|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
7th Meeting (PM)
Decolonization ‘Last Century’s Most Memorable Transformation’, Says Speaker
in Fourth Committee, as Administering Power Urges Care When Severing Link
United Kingdom , New Zealand Offer Perspectives on Overseas Territories
Mutual benefits and responsibilities marked the relationship between administering Powers and their Territories, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was told today as it heard from both sides of the decolonization coin with representatives of administering Powers and Non-Self-Governing Territories presenting their cases.
Characterizing its relationship with its Territories as a modern one based on partnership and shared values, the representative of the United Kingdom, whose country administered 10 of the 17 countries on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, stated that his Government respected the right of the people of each Territory “to choose to remain British”.
Since publishing a White Paper in June 2012 on the issues, titled “Security, Success and Sustainability”, the United Kingdom, said its representative today had held the first Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London in December 2012. There, Government ministers and Territory leaders, including representatives from Anguilla, Falklands Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, had agreed on a detailed communiqué, according to which, “Any decision to sever the constitutional link between the United Kingdom and a Territory should be based on the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people of the Territory.”
Being an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom “entailed responsibilities”, he said, adding, “We expect Territory governments to meet the same high standards as the United Kingdom Government in maintaining the rule of law, respect for human rights and integrity in public life, delivering efficient public services and building strong and successful communities.” In turn, the United Kingdom would ensure the security and good governance of the Territories.
Reporting on positive developments in the Territories, the delegate noted that there had been a return to elected government in the Turks and Caicos Islands in November 2012. And, during a referendum in the Falkland Islands in March 2013, 99.8 per cent had voted in favour of the Territory remaining a British Overseas Territory.
Also reporting on his country’s relationship with its Territory, the representative of New Zealand stated that its relationship with Tokelau was framed by mutual respect. At a self-determination referendum conducted in Tokelau in 2006 and 2007, the people of that Territory had signalled that “the timing and conditions were not yet right for constitutional change”.
As a result, he said, the focus of the relationship between New Zealand and Tokelau was on addressing the core service requirements of the people living on the three atolls. New Zealand was Tokelau’s largest donor, with economic support amounting to 75 per cent of the Territory’s budget. New Zealand would continue to work closely with Tokelau to enable it to achieve greater autonomy.
The Committee also heard contrasting perspectives from Latin American and African delegations, who passionately supported decolonization, which the representative of Costa Rica said was one of the “most memorable transformations of the twentieth century”. Emphasizing the direct link between sovereignty and democracy, he called on the United Nations to facilitate decolonization, while upholding the values of democracy and justice.
The issue of colonization was still embedded in Venezuela’s historical memory, the country’s representative stated. Venezuela supported the sovereignty claims of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias, South Sandwich and surrounding maritime areas* and urged the parties involved to find a negotiated and peaceful solution.
Also supporting the legitimate rights of the Argentine Republic over the Malvinas islands, South Georgias, South Sandwich, and surrounding maritime areas, and calling for “pacific settlement of disputes” was the representative of Honduras. She said that “ Argentina’s claim was a claim on behalf of all Latin America.” Further, the dispute was jeopardizing the establishment of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone worldwide, in Latin America, by causing weapons to be moved to the region, she warned.
The connection between decolonization disputes and regional stability was also emphasized by the representative of Senegal, who regretted that the socioeconomic development of Africa was impeded by conflicts such as Western Sahara. The dangers of that dispute were exacerbated by the growing instability of the Sahara Sahel region, resulting in cross-border crime, drug trafficking and extremist threats. The countries of the region must strengthen the links of friendship and neighbourliness.
Africa had suffered much in recent times, the representative of the Central African Republic lamented, reminding the Committee of the conflict in Mali.
Military and political crises and social troubles caused by terrorist organizations were mushrooming in the Sahara and Sahel region. He urged the United Nations to enable the parties involved to find a negotiated solution in Western Sahara and prevent more tension from emerging in the volatile region.
Delegates from Angola, Bolivia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Lesotho, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Togo also participated in the debate.
The Fourth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., 14 October, to conclude its consideration of decolonization issues.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of decolonization issues.
ROBERT GUBA AISI (Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Melanesian Spearhead Group of countries (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea), noted the limited progress made towards self-determination in a few of the Territories. There were still 17 remaining on the United Nations list. The Group urged the administering Powers and United Nations to intensify efforts to bring to fruition the inalienable and inherent rights and aspirations of the people seeking to break free from the unacceptable yoke of colonialism.
In the Pacific region, he noted the continuing progress in two Non-Self Governing Territories, namely New Caledonia and Tokelau, and said the Group was encouraged by the ongoing constructive efforts on New Caledonia’s self-determination process under the ambit of the 1998 Noumea Accord, along with relevant General Assembly resolutions. New Caledonia was now entering the most seminal phase of its self-determination process, as set out in the 1998 Noumea Accord road map, which involved a referendum on self-determination between 2014 and 2018. In that context, the United Nations, through the Special Committee, should engage closely with New Caledonia during that important period.
However, he said, there had been slippages and mixed messages from the administering Power, France, on certain sensitive issues and responsibilities. For instance, the transfer of secondary education responsibilities to New Caledonia from France, land survey and registry, and economic rebalancing in the Territory remained a concern, as those had not occurred within the expected timeframes set out under the Noumea Accord. He called on France and the United Nations to address those serious concerns without delay. He also reaffirmed the Group’s commitment to work with all relevant stakeholders, particularly the people of New Caledonia and the administering Power to advance that just cause, which would bring lasting freedom, dignity, peace and security for the Kanaky people and, indeed, for all New Caledonians.
Yusra Khan ( Indonesia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that having gone through the turmoil of the colonial struggle, his country attached great importance to advancing decolonization. But the work 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 was only one aspect of the process. Decolonization was a collaborative effort by the international community, the administering Powers and the Non-Self-Governing Territories. It was a political process aimed at reaching a peaceful, permanent, political status in a Non-Self-Governing Territory. Dialogue was key to finding common ground.
He said that such a process should also be conducted alongside progress in the economic and social realities within the said territory. The international community, including the United Nations family, funds and programmes, should continue to explore ways and means through which it could enhance support for development in the Territories, including the capacity for self-governance. It was important to address the challenges confronting the Territories, such as their size, remoteness, geographical dispersion, susceptibility to natural disasters, fragile ecosystems, constraints in transport and communications, and vulnerability to drug trafficking.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations (CELAC), reaffirmed his country’s support for decolonization, saying the process should also apply to the brotherly people of Puerto Rico; the Committee could no longer ignore the flouting of the inalienable rights of its people. The General Assembly, once and for all, must broadly examine the colonial situation of Puerto Rico in all detail. The United States must support the decolonization process to enable the Borinquen people to exercise their right to self-determination. The political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera must be released. “Brothers and sister of PR,” he said, “you have our affection and solidarity”.
He also reaffirmed his country’s support for the legitimate sovereign rights of Argentina over the Malvinas, South Georgias, South Sandwich and surrounding maritime areas. The United Kingdom could no longer continue to reject the call of the international community, and especially that of the Latin American and Caribbean region, for the resumption of negotiations between the two parties. The United Kingdom should act in keeping with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and put an end to English colonialism in that part of the world. That sovereignty dispute had been recognized by the international community as a special and particular colonial situation. Nicaragua also supported the struggle of the Saharan people, which had endured for more than 40 years. The negotiations must continue to conclude a referendum organized by the United Nations leading to exercise of self-determination in that Territory.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), associating with CELAC, the Non-Aligned Movement and Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), referred to General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960, which established that the subjugation of people to domination and exploitation negated fundamental human rights and compromised global peace and cooperation. More than 53 years later, some progress had been made, but the “scourge” continued to affect many people. Occupation by colonial Powers violated the principles of international law. It was a most sensitive matter for his own country; Venezuela was no longer a colony, but the issue of colonization was still embedded in its historical memory.
Summarizing the undeniable rights of a nation, he said that year after year, his country would support the need to address the petitions of the 17 cases of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Venezuela upheld the right to self-determination of the people of Puerto Rico, in keeping with the resolution 1514, and expressed solidarity with their aspiration for independence. An entire pro-independence generation had been sacrificed and detained, and many had been held in prison for more than 30 years. The General Assembly must engage in the question of Puerto Rico. After all, self-determination was in keeping with the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, he added.
Venezuela also supported the sovereignty claims of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich, he continued. A negotiated and peaceful solution should be agreed between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom. In that context, he recalled the good offices mandate given to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly to continue efforts to bring the parties together. Venezuela rejected any militarism of the Malvinas Islands, and quoted from resolution 31/49, which underscored the ongoing efforts of the Argentine Government to facilitate the decolonization process of the islands.
Reiterating his country’s commitment to the independence of Western Sahara, he welcomed General Assembly resolution 67/129, which reaffirmed the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination and independence. It was important to recognize that colonization was incompatible with the United Nations Charter.
PHILLIP TAULA ( New Zealand) said his country remained committed to working with the Special Committee to ensure timely and accurate information about Tokelau. Since 2008, the focus of the relationship between New Zealand and Tokelau had been on addressing the core service requirements of the people living on the three atolls, in accordance with the decisions made by the leaders of Tokelau and New Zealand, who also decided that there should be an appreciable period of time before Tokelau undertook any further act of self-determination. Those decisions were made following a self-determination referendum in 2006 and 2007 where Tokelauans signalled that the timing and conditions were not yet right for constitutional change. From New Zealand, it would ensure that core services were delivered for the people of each atoll; a decision on any future referendum would be based on prevailing conditions.
He said that the Joint Commitment for Development signed by New Zealand and Tokelau in 2011 clearly set out the parties’ respective commitments and aimed to achieve Tokelau’s vision for development for the future, he said, adding that New Zealand was Tokelau’s largest donor, with its economic support amounting to around 75 per cent of the island’s current budget. The relationship between Tokelau and New Zealand was framed by mutual respect; New Zealand remained respectful of the wishes of Tokelau’s people and would continue to work closely with them to enable them to chart their own path and work towards greater autonomy.
KELEBONE A. MAOPE ( Lesotho ), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the need to accelerate efforts to bring decolonization to a speedy and unconditional end without any further delay.
On Western Sahara, he reiterated his country’s position on the need to ensure freedom and the right for the people of Western Sahara to determine their destiny, for which he called for a just and lasting solution. The ongoing tension between the parties, owing to a stalemate regarding implementation of the United Nations resolution on the holding of a self-determination referendum, was of concern. Lesotho supported the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to reach a lasting solution to the question of Western Sahara. Direct and unconditional formal negotiations between Morocco and Western Sahara must commence without further delay. The coexistence of two States living side-by-side in peace and security was the only guarantee for enduring stability, he added.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA ( Equatorial Guinea) stated that his country was a staunch supporter of dialogue to resolve conflict. Coordination and consensus were essential elements for guaranteeing peace and security which, in turn, were crucial for sustainable development. The 40-year-old dispute in Western Sahara, once fraught with serious tensions, had undergone positive evolution in recent times. All parties involved must strive to find a viable and peaceful political solution and support the efforts of the United Nations through political commitment and improvements in the field of human rights.
His country, he went on, welcomed the positive initiatives adopted by Morocco. Not only did the parties directly involved in the Sahara conflict have to assist United Nations efforts, but other countries in the region must do so as well, so that the Territory could launch the post-2015 process and thus move towards sustainable development.
BUMBA VANGU ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that his country agreed with the positions of the regional and subregional groups to which it belonged. The issue of the Sahara was “thorny”, and he urged a resolution of the situation. His country’s policy was in line with the efforts of the United Nations, the Secretary-General and the Security Council, and he hoped for a political solution that was acceptable to all.
He said his country maintained its support for the initiative of Morocco, which rested on, among other things, autonomy and democracy in the affairs of the people of the region. The Security Council had likewise welcomed the efforts taken by Morocco, as well as reminded the parties of the need to show “realism” in order to move forward negotiations with the aim of reaching a lasting and acceptable resolution. The momentum created on 11 April 2007 by Morocco’s initiative could lead to a political solution acceptable to all, and he urged the parties to seize this historic opportunity that could bring an end to the difficult humanitarian experience of the people living in the Tindouf camps.
Saul Weisleder ( Costa Rica), aligning with CELAC, extended its full support for the decolonization process, which was one of the “most memorable transformations of the twentieth century”. However, the international community had failed to make colonialism a remnant of the past; there were still 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories whose people still could not exercise their right to self-determination. Costa Rica was committed to the mandate of the Special Committee and endorsed the measures it had adopted in its latest report.
His country, he added, considered the Malvinas, South Georgias, South Sandwich and surrounding maritime areas to be a part of the Republic of Argentina and recognized the justice of Argentine’s claim to those Territories. The General Assembly and Fourth Committee had spoken resolutely on the subject, stating that this conflict was a special and particular situation. Costa Rica urged the parties involved to respect the essential principles of resolution 1514, which included, among other things, that “any attempt aimed at wholly or partially altering the territorial integrity was incompatible with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. The Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom must resume negotiations promptly to attain a peaceful, lasting and fair solution.
Self-determination belonged to the peoples and there must be a direct link between sovereignty and democracy, he said. The United Nations must facilitate decolonization while upholding the values of democracy, international and humanitarian laws and justice. Costa Rica remained an advocate for a political, just and lasting solution to the Western Sahara conflict, in conformity with international law principles. Costa Rica urged the organization of a referendum and believed that of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) must include the oversight and monitoring of human rights in the Western Sahara and Tindouf.
JOSE EDUARDO PROANO (ECUADOR), associating with UNASUR, the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), CELAC, and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed regret that there were people still “clamouring” for self-determination. Administering Powers refused to give up their power, despite that representing an anachronistic vestige of the twentieth century. It was necessary to restore justice and respect for international law, and the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism should ensure that in this period, colonialism was abolished. After all, it was a denial of fundamental human rights and ran counter to international law, the United Nations Charter and universal human rights, he said.
His country was deeply committed to the work of the Committee, he continued, noting that decolonization was one of the main objectives of the United Nations. He hoped, therefore, for sincere and definitive commitments by the administering Powers. He reaffirmed his support for the draft resolution on Western Sahara, and in so doing, for that people’s right to self-determination. He also fully supported the work of the Secretary-General and Personal Envoy Christopher Ross. Likewise, he took note of the invitation extended by Morocco to address the issue of human rights in the area.
Puerto Rico was a Latin American and Caribbean nation, he continued, with its own national identity. He called on the United States’ Government to expedite a process that would allow the Puerto Rican people their right to self-determination and independence, in compliance with resolution 1514, as well as the resolutions of the Special Committee on Decolonization. Expressing his support for the legitimate rights of the Argentine Government in its sovereignty dispute, he said that illegal occupation had taken place by the Government of the United Kingdom, and he called on it to return to negotiations to promptly find a peaceful and lasting resolution to that dispute.
Karla García López ( Honduras) said that the United Nations must remain engaged in the decolonization process. The ongoing dialogue between the administering Powers, Non-Self-Governing Territories and the United Nations must continue. Honduras upheld the need for “pacific settlement of disputes” and especially supported the legitimate rights of the Argentine Republic over the Malvinas islands, South Georgias, South Sandwich and surrounding maritime areas. Those Islands were currently under occupation. “ Argentina’s claim was a claim on behalf of all Latin America,” she emphasized. Further, the establishment of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone worldwide, in Latin America, was currently in jeopardy because of the movement of nuclear weapons to the region, owing to that dispute. Honduras recognized the readiness of Argentina to resume negotiations with the United Kingdom in order to find a peaceful and just solution.
As a founding member of the United Nations, Honduras continued to underscore the need to find a just solution to the ongoing conflict in Western Sahara, he said. Also important was to protect the displaced population and their human rights. Honduras thanked the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for his efforts.
NOEL NELSON MESSONE (Gabon) said that the Special Committee’s report had highlighted all efforts by the United Nations to finalize the decolonization process, and he reiterated his support for the Organization as the only universal entity truly representative of the peoples of the world in that process. The Third Decade had already begun, and it was necessary to recognize the difficulties that still impeded decolonization. A plan of action was needed that took into account the specifics of each remaining Territory, and, in that regard, Gabon encouraged all administrative authorities to fully cooperate with the Special Committee in order to achieve full implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions.
He said his country accorded particular attention to the issue of Western Sahara, the settlement of which would benefit Africa’s unity and stability. He welcomed the efforts of the Secretary-General and his envoy, and noted that the regional situation was especially marked by “security challenges”. Efforts there must be intensified. Also welcome had been the Moroccan initiative on autonomy, which represented a credible prospect for a definitive agreement, and one that took into account the interests of all parties. All parties must enter into negotiations in a spirit of compromise, and countries in the region must unite in their efforts, in order to minimize the risks of destabilization.
Abdou Salam Diallo ( Senegal) said that resolution 1514 had made it clear that colonization was an impediment to world peace and progress. The establishment of the Special Committee had led to the attainment of sovereignty for 80 former Territories. However, Senegal regretted that Africa’s socioeconomic development was impeded by the existence of a considerable number of conflicts, among them, Western Sahara. The risks and dangers of that dispute were exacerbated by the growing instability of the Sahara Sahel region. Those challenges included cross-border crime, drug trafficking, and, of course, extremist threats.
Given that context, he added, all countries of the region must deepen their cooperation and strengthen the links of friendship and neighbourliness. The conflict in Western Sahara was a recurrent source of tension. Senegal believed that the Moroccan proposal put forward in 2007 truly represented a valid compromise solution. That proposal laid the foundation for autonomy for Western Sahara by establishing executive, legislative and judicial bodies at the local level. That could contribute decisively to bring the crisis to an end.
NABEEL MUNIR ( Pakistan ) noted that colonialism in any form or manifestation was incompatible with the United Nations, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While decolonization required concerted action by all stakeholders, the primary responsibility fell on the administering Powers who must show the political will to engage positively with their respective territories on all issues of governance.
In South Asia, he said that the inalienable rights to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir were recognized by several Security Council resolutions, and Pakistan was committed to finding a peaceful resolution of the that dispute, acceptable to all sides, especially the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Indeed, the United Nations decolonization agenda would be incomplete without its resolution.
He said his country continued to support the just struggle of the Palestinian people for peace and freedom, as well as their quest for full United Nations membership for the State of Palestine. A strong and viable State of Palestine, established according to the wishes and aspirations of the Palestinian people, and in accordance with the internationally agreed parameters, was the best guarantor of peace. Pakistan also supported a just and mutually acceptable settlement of the issue of Western Sahara in order to boost regional peace and progress, and called on the parties to continue to negotiate in good faith.
Michael TATHAM (United Kingdom) said that the his country’s relationship with its Overseas Territories was a modern one based on partnership, shared values and the right of the people of each Territory “to choose to remain British”. The United Kingdom and the Territories recognized that the relationship brought “mutual benefit and responsibilities”. Since the publication in June 2012 of the United Kingdom Government’s White Paper, “Security, Success and Sustainability”, the country had been working closely with the Territories to further develop that partnership. At the first Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council, held in London in December 2012, the United Kingdom Government ministers had agreed a detailed communiqué with those Territory leaders present, including from Anguilla, Ascension Island, Falkland Islands, and Turks and Caicos.
As set out in the communiqué, he quoted: “The people of each Territory had the right to choose whether or not their Territory should remain a British Overseas Territory. Any decision to sever the constitutional link between the United Kingdom and a Territory should be based on the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people of the Territory.”
The White Paper made clear that the United Kingdom Government’s fundamental responsibility was to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples, he said. But being an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom also entailed responsibilities. “We expect Territory governments to meet the same high standards as the United Kingdom Government in maintaining the rule of law, respect for human rights and integrity in public life, delivering efficient public services and building strong and successful communities,” he stated.
He said his country was pleased to report on positive developments in the Turks and Caicos Islands, with 9 November 2012 marking a return to elected government. Going forward, the focus would be on good governance, sound financial management and economic development. Elections in Bermuda in December 2012 and the Cayman Islands in May 2013 were further examples of the vibrant democratic tradition in the Territories. The United Kingdom also welcomed the results of the referendum in the Falkland Islands in March 2013 when 99.8 percent voted in favour of the Territory remaining a British Overseas Territory. Finally, in light of the recent significant increase in pressure from the Spanish Government on Gibraltar, it was important to emphasize that the United Kingdom would continue to respect the wishes of the people of Gibraltar.
MAMADI Toure ( Guinea), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the implementation of resolution 1514 had made progress. The decolonization process had made significant progress, where most former Territories had gained freedom. For that reason, he encouraged all relevant parties, namely the United Nations, administering Powers, Non-Self-Governing populations and non-governmental organizations to exert greater effort. It was a critical moment in decolonization with the burning question of Western Sahara, which called into question the competence of the Organization. A political solution must be reached, which was just, lasting and mutually acceptable.
In that regard, he appealed to the parties of the conflict to constructively enter into a phase of peaceful resolution that included an autonomy statute for the people of Western Sahara. Today, that dispute constituted the main geographic and strategic challenge to peace and political stability in Africa. The sociopolitical changes in the continent and destabilization concerns underscored the urgency for a solution. Morocco should promote human rights and socioeconomic development in the Sahara region. The refugee camps, in particular, were worrying and must be monitored.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLIZ (Bolivia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, CELAC and MERCOSUR, requested a moment of silence in order to pay tribute to all the victims of colonialism, the women and men who offered up their lives in their struggle against colonialism. More than 50 years had elapsed since the adoption of resolution 1514. It was now opportune to strengthen decolonization efforts. A number of peoples and territories in the Latin American and Caribbean region were still subjected to colonialism, such as Puerto Rico. He urged that it be allowed to exercise their right to self-determination, culminating in its full independence. He also drew attention to the “unmerited” 30-year detention of the Puerto Rican prison Oscar Lopez Rivera by Puerto Rico’s colonial Power.
A further injury was being inflicted on the South American continent, namely the one affecting Argentina, he said, calling for its right of sovereignty to be applied to the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. The Malvinas were and should continue to be Argentinean. That was in keeping with geography, nature, legitimacy, history and international law. Since 1965, the United Nations had issued declarations regarding the need for the United Kingdom and Argentina to solve that situation. However, there was an empire that still sought to tell the world that it owned those territories, casting itself as the victim rather than “the henchman”. But that was just a “marketing” strategy. A group of people had been implanted in an area; they could in no way claim a right to self-determination.
SAMUEL RANGBA, Director-General, Ministry of Foreign Policy of the Central African Republic, stated that the United Nations was working unceasingly for the right to self-determination of all peoples. Regarding Western Sahara, his country reiterated its consistent position that the specificity of the situation called for a specific response. Such a response should take into account the progressive Moroccan initiative focused on broad autonomy and improving the social economic conditions of the people of Western Sahara.
Africa had suffered much in recent times, he added, through military and political crises and social troubles, sometimes due to terrorist organizations in the Sahara and Sahel region. The most spectacular manifestation had occurred in Mali, which had been resolved by the robust action of the international community and the United Nations. Similarly, a negotiated solution in Western Sahara would prevent the probable emergence of further tensions in the region. His country encouraged the Secretary-General and his envoy to continue to seek a solution.
Kokou Nayo Mbeou( Togo) said that for more than 30 years, the international community and, specifically, the United Nations had been trying to find a solution to Western Sahara, but without success. Negotiations remained the only realistic way to reach a peaceful solution in that North African region, and he called on all concerned parties to move from their fixed positions and attain a definitive and consensual resolution to the conflict. Morocco’s plan to grant a very broad autonomy was in line with the decentralization of the Kingdom, and was a realistic and credible proposal. It had the merit of representing both the goal and the two parties. It was important to bring an end to the conflict that was impeding the development of regional cooperation by slowing down the union of the Arab Maghreb. The potential impact of extremist and terrorist groups in the region only compounded the situation for the unresolved Western Sahara dispute, whose settlement must include improved relations between Morocco and Algeria.
COLLIN BECK (Solomon Islands), associating with the Melanesia Spearhead Group, said that decolonization remained an unfinished business of the United Nations with 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories still on the list. He stressed the need for the cooperation of all parties, including the administering Powers, the Territories, and regional and sub-regional organizations to honour their commitments under the United Nations Charter and other declarations to end colonial rule.
On the question of New Caledonia, he said the Solomon Islands welcomed the ongoing cooperation between the administering Power and the Territory on the preparatory processes for referendum, to be held between 2014-2018, as agreed under the Noumea Accord. The time was ripe for a United Nations mission to visit the Territory in 2014; its last visit was in 1999. Solomon Islands joined Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in calling for a visit next year, he added. On French Polynesia, his country similarly proposed the consideration of a United Nations mission to that Territory and supported the request to his Group to, in cooperation with specialized United Nations agencies, compile a report on the impact of nuclear testing in that Territory.
MAMADOU TANGARA ( Gambia) stated that the problems relating to Western Sahara were protracted and difficult. He underscored the importance of dialogue for achieving a mutually acceptable political solution. All stakeholders must adopt a spirit of cooperation and compromise, and demonstrate more commitment and political will to advance the process. The persistence of that dispute was an immediate threat to peace and security in the Sahel region and a serious hindrance to regional integration.
He said his country witnessed with concern the situation in the refugee camps and emphasized the need for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to carry out registration of those populations, in accordance with international humanitarian law. Gambia supported the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative Plan of 2007, as it was a serious and realistic framework and would pave the way for peaceful co-existence.
António Coelho Ramos da Cruz(Angola), associating with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed complete support for the implementation of the relevant General Assembly resolutions, as well as all Security Council resolutions on the right to self-determination for peoples and territories under colonial rule. The people of Western Sahara were entitled to self-determination through “open reform”. That was an inalienable right, based on the principles embodied in the United Nations Charter. He condemned the human rights violations in Western Sahara. The people should be protected and the human rights violations monitored by the United Nations. He also appealed for an end to the illegal exploration of natural resources there. At the same time, he voiced support for the initiatives and efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to find a definitive solution to the question of Western Sahara.
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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).