RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION PRIMARILY CONCERNS THOSE UNDER FOREIGN OCCUPATION OR COLONIALISM, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD, AS DIFFERING VIEWS ARE EXPRESSED

1 November 2001
GA/SHC/3652

RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION PRIMARILY CONCERNS THOSE UNDER FOREIGN OCCUPATION OR COLONIALISM, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD, AS DIFFERING VIEWS ARE EXPRESSED

01/11/2001
Press ReleaseGA/SHC/3652

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Committee

28th Meeting (AM)

RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION PRIMARILY CONCERNS THOSE UNDER FOREIGN OCCUPATION OR

COLONIALISM, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD, AS DIFFERING VIEWS ARE EXPRESSED

Delegations expressed conflicting views this morning as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its discussion on the right to self-determination agenda item.

Speaking at the conclusion of a brief meeting, the representative of the Russian Federation said that while the right to self-determination was an important right to respect, it could not be seen as a blessing for any type of offensive in order to declare independence.  Such a belief could lead to a major threat of terrorism, which in turn could endanger the stability of innocent people.  Certainly, self-determination should have its viability studied within a particular country's borders.

The delegate of the Sudan, however, said the right to self-determination was a natural and essential right for all human beings.  The exercise of that right should not be considered as an attempt to undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty or political unity of States.  Sudan reaffirmed the position of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) that the right to self-determination primarily concerned those that suffered under colonialism and foreign occupation.

The representative of Cuba lauded the recent entry into force of the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.  Saying that mercenaries were still operating all over the world today, he said Cuba was heartened to know that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, had called for a high-level meeting on mercenaries next year to determine an acceptable international definition of mercenaries.

The Committee will meet again this afternoon at 3 p.m., to continue its discussion of the right to self-determination and to take action on a host of draft resolutions on items related to the International Year of Older Persons, crime prevention and criminal justice, and the advancement of women.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue its consideration of items related to the right if peoples to self-determination.  For details, see press release GA/SHC/3650 of 31 October.

JORGE FERRER (Cuba) said the right to self-determination was inscribed in the United Nations Charter and was a staple of international law.  Apart from the colonial occupation of 17 countries, including Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, developing countries were still facing threats in other parts of the world.  This was not the proper exercise of international law.  The only superpower remaining flexed its military and economic muscles following the terrorist attacks, and the right to development therefore had become an illusion.

Mr. Ferrer said globalization had also threatened developing countries.  The world's needs could not completely be addressed if they were being dictated by a sole pole of power.  Israel continued to use indiscriminate force against civilians, and that ran counter to the rights of self-determination of the Palestinian people.  The United States also had occupied a part of Cuba for the last 100 years with the Guantanomo Naval Base.

Cuba called on other countries to ratify the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, he said.  His delegation was happy that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson had called for a high-level meeting to determine an acceptable international definition of mercenaries.  The use of mercenaries was still observed throughout the world.  Last year, an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro was ordered by a well-known international terrorist.  The United States Central Intelligence Agency also had ordered one on President Castro in 1976.  All the activities staged by the National Association of Cuban-Americans were supported by the United States and the facilities at the naval base.  Cuba condemned all forms of terrorism, wherever it took place.  They should not go unpunished.

HAMZA OMER HASSAN AHMED (Sudan) said the right to self-determination was a natural and essential right for all human beings.  The exercise of that right should not be considered as an attempt to undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty or political unity of States.  He said that his delegation shared the African view that the right to self-determination primarily concerned those that suffered under colonialism and foreign occupation. 

To that end, he continued, the people living in the Palestinian Occupied Territories deserved particular and immediate attention.  He therefore appealed to all to ensure the implementation of all relevant United Nations resolutions in order to allow the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to be achieved.  He also said that the lack of a true definition of mercenaries had led to a situation in which such persons had intensified their activities and had been able to use a variety of excuses to conceal their illegal acts.  His delegation looked forward to the achievement of a clear definition of mercenaries and mercenary activity in order to guarantee the right of all people to self-determination. 

DMITRY KNYAZHINSKIY (Russian Federation) said it was obvious that peace and security largely depended on the interpretation of the right to self-

determination.  Of course, it was an important right to respect, but it should not be seen as a blessing for any type of offensive in order to declare independence.  That could lead to a major threat of terrorism, which in turn could threaten the stability of innocent people.  Certainly, self-determination should have its viability studied within a particular country's borders.

Those who undertook terrorist actions could not be accepted, Mr. Knyazhivskiy said.  The means to combat terrorism should be the same throughout the entire world.  The Security Council had reaffirmed the importance of using all means at the international community's disposal to fight threats to international peace and security. 

He said Russia recently had done a lot to strengthen the foundation of the country.  A State Council had been established that the Government was convinced could stimulate dialogue, instead of confrontation, in order for the true sense of the right to self-determination to be realized.

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For information media. Not an official record.