completed.  The United Nations had consistently recognized the inalienable rights of the people of Western Sahara and had called for the exercise of those rights.  He recalled various United Nations Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1920 (2010), which called for the parties to show more political will and to move into substantive negotiations.  Not much progress had been achieved in Western Sahara.  He, meanwhile, called for a mechanism for monitoring human rights, either by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) or by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said that over the past two days, members of the Committee had heard impartial petitioners from diverse backgrounds, and authentic representatives of the Sahara population, who had first-hand knowledge of reality in the Moroccan Sahara.  The petitioners had given accounts of the efforts exerted by Morocco since 1975 to address infrastructure and economic, social and cultural development deficiencies, which had accumulated over the decades.  They had told of the real geo-strategic dimension of the issue, the voracious greed that had been triggered by his country’s recovery of its Sahara, and the stubbornness of Algeria to counter any prospect of solving the dispute, under the guise of a geographically selective adherence to the principle of self-determination.  Yet, that principle, which independent Morocco had itself helped to develop, had never served as an instrument for undermining the unity and integrity of States.  Nor had it ever served as a pretext for depriving States of areas that were part and parcel of their territory.  Those were the very considerations that enabled all States, particularly of North Africa, including Algeria, to keep the Saharan part of their national territory.


He said that his country, prior to submitting its autonomy initiative to the Security Council in 2007, had ensured national legitimacy for the initiative, by involving in its drafting the representatives of the population and the entire political spectrum.  It then had sought its international recognition through the consultations conducted with partners in the region.  Morocco’s submission of the initiative had triggered a process of negotiation, on which the international community continued to pin high hopes.  Morocco had demonstrated its willingness to negotiate.  However, Algeria and the Frente Polisario persisted in their “business as usual” attitude.  Over and beyond that, they had spared no effort to divert the attention of the international community since Morocco’s submission of its initiative.


As part of that obstructionist strategy, a whole gamut of subterfuges had been wielded to undermine a fragile negotiating process, he said, adding that a plethora of allegations had been fabricated to mount a smokescreen to conceal the true intentions of the abettors.  Those tactics were well-known.  Algeria and the Frente Polisario rejected the autonomy initiative, but it was a model for regional democratic management and good territorial governance.  No one regional dispute could logically reach a final solution when the borders of two neighbouring States were closed in defiance of the common history of the two nations that shared a common past.  Regional disputes were resolved by dialogue and a desire to transcend misunderstandings.  He asked if Algeria would maintain a passive attitude in a negotiating process that was so vital for regional peace, adding that it must not “enshroud itself forever in the mantle of innocence and virtue.”


He recalled that Algeria’s Foreign Minister, before the General Assembly, had stated that his country was ready to lend full support to settle the conflict.  He welcomed the statement, but said that he hoped the Algerian Government would match its words and deeds.


The Maghreb needed Morocco, just as it needed Algeria, he said.  The united Maghreb was grounded on respect for the territorial integrity of all, and on reconciliation and a sincere commitment to build on a Maghreb edifice that was economically strong, mutually supportive on the political plane, and capable of taking its rightful place.  “We reach out to our Algerian brothers and have made the strategic choice of negotiation to achieve this common future,” he said.  That approach required flexibility from both sides and a genuine political will to reach compromise.  Morocco entertained high expectations about the negotiating process.  Algeria’s passivity, under cosmetic neutrality, would only lead to keeping the status quo, and eventually, the failure of negotiations.  He hoped the Fourth Committee would convey a consensual, unified and appeasing message in support of negotiations.


Action on Texts


The Committee turned first to draft resolution I, on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations (document A/65/23).


Speaking on a point of order, the representative of Saint Luciaasked why there would be a recorded vote, when there had been no requests for such a vote.


The Secretariat said that a recorded vote was the established procedure.  The Chairman then asked if there was any delegation that wished for a recorded vote.


Also speaking on a point of order, the representative of the United Kingdom said he did not wish to delay procedure any longer, and that his delegation did request, as in previous years, that there be a recorded vote.  Also, it did not need to be called from the floor, and welcomed clarification on that point.


The Chairman said that was correct.


That text was then approved by a recorded vote of 143 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions ( France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).


Explaining his position after the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said that, as in previous years, his delegation had abstained.  The Government did not take issue with the resolution’s main objective and continued to meet its obligations in that regard.  His Government believed, however, that a decision as to whether a Non-Self-Governing Territory had reached a level of self-government was ultimately for the government of the Territory and the administering Power concerned to decide, and not the General Assembly.


Next, the Committee approved draft resolution II, on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/65/23), by a recorded vote of 147 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).


Speaking after the vote, the representative of Argentina said the applicability of the resolution in a specific Territory depended on whether the right to self-determination was applicable to that Territory.  Self-determination required an active subject in order to be exercised, that is, a people subjected to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation, as required by the first operative paragraph of resolution 1514.


Thus, he continued, it was relevant to bear in mind that certain General Assembly resolutions noted that, in cases where there was a sovereignty dispute, such as in the Malvinas Islands, South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime areas, a negotiated solution was the only path to resolving the dispute, and not self-determination.  The resolution, therefore, was not applicable to the Malvinas Islands and the surrounding archipelagic areas.  The situation prevailing in this archipelago, belonging to the national territory of a country, resulted in the unilateral exploitation by the United Kingdom of the natural resources of the Malvinas Islands and surrounding marine areas.  That ran counter to the Assembly’s decisions in that field, and was a brazen violation.  The United Kingdom had expelled the local population of the islands and replaced it with its own population.  That fact rendered the right to self-determination inapplicable.


The Committee then approved draft resolution III 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/65/23), by a recorded vote of 98 in favour to none against, with 51 abstentions.


Speaking in explanation of vote on behalf of the European Union, Belgium’s representative reaffirmed support for the specialized agencies of the United Nations in their efforts, particularly those in the technical and educational fields.  The Union favoured careful compliance with those agencies’ statutes.  It had, therefore, abstained from the vote.


The representative of Argentina stressed that the resolution must be applied in accordance with the relevant United Nations pronouncements, the resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly and of the Special Committee on Decolonization on specific territories.


Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/C.4/65/L.3).


Also without a vote, it approved draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.5 entitled Question of Western Sahara.


Speaking after that decision on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Belgium welcomed the consensual adoption of the resolution and commended the parties for their efforts.  She reaffirmed support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to achieve a just, lasting, and peaceful solution for the people of Western Sahara, and encouraged the parties to continue to work towards a solution within the framework of the United Nations.  She welcomed the recent visit to Western Sahara of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, and encouraged parties to work with Christopher Ross to move the process forward.


She also expressed her delegation’s support for the Manhasset negotiations, and welcomed the commitment of both parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue.  Her delegation remained concerned over the implications of the conflict for security and cooperation in the region, and encouraged efforts to renew the family visit programme, particularly through flights.


Also acting without a vote, the Committee then approved draft decision A/C.4/65/L.4 entitled Question of Gibraltar.


The Committee then proceeded to its consideration of draft resolution IV, on the question of New Caledonia (document A/65/23).


Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Fiji said that since last year, modest progress had been achieved in New Caledonia. Concerning those modest developments, he commended all the stakeholders including, the Committee, in their support of and input on the draft resolutions.


The Committee then approved that resolution without a vote, as orally revised.


Next, the Committee approved draft resolution V, on the question of Tokelau (document A/65/23), also without a vote.


Speaking after the decision, the representative of Saint Lucia thanked the Governments France and New Zealand for their efforts, as those could pave the way for other Non-Self-Governing Territories and their administrations for advancing the process of decolonization.  He was pleased that the process was continuing at a pace that was acceptable to all, and he hoped that all administering Powers would follow that lead and give the Committee some success in the coming decade.


The Committee postponed to a later date action on draft resolution VI, on the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands (document A/65/23).


The Committee next approved draft resolution VII on dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/65/23) by a recorded vote of 148in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States) with 1 abstention (France).


Speaking in explanation of vote, the United Kingdom’s representative said his delegation had voted against the text because it remained of the view that the obligation it placed on the Secretariat to disseminate information represented an unwarranted drain on the Organization’s resources.  As such, the resolution was unacceptable to the United Kingdom.


Also speaking after the vote, the representative of Bolivia said that, owing to a technical problem, his vote had not registered; he would have voted in favour of that text.


The representative of Argentina said her delegation wished to express firm support for the right of self-determination.  Despite that, the passage of the text should be interpreted and implemented in keeping with pertinent General Assembly resolutions and the Special Committee on Decolonization.  Since the adoption of resolution 2065, all pronouncements of the General Assembly and Special Committee on the Question of Malvinas Islands characterized it as a “special and particular” colonial situation, recognizing that it involved a sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas between Argentina and the United Kingdom as its sole parties. They established that the way to settle it was through the resumption of bilateral negotiations, taking into account the interests of the inhabitants of the islands.


Next, the Committee approved draft resolution VIII on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/65/23) by a recorded vote of 149 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 2 abstentions (Belgium, France).


Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation had voted “no” because it continued to find some elements of the text unacceptable.  Nevertheless, he said his Government remained committed to modernizing its relationship with its Overseas Territories, while taking fully into account the views of the peoples of the Territories.


Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Algeria said that his delegation’s vote had not been recorded, but he had supported the draft.


Argentina’s representative stressed that, regarding operative paragraph 7, visiting missions proceeded only in cases where self-determination was applicable, specifically those for which there was no sovereignty dispute.


Next, the Committee took action on draft decision IX, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in A/65/23, approving it by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 3 against ( United States, United Kingdom, Israel).


Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said it found much of the language unacceptable.  The text failed to recognize the progress that the United Kingdom had achieved in its relationship with its overseas territories, which was now a modern one.  He expressed support for the move to independence, where that was an option and if it was the clearly expressed wish of the people concerned.  He stressed that none of the United Kingdom’s overseas territories should remain on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.


Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Argentina expressed firm support for the decolonization Declaration.  Fifty years since its adoption, and despite the progress made by the United Nations, the need still persisted to put an end to colonialism.  That obligation was equally pending on all members of the international community, and it must be fulfilled on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the political specificities of each colonial situation, in accordance with the principles established in resolution 1514, which governed the noble task of putting an end to the scourge of colonialism:  self-determination and territorial integrity.


She reiterated her country’s full support for the right of self-determination of peoples still under colonial domination, and in that sense, staunchly supported that right in all cases where the United Nations had so determined because of the existence of an active subject holder of that inalienable right.  At the same time, Argentina reaffirmed the significance and fundamental validity of the other guiding principle of decolonization enshrined in the Declaration:  the territorial integrity of States, since “any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.


She further said that there were special cases to which the applicability of the principle had been wisely established by the United Nations.  Such was the case with the question of the Malvinas Islands.  On the fiftieth anniversary since the adoption of the decolonization Declaration, it was timely to recall that persistence of various types of colonial cases constituted a crime violating the Charter of the United Nations, the decolonization Declaration, and international law, as established by the General Assembly in resolution 2621 adopted on the tenth anniversary of resolution 1514.


Argentina renewed its permanent commitment to collaborate with the Special Committee on Decolonization and expressed full willingness to resume the negotiations with the United Kingdom, as had been called on by the international community, to put an end to the anachronistic sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas.


Next, draft resolution X on the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism was approved by a recorded vote of 130 in favour and 3 against (Israel, United States, United Kingdom), with 20 abstentions.


Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation found the proposal unacceptable, as the resolution failed to recognize the progress that had been made in the relationship between the United Kingdom and its territories.  He repeated that the United Kingdom would support the move to independence when that was an option.  His delegation strongly considered the “Special Committee of 24” to be outdated and strongly believed that the United Nations should devote its resources to more urgent issues.


The representative of Bolivia said his delegation had not been present for the first three votes on resolutions I, II, and III, and would have voted in favour.  He asked that it be reflected in the record.


Right of Reply


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Pakistan, responding to the statement made by India, said that he wished to emphasize that Jammu and Kashmir were not, nor had they ever been, an integral part of India.  He said the Security Council had recognized that area as a disputed territory.


Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the United Kingdom said that when the ministerial government had been suspended in Turks and Caicos, much progress was made for sound financial management and good governance.  In September the United Kingdom announced that elections of a new territorial government would not take place until 2011.  However, the United Kingdom did not want to suspend elections longer than necessary, and would issue a statement by the end of the year to set out the remaining milestones that needed to take place for the elections to be held.  The United Kingdom and the Governor encouraged all sectors of Turks and Caicos society to take part in the consultations, so all views of the people of the Territory could be made known to the United Kingdom on that issue.


In response to remarks made by Ecuador and Argentina regarding resolutions II VII and IX, the representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation had no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.  He attached great importance to the principle of self-determination, saying that those principles underpinned his country’s position on the Falkland Islands.  He recalled that the democratically elected representatives of the Falkland islands had asked the “Committee of 24” to recognize that they, like others, should be free to exercise the right to self-determination.  They had also said that no civilian population had been removed before they settled on the islands over eight generations ago.  They had been the only inhabitants of the Falkland Islands.  He also stressed that all peoples could, for their own end, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources, and in no case could a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.


Also speaking in the exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Argentina recalled that the Malvinas Islands were illegitimately and illegally occupied by the United Kingdom and were subjected to a sovereignty dispute recognized by numerous international organizations.  That illegal occupation had brought the General Assembly to adopt various resolutions, all of which recognized the existence of a sovereignty dispute and called on both Governments to renew negotiations, in order to find, as quickly as possible, a peaceful and lasting solution to that dispute.


Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of India said he rejected in its entirety the untenable comment by the representative of Pakistan.


Further speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Ecuador said he supported those words spoken by Argentina’s delegate.


Taking the floor against in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Pakistan said he wished to remind his Indian colleague that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir must be made according to the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.  The Security Council had declared that a constituent assembly, and any of its actions to determine Jammu and Kashmir’s future shape, would not constitute a disposition of the State, in accordance with the principle that the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under United Nations auspices.  He said his points were completely tenable and in accordance with the United Nations resolutions.


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For information media • not an official record