Fourth Committee Opens Session with Debate on Decolonization, as Speakers Seek to Balance Support for Shared Goal with Divergent Views on How to Get There

7 October 2013
GA/SPD/528

Fourth Committee Opens Session with Debate on Decolonization, as Speakers Seek to Balance Support for Shared Goal with Divergent Views on How to Get There

7 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/SPD/528
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

3rd Meeting (PM)

Fourth Committee Opens Session with Debate on Decolonization, as Speakers Seek

to Balance Support for Shared Goal with Divergent Views on How to Get There

 

Constructive dialogue and cooperation were key to advancing the unfinished task of decolonization, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today as it began its annual debate on a global phenomenon of historical importance to the United Nations and its Member States.

Urging movement in the decolonization agenda, Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez, Chair 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, stated that the Committee intended to “intensify dialogue” with Administering Powers, which, he said, were responsible, not simply for transmitting information to the Secretary-General but also for informing their own Governments, taking into account the aspirations of the people in the territories.

Noting that many of the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining on the United Nations list were located in his region, he called on the Administering Powers to take the necessary measures to promptly achieve decolonization of their Territories.

“It was strange to talk about Administering Powers in the twenty-first century,” the representative of Paraguay reflected, adding that, sadly, that was the reality of the current era.  While colonialism had brought benefits to a few, it had caused much damage to many more.

Despite repeated appeals to the Administering Powers to adopt necessary measures to accelerate the process, and despite the passage of half a century since the General Assembly had passed historic resolution 1514, the representative of Peru stated, the decolonization process was incomplete in 17 Territories.

Even as the Special Committee continued to grapple with “the thorny political issues” of countries and territories that remained under colonial rule, said Iran’s speaker, it must find new and enhanced ways to improve its interaction and cooperation with Administering Powers.

The long-time dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)* drew attention.  The representative of Argentina stressed that successive General Assembly resolutions had recognized the Malvinas as a “special and particular” colonial situation, which must be solved through negotiations between the two parties.  There was more than one form of colonialism, said the delegate, adding, that was why the Assembly had established two principles to address the diversity of cases:  self-determination and territorial integrity.

There was a “colonial situation” in the Malvinas Islands but not a “colonized people,” he said.  As for the recently concluded “referendum”, he called 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, he said, was a “serious distortion of the spirit of self-determination as well as a serious violation of Argentina’s territorial integrity”.

Several speakers expressed frustration that five decades had elapsed without a resolution to that dispute, including the representative of Brazil, who, urging a resumption of negotiations held that the United Kingdom had evicted the Argentine population and replaced it with a British one, giving rise to a colonial territory without a colonized population.  Further, he cautioned that the United Kingdom’s military presence in the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime area went against the a quest for a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute.

The representative of the United Kingdom countered, in a right of reply, that “the future of the Falkland Islands should be determined by the peoples of the Falkland Islands”.  During a referendum held by the elected representatives of the Falklands Islands, she said, an overwhelming majority of the population had voted to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.  She rejected claims that the United Kingdom was militarizing the region, adding that her country remained willing and ready to cooperate with Argentina but that Argentina had rejected those opportunities.

Also participating in the debate were the representatives of Benin, Botswana, Chile, China, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)).

The representative of Morocco also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

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, 8 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/68/23); Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations: report of the Secretary-General (documents A/68/64 and A/68/64/Add.1); Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories: report of the Secretary-General (documents A/68/66 and A/68/66/Add.1); 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: report of the Secretary-General (A/68/62); and Question of Western Sahara: report of the Secretary-General (A/68/330).

Also before the Committee were requests for hearings on the Question of Western Sahara (document A/C.4/68/6); Question of New Caledonia (document A/C.4/68/5); Question of Guam (document A/C.4/68/4); and Question of French Polynesia (document A/C.4/68/2).

Opening Remarks

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), Chairman of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples, known as the Committee of 24, stated that its members intended to intensify dialogue with the Administering Powers, with the central aim of making progress in the decolonization agenda, which would highlight the need to review and update the list of territories on a case-by-case basis.  It was also important to disseminate information to the public about decolonization.  Initial steps had been taken in that regard in various territories.  The responsibility of the Administering Powers was not confined to transmitting information to the Secretary-General, as they were also responsible for informing their own Governments, taking into account the aspirations of the people in the territories.  The Special Committee had also endeavoured to increase the participation of representatives from Non-Self-Governing Territories at the annual seminars.  The Special Committee would continue constructive dialogue, in particular, with the Administering Powers, to eliminate colonialism forever.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), Special Committee Rapporteur, presenting the Committee’s report on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People, said that 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.  While the Committee had been unable to conduct any visiting missions since 2006, 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 current realities and prospects. 

He said that owing to the addition of French Polynesia and New Caledonia, to its work by General Assembly resolution 67/265 of 17 May 2013, the Special Committee’s report now comprised 13 chapters and two annexes.  Also notable was the Special Committee’s draft resolution V on French Polynesia, by which the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General, in cooperation with relevant specialized agencies of the United Nations, to compile a report on the environmental, ecological, health and other impacts as a consequences of the 30-year period of nuclear testing in that Territory, a subject of growing general concern in the Pacific.

Statements

MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that his group attached great importance to the universal goal of decolonization and the exercise of the legitimate right to self-determination of peoples under foreign dominance.  The Special Committee continued to grapple with “the thorny political issues” of countries and territories remaining under colonial rule.  It should thus find ways to enhance its efficiency in order to improve its interaction and cooperation with Administering Powers, who should pay full compensation for the economic, social and cultural consequences of their occupation in fulfilment of the rights of all people subjected to colonial rule to receive fair compensation for the human and material losses they suffered.

The Movement, he went on, reaffirmed the rights of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence on the basis of the General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).  It also continued to support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of the independent and viable State of Palestine on the basis of relevant international resolutions and references, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reiterated support for the decolonization process, one of the most important tasks in the history of the United Nations.  However, despite significant progress, there were 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining on the United Nations list, many of which were located in his region.  He called on the Administering Powers to take the necessary measures to promptly achieve decolonization of their Territories, bearing in mind individual circumstances, including colonial situations defined as “special and particular” because they involved sovereignty disputes.

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, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the Surrounding Maritime Areas and called upon both parties to resume negotiations towards 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 General Assembly resolutions and agreements, which called on the two parties to refrain from any decisions or unilateral modifications while the sovereignty dispute was still being negotiated.

Concerning Western Sahara, he said CELAC strongly supported efforts by all parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which would provide for the right of self-determination for the inhabitants and supported all resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly and the good offices of the Secretary-General.  The Community also called on 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 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.  The people should be allowed to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.

GUILLERMO ENRIQUE MORENO ZAPATA (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the member States of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), noted that, despite progress achieved in the field, there were still colonial situations in the world that needed resolution.  The persistence of such situations had a negative impact on respect for human rights, as well as the fundamental freedoms of peoples subjected to colonial domination.  In the case of Puerto Rico, the Special Committee had approved 32 resolutions by consensus; reaffirming the inalienable right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and independence.

He recalled a joint communiqué adopted by MERCOSUR on 12 July, which reaffirmed, among other things, the Common Market’s “support to the legitimate rights of the Argentine Republic in the sovereignty dispute related to the Question of the Malvinas Islands”.  The United Kingdom, in 1833, had expelled the Argentinean population, which had been prevented from returning to this day.  The United Nations had already pronounced itself over the matter, and, this year, the Special Committee had once again considered the sovereignty dispute.  Yet almost five decades had passed “without fulfilling the call of the General Assembly with regards to the colonial situation of the Malvinas Islands”.  He reaffirmed MERCOSUR’s hope for a resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, in compliance with the mandate of the international community.

YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) stated that the United Nations should remain involved in the efforts to promote decolonization.  0n the question of Western Sahara, Mexico reiterated its deep commitment to the rights of the Saharan people to self-determination.  Mexico also supported the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), and recognized the importance of its mandate in monitoring human rights in the region.  The country reiterated its support for the envoy of the Secretary-General in Western Sahara and called upon the parties to continue to cooperate with him to find a mutually acceptable solution.  On the question of the Malvinas, Mexico recognized the legal and historical validity of Argentina’s claim, and urged the parties not to take any unilateral actions that countered the resolutions of the United Nations.

GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil), aligning with CELAC and MERCOSUR, called for a peaceful resolution over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) sovereignty dispute.  He reiterated his country’s support for Argentina, and warned that adoption of unilateral measures on the issue was not compatible with what had been resolved by the United Nations.  The United Kingdom’s military presence in the Malvinas, South Georgias 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.

He said his country fully supported the consensus resolution adopted by the Special Committee regarding the question of the Malvinas Islands.  He drew attention to a special declaration highlighting the commitment to exchange information on boats and vessels with routes that included the 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 Malvinas.

In line with MERCOSUR’s support for the rights of Argentina over Malvinas, South Georgias 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 two parties.  Five decades had elapsed without a solution, he said, urging a resumption of negotiations.

WEI ZONGLEI ( China) stated that the decolonization process had many historical achievements to its credit.  The Committee on Decolonization had successfully provided help to the peoples of various Non-Self-Governing Territories and promoted referendums in some of them.  However, the decolonization process remained a difficult task, with 2 million people living under alien subjugation.  China supported the launching of the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and expected that the Administering Powers would carry out closer cooperation with the United Nations.  The Chinese delegation would work actively to promote positive results and to accomplish that historical mission.

MATEO ESTREME ( Argentina), called the persistence of colonial cases in all its manifestations “a crime” and reaffirmed his country’s strong commitment to fully achieve the decolonization mandate.  Resolution 1514 made clear that there was 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, South Georgias and the South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime areas 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.

There was in fact a “colonial situation”, but not a “colonized people”, he said, adding that 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”.  He added that “the vote illegitimately and unilaterally organized by the United Kingdom in the Islands in March 2013, which it called a “referendum”, in no way changed the essence of the Malvinas question, did not put an end to the dispute, neither did it affect the unquestionable sovereignty rights of Argentina.  That had been stressed by, among others, Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations).

The United Nations, he 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 31/49.  It also conducted military exercises, which not only violated the aforementioned resolution, but also was contrary to the maritime safety standards of the International Maritime Organization.  Such international law violations 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.  As had been stated by the Argentinean President before the General Assembly, Argentina was referring to the need to put an end to “double standards” and that “UN resolutions be strictly complied with by both the weak and the strong, the big and the small”.   Argentina was already sitting at the negotiating table, he said, urging the United Kingdom to “comply with obligations imposed on it as a Member of this Organization in order to reach a solution to the dispute”.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE ( Botswana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that it was unfortunate that the question of Western Sahara remained on the Special Committee’s agenda as a Non Self-Governing Territory.  Reiterating Botswana’s support for the right of the Saharan people to self-determination, he said that it was disappointing that “little or no progress” had been achieved since the adoption of a series of resolutions in the early 1990s, despite the “tireless efforts” of the Secretary-General and United Nations Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross.  He welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2099 (2013), which would allow MINURSO to continue to address the plight of the Saharan people, while also urging both parties concerned to “summon the necessary will and courage to address all the hurdles” that had so far prevented a “balanced outcome”.  Botswana would continue to support international efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution, which would require a “spirit of compromise”.  An open referendum was “the only practical solution for the Sahrawi people to decide their fate”, he concluded.

AUGUSTO THORNBERRY (Peru), aligning with the statements made on behalf of CELAC and MERCOSUR, stated that Peru was firmly committed to the efforts of the United Nations and the Special Committee to eradicate colonial situations.  More than half a century had gone by since the General Assembly passed the historic resolution 1514 and more than 88 territories had achieved independence.  But the process is not complete for 17 Territories and, thus, the international community must pursue that goal vigorously to its finish point through the adoption of a case-by-case approach and by mobilizing political will.

He noted repeated appeals to the Administering Powers to accelerate the process.  Of particular concern to Peru was the case of the Malvinas.  The General Assembly had recognized the particularity of the situation there, and Peru had historically supported Argentina’s claim to the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  It had been noted by the Committee that no other solution to the question of the Malvinas Islands was possible other than negotiations among the parties involved.   Peru called for a renewal of those talks and reiterated the importance of both parties refraining from unilateral modifications to the current situation of the islands.

GABRIEL ORELLANA ZABALZA ( Guatemala) said that his country was committed to the goal of decolonization and to ensuring that the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories achieved decolonization.  Since 1965, the General Assembly had recognized sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom and that it 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 Argentina continental shelf, which violated United Nations resolutions.  Argentina had always expressed its will to resolve the dispute through negotiations and called upon the United Kingdom to follow that line.  With that in mind, Guatemala urged both countries to resume bilateral negotiations to resolve the sovereignty dispute.

On Western Sahara, he said Guatemala supported the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy to help the parties to find a just and lasting solution.  The speaker called on the parties to show the necessary political will to resolve the crisis.  He welcomed progress made by the United Nations, adding that a solution to that conflict affected not only the population of Western Sahara, but also the security and stability of the entire Maghreb region.

MARCELO SCAPPINI RICCIARDI ( Paraguay), aligning with CELAC, said that self-determination was a crucial principle for his country.  Colonialism, which persisted around the world, was one of the most important problems.  While it had brought benefits to a few, it had caused much damage to many more.  Several nations had regained their sovereignty over the years, but the scourge still remained.   Paraguay understood that the self-determination principle was a complicated issue as it must take into account the concerns of the people of origin as well as those of the Administering Power.  But in terms of doctrine, the United Nations needed to protect the rights of the indigenous people. It was strange to talk about Administering Powers in the twenty-first century, but sadly, that was the reality of the current era.

OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), aligning with CELAC and MERCOSUR, as well as Brazil and Argentina, reaffirmed its support for the decolonization process, noting however, that the United Nations must act to ensure that the Third Decade was not a lost one.  There were several challenges, but decolonization and the right to self-determination should be addressed.

He emphasized the important role played by the Special 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.  He reiterated support for the conclusions and recommendations of 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.

He called on 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.  In that regard, Chile reiterated its support to Argentina’s legitimate right over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, and urged both parties to renew their negotiation and cooperation towards achieving a lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions.  Along the same line, Chile urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to comply with the General Assembly resolution 31/49 and desist from unilateral modification that would affect the process of resolving the dispute.  The militarization and the exploration of hydrocarbons on the Islands must be stopped, he added.

He commended the Department of Public Information for its work, through its Regional Information Centres, in the dissemination of information about United Nations’ activities and on issues relating to decolonization, and urged it to ensure that all the information materials were disseminated in the six official languages.

MARTIN VIDAL ( Uruguay) said that the current debate was an opportunity to reaffirm the collective commitment to end colonialism and to redouble the efforts to ensure that the rights to self-determination would be exercised in the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  On the question of Western Sahara, Uruguay defended the right of the Saharan people to self-determination.  The conversation between Morocco and Frente Polisario should be resumed immediately to find a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict.  Uruguay urged both parties to cooperate with the United Nations and to implement measures that would promote the full enjoyment of rights by the people of Western Sahara.

He voiced Uruguay’s support for the legitimate rights of Argentina over the sovereignty of the Malvinas, South Georgias, South Sandwich, and the surrounding maritime area.  That support stemmed, not only because Argentina and Uruguay were neighbouring nations, but because Uruguay believed in the justice of that claim.  The principle of self-determination did not apply to the special and particular colonial situation of the Malvinas, as it involved a sovereignty dispute, he concluded, and called for renewed efforts by the Secretary-General and the General Assembly.

JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU ( Benin) said that peace must be at the heart of every nation, in order to achieve sustainable growth and development, and, in that regard, he called for the peaceful resolution of the Western Sahara conflict, noting that it had lingered since 1976.  Benin supported a just and mutually acceptable settlement of the conflict and also welcomed the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy in that direction.

He said the Morocco proposal submitted in 2007 raised some important points for the conflict’s resolution.  That initiative had also been noted by the Security Council as a good starting point for resolving the conflict.  Benin also welcomed the action by the Moroccan Government on human rights issues in Western Sahara and at the camps in Tindouf, and also supported the measures taken to facilitate family visits among those separated following the conflict.  He called on the parties to work towards a lasting solution and to ensure security and stability in the Maghreb region and in Africa as a whole.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United Kingdom stated that her country had no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.  The future of the Falkland Islands should be determined by the peoples of the Falkland Islands.  A referendum had been held by the elected representatives of the Falkland Islands to seek the views of the people.  An overwhelming majority of the population — 99.8 per cent —voted to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.  Those results were presented to the Special Committee in June.  The United Kingdom reiterated the fact that there was no indigenous population in the Falkland Islands.

She went on to add that her delegation regretted that the Foreign Minister of Argentina, during his visit to London, had not accepted an invitation to meet the British Foreign Secretary to discuss issues of mutual concern.  The United Kingdom remained willing and ready to cooperate with Argentina, but Argentina rejected those opportunities for cooperation.  Argentina was also penalizing companies that wished to do business with or in the Falkland Islands, threatening the livelihoods of the community there.  Her country hoped that those actions would cease further, claims that the United Kingdom was militarizing the region were “highly false” and all activities related to hydrocarbons on the Falkland Islands were regulated by the Falkland Islands government.

Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Argentina stated that the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas were illegally occupied by the United Kingdom and the subject of a sovereignty dispute between the two countries, as recognized by international organizations and resolutions.  The United Nations Decolonization Committee had repeatedly expressed that point, most recently through the resolution adopted by the Decolonization Committee on 20 June, while the General Assembly on 6 June had made a similar pronouncement.   Argentina regretted that the British Government sought to distort historical facts in an attempt to conceal the act of usurpation it had committed in 1833.

Rather than trying to refute historical facts, the United Kingdom, he said, should honour its commitment and immediately resume negotiations with Argentina.  By doing so, the United Kingdom would be acting lawfully and responsibly, as the country expected the rest of the international community to act.   Argentina reiterated that the principle of self-determination was not applicable to this sovereignty dispute, as there were no people subjected to alien domination, subjugation or exploitation but United Kingdom citizens.  The solution to the sovereignty dispute did not depend on the results of a so-called referendum in which subjects of the British Crown expressed their “wish” to remain British.  To allow the British inhabitants of the Islands to be the arbitrators of the dispute distorted the right to self-determination.  The referendum, therefore, was an illegal, spurious, tautological exercise.

Again in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the United Kingdom stated that her country had no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, whose future should be determined by the peoples of the Islands.

Taking the floor again in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Argentina stated that the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas were an integral part of the national territory of Argentina, illegally occupied by the United Kingdom and subjected to a sovereignty dispute between the two countries.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Morocco stated that the United Nations had acknowledged that it was impossible to hold a referendum in Western Sahara.  The tribal nature of the people meant that the identification process had been lagging for 10 years now.  The impossibility of holding the referendum was recognised by the Secretary-General as well as his Envoy.  The Security Council had no longer referred to the referendum, but, rather, was seeking a mutually acceptable negotiated solution.

On the subject of human rights mechanisms in the region, he added, Morocco, for some years now and well before the Arab Spring, had undertaken reforms to promote human rights and good governance in the region.  Since 1975, the people of the provinces of the south had participated in elections, as well as in other avenues of human and economic development.

* *** *

* 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.