NO ALTERNATIVE TO SELF-DETERMINATION IN DECOLONIZATION PROCESS, GIBRALTAR'S CHIEF MINISTER TELLS FOURTH COMMITTEE
NO ALTERNATIVE TO SELF-DETERMINATION IN DECOLONIZATION PROCESS, GIBRALTAR'S CHIEF MINISTER TELLS FOURTH COMMITTEE
Fifty-seventh General Assembly
5th Meeting (PM)
NO ALTERNATIVE TO SELF-DETERMINATION IN DECOLONIZATION PROCESS,
GIBRALTAR'S CHIEF MINISTER TELLS FOURTH COMMITTEE
Guam, Western Sahara Also Discussed
In the process of decolonization, there was no alternative to self-determination, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon, as it heard from representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories, petitioners and governments.
By a process of “smoke and mirrors”, the Chief Minister continued, Spain was trying to merge two issues into one; decolonization on the one hand, and a territorial dispute on the other. He urged that the question of Gibraltar be given to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion. He also requested the General Assembly to include in its annual resolution on the matter the need for both the United Kingdom (the administering Power) and Spain (the territorial claimant) to consult the wishes of the people of Gibraltar in resolving the matter.
Condemning the British Foreign Secretary’s announcement that the United Kingdom and Spain had agreed on sharing sovereignty of the Territory, he said that joint sovereignty would not ensure the decolonization of Gibraltar, but enshrine it forever. A referendum would be held on 7 November, in which the people of Gibraltar would state whether they accepted or rejected the idea of shared sovereignty.
The Leader of the Opposition in Gibraltar said that the question of Gibraltar was not a dispute between the United Kingdom and Spain, but a dispute between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom. It existed because the United Kingdom was failing to meet its obligations under the United Nations Charter to proceed with the decolonization of the Territory. The Committee itself was acting as an obstacle to Gibraltar’s decolonization by permitting the interests of the United Kingdom and Spain to be put above the wishes of the people of the Territory.
The Executive Director of the Guam Commission on Decolonization said Member States were duty bound to bring a speedy end to colonialism, having due regard for the freely expressed will of the people concerned. Underdevelopment through subjugation, domination and exploitation by external and undemocratic administration was too high a price for humankind. Although colonialism had many effects, Guam had not caved in under its weight. The engagement of the administering Power was essential to a successful decolonization process, he added.
On the question of Western Sahara, the representative of Morocco endorsed the draft Framework Agreement proposed by James Baker III, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, as a platform for a political settlement to the "so-called" question of Western Sahara. That agreement, which was not a "dead letter document", was aimed at reconciling Morocco's legitimate right to exercise its sovereignty over its Territory and the aspirations of the Territory's population to manage their own affairs. Morocco was seeking to move forward in the settlement of a long-standing dispute and restore hope to the entire Maghreb region. The Security Council was offering a new opportunity and Morocco strongly hoped that the opportunity would be seized and that good faith negotiations would be initiated.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Gabon, Cambodia (on behalf of Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), United Republic of Tanzania, Namibia, Libya, Singapore, Benin and Egypt.
Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Papua New Guinea, and Côte d'Ivoire commented on the presentations of the representatives of the Territories and petitioners.
In addition, the representatives of Algeria and Morocco exercised the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Friday, 4 October, to conclude its general debate on decolonization.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to hear representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories and petitioners, and to continue its general debate on decolonization issues.[For background, see press release GA/SPD/234 of 30 September 2002.]
PETER CARUANA, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, said that every year the General Assembly adopted a resolution on Gibraltar, in which it called on the United Kingdom and Spain to continue their bilateral negotiations and urged them to reach a definitive solution to the dispute. Was the Assembly saying that the wishes of Gibraltar did not matter and the United Kingdom and Spain should resolve the issue bilaterally “over the heads” of the people of Gibraltar? Everyone agreed that Gibraltar should be decolonized. The question was how and by whom. In the process of decolonization, there was no alternative to self-determination.
By a process of “smoke and mirrors”, Spain was trying to merge two issues into one; decolonization on the one hand, and a territorial dispute on the other, he said. In doing so, it invoked the principle of territorial integrity, which was not applicable in the case of Gibraltar. Spain’s case did not bear scrutiny under the principles of modern international law. Spain and the United Kingdom both knew that, and that was why they both refused to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice. The essence of Spain’s case was that Gibraltar must be decolonized, not by self-determination, but by the so-called principle of territorial integrity.
There were three strands to Spain’s argument, he stated. First, Spain said that the people of Gibraltar were not an indigenous people and did not have a right to self-determination. Second, it referred to Gibraltar as an enclave, as if there were some special rules governing enclaves. Third, Spain claimed that a clause in the Treaty of Utrecht stated that Gibraltar could not be decolonized except by integration with Spain. Spain continued to use the annual Assembly resolution to deny the people of Gibraltar their right to self-determination. He urged that the case be given to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion. He also requested the Assembly to include in the resolution the need to consult the wishes of the people of Gibraltar.
While he had been invited to participate in the talks between the United Kingdom and Spain, he had not because he had been denied an equal voice in the talks and denied assurances that agreements would not be struck over his head. On 18 March, the people of Gibraltar took part in a public demonstration to urge the United Kingdom not to make concessions to Spain. Over the past 12 months, he had appealed to the United Kingdom not to compromise. Despite that, on 12 July, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw made a formal statement that the United Kingdom and Spain were in broad agreement over issues concerning Gibraltar, including sharing sovereignty over Gibraltar. He condemned Mr. Straw’s statement. Joint sovereignty did not ensure the decolonization of Gibraltar, but enshrined it forever.
On 7 November, Gibraltar would convene a referendum inviting the people of the Territory to state whether they accepted or rejected the principle of shared sovereignty, he informed the Committee. He invited the United Nations to designate observers for that process. Both the United Kingdom and Spain had stated that they would not recognize the results of the referendum. He asked for fairness and balance in the United Nations attention in the Gibraltar issue, including respect for the wishes of the people of Gibraltar and the protection of their rights.
PATRICK ALBERT LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) asked what the Committee’s mandate was. It was clear that the fundamental issue was not one of decolonization, but of deciding sovereignty. He did not think that the Committee was mandated to discuss sovereignty.
EARL STEPHEN HUNTLEY (Saint Lucia) asked, did the Government of Gibraltar have to seek the approval of the British Government when it sought to hold general elections and did the British Government recognize the results of those elections?
Mr. CARUANA replied that the provisions for parliamentary elections were statutory and the United Kingdom had no role in the electoral process. Nor did the United Kingdom have any role in the holding of a referendum, which by the way was going to be observed by many representatives of the British Government.
JIMMY URE OVIA (Papua New Guinea) noted that Gibraltar was already self-governing and, therefore, perhaps it was time for Gibraltar to be taken off the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
Mr. CARUANA said that the Government of Gibraltar, on the executive and legislative side, did enjoy an enormous amount of self-government. But, the fact of the matter was that those powers were exercised within a colonial constitution. Of course, Gibraltar wished to be de-listed, but within the context of a genuine non-colonial status.
BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire) said that those who put Gibraltar on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories did so for a reason. The Committee had a mandate to follow the political development in the Territories. In that context, Gibraltar was at a stage of high development in the political realm compared to other Territories. Gibraltar did not represent the typical case for decolonization.
LELAND BETTIS, Executive Director, Guam Commission on Decolonization, speaking on behalf of the Governor of Guam, said that in view of the slow rate of decolonization amongst the Territories that remained on the list something substantially new needed to be done. It was essential that the Special Committee's work involve the active participation of administering Powers. It was equally important that new processes include representatives of the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The Special Committee's attempts to implement new processes to bring about self-government in the remaining Territories was best brought about by having all parties engaged in meaningful discourse.
The language of the Special Committee's draft resolution on Guam (Document A/57/23, Part III) captured Guam's attempts to engage the administering Power in a meaningful dialogue on the island's present colonial conditions and a process for its decolonization, he said. Inaction by the United States and failure to engage Guam on a process that addressed the many issues the people of Guam had raised had ended that process. One of those issues was immigration -- which currently was an assimilationist policy that continued to marginalize the role of colonized Chamorro people in the affairs and future of their homeland. The administering Power's view was that all settlers and naturalized immigrants who had been in Guam for 30 days should have a right to Guam's decolonization.
The administering Power had not proposed a single process for Guam's decolonization, he said. Every option that Guam had proposed had either been opposed or ignored, leaving Guam in its colonial condition. The draft resolution called for the recognition of the political rights of the colonized Chamorro people and called for the administering Power to respond to Guam's call for a change in colonial immigration policies. As subjects of the world's greatest Power and richest nation, poverty in Guam had increased almost 10 per cent in the period 1990 to 2000. He supported the language in the draft resolution and encouraged Member States to adopt it.
The responsibility of the international community to advance the human rights of colonized people was clear, he said. Member States were duty bound to bring a speedy end to colonialism, having due regard for the freely expressed will of the people concerned. Guam's government was a subject government. Underdevelopment through subjugation, domination and exploitation by external and undemocratic administration was too high a price for humankind. Although colonialism had many effects, Guam had not caved in under its weight. The engagement of the administering Power was essential to a successful decolonization process. It took the administering Power to dismantle its external administrative mechanisms for decolonization to occur.
Mr. TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Cote d'Ivoire) said the question of Guam was one of the most complicated on the Committee's agenda. He asked whether a negotiation process was underway between the administering Power and the Territory.
Mr. BETTIS said there was no ongoing discussion on Guam's status between Guam and the administering Power. He was "jealously" aware of ongoing discussions on American Samoa. While Guam had for over a decade requested a change in its status, it had not rated the same attention as American Samoa.
Mr. HUNTLEY (St. Lucia) said a process of consultation on the nature of options available to Guam should have taken place. Had that been postponed and, if so, why?
Mr. BETTIS said that a legal process to solicit the views of the Chamorro people on their preference for political status was on the books. The Guam Election Commission was to oversee the process. That Commission, however, had been involved in a recently resolved lawsuit. Its attention had been on more mundane issues.
JOE BOSSANO, Leader of the Opposition in Gibraltar, said that on 7 November, the people of Gibraltar would be given an opportunity in a referendum to support or reject the framework outlined by Jack Straw. “We shall campaign for rejection,” he said. Mr. Straw had stated that he would ignore the referendum results. Immediately after the referendum, Mr. Bossano expected to achieve a consensus with the territorial Government, so that they could jointly pursue a new constitution with the British Government without Spain’s involvement.
He did not doubt that the Committee saw the Brussels negotiations as the way ahead, despite the fact that it knew that that was not what the people of Gibraltar wanted. He wanted the Spanish Government to know that there was every intention to interfere in and derail those negotiations. He condemned any attempt to interfere with the recognition and exercise of the right to self-determination of the people of Gibraltar. The people of Gibraltar would never compromise or give up their right to self-determination. They would never allow their country to come under Spanish rule.
The dispute over the question of Gibraltar, he said, was not a dispute between the United Kingdom and Spain. It was a dispute between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom. The dispute existed because the United Kingdom was failing to meet its obligations under the Charter to proceed with the decolonization of the Territory. The Committee itself was acting as an obstacle to Gibraltar’s decolonization by permitting the interests of the United Kingdom and Spain to be put above the wishes of the people of the Territory.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said if there was one area where the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity -- now the African Union -- had excelled in it was in the area of decolonization. Gabon, itself a former colony until the 1960s, unswervingly supported the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.
Regarding the question of Western Sahara, he recognized the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy -- as well as Morocco's efforts -- to find a just solution to the conflict. In February 2002, the Secretary-General had submitted four options to the Security Council. While consensus on the options had not been reached, it did not mean that hope for a political settlement to the problem was lost. The parties had shown their willingness to cooperate. The international community must exhort them to continue in a spirit of cooperation with the United Nations.
OUCH BORITH (Cambodia), on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), while welcoming the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste's admission into the United Nations, observed that the international community should not lose sight of the fact that there are still 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories that were still searching for their future. The international community must sustain efforts to ensure that the historic declaration adopted by the United Nations on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples was fulfilled.
He said ASEAN believed that the administering powers had a critical role to play in the decolonization process, and he highlighted the positive example of New Zealand in the case of Tokelau to underscore the point. The partnership between New Zealand and the Special Committee on Decolonization was a commendable model for other Territories. He urged the United Nations and its agencies to intensify its work on decolonization, and commended the holding of annual regional seminars under the auspices of the Special Committee as a useful channel for strengthening bilateral efforts aimed at assisting the Territories. ASEAN would continue to support and campaign for the effective and speedy implementation of the General Assembly Declaration on the decolonization. He urged the Special Committee to redouble its efforts, so that the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories would also be able to attain self-determination in the current decade.
LIBERATA MULAMULA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the very continuation of debates on decolonization was a stark reminder that there was still more work to be done in order to restore the inalienable rights of the people of Non-Self-Governing Territories from colonial bondage, even if those Territories were very small islands.
Reaffirming support for the self-determination of the Saharawi people of Western Sahara, she observed that the Security Council had been seized with the case for more than a decade, but there had been little noticeable progress in the implementation of the United Nations Settlement Plan, which was the only viable framework for achieving a long lasting solution. The plan, as agreed by both parties, included the affirmation of the right of the people of Western Sahara to determine their future in a referendum. But, the Saharawi people, who she noted, were looking to the international community for resolute action in realizing their dreams, were being denied that right. The right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara must not be compromised through political expediency. The United Nations must expedite the holding of the referendum without further delay.
Citing the success of the Tokelau case, she said she hoped other administering Powers would follow the exemplary role played by New Zealand and demonstrate their cooperation, without which the work of the Special Committee would be futile. If administering Powers cooperated, the remaining 16 cases would be quickly concluded. She called the General Assembly's attention to the recommendations of the visiting missions to Tokelau. If adopted they could expedite the decolonization process. She noted with grave concern, however, the confusion among inhabitants of Tokelau over the role of the United Nations in the decolonization process and the nature of options available to them. An education programme was needed to ensure the people of the Territories aware of their inalienable rights and the various options available to them.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said it was his country's hope that the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories would, during the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, achieve their legitimate aspirations for freedom and independence. While he celebrated Timor-Leste's accession to independence, he remained deeply concerned about Western Sahara, the only African country still under illegal foreign occupation by a fellow African country. The time was long overdue for the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination. That right had been consistently recognized by the General Assembly.
The Settlement Plan remained the only legal and viable framework for finding a just and lasting solution to the question of Western Sahara, he said. But, the holding of a free and fair referendum had been frustrated by the occupying Power's delaying tactics and the introduction of the so-called Framework Agreement. The Framework Agreement had rightly been rejected. In its resolution 1429 (2002), the Security Council had confirmed the full validity of the Settlement Plan. Namibia strongly supported that position. The process should be brought back on track without any further delays, so that the people of Western Sahara could determine their future. He reiterated his support to the Secretary-General, his Personal Envoy, James Baker III, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the staff of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). As a country emerging from apartheid colonialism, Namibia also reaffirmed its unwavering solidarity and support for the people of Western Sahara in their just struggle to free themselves and regain their dignity. The time had come for the General Assembly to ensure that its resolutions on Western Sahara were fully implemented.
ABDULHAMID O. YAHYA (Libya) said that the mission of the Committee was not an easy one. Its success depended on the assistance it received from the Member States, especially the cooperation of the administering Powers. Commending the cooperation exhibited between New Zealand and Tokelau, he appealed to all administering Powers to observe the General Assembly resolutions, which called on them to cooperate with the Special Committee. At a time when encouraging signs on the part of certain States had been registered, he regretted to see other States disregarding the will of colonial people.
In that regard, he noted that the United States military had continued its military manoeuvres and bombardment of Vieques and the detention of scores of people. He hoped that the administering Powers would respond to the relevant United Nations resolutions and enable colonial peoples to exercise their right to self-determination. They should also refrain from concluding bilateral agreements concerning the destiny of colonial people without consulting those people.
The Pacific Regional Seminar, held in Fiji in May, had provided an opportunity to listen to different points of view on the steps to be taken in the future in the field of decolonization, he said. He expressed support for the recommendations that had emerged from the Seminar aimed at giving momentum to the process of decolonization. He hoped the Assembly would adopt a resolution to have a day to discuss decolonization, in which the representatives of the Territories could directly address the Assembly. That could take place in 2006, as that marked the middle of the Second Decade to Eradicate Colonialism.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that one might wonder why the Fourth Committee still debated, after many years, the question of Western Sahara. He pointed out the surrealist nature of the debate on the provinces of southern Morocco, where the population lived calmly and transparently and had, just a few days ago, elected its representatives to Parliament. Was it reasonable to debate the issue some two months after the Council had, in its resolution 1429 (2002), stressed the critical need for a political solution? The Security Council mandated the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to submit a proposal in that regard before 31 January 2003. Which dispute was the Committee then referring to? Morocco, partially decolonized in 1956, had completed a legitimate action by recovering its southern provinces. Algeria had contested, saying that it was defending its strategic interests. That was the dispute referred to as Western Sahara.
The dispute had had disastrous humanitarian consequences, he said. Refugees had been held in camps near Tindouf in Algeria for almost 30 years, cut off from the world and deprived of their right to a decent life. Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) jailers, in violation of international humanitarian law, were still keeping some 1,260 prisoners in camps on Algerian territory. The humanitarian aspects of the dispute must urgently be addressed. The prisoners must be released without delay. Using them for political purposes, as POLISARIO did, was scandalous. The refugees must be allowed to express themselves, to move freely and to settle where they wished. Confidence-building mechanisms must be put in place so that the refugees could communicate with their families. In response to appeals by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Morocco had agreed to cooperate in the implementation of confidence-building mechanisms. Morocco's good will had not been reciprocated by the other party, however.
The urgent need to resolve the humanitarian situation, however, must not overshadow the importance of a political settlement, he said. The Security Council had recognized that the dispute was obstructing economic developments in the Maghreb region. Algeria had decided almost eight years ago to close its borders with Morocco. A dead-end situation in the Maghreb meant that the future of the region facing Europe was at risk.
The Secretary-General's Personal Envoy had proposed a platform for a political settlement in June 2001, he continued. That platform was now included in the official documentation of the United Nations. It was not a dead letter document. It was the Framework Agreement, which was aimed at reconciling Morocco's legitimate right to exercise its sovereignty over its territory and the aspirations of the entire population of the so-called Western Sahara to manage its local affairs. The peace process would allow Algeria to normalize relations with Morocco and to maximize its benefit from the free movement of citizens and goods between the Mediterranean region, Sahara and the Atlantic.
That was why the Council had encouraged all parties -- four of them were cited -- to negotiate on the basis of the Framework Agreement, he said. Algeria and POLISARIO had refused to become involved in the negotiation urged by Mr. Baker and the Security Council. The two parties had proposed the partition of the Territory, ignoring the right to self-determination, although they advocated self-determination in the international forum and within the Committee as an untouchable principle.
Morocco had no intention to sit in judgement, but was seeking to move forward in the settlement of a long-standing dispute while restoring hope to the entire Maghreb region. Bygones must be bygones. The Security Council was offering a new opportunity. Morocco strongly hoped that the opportunity would be seized and that good faith negotiations would be initiated. Agreement in advance was not needed to start negotiation. The other parties had said that they did not agree on a draft settlement, using that as a pretext not to engage in negotiations. A mechanism to narrow differences must be established.
He expressed gratitude to the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy for their tireless efforts to reconcile the views of the parties in the interest of stability and sustainable development of the Maghreb region, which had suffered so long from the artificially created dispute. The way to a settlement was clearly defined. It rested in the devolution of broad competencies to regional institutions in a manner that would heal wounds and ensure stability. Other countries had successfully gone through that experience, reconciling respect for local specificity, while guaranteeing the prerogatives of the national State entity. There was no other way. He hoped Algeria would also come to the conviction that it was in no one's interest to blow on the embers of separatism, because fire, once set, would spare no one.
KOK POH FATT (Singapore) noted the success recorded in the decolonization process and said the Committee's significant contributions had decreased the magnitude of the task, but not reduced its importance. Having helped to change the lives of 750 million people in the last few decades, the United Nations should double its effort and accomplish the same goal for the remaining 2 million people living in the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories.
The United Nations must also pay close attention to the social and economic development of the Territories, so as to ensure that the Territories that eventually opted for independence would be in a healthy state when they accomplished their goal of self-determination. The report of the Havana regional seminar on decolonization underlined the importance of preparing the Territories socio-economically for self-determination. That report noted that some Territories were concerned that their lack of economic resources would make their independence infeasible. Those were real and very grave concerns, he said.
He highlighted the case of Bermuda, which had a limited geographical space and lacked natural resources, but still succeeded in becoming one of the world's leading offshore financial centres. He also recalled Singapore's similar experience as a colony and the assistance which it had enjoyed in the earlier years of nationhood. He asked the United Nations and Member States to continue to provide the necessary technical assistance to the Territories. Singapore also supported the statement of ASEAN that the United Nations and its agencies should intensify their involvement in rendering assistance to the Territories, while also increasing bilateral efforts.
He said that since 1992, Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry, through a programme designed to share knowledge in various fields with other countries, had trained about 211 participants from Non-Self-Governing Territories. Also, since 1995, it had provided scholarships to students from the Territories in several areas, including public service and telecommunications. He called on the Territories to pursue their plans for independence with adequate and painstaking preparation aimed at capacity building.
KARIMOU ALFA ZERANDOURO (Benin) said that decolonization should be an area in which the United Nations claims significant success. However, the international community’s satisfaction would not be complete until the cases of the remaining 16 Territories were resolved. He reaffirmed the right of those people to self-determination. He also urged the administering Powers to cooperate more fully with the United Nations and the people of the Territories, to ensure the conditions necessary for the exercise of the right to self-determination. In addition, he appealed to the international community and the specialized agencies for investments in the Territories, to ensure that they were not shunted aside.
With regard to the issue of Western Sahara, he urged the parties to exhibit openness to arrive at an acceptable solution. The United Nations had exerted invaluable efforts in that connection. Several approaches had been proposed. The international community, more than ever, had a role to play in narrowing the differences between the positions.
WALID A. HAGGAG (Egypt) said that in the past 40 years, the United Nations had made major achievements in the area of self-determination. Also, the General Assembly had reaffirmed its commitment to the people of those Territories, with the adoption of the resolution on the Second Decade to Eradicate Colonialism. He welcomed the results adopted by the Pacific Regional Seminar, which would enable the Committee to undertake a dialogue with the representatives of the Territories, aimed at enabling them to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.
He hoped the administering Powers would show flexibility and political realism in order to close the page on colonialism. He paid tribute to the cooperation of New Zealand with regard to the visiting mission to Tokelau. Also, he emphasized the need for the administering Powers to respect the rights of
peoples in connection with their natural resources and cease any harmful military activities.
In Western Sahara, he hoped efforts would continue until that dispute was solved and noted the crucial role to be played by the United Nations in that context. It was hoped that the parties would continue to cooperate with the Secretary-General, his Special Representative and MINURSO.
Right of Reply
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) wanted to remind the representative of Morocco, who had called the Committee’s debate a “surreal” one, of a few truths. The debate had been a serious one until the Moroccan representative had spoken. What the Moroccan representative did not realize was that for the international community the question of Western Sahara was one of decolonization. Western Sahara was a Non-Self-Governing Territory.
Turning to the issue of Saharawi refugees, he said that they had preferred to live in camps until the day when they could live freely in their own territory.
As for the Moroccan prisoners of war, the highest authorities of Morocco had preferred to disregard their fate and had refused to discuss the issue. When Mr. Baker had begun his good offices mission, he had been able to obtain the freeing of hundreds of Moroccan prisoners. However, Morocco had refused to accept them. The freeing of Moroccan prisoners was being done regularly by POLISARIO, he noted.
What the Moroccan representative did not realize was that the people of Western Sahara did not wish to live under foreign occupation. What they wanted was not some pseudo form of self-governance, but the right to choose their future. The draft Framework Agreement as dead and buried and not endorsed by any organ of the United Nations. Algeria had no dispute with Morocco. It supported the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.
Mr. BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that here and everywhere, Morocco was labeled as an occupying Power and as a colonialist. If there was no problem between Algeria and Morocco, why was the Algerian representative treading the corridors of the Security Council for a month before it met, lobbying Council members? The problem would be solved by remaining in the ideologies of the 1960s. On the issue of prisoners of war, he stated that the fate reserved in Algeria for those prisoners was scandalous.
* *** *