Decolonization Process at ‘Virtual Halt’, Fourth Committee Told as Annual Debate Opens, with Troubling Information Deficit in Non-Self-Governing Territories

8 October 2012
GA/SPD/504

Decolonization Process at ‘Virtual Halt’, Fourth Committee Told as Annual Debate Opens, with Troubling Information Deficit in Non-Self-Governing Territories

8 October 2012
General Assembly
GA/SPD/504
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Fourth Committee

2nd Meeting (PM)

Decolonization Process at ‘Virtual Halt’, Fourth Committee Told as Annual Debate

Opens, with Troubling Information Deficit in Non-Self-Governing Territories

Supporting Decolonization among Most Crucial Tasks in United Nations

History, Say Latin-American and Caribbean States, Home to Many Territories

In order to finish the unfinished task of decolonization and speed the process, it was necessary to evolve “a new dynamic” between collecting objective information about the situations in the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories — home to 2 million people — and pursuing stronger dialogue between them and their administering Powers, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was urged today as it began its annual debate on that subject.

Of the 193 Member States of the United Nations, said the Fourth Committee’s Chair, Nelson Messone of Gabon, most were sovereign and independent, thanks to the unstinting efforts of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, but 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remained on the list of those awaiting decolonization.

The Chair of the Special Committee, Diego Morejon of Ecuador, called for “a proactive and focused approach” to the process, reminding the delegates that only through the involvement of the relevant stakeholders could challenges be fully addressed.

Also highlighting the challenge of an “information deficit” on decolonization and a lack of analysis of the constitutional, political and economic situation in the Territories, the representative of Belize, on behalf of the Caribbean Community, voiced concern that the decolonization process had “slowed to a virtual halt”.  Only one country had been decolonized in the previous decade, he noted, urging the United Nations to ensure that the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020) was not a lost one.

In fact, the Third Decade was a unique opportunity to put an end to colonialism, said the representative of Iran, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.  The Movement, which, since its inception, had valued the legitimate right of colonized peoples to exercise self-determination, regretted that since 1960, despite all the effort exerted by the United Nations, the process of decolonization was yet to be completed.  The existence of colonialism in any form, including economic exploitation, was incompatible with the Charter, relevant General Assembly resolutions and the Declaration of Human Rights, he asserted.

Reaffirming its support for the decolonization process, “one of the most important tasks in the history of the United Nations,” the representative of Chile, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States (CELAC), lamented that despite significant progress, there were 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining, many of which were located within his region.  He called on the administering Powers to take the necessary measures to promptly achieve decolonization of their Territories.

The process of decolonization was at a significant juncture, the representative of Peru, speaking on behalf of Pro Tempore of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), reflected.  The issue had always been a priority and the existence of 16 Non-Self Governing Territories bore testimony to the fact that the process was still incomplete.  Putting an end to the decolonization process required the confluence of both a strong political will and adopting a case-by-case approach that recognized special circumstances.

Issues surrounding the political stasis over a number of disputed Territories were raised today.  Strong support was voiced for the efforts of all parties to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution for the inhabitants of the Western Sahara, while particular concern was expressed at the situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, with speakers calling for the earliest possible return to self-rule there.  The Committee was also urged to take a closer look at the “colonial situation” of Puerto Rico.

Concerning the preoccupying dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, the representative of Argentina said that the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime area were being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom.  The solution to that sovereignty dispute did not depend on a referendum.  Rather than allowing the British inhabitants of the Territory to become the arbiter of a dispute in which their own country was party, what was necessary was the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  The principle of self-determination of the peoples was totally and clearly inapplicable to the dispute between the two countries, the delegate said.

The representative of the United Kingdom, in a right of reply, said her country attached great importance to the principle of self-determination.  There could be no negotiation on the sovereignty of the Falklands Islands (Malvinas) until the inhabitants of the islands wished.  The democratically elected representatives of the Falklands Islands (Malvinas) had asked the Special Committee to respect the principle of self-determination and reiterated the historical fact that the Islands had no indigenous people.  They confirmed that the Falklands Islands had been peacefully settled over a century and a half by their ancestors and they had no desire other than to be left to live in peace.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Brazil (on behalf of the Southern Common Market — MERCOSUR), China, Cuba, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and Ecuador (in his national capacity).

The representatives of India and Pakistan also spoke in exercise of the right of reply, in addition to the exchange between the representatives of Argentina and the United Kingdom.

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

The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 9 October, to continue its debate on decolonization issues.

Background

As it began its annual debate on decolonization issues this afternoon, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) had before it the report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples for 2012 (document A/67/23 and Corr.1, chaps. VII and XII).  For information about the Committee’s agenda and programme of work, see Press Release GA/SPD/503.

At its sixty-sixth session, the General Assembly adopted its resolution 66/91, in which it requested the Special Committee to continue to seek suitable means for the immediate and full implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV)) and to carry out the actions approved by the Assembly regarding the Second and Third International Decades for the Eradication of Colonialism.  The Assembly also called upon the administering Powers to cooperate fully in the work of the Special Committee.  In addition to resolution 66/91, the General Assembly adopted 10 other resolutions and a decision relating to specific items considered by the Special Committee.

The report also contained information on several issues considered by the Special Committee and actions taken on related draft resolutions during its 2011 session, including relations with United Nations bodies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, regional seminars to receive and disseminate information on the Territories, and measures to facilitate the sustained and balanced growth of the fragile economies of the Territories.  The Territories discussed in the report include Gibraltar, New Caledonia, Western Sahara, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Tokelau and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

Also before the Committee was a report on Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations (document A/67/64), which listed 33 such entities that had been invited by the Secretary-General to report on their efforts to implement the relevant resolutions, including resolution 66/84.

The Fourth Committee would also consider the Secretary-General’s report on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations (document A/67/71), which provides the dates that administering Powers transmitted information pertaining to the economic, social and educational conditions within their respective Territories for use by the Special Committee.

In addition, the Committee had before it the report on Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/67/74), which lists the 60 Member States and one Observer that have offered to make scholarships and training facilities available to inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories in response to the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

The Committee also had before it a summary of the report submitted by the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the Question of Western Sahara in the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 (document A/67/366).  By the end of the two rounds of informal talks and bilateral consultations held during the period under review, the parties to the conflict had agreed to deepen the discussion on the core issue of the future status of the territory, as well as to continue to explore discrete subjects of mutual interest, such as de-mining and natural resources.  However, on the core issues of the future status of Western Sahara and the means by which the self-determination of its people was to occur, no progress was registered.  While the parties continued to demonstrate the political will to meet at regular intervals, they had yet to demonstrate the political will to break the stalemate.

The report also stated that on 24 April, the Security Council, of which Morocco has been a non-permanent member since 1 January, unanimously adopted resolution 2044 (2012) affirming its strong support for United Nations efforts to promote a settlement of the Western Saharan conflict and extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2013.  On 10 May, Morocco informed the Secretary-General that it had a number of reservations regarding the current negotiating process.  As of 30 June, progress towards a settlement awaited further discussions on the way forward.

Also before the Committee were four requests for hearing related to the Implementation of the Decolonization Declaration on questions including Guam, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Western Sahara (documents A/C.4/67/2, A/C.4/67/3, A/C.4/67/4 and A/C.4/67/5).

Opening Remarks

Committee Chair NELSON MESSONE ( Gabon) stated that it was due to the unstinting efforts of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples that many of the 193 Member States of the United Nations represented today were sovereign and independent.  The Special Committee had carried out its work in many ways, including by sending missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories on its list and hearing petitioners.  But its task was not complete and the international community needed to continue with its common endeavour in the spirit of cooperation.

BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria), Special Committee Rapporteur, introducing his Committee’s report, highlighted the main subjects.  During its regular session in June, the Special Committee had reasserted its central role as the main vehicle for advancing the decolonization process through the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.  Pointing out that the Committee had been unable to conduct any visiting missions since 2006, he emphasized that the regional seminars had become a valuable and necessary tool to assess the situation in each Territory.  During the last such seminar, the Special Committee had focused on the current realities and prospects.  He thanked the members of the Fourth Committee and the Secretary-General for their support and expert help.

DIEGO MOREJÓN ( Ecuador), Chair of the Special Committee, stated that the body’s aim was to create a new dynamic that would allow it to be objectively informed about the situation in each Territory while strengthening dialogue with the administering Powers.  In an atmosphere of economic crisis, the regional seminars and the substantive meeting of the Special Committee were unique opportunities to gain an objective understanding of the situation.

At the 2012 Pacific Regional Seminar, he added, participants noted that the most visible and cross-cutting issues were the increasing vulnerability of the Territories to climate change and the need to build sustainable development.  It was crucial that the Special Committee incorporated the concerns of the Territories into the post-2015 agenda.  Calling the participation of some Territories in the Rio +20 Summit “a hopeful sign”, he stressed that only through the involvement of the relevant stakeholders could challenges be fully addressed.  The Special Committee was fully aware that it needed to develop a proactive and focused approach towards streamlining the process of decolonization.

Statements

MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said that since its inception, the Movement had attached great importance to the legitimate right of colonized peoples to exercise self-determination.  The Movement regretted that, since 1960, despite all the effort exerted by the United Nations, the process of decolonization was yet to be completed and 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remained.  The existence of colonialism in any form, including economic exploitation, was incompatible with the Charter, relevant General Assembly resolutions and the Declaration of Human Rights.  It was imperative for the United Nations to fulfil its responsibility, and the Movement renewed its call to Member States to speed up the process of decolonization.

He said the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020) should be considered a unique opportunity to put an end to colonialism.  He stressed the importance of the recommendations in the Final Document of the Sixteenth Summit Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Movement, held in Iran in August, and the Final Outcome Document of the seventeenth ministerial meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in May.

The Movement urged administering Powers to fully cooperate with the Committee, and to ensure the active participation of Non-Self-Governing Territories in determining their own future.  Administering Powers should not only pay full compensation for the economic, social and cultural consequences of their occupation, but also promote the development of their respective Territories.

The Movement, he went on, reaffirmed its position on Puerto Rico, which had a right to self-determination and independence on the basis of resolution 1514, and it encouraged the Committee to actively consider the issue, including the release of political prisoners.  The Movement also continued to support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of an independent and viable State on the basis of relevant international resolutions and references, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  It was “high time” for States to shoulder their responsibilities in achieving a two-State solution, he declared.

SÉRGIO RODRIGUES DOS SANTOS ( Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States, recalled the joint communiqué of 29 June in which the Heads of State of MERCOSUR reiterated their support for Argentina in the sovereignty dispute over the Islas Malvinas ( Falkland Islands).  They reaffirmed that adoption of unilateral measures concerning the issue was not compatible with what had been resolved by the United Nations, and asked that the dispute be settled as soon as possible in accordance with United Nations resolutions.  The military presence of the United Kingdom in the Islas Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime area went against the region’s policy, namely, a quest for a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute.  British unilateral activity included mining of renewable and non-renewable resources in the area, as well as the holding of military exercises.  MERCOSUR reiterated its full support for the resolution adopted by consensus by the Special Committee regarding the Islas Malvinas, and noted Argentina’s willingness to renew negotiations with the United Kingdom and to resolve the dispute.

He said a special declaration highlighted the commitment to exchange information in accordance with international law and internal legislation on boats and vessels with routes that included the Islas Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, as well as the adoption of measures to prevent the entry into ports of boats flying the “illegal flag” of the Islas Malvinas.  Reiterating MERCOSUR’s support for the rights of Argentina over Islas Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime area, he stated that the United Kingdom had evicted the Argentine population and prevented their return to this day.  The United Kingdom had replaced the population with a British one, giving rise to a colonial territory without a colonized population.  That was a special question and its resolution required a peaceful and negotiated solution between the parties.  The Special Committee had returned to consider the issue, and Argentina was willing to follow the path set by the United Nations.  Five decades had elapsed without a solution to the dispute, and negotiations should resume between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed its support for the decolonization process, one of the most important tasks in the history of the United Nations.  Despite significant progress, however, there were 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining, many of which were located within his region.  He called on the administering Powers to take the necessary measures to promptly achieve decolonization of their Territories, taking into consideration the individual circumstances of each, including colonial situations defined as “special and particular” because they involved sovereignty disputes.

Along those lines, he reaffirmed the Community’s strong support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands, and called upon both parties to resume negotiations and to find a peaceful and definitive solution as soon as possible.  Regarding the actions of the United Kingdom, including military activities and exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Argentine continental shelf, the Community recalled the relevant General Assembly resolutions and agreements, which called upon the two parties to refrain from taking decisions or unilateral modifications while the sovereignty dispute was still being negotiated.

Furthermore, regarding the Western Sahara, he said CELAC continued to strongly support efforts by all parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that would provide for the right of self-determination for the inhabitants.  The Community also called upon the General Assembly to examine all aspects of the question of Puerto Rico, which had been considered by the Special Committee for more than 35 years.  In accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514, the people of Puerto Rico constituted a Caribbean and Latin-American nation, with its own national identity, he said.

CELAC considered it important for the small island Territories in the Caribbean and Pacific, which constituted the majority of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, to continue to adopt measures to facilitate stable, sustainable economic growth leading to the achievement of self-determination.  Furthermore, the rights of indigenous colonized people were “unequivocal”, and the administering Powers must not frustrate their will, directly or indirectly.  For those reasons, CELAC was particularly concerned by the situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and called for the earliest possible return to self-rule there.  Special attention should also be paid to the consequences of climate change, such as rising sea levels and accelerating land loss, and natural disasters such as hurricanes.

LOIS M. YOUNG ( Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the Community remained concerned that the decolonization process had slowed to a virtual halt.  In the previous decade, only one country had been decolonized.  The United Nations must act to ensure that the Third Decade was not a lost one.  There were several challenges, including an “information deficit” on decolonization and a lack of analysis on the constitutional, political and economic situation in the Territories.

She emphasized the important role played by the Committee in the monitoring and implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People, and called for an acceleration of the Committee’s work.  While one of the main tasks of the Committee was to submit “concrete proposals” to the General Assembly on decolonization, implementation was lacking.

She reiterated support for the conclusions and recommendations from the 2011 Caribbean Regional Seminar, especially the call to take stock of current challenges and develop a pragmatic programme of action for the Third Decade.  CARICOM looked forward to the 2013 seminar in the Caribbean as an opportunity to assess, receive and disseminate information on the situation of the Territories in the region.  The Community fully recognized that only the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories themselves could determine their future – whether it be independence, free association or continuation of the status quo.  In any case, the United Nations must fulfil its role as a counter-balancing influence on administering Powers.

Regarding the situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, CARICOM was deeply concerned that the administering Power had suspended the right to trial by jury and replaced the elected government with direct rule, she said, adding that that was a violation of the principle of self-determination and a regrettable “step backward.”  CARICOM leaders had noted earlier in 2012 that the constitutional reform process had been completed, though not to the full satisfaction of the Islanders. The continued postponement of elections was worrying, but CARICOM was encouraged that the administering Power had stated its intention to hold them in November.  Good governance and socio-economic stability could not be achieved without the involvement of the people of the Territories, the Islanders, through their elected representatives.

In closing, she stated that CARICOM maintained its support for the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.  CARICOM commended the efforts of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General and called for the parties to continue negotiating in a “spirit of compromise” and “sincere commitment”, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.

ENRIQUE ROMÁN-MOREY (Peru), speaking in Peru’s capacity as President Pro Tempore of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), stated that the issue of decolonization had always been a priority and the process was at a significant juncture, with the existence of 16 Non-Self Governing Territories bearing testimony to the fact that the process was still incomplete.

He said that the question of the Malvinas Islands, a case of special importance to UNASUR, had historic and legal circumstances that excluded the possibility to solve it under the exercise of the principle of self-determination.  UNASUR had sent a letter to the Secretary-General on 2 April transmitting a Declaration on the Question of the Malvinas Islands, which reaffirmed strong support for Argentina’s sovereignty rights over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  UNASUR had requested that the Secretary-General renew his efforts to bring about the resumption of negotiations in order to find a peaceful solution to this dispute as soon as possible.

Underscoring the willingness of Argentina to reach a solution, UNASUR’s member countries, he said, called on the United Kingdom to comply with the international mandate and resume bilateral negotiations, as well as to refrain from taking decisions that would imply the introduction of unilateral modifications while the islands were going through the process recommended by the General Assembly.  UNASUR committed itself to adopting all appropriate regulatory measures to prevent the entry into its ports of vessels flying the illegal flag of the Malvinas Islands and to inform Argentina about any vessels travelling to the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands with cargo to be used for illegal hydrocarbon or mining activities.  UNASUR also protested the British Government’s intent to conduct military exercises on the Malvinas Islands.

UNASUR also reaffirmed all resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council on Western Sahara, he said, reiterating the Union’s support for the achievement of a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara consistent with relevant resolutions.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said Peru was committed to the eradication of persistent colonial situations.  Putting an end to the decolonization process required the confluence of both a strong political will and adopting a case-by-case approach that recognized special circumstances.  Peru called upon the administering Powers to cooperate with the Special Committee and to adopt the necessary measures to speed up the decolonization processes and facilitate the sustainable development of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

WEI ZONGLEI ( China) stated that the Special Committee had done a lot of work to promote decolonization.  However, 2 million people around the world continued to live in the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories and decolonization remained an important and urgent task.  China supported the work of the Special Committee to promote new progress in the decolonization process and called for cooperation between administering Powers and the Territories.  The delegation would cooperate closely with the Committee to achieve active results in the Third Decade.

PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) stated that despite the deadline set by the United Nations, the scourge of colonialism was ongoing.  The United Nations must continue to prioritize that process, including by intensifying dialogue with the administering Powers and representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  However, some administering Powers continued to disregard their obligations stemming from the United Nations Charter and various General Assembly resolutions.  Cuba reiterated the request to them to cooperate with the Committee.

Thanking the people of Ecuador for the successful regional seminar at Quito, he urged the seminar’s findings to be disseminated widely in the mass media.  The Department of Public Information (DPI) must keep decolonization a foremost issue in its working agenda.

The people of Puerto Rico had suffered for more than a century of United States colonialism, he said, adding that although they had not been able to constitute themselves as a sovereign State, they had preserved their culture as a Latin American and Caribbean country.  Concerning Western Sahara, the Saharan people had a right to determine their future, and Cuba hoped that efforts conducted under the auspices of the Secretary-General would lead to their self-determination.  Cuba also reiterated its full support for the legitimate right of Argentina to the Malvinas Islands and urged the United Kingdom to refrain from unilateral actions.

Countries with greater capabilities must offer educational facilities to the occupants of the Non-Self-Governing-Territories, he stressed.  Despite its economic difficulties, Cuba continued to make efforts in that regard.  As one example, 300 young Saharans were studying in Cuba at different levels in its educational system. 

GABRIEL ORELLANA ZABALZA ( Guatemala) said that his delegation was committed to the goal of decolonization, a task of vital importance to the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories.  Since 1965, the General Assembly had recognized, through many resolutions, a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom with regard to the Malvinas Islands, he said.  That dispute was a “special and particular” colonial situation which involved characteristics that distinguished it from traditional colonial situations.  Guatemala was concerned about the activities of the United Kingdom in the Argentine continental shelf, which violated United Nations resolutions.  Argentina had always expressed its will to resolve the dispute through negotiations.  Guatemala urged both countries to resume bilateral negotiations to resolve the sovereignty dispute.

Guatemala also supported the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy to help the parties to the Western Sahara conflict find a just and lasting solution, he added.  Urging the parties to continue to show their political will, he welcomed the progress made in the application and expansion of confidence-building measures.  The solution to this question affected not only the population of the Western Sahara but also the entire Maghreb region.

MATEO ESTREME ( Argentina) called the persistence of colonial cases in all its manifestations “a crime” and reaffirmed the strong commitment of Argentina to fully achieve the decolonization mandate.  However, resolution 1514 made it clear that there existed more than one form of colonialism and it established two principles to address the diversity of cases:  self-determination and territorial integrity.  The principle of self-determination could not be distorted to such an extent as to force an argument in favour of the continued existence of an “anachronistic colonial sovereignty dispute, which mutilates the territorial integrity of Argentina”.  The dispute over the Malvinas Islands had been recognized in successive General Assembly resolutions as a “special and particular” colonial situation, which must be solved through negotiations between its only two parties, taking into account the interests of the Islands’ inhabitants.

Mr. Estreme stated that there was in fact a “colonial situation”, but not a “colonized people”.  To allow the British population on the Islands to become the arbiter of a dispute to which their own country was a party “distorts the right of self-determination of peoples because there is not a people subject to the subjugation, domination or exploitation of a colonial Power”.  In that sense, the announced “referendum” was an “illegal, spurious and tautological exercise as it is promoted by the British to ask the British citizens if they want to continue to be British”.  That, she said, was a “serious distortion of the spirit of self-determination as well as a serious violation of Argentina’s territorial integrity”.

The United Nations, she added, had clearly established that the way to solve the sovereignty dispute was the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, duly taking into account the interests of the Islands’ inhabitants, and had excluded the applicability of the principle of self-determination in this specific case.  At the same time, the United Kingdom illegally conducted exploration and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources in the disputed archipelagos and waters, contrary to General Assembly resolution 31/149.  It also conducted military exercises, which not only violated the aforementioned resolution, but also was contrary to maritime safety standards of the International Maritime Organization.  Such violations of international law created unnecessary tension in the South Atlantic and were an affront to the rest of the countries of the region and beyond.

The Argentine Government had expressed, at every available opportunity, its permanent willingness to negotiate with the United Kingdom, he said.  The question of the Islands had become a global issue:  that of putting to an end to the last vestiges of colonialism and respecting human rights.  Argentina was willing to respect the interests and way of life of the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands.  The fact that the United Kingdom was a permanent member of the Security Council meant it had a special responsibility as a guarantor of international peace and security, a responsibility which it “abandons” when it “refuses to dialogue” with Argentina.

EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica), associating with the statement made by Chile on behalf of CELAC, stated in his national capacity that decolonization was “one of the most memorable transformations of the twentieth century.”  However, despite the international community’s best efforts, 16 Non-Self-Governing-Territories remained.

Costa Rica believed that the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands belonged to Argentina and recognized the justice behind the Argentine claim, which was supported by various General Assembly resolutions.  Exploration and exploitation of natural resources in the islands was a violation of the status quo and could exacerbate the territorial dispute.

Emphasizing the “direct link between sovereignty and democracy”, he stated that the United Nations must facilitate peaceful, just, and lasting solutions to such international disputes, in line with the principles with the international law and human rights.  Costa Rica reaffirmed its commitment to the efforts to achieve a world free from colonialism in all its manifestations.

JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO(Nicaragua), associating with NAM and CELAC, stated that more than 60 years had gone by since the creation of the United Nations and 50 years since the affirmation of the right to self-determination of all people’s of the world, but colonization still had not been eradicated.  More than half of the people that were struggling for self-determination, life and peace were in Latin America and the Caribbean.  He was pleased that a decolonization seminar had been held in Ecuador and reiterated the urgent need for additional seminars.

He urged the Committee to continue to examine the colonial situation of Puerto Rico, adding that the United States was a colonial Power that must allow the people of Puerto Rico to pursue their inalienable right to independence.  The Government of Nicaragua expressed solidarity with individuals such as Oscar López Rivera, who were in jail, and with their need to preserve their culture, noting that Puerto Rico would be free, independent and sitting among them in the future.

With regard to the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime area, the United Kingdom must hear the cry of the international community and of the Caribbean region, which were calling for the resumption of negotiations, he said.  Growing militarization of the area was unacceptable.  Nicaragua also reiterated its full support for self-determination struggle of the people of Western Sahara, continuing to harbour hope that the negotiation process would resume so that they could exercise that right in a referendum.  Nicaragua concluded by calling for the Third Decade to be the last, so that an end to decolonization could truly be declared.

RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said that the lack of fruition on the decolonization agenda was regrettable and that without complete decolonization, mankind’s collective dream underpinning the United Nations would remain unfulfilled.  While concerted action by all stakeholders was necessary, the primary onus for decolonization fell on the administering Powers, which were the principle cause of perpetuation of the status quo.  They must show the political will to engage positively with their respective Territories.  The United Nations system should focus on providing for the special needs of the Territories, and raise awareness among colonized peoples of the options available to them.

He said that negation of the right to self-determination was not only contrary to the United Nations Charter, but also, in some cases, threatened regional peace and stability.  In South Asia, for example, Pakistan was committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the dispute between the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without which the decolonization agenda would be incomplete.  Likewise, in the Middle East, Pakistan continued to support the just struggle of the Palestinian people for peace, freedom and United Nations membership.  A “strong and viable” State of Palestine would be the best guarantor of peace within the broader region.  Furthermore, he supported a just and mutually acceptable settlement of the issue of Western Sahara.

JENNY LALAMA (Ecuador), aligning with statements made on behalf of NAM, CELAC and MERCOSUR, reiterated her country’s support for the decolonization process and expressed concern about the slowness of its resolution.  Condemning 51 years of illegal occupation in the Malvinas islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands by the United Kingdom, she stated that the sovereignty dispute about that Territory must be resolved through dialogue with the parties.  Ecuador rejected the illegal activities and military practices and exploitation of natural resources carried out by the United Kingdom.

She added that the conflict in Western Sahara was under the direct responsibility of the United Nations and that was why the mandate of MINURSO had been renewed in April.  Further, more than a century had gone by since Puerto Rico had been under colonial rule.  Thirty-one resolutions on Puerto Rico had been adopted by consensus in the Special Committee.  Ecuador also called for the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera, who had spent more than 31 years in jail.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United Kingdom stated that her country attached great importance to the principle of self-determination.  There could be no negotiation on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) until the inhabitants of the islands wished.  The United Kingdom’s relationship with its overseas Territories was a modern one.  The democratically elected representatives of the Falklands Islands (Malvinas) had asked the Special Committee to respect the principle of self-determination and reiterated the historical fact that the Islands had no indigenous people.  They confirmed that the Falklands Islands (Malvinas) had been peacefully settled over a century and a half by their ancestors and they had no desire other than to be left to live in peace.

She said the representatives had also expressed their disappointment after the President of Argentina had refused their invitation to meet and listen to their views.  Argentina had repudiated the 1995 joint declaration and had placed a ban on charter flights to the Islands, as well as penalized companies that wished to do business in or with the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

In response to the references to the Turks and Caicos Islands, she added that a new Turks and Caicos constitution would be brought into force soon.  Before elections could take place in the Territory, certain milestones had to be met.

The representative of India stated that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and that the reference to Jammu and Kashmir by the representative of

Pakistan was irrelevant to the discussion.  The people of Jammu and Kashmir had peacefully chosen their destiny in accordance with democratic practices.

The representative of Argentina stated that the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime area were being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom.  The sovereignty dispute had been recognized by different international organizations.  Argentina regretted that the British Government distorted historic facts instead of honouring its commitment to resume efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the dispute.  The principle of self-determination of peoples was totally and clearly inapplicable to the dispute between the two countries.

Further, he said, it was regrettable that the United Kingdom was irresponsibly generating expectations among the inhabitants of the Territory by raising the possibility of a referendum.  The solution to that sovereignty dispute did not depend on a referendum.  Rather than allowing the British inhabitants of the Territory to become the arbiter of a dispute in which their own country was party, what was necessary was the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  Argentina also wished to condemn the illicit appropriation of Argentine natural resources in flagrant violation of international law and the increase in militarization in the south Atlantic.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Pakistan’s representative said that the representative of India had made an untenable assertion that Jammu and Kashmir was irrelevant to the decolonization debate.  All people under alien subjugation had a right to self-determination, and the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir had been recognized by the Security Council and other bodies, and was relevant and quite germane to the discussion at hand.  Jammu and Kashmir was not an integral part of India and had never been so.  Several Security Council resolutions had recognized Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory, and the final solution must be made according to the will of the people.

He said the legal status had not changed to this day, and no electoral exercise conducted by India could substitute a free and impartial plebiscite by the Security Council.  The final disposition was to be made in accordance with the will of the people of Kashmir.  Relevant United Nations resolutions had been accepted by both Pakistan and India, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir had yet to exercise their right to self-determination.

Speaking again in exercise of the right of reply, India’s representative said that Kashmir was and had always been an integral part of India, and submitted that the issue did not pertain to the work of the Fourth Committee, as the Committee had already documented.  Those references were completely untenable, he said, and he rejected them in their entirety.

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*     A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.