Delegates Call for Palestinian Statehood as Bolivia Urges Halt to Israel’s Colonialist Expansion, Saudi Arabia Touts Arab Peace Initiative
While Argentina would always defend the right to self‑determination everywhere, that principle was not absolute and must not be used as a pretext for interfering with the territorial integrity of existing States, the country’s representative cautioned today, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its general debate on decolonization issues.
He went on to underline the bilateral nature of the Malvinas question, saying it involved only Argentina and the United Kingdom, and could only be resolved through negotiations between those parties. Recounting events following the occupation of the Malvinas, he emphasized that self‑determination did not apply to the Territory’s current inhabitants, as reflected in more than 40 resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Special Committee on Decolonization, most recently in June.
However, the United Kingdom’s representative noted that elections would be held in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)* in November. There could be no dialogue on that Territory’s sovereignty unless its people wished it, he stressed, recalling that the 2013 referendum had sent a clear message that the people did not want such dialogue.
Bolivia’s representative, however, emphasized that the United Kingdom had an obligation to negotiate in good faith and in an effective manner within the context of international law so that the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas could be returned to the sovereign territory of Argentina.
He also urged a halt to Israel’s colonialist expansion, saying it flouted the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the illegal construction of the separation wall in the Occupied Palestinian territories.
Several delegates joined him in calling for Palestinian self‑determination, with Kuwait’s representative observing that the State of Palestine was not among the list of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, and the Palestinian people must be granted full rights to establish their own independent State.
Saudi Arabia’s representative, also underlining the Palestinian people’s right to self‑determination, called upon all stakeholders to respond positively to the Arab Peace Initiative that her country had launched 15 years ago with a view to the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.
In similar vein, Oman’s representative expressed full support for the Palestinian people’s quest to enjoy their inalienable right to self‑determination, calling upon all parties to undertake serious efforts to ensure that it came to fruition.
Also speaking today were representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Jordan, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Pakistan, Cameroon, Gambia, Viet Nam, Bahrain, Serbia, Comoros, Guyana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea‑Bissau, India, Angola, Qatar, Equatorial Guinea, Timor-Leste, Dominica, Panama and Kiribati.
Representatives of the United Kingdom, Spain, Argentina and Pakistan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 10 October, to resume its general debate on decolonization issues and to take action on draft resolutions.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), while stressing that his country would always defend the right to self‑determination everywhere, cautioned that that principle was not absolute and must not be used as a pretext to interfere with the territorial integrity of existing States. The question of the Malvinas Islands, involving a dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom, must be considered within that framework.
He went on to recount events that followed the occupation of the Malvinas, saying the United Kingdom had brought in its own settlers and established strict migratory controls to ensure a demographic composition in favour of its interests. General Assembly resolution 2065 described it as a special and specific colonial situation, recognizing that the sovereignty dispute could only be resolved through negotiations between the parties. He reiterated that self‑determination was not applicable to the current inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands — as reflected in more than 40 resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Special Committee on Decolonization — most recently in June.
There was no doubt about the bilateral nature of the Malvinas question, which involved only the United Kingdom and Argentina, he emphasized. Under General Assembly resolution 2065, the two countries had engaged in substantive communications, but the proposals had never been implemented, he recalled. Moreover, the 1982 conflict had not altered the nature of the dispute and certainly had not resolved it. Both parties had been called upon to resume bilateral negotiations and resolve the sovereignty dispute peacefully, and since December 2015, the two sides had entered a new phase, working on the bilateral relationship. In September 2016, they had agreed on a road map going forward, and had issued a joint communiqué reflecting the political will of both parties.
ASHA CHALLENGER (Antigua and Barbuda) said it was mind‑boggling to think that about half of the world’s 17 Non‑Self‑Governing Territories were in the Caribbean region. Administering Powers must adopt measures that would lead to their decolonization, taking their respective specific situations into account, he emphasized. Concerning the Malvinas question, he said that, as a friend of both Argentina and the United Kingdom, her country had expressed the need for both sides to resume sovereignty negotiations in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions. He went on to reiterate the Security Council’s call for negotiated and mutually acceptable political solutions to all disputes, with all parties abiding fully by and implementing Council mandates.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), emphasized that nations must become free through multilateral machinery and political dialogue with a view to preserving international peace and security. Bolivia recognized the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self‑determination and independence in accordance with international law, he said, observing that Oscar López Rivera had finally been released earlier in the year after having been imprisoned unjustly for 35 years. Regarding the Malvinas Islands, he noted that more than 40 resolutions had been adopted but none implemented. The United Kingdom had an obligation to negotiate in good faith and in an effective manner within the context of international law so that the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas could be returned to the sovereign territory of Argentina. He went on to call for a halt to Israel’s colonialist expansion, saying it flouted the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the illegal building of the separation wall in the Occupied Palestinian territories.
SONIA ISHAQ AHMAD SUGHAYAR (Jordan) said the fact that peoples still lived under occupation, given the importance of the right to self‑determination, demanded a new dialogue at the United Nations. The deprivation of such a right had caused much of the conflict in the world today and hampered economic and social development. In the effort to improve the situation, it was important to continue sending fact‑finding missions to Non‑Self‑Governing Territories and to systematically increase the involvement of United Nations agencies with their peoples. One priority was ending the occupation of Palestine and establishing a free State on the basis of previous agreements, she emphasized. In addition, all parties concerned must engage in a good faith dialogue on Western Sahara, without preconditions and on the basis of United Nations resolutions. Jordan supported the role of the new Personal Envoy there and noted Morocco’s development efforts in the Territory, she said, while also affirming the rights of its people to self‑determination.
ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi) encouraged the two sides in the Western Sahara dispute to commence genuine negotiations toward a mutually acceptable solution that would necessarily involve compromise and be based on Security Council resolutions. Burundi hoped the appointment of the new Personal Envoy would bring progress, he added. A resolution of the Western Sahara question should be pursued in the context of progress in the Sahel region as a whole, he said, emphasizing that regional issues were of extreme importance in the dispute. He invited the parties to work tirelessly towards a resolution under the good offices of the Secretary‑General, urging that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) resources should be adapted to better support current efforts.
FRANÇOIS XAVIER ZABAVY (Côte d’Ivoire) called for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara question, noting that recent developments in the Territory had led the Secretary‑General to propose a relaunching of the negotiation process with a new impetus and spirit of cooperation. Côte d’Ivoire was pleased that the Security Council had urged the different stakeholders to demonstrate the political will to compromise, and welcomed Morocco’s autonomy proposal, which the Council had described as serious and credible, and which was based on international law. He invited neighbouring countries to cooperate fully with the United Nations on the matter, taking the general interest of all the region’s peoples into account. That would strengthen cooperation among States in the Maghreb and Sahel, he said.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) emphasized that implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the decolonization agenda was not limited to the issue of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, but also encompassed other peoples living under alien occupation. The United Nations decolonization agenda would remain incomplete without resolving the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, which constituted one of the oldest items on its agenda, she said. The Kashmiri people were still waiting for the Organization to fulfil its promise to hold a United Nations‑supervised plebiscite that would enable them to determine their own political destiny. By use of force and fraud, India had prevented the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir from exercising their fundamental right to self‑determination, she recalled, pointing out that it had deployed tens of thousands of troops to suppress the freedom struggle there. Contrary to India’s claims, Jammu and Kashmir had never been and never could be an integral part of that country, she asserted, underlining that it was disputed territory and its final status had yet to be determined in accordance with Security Council resolutions.
MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), affirming the importance of completing United Nations decolonization goals, welcomed the Secretary‑General’s increased attention to Western Sahara and the appointment of a new Personal Envoy. Emphasizing the need for negotiations towards agreement by all parties on the basis of compromise, Charter principles and Security Council resolutions, he noted that the matter had regional implications, welcoming invitations to neighbouring States to participate in the quest for a solution. The region was suffering many problems that could be mitigated through solidarity, he said, adding that his own country would join what it hoped would be the consensus on this year’s resolution on the situation.
ISATOU BADJIE (Gambia) said that the situation of Western Sahara was a political issue and must be resolved through political action, notably negotiations. The Gambia supported the process undertaken by the Secretary‑General and his Personal Envoy with a view to fostering such a negotiated solution. She expressed her delegation’s full support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative, describing it as a viable compromise solution, and welcomed that country’s cooperation with human rights officials as well as its investment in the Territory’s development. However, the humanitarian situation in the Western Sahara remained of great concern, she said, reminding all parties of their obligations in that regard.
NGUYEN NAM DUONG (Viet Nam) said international peace and stability could only be fully achieved when people were able to exercise their inalienable right to self‑determination, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. As a country struggling for national self‑determination and independence, Viet Nam strongly advocated the complete eradication of colonialism, carried out by the United Nations through its institutions and agencies, he said. However, further effective measures and actions should be taken, in line with the United Nations Charter and international law, he said, stressing in that regard that administering Powers should cooperate fully with the Special Committee on Decolonization and ensure their activities did not have negative effects on the legitimate interests of the peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories.
Mr. ALSWAR (Bahrain) reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination and to an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and on the basis of the two‑State solution. He also called for the settlement of the Western Sahara question, on the basis of Morocco’s autonomy initiative. Bahrain supported all efforts to implement the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, he said.
MARINA NIKODIJEVIC (Serbia) said the question of Gibraltar must be resolved through bilateral negotiations, and only the United Nations could decide when its decolonization process was concluded. That could only be accomplished through bilateral negotiations between Spain and the United Kingdom, which was the only acceptable way to reach a just and lasting solution. Such an approach would exclude unilateral actions, she stressed, welcoming all constructive proposals on the question. Spain’s proposal remained a sound and viable solution to the dispute and would benefit all interested parties, she said.
KADIM OUSSEIN (Comoros) said that it was unfortunate that decolonization issues were still being disputed in the United Nations after many decades, due to the intransigence of powerful States. In the matter of Western Sahara, Eritrea strongly encouraged a political solution in conjunction with the good offices of the Secretary‑General, he said, emphasizing that all development activities must be accompanied by strict adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law. Comoros supported Morocco’s autonomy and local election proposals, he said.
RUDOLPH MICHAEL TEN-POW (Guyana) said his country supported the Second and Third International Decades for the Eradication of Colonialism, and urged administering Powers to cooperate fully with the United Nations in implementing the relevant resolutions on decolonization. He went on to underline the importance of dialogue among the administering Powers, the Special Committee and the colonized peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. He called on all parties to help facilitate a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political settlement that would ensure self‑determination of the people of Western Sahara, emphasizing that the well‑being of the Sahrawi people should be a priority.
IGNACE GATA MAVITA WA LUFUTA (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating himself with Non‑Aligned Movement, called for all parties to compromise and listen to the voice of the Sahrawi people, who had generally been in favour of autonomy within Morocco. Without progress, more young Sahrawi might be drawn to extremist groups, he warned. The appointment of the new Personal Envoy might give new impetus to efforts to settle the dispute over Western Sahara, he said, while also commending the parties on their commitment to pursuing further negotiations. Welcoming Morocco’s autonomy initiative, he invited the parties to demonstrate realism and compromise. Calling on neighbouring States to support the process, he also urged the parties and the entire international community to cooperate with the United Nations, and support the parties in order to end the deadlock and the suffering of displaced peoples.
FERNANDO DELFIM DA SILVA (Guinea-Bissau) expressed his delegation’s unequivocal support for Morocco’s approach to the Western Sahara question, emphasizing its specific support for that country’s autonomy initiative and model for the development of the southern provinces. He voiced hope that those efforts would be crowned with success.
SURYANARAYAN SRINIVAS PRASAD (India) expressed satisfaction that, since the 1960 decolonization Declaration, the world had moved from a largely colonial organization to a vibrant community of independent nation States. Nevertheless, it was a long path ahead towards decolonization, and it was the international community’s special responsibility to guide the remaining 17 Non‑Self‑Governing Territories towards their desired objective. Rather than remaining moored in the ideological principles of the past, the decolonization process should be guided by pragmatism and the wishes of the people of the Territories, he noted. The impact of climate change — a global phenomenon of unforeseen consequences to Non‑Self‑Governing Territories — was an example of shifting priorities and needs, he emphasized. He went on to reject Pakistan’s intervention as an effort to advance issues that had never been on the Committee’s agenda, noting that such efforts constituted a distraction not worthy of response.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) called upon the United Nations to contribute more effectively in eliminating colonialism in its totality in the 17 remaining non‑autonomous Territories. On Western Sahara, he said it was time to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions, and reiterated calls for the parties to hold a free and fair referendum so that the Sahrawi people could choose their own destiny. Welcoming Morocco’s reintegration into the African Union, he said it would help efforts to find a mutually acceptable, just solution leading towards lasting peace. He urged MINURSO to fulfil its mandated obligations, recognized the efforts of the new Personal Envoy and expressed support for the relevant African Union initiatives.
ABDULRAHMAN YAAQOB Y.A. AL‑HAMADI (Qatar) said colonialism and foreign occupation must be eliminated in all situations in which they persisted. However, the particularity of each case must be taken into consideration, he added, emphasizing that the Palestinian people, in particular, must be able to enjoy their right to self‑determination through the attainment of statehood as soon as possible. He also called for a negotiated political solution to the question of Western Sahara and voiced support for Morocco’s autonomy proposal.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), emphasizing that his delegation favoured dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflict, said the 40‑year‑old dispute over Western Sahara had recently witnessed positive developments with a shift to dialogue and cooperation. Based on that new dynamic, Equatorial Guinea encouraged efforts towards a viable and realistic solution in order to ensure a stable environment, he said, adding that his delegation appreciated Morocco’s efforts in that respect. Political compromise and cooperation with the United Nations was necessary for an improved human rights situation and for the region’s economic and social development.
MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia) said failure to get rid of colonialism permanently was unacceptable because it was a violation of basic human rights, and called upon all administering Powers to arrive at constructive and practical solutions through serious dialogue. Stressing the Palestinian people’s right to self‑determination, she called for all stakeholders to respond positively to the Arab Peace Initiative that her country had launched 15 years ago to establish an independent State of Palestine. On the question of Western Sahara, she recalled the Riyadh Declaration in support of Morocco’s autonomy initiative, saying the proposal was positive and constructive, commensurate with international law and in accordance with the principle of self‑determination. Saudi Arabia also valued Morocco’s cooperation with international agencies and its efforts for the region’s socioeconomic development, she said, rejecting any attempt to compromise Morocco’s sovereignty. A final settlement of the Western Sahara dispute was very important to the Sahel region’s security, she emphasized.
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) said his country’s relationship with its overseas Territories was a modern one based on partnership, shared values and the right of each Territory’s people to choose whether or not to remain British. The United Kingdom was committed to involving the overseas Territories, including Gibraltar, as it negotiated to leave the European Union in order to ensure that their priorities were taken into account, he said. Elections had recently taken place in Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands and Bermuda, and would also be held in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in November. The United Kingdom had no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), South Georgia Islands, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, he said, emphasizing that there could be no dialogue on sovereignty over them unless its people so wished. Recalling that the 2013 referendum had sent a clear message that the people did not want such a dialogue, he went on to underline that his country’s long‑standing commitment to the people of Gibraltar remained unchanged, and the United Kingdom would not enter a process of negotiations over sovereignty with which that Territory was not content.
LEONETO SPINHOLA LEY DE ARAUJO MANTILO (Timor‑Leste) recounted his country’s attainment of self‑determination, saying the Committee had played a large part in that effort. Colonialism in any form was a denial of basic human rights, he said. In particular, the situation in Western Sahara bore many resemblances to the situation in Timor‑Leste before independence, he said, expressing strong solidarity with the Territory’s people in that regard alongside deep concern over Morocco’s exploitation of its resources. He called for the parties to resume talks without preconditions — expressing full support for the efforts of the Secretary‑General, his Personal Envoy and representatives of the African Union — and for the implementation of resolutions asserting the fundamental right of self‑determination.
Mr. AL SHAFARI (Oman) called for the peaceful settlement of disputes under United Nations principles. Describing the Palestinian question as one of the most important to his country, he expressed full support for the Palestinian people’s quest to enjoy their inalienable right to self‑determination. Oman called on the parties to undertake serious efforts to ensure that it came to fruition. He voiced support for the efforts of the Secretary‑General and his Personal Envoy to encourage negotiations for a solution to the Western Sahara question that would allow the self‑determination of the Sahrawi people and maintain Morocco’s territorial integrity.
Mr. AL SABAH (Kuwait) said the situation of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories must be dealt with on a case‑by‑case basis, with administering Powers cooperating fully with the Committee. Kuwait supported efforts for a political solution to the Western Sahara question of through the resumption of negotiations, he said, expressing support for the Secretary‑General and his Personal Envoy. Reiterating Kuwait’s support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative, he welcomed the kingdom’s serious efforts, commending its steps to protect human rights and stressing the need to fully respect its territorial integrity. A political solution to the dispute would promote cooperation among members of the Arab Maghreb Union and contribute to peace and security in the Sahel, he pointed out. He went on to observe that the State of Palestine was not among the list of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories and stressed the need for the Palestinian people to have full rights to establish their own independent State.
LOREEN RUTH BANNIS-ROBERTS (Dominica), emphasizing her country’s full support for the United Nations political process in Western Sahara, said that resolving the dispute over that Territory would help to reinforce stability and security in the Sahel region. She also welcomed Morocco’s efforts to enhance regional and subregional cooperation on security threats, and its return to the African Union.
LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), associating herself with CELAC, affirmed the right of colonial countries and peoples to self-determination, emphasizing that the decolonization effort should not cease until it was completed. She urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to hold talks without preconditions to determine the future of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. On Western Sahara, she urged renewed negotiations, in cooperation with the new Personal Envoy, for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.
TEBURORO TITO (Kiribati), recalling his own country’s independence agreement in 1979, said Kiribati had always taken the approach of friendly dialogue between brother nations in the Pacific and their associated countries elsewhere. He encouraged progress on the Western Sahara political process in a similar cooperative spirit.
Right of Reply
The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in exercise of the right of reply in response to Argentina, Bolivia, Antigua and Barbuda, Serbia and Panama, reiterated that there were no doubts about the situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), South Georgia Islands, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. Nor were there any doubts about the principle by virtue of which the Territory’s residents had freely determined their political status. There could be no dialogue on self‑determination unless those people so wished, she said, emphasizing that Argentina should respect those wishes. The United Kingdom’s relationship with its Territories was a modern one, she reiterated, adding that no civilian population had been expelled from the Territory in 1833. The Falklands (Malvinas) had never been part of Argentina’s sovereign territory. Responding to Serbia, she reiterated earlier points reaffirming Gibraltar as a separate Territory that enjoyed rights under the Charter, and whose people enjoyed the right to self‑determination. The Territory’s constitution provided for a modern relationship between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, she noted, underlining that her country would not enter into arrangements for Gibraltar to pass under the sovereignty of another State which its people did not want.
The representative of Spain responded by reaffirming that the Treaty of Utrecht was very clear. The waters surrounding Gibraltar had never been ceded and never would be, she emphasized. The Committee, all relevant forums, as well as the Brussels Agreement, Spain and the United Kingdom had all dealt with the question of Gibraltar’s sovereignty. Regarding the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, she said Spain had made a relevant proposal in October 2016, which still existed, she noted. Spain was trying to enter into a new system of agreement with the United Kingdom for the benefit of all, she said.
The representative of Argentina, replying to his counterpart from the United Kingdom, said the Malvinas and surrounding maritime areas were part of Argentinian sovereign territory occupied by the United Kingdom in 1833, pointing out that United Nations resolutions referred to the dispute over sovereignty and urged its resolution. He recalled the commitment expressed by both Governments to find a solution to the sovereignty issue, as expressed in those resolutions. Urging a resumption of negotiations, he rejected the United Kingdom’s claims and its version of history. The illegal voting that had taken place in no way changed concerns relating to the Special Committee on Decolonization, he maintained.
The representative of Pakistan replied to a comment by the delegate of India, by emphasizing that Jammu and Kashmir remained under dispute under any definition, and there was an explicit obligation for the United Nations and the parties to work to resolve it. The Kashmiri people had the right to such consideration.
* 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).