4 October 2016
Seventy-first Session, 3rd Meeting (PM)

Fourth Committee Hears Petitioners from Non-Self-Governing Territories, Including French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Gibraltar

A debate over the best interests of Non-Self-Governing Territories stimulated confrontational exchanges and elicited strong opinions from a broad range of representatives and petitioners today, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) entered its second day of debate on decolonization issues.

As high-level representatives from the Territories of French Polynesia, Gibraltar and New Caledonia addressed the Committee, they faced opposition from petitioners on such topics as nuclear testing, financial and economic control, extension of municipal authority, and the increasing numbers of non-native settlers.

Édouard Fritch, President of French Polynesia said that since being re-inscribed on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories list in 2013, the Territory had never officially addressed the General Assembly.  Yet its ongoing dialogue with France had gradually yielded results, he said, while denying that the administering Power had confiscated French Polynesia’s natural resources for its own benefit.  Indeed, the Territory’s autonomous status was clear since it exercised its right to explore and use its own natural resources.  Furthermore, French Polynesia was a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, which demonstrated that the 16 States comprising that bloc welcomed the Territory as an equal.

In response, former President Oscar Manutahi Temaru said the administering Power remained in a state of denial at the heart of the very institution it had helped to create.  The Ma’ohi people had full sovereignty over their natural resources, he emphasized, expressing support for the recent draft resolution presented by the Special Committee on Decolonization.  He also recalled a petition relating to the exploitation of natural resources, pointing out that 27 per cent of all registered voters, and 40 per cent of all actual voters in the 2013 territorial elections had signed it.

As the Committee took up the question of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of that Territory, said it was no closer to being removed from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, painting that as a cause for huge disappointment.  Recalling Brexit — the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union — he decried Spain’s “opportunism” in seeking to advance its territorial claim by raising the issue in relation to Gibraltar.  Yet Gibraltarians had voted by 96 per cent to remain in the bloc and were not prepared to give up their sovereignty.  Therefore, the answer to whether the Territory would ever become Spanish would always remain “no”, he stressed, expressing regret that after a century of needless confrontation, nothing had changed in the Spanish Government’s attitude.

Richard Buttigieg of the Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group responded by saying that the Committee had done “very little” on the issue.  “Your approach to delisting our nation is simply outdated,” he added, emphasizing that its silence and inaction had emboldened Spain to continue its “aggressive and oppressive attitude towards Gibraltar”.

Jean-Louis d’Anglebermes, Vice-president of the New Caledonia territorial government, recalled the Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization held in June 2015, where partners had supported an amendment on the Territory with the aim of simplifying mechanisms for its special electoral list.  During the Seminar, it had been agreed that United Nations observers would take part in special administrative committees to determine the list, he noted.

In similar vein, Papua New Guinea’s representative said the referendum to be held in 2018 was crucial to New Caledonia’s quest for self-determination, describing the special electoral list of qualified people as imperative.

Also speaking today were petitioners from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) [1], French Polynesia, Gibraltar, New Caledonia and the United States Virgin Islands.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the United Kingdom and Spain.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 5 October, when it is expected to hear petitioners on the question of Western Sahara.


As the Fourth Committee continued its general debate on decolonization today, members had several relevant documents before them.  (See Press Release GA/SPD/607 of 3 October for more information.)


ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), drawing attention to Brexit — the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union — said that country was responsible for its own action, which would affect the daily lives of the inhabitants of Gibraltar.  With the United Kingdom’s impending exit from the European Union, Spain suggested joint sovereignty over Gibraltar in order to keep the Territory within the bloc.  He invited the people of Gibraltar to study the offer carefully as it would have an impact on their lives.  Emphasizing that they could have Spanish citizenship without giving up their British nationality, he said that, among other things, applying a special tax regime compatible with the European Union’s rules would be critical.  “Gibraltar must benefit from access to the European Union, including free circulation of workers and provision of services,” he stressed, saying that would ensure continued growth.

Petitioners on Question of French Polynesia

EDOUARD FRITCH, President of French Polynesia, said that since being re-inscribed on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 2013, French Polynesia had never before officially addressed the General Assembly, and it was time to deliver viewpoints reflecting the majority opinion of his people.  The pro-autonomy side had never received the majority of votes, and the French Polynesian people had never expressed a desire to separate themselves in the past 40 years.  On the matter of nuclear testing, he said several institutions agreed that its repercussions were alarming, but during a meeting held in October 2013, speakers had failed to note France’s acknowledgement of that issue and the fact that it had arranged compensation.  President Francois Hollande of France had also acknowledged that nuclear testing had caused health and environmental damage, he said.

Questioning the need to add another paragraph to the resolution on the topic, he said the territorial government had already set up the relevant mechanisms and an ongoing dialogue with France had gradually yielded results.  He also denied that France had confiscated French Polynesia’s natural resources for its own benefit, saying the Territory’s autonomous status was clear since it exercised its right to explore and use its own natural resources.  French Polynesia was now also a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, which demonstrated that the 16 States comprising that body welcomed the Territory as their equal.  France had not obstructed its membership, which was the opposite of a colonial approach, he said.  Autonomy was not in line with the will of the people, who did not feel the need for external arbitration, he said, adding that his government’s approach and vision were realistic, given the interdependence of nations.

OSCAR MANUTAHI TEMARU, former president of French Polynesia, said that since the Territory’s re-inscription on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, the administering Power had been in a state of denial at the heart of the very institution it had helped to create.  Citing “a huge display of diplomatic power” in the Pacific region and at the United Nations, he said that pressure had helped many of his people realize what was at stake for the Ma’ohi People.  He recalled three important issues, as stated in the 132nd Synod communiqué of the Ma’ohi Protestant Church, the Territory’s largest: support for the quest for freedom and full sovereignty; despair over the French State’s mishandling of the consequences of nuclear testing; and appreciation of the recent draft resolution presented by the Special Committee on Decolonization, especially regarding the Ma’ohi people’s full sovereignty over their natural resources.  Regarding the third issue, he called attention to the launch of a petition to reaffirm his people’s support for the notion of full sovereignty over their resources, and pointed out that 27 per cent of all registered voters, and 40 per cent of all actual voters in the last territorial elections, held in 2013, had signed the petition.

The representatives of Vanuatu and Venezuela requested further details about the political situation in French Polynesia.

The representative of Papua New Guinea, emphasizing that colonialism remained a scourge on humanity, called upon the parties concerned to engage in a meaningful dialogue.  He asked about French Polynesia’s plans to work with the administering Power in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mr. FRITCH said that while French Polynesia had sufficient jurisdiction to manage its people, there were some gaps with respect to financial means.  On foreign relations, he said the Territory had full ability to discuss policies at the regional level.  “We should focus our efforts on the implementation of the jurisdiction,” he added.

Mr. TEMARU said the petition on natural resources had received more than 10 million signatures.  Expressing gratitude for that support, he said the petition represented an historical movement.

ANTONY GÉROS, Council Member for the City of Paea, said the creation of the “municipality” in Ma’ohi Nui-French Polynesia under Article 72 of the French Constitution was merely an extension of control by the administering Power over its Territories.  The municipalities created a divide within the so-called “autonomous” local government.  Governance of Ma’ohi Nui’s 48 municipalities clearly interfered with that of the elected government, he said, noting that, the the administering Power manipulated decisions through those municipalities, thereby causing financial, institutional and political tensions.

JUSTINE TEURA, Council Member for the City of Tumaraa, said that France’s colonial policy hindered French Polynesia’s economic development.  “We have to face the issues of the entire European Union on our small islands,” she added, noting that, not only French citizens, but any other Europeans could enter the Territory freely and resettle easily.  Furthermore, after only six months of residence, any European citizen was allowed to vote, she said, emphasizing that the right to vote was earned through knowing the land and people.  Among other things, employment issues were linked directly to immigration, she said.  In fact, the official 2012 census showed that 30,400 non-native settlers — representing 85 per cent of all immigration — had arrived in French Polynesia since 2007, she added.

PUARAI TAEREA, President, BlueDJEUNS Association Punaauia, said that whether referring to the French Constitution or the Organic Law of 2004 governing the autonomous Territory — the system established to protect local employment in Ma’ohi Nui-French Polynesia existed only on paper.  It had not been implemented because local legislation was stuck with criteria that only served the interests of the administering Power while neither protecting nor preserving the labour rights of the Ma’ohi people.  Thwarting local legislation that prioritized the employment of the Territory’s local inhabitants over that of European or mainland French citizens demonstrated that the administering Power was not interested in helping to promote local sustainable development.

STEVE CHAILLOUX, Professor of Tahitian Language, University of Hawai’i—Manoa, said that over the past 30 decades, the status of the Tahitian language had enjoyed official equality alongside the French language.  He went on to denounce the French Republic’s 1992 revision of article 2 of the constitution, which in turn had robbed his language of its legitimate official status and the benefits associated with it.  Consequently, the Tahitian people had fallen hostage to a narrow republican point of view that endured today as an instrument with a “steamroller effect” that made official recognition of their language impossible, he said, emphasizing that the distinction was crucial.

MINARII CHANTAL GALENON, Vahine Piri Rava, said that French Polynesia’s education system was controlled by the administering Power, which, wielding the hidden threat of cutting funding, intruded on every aspect of teaching.  Only France was allowed to deliver national diplomas, which was catastrophic for “de-schooled” Ma’ohi youth, she said, pointing out that French Polynesia’s education level was the lowest among French Overseas Territories.  It had also been placed among last in the Human Development Index.

VALENTINA CROSS, Council Member for the City of Teva-i-Uta, said the administering Power maintained financial and economic control of the Territory through multinational corporations.  A jointly licensed company, Electricité de Tahiti, a subsidiary of a French company, had a monopoly on the production and distribution of electrical energy, and large corporations dictated regulations and rules through their strong lobby.  Their colonial policies and violations of obligations left local officials powerless, she said.

STANLEY CROSS, Honorary Lawyer, Bar of Papeete (Tahiti), said the justice system in Ma’ohi Nui-French Polynesia remained under the full control of France.  New Ma’ohi judges must practise for 10 to 15 years in French courts before they could become judges in the Territory.  The administering Power had opposed attempts by the local Assembly to provide translation in all Polynesian languages, and free translation services were not available in any territorial court.  While the Land Tribunal had been legally established under the 2004 Organic Law, it would only start operating in 2017, he said, adding that the administering Power’s continued control of the justice system violated the 1960 decolonization Declaration and resolution 25/2625.

SÉBASTIEN QUENOT, Director of Cabinet, Assemblée de Corse, Corsica Libera, said that after Algeria’s independence in 1962, France had looked for new territories outside the hexagon for its nuclear experiments, and had thought of Corsica.  Only after the Corsicans had denounced that violation of their land had France moved to the South Pacific where it had caused damage that had been invisible to the metropolitans, yet irreversible for the Polynesians.

YVES CONROY, “Here ai’a”, a Polynesian political party, said the first nuclear test on the Territory had been carried out in 1966, and testing had continued for several years.  France had organized several awareness-raising campaigns to demonstrate that it was carrying out “safe nuclear activities”, but it had poisoned the Territory with radiation.

ELAINE TEVAHITUA, President of the NGO “Te Vahine Maohi No Manotahi”, said the administering Power had perpetrated “an insidious nuclear genocide” in Mao’hi Nui-French Polynesia.  More cancer cases were reported every year, as were medical evacuations.  To date, however, only seven Polynesian patients had received compensation, while the number of new cases of nuclear-based disease had grown exponentially every year.  Noting the Special Committee on Decolonization’s request that the Secretary-General report on the impact of 30 years of nuclear testing in French Polynesia, she urged him to broaden the scope of such a report to include independent and comprehensive analysis of the tests from a historical and technical standpoint.

PATRICK LAURENT GALENON, Economic, Social and Cultural Council, said that according to a 2006 report, the French State must acknowledge its responsibility in the nuclear matter.  In 2011, the French representative had proposed a contingency fund for expenditure on radiation disease, yet more than two thirds of the victims had died, and only three files had led to reimbursement by the administering Power to date.  The criteria established for eligibility were unrealistic, he said, noting that indigenous victims were unable to set up files in order to seek compensation.  Conceding those issues did not exempt the administering Power from responsibility, he stressed.

JERRY GOODING, a pearl farmer on Rikitea Island, said the report on nuclear tests in the Gambier Archipelago in 1966 was filled with lies, and had led to the birth of the so-called “clean testing theory”.  It falsified figures relating to the effects in Mangereva, where entire families were still gravely ill.  He called for truth and justice, in the tragic case of nuclear activity in French Polynesia, for allowing the people to speak through a referendum, and for epidemiological studies to be conducted.

MAXIME CHAN, Association Te Rau Atiati, urged the payment of reparations for environmental damage caused by nuclear testing.  Declassified documents had revealed that 3,200 tons of radioactive waste had been dumped into the ocean and the Moruroa coral reef, in violation of international rules.  The northern part of that region was at risk of collapsing because of the tests, and two atolls were unsuitable for human habitation owing to radioactive activity, he said.

AUGUSTE UEBE-CARLSON, President, of the Association 193, said that in the past 30 years, Polynesians had witnessed 193 tests 800 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  The French Polynesia had become a nuclear waste bin, he said, emphasizing that the administering Power had poisoned the Territory.  As a result, 7,000 people had fallen ill, and most of the children involved had developed various cancers, he said.

RICHARD TUHEIAVA, Member, House of Assembly of French Polynesia, said that in order for the Territory to develop economically, it must recover permanent sovereignty over its own natural resources.  The people had no sovereignty over raw materials within the Territory’s exclusive economic zone, and they were also powerless in the face of emerging threats to their strategic resources posed by colonial interests.

The representative of Vanuatu, noting the recent designation of Ma’ohi Nui as a managed marine area, questioned the consequences of that step, asking whether other resources were not available to advance the Territory’s sustainable development.

The representative of Palau made reference to the resolution approved by the Special Committee on Decolonization regarding the Secretary-General’s report, and asked whether there would be an update.

The representative of Venezuela said the Special Committee had approved an article introducing a change.  The Secretary-General must provide it with reports on the situation regarding nuclear testing in French Polynesia because the 2013 report had been the last one adopted.  He said the views expressed by petitioners reflected the reality on the ground and should be included in the Secretary-General’s report.

The representative of Algeria asked for more information on the exploitation of natural resources.

Mr. TUHEIAVA said in response that the Secretary-General’s latest report on the consequences of nuclear testing in French Polynesia had been released in 2015, a few weeks after the session so that most petitioners had not been able to make comments.  Most of the information contained in the report was obsolete and incomplete, he added.  In January 2010, the French Parliament had adopted legislation on the need to compensate victims of nuclear testing in Algeria and French Polynesia, but the implementation of that legislation had failed.  The current report made no reference to the risk of the Moruroa Atoll’s collapse or the tsunami threat that it posed.

He said that between 1992 and 2016, French Polynesia’s health system had covered $500 million in health expenses for inhabitants officially affected by nuclear-related diseases.  However, he said he could not accept a report containing only two pages from two agencies out of the 21 consulted by the Office of the Secretary-General.  On the question of resources, he said the Territory’s exclusive economic zone covered maritime and territorial resources, while deep-sea resources were under the management of local government, unless the administering Power qualified some of them as strategic.  All revenues earned through exploitation of the Territory’s natural resources did not remain in the French Territory but only added to the French treasury.

MOETAI BROTHERSON, Deputy Mayor of Faa’a, said France wished to reaffirm its presence in the Pacific through the full membership in the Pacific Islands Forum for New Caledonia and French Polynesia.  “They need Trojan horses in the Pacific,” he noted.  The Minister for Overseas France had said that admission to the Pacific Islands Forum had been, first and foremost, the result of French diplomacy, but Forum leaders had made it clear that full membership did not mean that New Caledonia and French Polynesia had suddenly become self-governing Territories, he said.  Reinstating French Polynesia to the decolonization list in 2013 had given France bad reasons for membership in the Forum, as well as a noble motivation for its Pacific brothers to welcome it.

The representative of the Federated States of Micronesia sought clarity as to whether the French Polynesia’s status had been upgraded since it had become a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum, and whether that related to any change in governance.

The representative of Cuba also asked about French Polynesia’s membership of the Pacific Islands Forum, and whether such an upgrade had anything to do with a change in the Territory’s status.

MOTHEI BROTHERSON, Deputy Mayor, City of Faa’a, asserted that there had been no upgrade to the set of competencies allowed the local government since 2004.  However, the idea a Pacific passport allowing free movement, as in the European Union, had been raised in 2009.

CARLYLE G. CORBIN, Dependency Studies Project, conveyed the findings of an assessment of French Polynesia’s political status, emphasizing that the term “autonomy” could not be applied to the Territory.  Its governance had been modernized incrementally in form and nomenclature, but not in substance, he said, pointing out that the administering Power retained a high degree of unilateral control.  French Polynesia did not meet recognized international standards for self-government, he said, adding that what was required now was implementation of General Assembly resolutions 68/93, 69/103 and 70/100 in order to foster a genuine self-determination process.  Recent announcements of a proposed accord between the administering Power and the territorial government were efforts at colonial modernization, rather than decolonization, he said, adding: “Colonialism by consent is colonialism nevertheless.”

FABIAN PICARDO, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, said the fact that the Territory was still no closer to being removed from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories was cause for huge disappointment.  Reviewing Gibraltar’s history, he said Spain had spent five decades insisting that bilateral negotiations with the United Kingdom — from which Gibraltarians were excluded — were the only means to determine the Territory’s future.  Spain had chosen to continue its policy of political defamation and economic sabotage instead of testing its case in the International Court of Justice, because it faced the insurmountable legal obstacle of having actually ceded sovereignty over Gibraltar more than 300 years ago, he said.  Citing in that regard a recent case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, he said it had found that Gibraltar was entitled to become a member of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) because “Gibraltar is clearly British and no actual dispute is presently pending”.  That seminal decision was a reminder that, as long as the international community continued to value the stability of internationally recognized boundaries, Spain’s expansionist territorial claim was doomed to fail.

To counter that legal setback, he continued, Spain’s caretaker Minister for Foreign Affairs had spotlighted the United Kingdom’s recent vote to leave the European Union as a rare opportunity to advance the Spanish territorial claim.  While Gibraltarians had voted by 96 per cent in favour to remain in the European Union, and would indeed like to retain some aspects of their relationship with the bloc, they were not prepared to give up their sovereignty to do so, he said, stressing that the answer to whether the Territory would ever become Spanish would always remain “no”.  He expressed regret that after a century of needless confrontation, it still seemed that nothing would change in the Spanish Government’s attitude.  It was incredible that a modern European nation such as Spain would appear to relish the prospect of taking Gibraltar over against its will.  Spain’s suggestion that the General Assembly should not approve visiting missions to Territories that were subject to sovereignty disputes was illogical and counter-productive, he said, adding that objective fact-finding was always valuable.  The Special Committee should visit and see the truth for itself.

RICHARD BUTTGIEG, Chairman, Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group, said the Committee had done very little on the question of Gibraltar, adding:  “Your approach to delisting our nation is simply outdated.”  The Committee should follow the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in concluding that there was no legitimate sovereignty claim over Gibraltar.  It had repeatedly asked the United Kingdom and Spain to resolve the issue, but there could not be any progress if the right to self-determination was not respected, he said, adding that the Committee must realize that its silence and inaction had emboldened Spain to continue its “aggressive and oppressive attitude towards Gibraltar”.

Question of New Caledonia

JEAN-LOUIS D’ANGLEBERMES, Vice-President, government of New Caledonia, noted that during the Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization in June 2015, partners had supported an amendment on New Caledonia, broadening opportunities to dispense with formalities and simplify mechanisms for citizens on the basis of a special election list for congressional and provincial assembly elections.  It was essential for the list to be indisputable.  Constructive discussions had been held, and it had been agreed that United Nations observers would take part in special administrative committees to determine the election list.

He went on to say that 2016 had seen gradual decolonization, and it had been demonstrated that New Caledonia had the institutional capacity to build its own international relations policy, he said.  It had established bilateral relations with States on the basis of cooperation agreements, and the 16 member States of the Pacific Islands Forum — the only political organization in the region — had decided to accept it as a full member.  The accession was an excellent opportunity for New Caledonia to have its voice heard in the region, he said, pointing out that the Territory possessed 30 per cent of the world’s “pristine reefs” and emphasizing the critical importance of preserving them.

The representative of Papua New Guinea said the referendum to be held in 2018 was crucial to New Caledonia’s quest for self-determination, and reiterated the importance of ensuring that key recommendations made by the United Nations visiting mission in 2014 were respected.  The special electoral list of qualified candidates, as provided for by the Nouméa Accord, was imperative, he said, asking whether concerns about the list had been resolved.  If not, why not, and when they were likely to be resolved?  Describing New Caledonia as a rich mining Territory, he asked how the French Government would implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development since there was such a vast difference between the Territory’s urban and rural areas.

Mr. D’ANGLEBERMES responded by saying there was a risk that a majority of Kanaks would not be able to vote because they were not inscribed on the electoral list.  While the Nouméa Accord provided for their right to vote, they needed to register, he emphasized, noting that many young people had not registered.  Political leaders were seeking a solution to that problem.  On the mining question, he said it was also true that there were three smelters in New Caledonia.  Nickel prices were very low, but the mineral was still a source of development.  The Nouméa Accord was based on the principle of rebalancing, and that was the responsibility of the New Caledonia government to ensure.  The Government of France had also committed itself to assisting it in striking that balance and responsibility to particular ethnic groups, but much remained to be done.  The territorial government would follow recommendations in order to find balanced results for everyone, he said.

GÉRARD POADJA, Vice-Chair, External Relations Committee, New Caledonia Congress, said a vast majority of the Caledonian population wished to continue its singularity within the French Republic.  To those people, France was an opportunity to be linked to a glorious country and old continent, Europe, while participating in the “concert of Pacific countries”.  For Caledonians against independence, such a process would be a major mistake that would lead them to leave the French Republic, he cautioned.  Dialogue was needed to strike a balance with the independence faction so that the world would not witness “one Caledonia beating the other”.

Question of Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

PETER HAMILTON, petitioner, said that the United Kingdom’s continuing possession of the Territory was “an archaic form of colonialism and an historical justice”.  The question was not the status of their inhabitants, but the sovereignty of the Territory.  It was time for the Special Committee to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, after which it could make a recommendation on the basis of that opinion, he emphasized.  That in turn would break the deadlock and pressure the parties to return to the negotiating table.

Question of United States Virgin Islands

RUSSELL CHRISTOPHER, ancestral and native Virgin Islander, said his people were experiencing a declining and non-sustainable economy, deplorable education, failing health systems and continuous environmental pollutants that were responsible for thousands of severe health issues and deaths.  In that context, he cited a corrupt governing body that did not serve the people, who were not allowedto create laws, and a constitution that was not truly in the best interests of indigenous and ancestral peoples.  As a result, the process and remedies prescribed in General Assembly resolution 1514 would not be accomplished without full and immediate implementation by the United Nations.

MONIQUE MASON, descendent of indigenous YHWH people, said the world was waking up and would see that the United Nations paid mere lip service to decolonization.  The Organization was destroying the same indigenous people that it claimed it wished to protect.  It was unfortunate that, in 2016, there were countries that owned people as property, while the rest of the world stood by and pretended not to be aware of what was taking place, she said, adding that the United Nations seemed to refuse to enforce the very international law that it had created.

JOSEPH CALHOUN III, servant of YHWH, said that “the Tanakh” — the living word of “Ahayah” — informed that any gathering of nations, their kings or rulers solely for the purpose of opposing “the most High Yah”, and any mandate of peace proposed by the confederation of nations was deeply rooted in deception.  He informed participants in the room that they had 10 days to repent and make atonement for their sins.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Gibraltar was included on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories and its people enjoyed the right to self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter.  The 2008 constitution had been endorsed in a referendum and the Government of the United Kingdom had a long-standing commitment that the people of Gibraltar would not pass under the sovereignty of another State against their wishes.  The United Kingdom would not enter into sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar was not content, and remained firmly committed to trilateral dialogue to strengthen relations among the United Kingdom, Spain and Gibraltar.  The Territory’s active participation in any dialogue process, in its own right, was non-negotiable, he said adding that the United Kingdom Government was committed to involving Gibraltar in the process to exit the European Union.  The vote to leave did not change its commitment to respect Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

The representative of Spain, responded by saying the Arbitration Court was a private and non-governmental entity, and its decisions had no effect on the international status of Gibraltar, a non-autonomous territory that must be subjected to a process of decolonization--in other words, a colony.  Moreover, Spain did not concede to the United Kingdom the territorial waters adjoining Gibraltar.  The proposed sovereignty negotiation that Spain had made had been in good faith, and it would benefit Gibraltar because the market would change radically when the United Kingdom left the European Union, he said.

[1] 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.