The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved three draft resolutions on decolonization matters today, two by recorded vote, also concluding its general debate on Israel’s practices in occupied Arab territories.
Taking up a draft on the question of Guam, the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 9 against (France, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Malawi, Morocco, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 62 abstentions.
By its terms, the General Assembly would stress that the decolonization process in Guam should be compatible with the United Nations Charter, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would call once again upon the administering Power to take into consideration the expressed will of Guam’s Chamorro people, as supported by Guam voters in the referendum of 1987 and as subsequently provided for in Guam law regarding Chamorro self‑determination efforts.
The Assembly would, by further terms, encourage the administering Power and the territorial government to enter into negotiations on that matter, and stress the need for continued close monitoring of the overall situation in the Territory. The Assembly would also stress the importance of the Special Committee on Decolonization being apprised of the views and wishes of Guam’s people and enhancing its understanding of their conditions, including the nature and scope of existing political and constitutional arrangements between the Territory and the administering Power.
Further by the text, the Assembly would request that the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial government, continue to transfer land to the Territory’s original landowners, continue to recognize and respect the political rights as well as the cultural and ethnic identity of Guam’s Chamorro people, and continue to take all measures necessary to address the territorial government’s concerns about the question of immigration.
By other terms, the Assembly would call upon the administering Power to participate in and cooperate fully with the Special Committee on Decolonization in efforts to promote self-government in Guam, encouraging it to facilitate visits and special missions to the Territory. Also, the Assembly would request the Territory and the administering Power to protect and conserve the environment against degradation and the impact of militarization.
The Committee also approved a draft resolution on economic and other activities affecting the interests of non‑self‑governing peoples by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).
By its terms, the General Assembly would express deep concern at the number and scale of natural disasters and their devastating impact in 2017 on Non‑Self‑Governing Territories in the Caribbean, in particular Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands, as well as Puerto Rico.
Further by that text, the Assembly would call upon the administering Powers to ensure that the exploitation of marine and other natural resources of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories did not violate relevant United Nations resolutions, and did not adversely affect the interests of their peoples. Moreover, it would call upon administering Powers to provide all necessary assistance to the peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories affected by recent hurricanes in order to alleviate humanitarian needs, support recovery and rebuilding efforts, and enhance emergency‑preparedness and risk‑reduction capabilities.
Acting again without a vote, the Committee approved a draft on the question of New Caledonia, by which the Assembly would note concerns about the provincial electoral process relating to persistently varying interpretations of the restricted electoral provisions and the voter‑registration appeal process. As such, it would encourage the administering Power and the people of New Caledonia to address the concerns of all stakeholders while also respecting and upholding the Nouméa Accord. Further, the Assembly would call upon France, the administering Power, to consider developing an education programme to inform the people of New Caledonia about the nature of self‑determination, and also to facilitate a visiting mission to the Territory before the 2018 referendum.
Before taking action on those texts, the Committee concluded its general debate on the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.
During that discussion, Israel’s representative described that report as “the product of an illegitimate, prejudiced mandate”. He noted that it did not mention the steps his country was taking to help residents of the Gaza Strip, although Israel was working closely with the United Nations to facilitate the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. It also neglected to mention the significant humanitarian aid supplied by Israel to victims of the ongoing war in Syria. As such, Israel rejected the Special Committee, its mandate and its work, he said.
However, several delegates urged Israel to respond to the international community and to the Special Committee’s report. Turkey’s representative called upon Israel immediately to cease all its settlement activity as well as its demolition of homes, confiscation of lands and other actions denying Palestinians the right to development. She further cautioned that attempts to change the historical status of Haram al‑Sharif, increasing violations against its sanctity and measures in violation of the freedom of worship would jeopardize peaceful coexistence.
Echoing that sentiment, Jordan’s representative also drew attention to Israel’s actions relating to Haram al‑Sharif and Al‑Aqsa Mosque, saying they represented provocations against the entire Islamic world and violated international law that called for observing respect for holy places. Emphasizing her country’s stewardship of Haram al‑Sharif, she condemned actions aimed at changing Jerusalem’s existing status and character. Jordan called upon the international community, especially the large Powers, to move the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict onto a peace track leading to negotiations.
In similar vein, Libya’s representative asked what the United Nations and the international community were doing to end the situation. Recalling that the United States and other Western countries had exerted political pressure in favour of the two‑State approach, he said the Palestinian people had therefore accepted it as well as the Oslo Accords, but Israel had violated further agreements and resolutions.
Agreeing, Egypt’s representative called for resumption of the peace process and for cessation of any unilateral measures that could endanger the two‑State approach. All possible efforts must be exerted to seize the opportunity presented by the recent intra‑Palestinian reconciliation agreement, which could potentially reinvigorate the peace process. He called upon all those with influence to help drive the peace process towards a just and lasting settlement, emphasizing that both sides must realize that neither one was going away.
Other speakers today included representatives of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Cuba, Venezuela, South Africa, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, United States and Singapore.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were a representative of Syria and an observer for the State of Palestine.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 10 November, to take action on outstanding draft resolutions and to conclude its work for the seventy‑second session.
AHMED ELSHANDAWILY (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group, said that an era of much‑needed peace in the Middle East called for a renewed sense of urgency. He called for the resumption of the peace process and the cessation of any unilateral measures that could endanger the two‑State approach. Especially important was the need to a halt to settlement activity in Arab lands, including the occupied Syrian Golan, he emphasized. All possible efforts must be exerted to seize the opportunity presented by the recent Palestinian reconciliation agreement, which could potentially reinvigorate the peace process, he said, calling upon all with influence to help drive the peace process towards a just and lasting settlement. As evidenced by the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, peace represented a strategic choice for the Palestinians and indeed the entire Arab world, he stressed. Simply put, both sides must realize that neither was going away.
SONIA ISHAQ AHMAD SUGHAYAR (Jordan), associating herself with the League of Arab States and the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that Israel’s repeated violations and its illegal expansion of settlements endangered international efforts to resume peace negotiations. Moreover, its actions relating to Haram al‑Sharif and Al‑Aqsa Mosque represented provocations against the entire Islamic world, violating international law that called for observing respect for holy places. Emphasizing that Haram al‑Sharif was subject to Jordanian stewardship, she condemned actions aimed at changing Jerusalem’s existing status and character. Israel’s irresponsible and discriminatory actions against Palestinians would encourage violence and build tensions in the region, she warned, noting that violence was often the result of human rights violations and marginalization. Jordan would continue its efforts towards the two‑State solution advocated by Arab and Muslim countries all along, as well as the Arab Peace Plan, she said, calling upon international community, especially the large Powers, to move the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict onto a peace track leading to negotiations.
TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Special Committee had once again been denied cooperation with Israeli authorities and access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Israeli settlements and construction of the wall in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were the “most blatant” symbols of Israeli occupation, he said, and the biggest threat to the two‑State solution. Illegal settlements, a status affirmed by the International Court of Justice, had displaced Palestinian communities, while indiscriminate attacks against medical facilities and vehicles further aggravated the dire humanitarian situation. Citing a 2012 United Nations report stating that Gaza could become unliveable by 2020 if the blockade persisted, he urged the international community to “prevail on Israel” to lift the blockade. Political will had been absent, but was desperately needed to achieve the solution.
BENJAMIN KRASNA (Israel) said the report under discussion was “the product of an illegitimate, prejudiced mandate”. It was unfortunate that United Nations funds were spent on such a futile endeavour, he said, noting that the report did not mention all the ways in which Hamas had waged terror and imposed its brutal practices on the people of the Gaza Strip. It also criticized the Israeli judicial system, in spite of its efforts to protect the rights of all its citizens, both Jews and Arabs. “There is only one place in the Middle East where there is fair, equal and open access to the legal system,” he emphasized. “That place is Israel.”
He went on to state that the steps his country was taking to help residents of Gaza were also missing from the report, although Israel was working closely with the United Nations to facilitate the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. As such, the renovation and construction of more than 100,000 houses had been completed and 817 public projects had been authorized, he said. Moreover, all types of food and food ingredients, as well as consumer and other goods, entered the enclave without restriction, he said, stressing that the only prohibitions implemented applied to items routinely exploited for terrorist purposes.
Furthermore, the report omitted to mention the 17 Israelis who had been victims of terror in 2017, he pointed out. Regarding the occupied Syrian Golan, the relevant section of the report made no reference to how events across the border in Syria affected those living there. It also neglected to mention the significant humanitarian aid supplied by Israel to victims of the ongoing war in Syria, he said, citing those who had been brought into his country for treatment and hospitalization. As such, Israel rejected the mandate, the Special Committee and its work, he said, underlining his delegation’s regret over the waste of United Nations resources involved. Israel further called upon Member States to vote against the draft resolution commending the Special Committee’s work.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the situation in occupied land attested to a systemic pattern of human rights violations that impacted every aspect of daily life in Palestine. Arbitrary detentions, home demolitions and revocation of land rights amounted to collective punishment of Palestinians. International commitment had failed to tip the scales of justice in favour of Palestine, she said, adding that reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah now offered reasons for optimism. The international community must help sustain positive momentum and pursue the establishment of an independent and contiguous State of Palestine. Citing Israel’s escalation of settlement building, she said peace in Palestine was a primary condition for global peace and security. She stressed the importance of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in assisting Palestinians and reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to support the Agency by all means possible.
MAZEN AL SWAR (Bahrain), associating with the League of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the repercussions of the occupation had been disastrous for all walks of life. Bahrain rejected Israel’s actions at Al‑Aqsa mosque, its closure to congregation members and its provocative attacks there. He called on all parties to abide by international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, calling for a halt to any attempts to change the character of Al‑Quds, as well as to illegal settlement activities. The question of Palestine would remain among his country’s priorities, he emphasized, stressing the need for a two‑State solution to help the region achieve stability and development.
AK MOHD AZIAN PG DATO PADUKA HAJI MAIDIN (Brunei Darussalam) expressed deep sadness over the dire situation faced by Palestinians. Illegal settlement activities and policies had resulted in the deterioration of humanitarian, economic and social conditions, he said, stressing that such practices deprived Palestinians of their basic rights. Diplomatic consultations and outreach were vital to achieving a solution to the protracted conflict, he asserted, welcoming the Secretary‑General’s visit to the region last August and his commitment to a two‑State solution. He called for intensified efforts to improve the lives of Palestinians and reaffirmed his commitment to peace in the region.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the people of Palestine continued to suffer as a result of more than 50 years of foreign occupation, asserting that Israel’s activities in the region were in violation of international law. Citing the reports before the Committee, she said land confiscation and displacement remained Israel’s policy priorities, and its expansion of settlements continued. Expressing regret at the Security Council’s inability to resolve the crisis, she called for an immediate end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was inflicting an economic and humanitarian crisis on millions of Palestinians. She noted recent efforts to foster intra‑Palestinian unity and expressed support for Palestine’s entry as a fully‑fledged member of the United Nations. Cuba would continue to support a broad and lasting solution based on a two‑State approach leading to Palestinian self-determination, she emphasized.
DOUGLAS NICOMEDES ARCIA VIVAS (Venezuela) thanked the Special Committee for shedding light on the suffering of Palestinians as a result of Israel’s inhumane blockade. Despite difficulties encountered by the Special Committee, its work showed that the brutal blockade was causing pain, suffering and oppression. The occupying Power continued to pursue its settlement‑related activities, he said, adding that land confiscations and house demolitions remained a major concern. Abuses and crimes conducted by Israel, including military attacks on Palestinian civilians and the Gaza blockade, amounted to collective punishment, he asserted. The suffering of Palestinians deserved the repudiation of the international community, he stressed, also calling for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan. He urged international actors not to remain passive in the face of Palestinian suffering, underlining that the time had come for Israel to contribute to peace, and reaffirming the relevance of the two‑State vision.
DERLE DEMIREL (Turkey) said Israel should respond to the international community’s calls and immediately cease all settlement activity as well as home demolitions, land confiscation and other actions denying Palestinians the right to development. The continuation of such policies with complete impunity deepened their sense of injustice, creating growing mistrust towards the international community and breeding desperation, she warned. Furthermore, attempts to change the historical status of Haram al‑Sharif, increasing violations against its sanctity and measures in violation of the freedom of worship jeopardized peaceful coexistence. She went on to welcome the intra‑Palestinian reconciliation agreement reached on 12 October, congratulating the Palestinian people on that significant step towards national unity. The agreement clearly referred to ending the occupation and establishing the sovereignty of the Palestinian State on all territories occupied in 1967, she recalled, emphasizing that the international community must respond to that resolute step. Palestinians deserved a strong confirmation of the two‑State vision and of the genuine efforts to end the protracted humanitarian crisis in Gaza, she stressed.
WOUTER HOFMEYR ZAAYMAN (South Africa), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted the lack of progress on the human rights of the Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied territories. Israel’s actions, such as the demolition of Palestinian houses, the expansion of settlements and the exploitation of natural resources associated with the escalating violence was contrary to international law, he said. Israeli practices also included State‑sanctioned land seizures, retroactive legalization of outposts and restrictions on movement, he noted, adding that the human rights violations associated with the occupation were inexorably linked to the settlement enterprise. The ongoing settlement activity undermined the two‑State vision and threatened the viability of a future Palestinian State, he warned. South Africa was also worried about the increase in settler violence against Palestinians, and appealed to the Israeli authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable. In addition, South Africa stressed the urgent need for Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, he said, also calling upon that country to respect the human rights of all Palestinian prisoners and to abide by international humanitarian law. In closing, he said, South Africa advocated for comprehensive and unconditional negotiations between Israel and Palestine in the pursuit of genuine and lasting peace.
MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco), associating himself with the League of Arab States, said that Israel’s continuing violations of international law by creating new settlements and “Judaizing” East Jerusalem contravened the resolutions confirming their illegitimate nature. Morocco therefore condemned Israel’s approach, particularly in Jerusalem, where it sought to change the demographic and legal status of that city in flagrant violation of international law since Jerusalem was an integral part of the Palestinian territory, as it had been in 1967. That approach further strengthened the feeling of injustice among Palestinians and Muslims around the world, hindering the quest for a settlement of the Palestinian question. Morocco called upon the international community to shoulder its responsibility to end the impasse, he said.
EZZIDIN Y. BELKHEIR (Libya), associating himself with the League of Arab States and the Non‑Aligned Movement, asked what the United Nations and the international community were doing to end the situation. The United States and other Western countries had exerted political pressure in favour of the two‑State approach, and the Palestinian people had therefore accepted it as well as the Oslo Accords. However, Israel had violated further agreements and resolutions. Furthermore, the reports before the Committee indicated a deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip as well as Israel’s continuing actions to undermine the two‑State approach, such as the demolition of houses and continuing discrimination against Palestinians. “How can a military force benefiting from the support of major Powers continue to mock the international community while acting as a butcher?” he asked, further questioning whether the world would wake up one day to the news that there had been a genocide of the entire Palestinian people.
Mr. ALHAMMADI (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the League of Arab States and Non‑Aligned Movement, condemned illicit Israeli practices in occupied territories and noted the acceleration of Israeli settlement practices. Illicit housing construction had increased in 2016, he said, adding that Israel continued to violate the sanctity of holy places. The economic situation in the Gaza Strip continued to deteriorate as a result of Israel’s blockade, and such practices led to feelings of hopelessness and frustration among Palestinians. Israel’s practices were being exploited by terrorist groups to spread violence across the region, he said, expressing his country’s commitment to help meet the needs of Palestinians. Urging the international community to help build a Palestinian State, he welcomed the signing of the intra‑Palestinian reconciliation agreement and called for an immediate end to Israeli occupation of Arab lands.
XIE XINXING (China) said the Palestinian question was at the core of Middle East issues. Palestine had yet to become an independent, sovereign State and its people continued to suffer under Israeli occupation. A dire humanitarian crisis had developed in Gaza as a result of the Israeli blockade, he said, expressing support for a two‑State solution to the conflict. He called for the integration of Palestine into the international community, stressing that efforts to resolve the crisis must prioritize a two‑State solution and cessation of Israeli settlement activities. He also noted the relevance of promoting both Palestinian reconciliation and integrated efforts to foster peace through development, reaffirming in that context China’s commitment to assist in the economic development of Palestine.
KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that at the seventeenth Summit of the Non‑Aligned Movement, the group reaffirmed its commitment to defend the interests of developing countries in issues directly related to peace. That and other relevant efforts reflected the unanimous desire of the international community to resolve the crisis in Palestine, he said. Yet, Israeli settlement practices persisted and continued to deprive Palestinians of their homes. Calling Israeli occupation “the cancer of the Middle East”, he said the United States supported such practices. That country had turned a blind eye to Israeli violations of relevant Security Council resolutions, he said, urging that Palestinians be given the right to establish an independent State.
AHMAD SHALEH BAWAZIR (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed regret that the Committee’s report had been prepared without its members being able to visit Palestine. Israel continued to violate Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), as evidenced by the report of the UNRWA Commissioner General. He called on Israel to comply with the 2004 International Court of Justice advisory opinion, to implement resolution 2334 (2016), lift the Gaza blockade and ensure respect for its obligations under international humanitarian law. He condemned all violations regardless of the perpetrators, and strongly disagreed with the “apple‑to‑apple” approach to the Palestine and Israel issue, which distorted factual reality. Without a political solution, there could be no change, he said.
Right of Reply
The representative of Syria, responding to Israel, said that whenever it heard criticisms and accusations, the occupying Power tried to walk away from them and instead criticize the Special Committee and its reports as “pointless” and a “waste of time”. That constituted an insult and an affront to the Special Committee’s work and to the United Nations system, he emphasized. Israel’s representative had spoken of providing hospitalization and other assistance to Syrians, but had tried to mask the fact that the aid had been provided to terrorist groups like Nusrah Front, he said. The Wall Street Journal had reported Israel’s provision of weapons, funding, medical and food supplies to armed terrorist groups, he said, adding that the newspaper had also conducted interviews with terrorists who had stressed that the Israeli army was in constant contact with them. On 3 November, hundreds of terrorists had been transferred in order to launch an attack on Hadar. Emphasizing that those in the Golan were Syrian Arabs and would always remain so, he said they lived in occupied territory and would one day return to Syria, having rejected participation in any election that would eventually lead to the election of agents for the occupying Power. He went on to detail examples of Israel’s violations, saying the occupier had planted mines and detained children.
The observer for the State of Palestine said Israel’s ridicule of the Special Committee’s work was unacceptable, emphasizing that the international community could not remain silent as that country continued to mock the United Nations system. Israel had acted in contempt of the Organization, blatantly dismissing its authority and violating its resolutions, committing grave breaches of international law and boasting about its intentions to continue its crimes. The impunity fostered by the international community had engendered that behaviour, as Israel continued to undermine all efforts to end the injustice and suffering, she said. It was audacious to question the credibility of the Special Committee’s reports when Israel denied it access to conduct a first‑hand investigation of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and include the Israeli point of view. The Special Committee’s reports were not biased or inaccurate, she said, emphasizing that they were factual, beyond reproach, and confirmed by Israeli human rights organizations, among others. Israel’s disrespect and continued violations of the United Nations Charter and international law, as well as its illegal occupation were the reasons for the Special Committee’s continuing mandate, she stressed. Ceasing its efforts to draw international attention to those violations amounted to submitting to that unlawful and unjust reality, which the State of Palestine would never do.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee then considered several outstanding draft resolutions on decolonization issues.
First, it took up a draft resolution titled “Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories” (document A/C.4/72/L.14).
The representative of Cuba introduced that text, explaining that it had originally been drafted during the June meeting of the Special Committee on Decolonization. However, during the before the Fourth Committee’s hearing of petitioners, questions had been raised about the effects of hurricanes on countries and Non‑Self‑Governing Territories in the Caribbean, he recalled. The draft had therefore been revised accordingly to include new paragraphs relating to the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Anguilla, Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, as well as Puerto Rico, he said. Also included was a request that the relevant administering Powers provide the necessary assistance to the affected Territories in order to support their recovery and reconstruction efforts and the resumption of economic and other development.
The representative of Venezuela, making a general statement, said his delegation joined others in urging administering Powers to do everything necessary to ensure due compliance with mandates to promote the economic development of the peoples of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. He reiterated his delegation’s appeal that administering Powers refrain from activities that would limit the rights of those peoples, and from any attempts to violate fundamental decolonization principles.
The Committee then approved that draft resolution by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).
The representative of Argentina, speaking in explanation of position, said the text’s applicability to a specific Territory would depend upon its right to self‑determination, the exercise of which would require an active subject, which in turn would entail a people subject to foreign domination. If such a situation did not exist, there was no such right, he said, explaining that the Malvinas Islands*, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas had been illegitimately occupied by the United Kingdom. That country had expelled the population there and replaced it with British nationals, and as such, the draft resolution was not applicable to them, he said. Recalling that all resolutions on that question expressly mentioned that the way to end that situation would be a negotiated solution between the parties, he emphasized that the United Kingdom’s unilateral exploitation of natural resources and its military exercises in the area under dispute contravened United Nations resolutions.
Next, the Committee turned to two draft resolutions on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries.
The representative of Cuba introduced those drafts, highlighting that the Special Committee on Decolonization had originally approved both by consensus. The inclusion of new paragraphs was in keeping with the Fourth Committee Chair’s recommendation to take statements by petitioners, including the Governor of Guam, into account. The requirements for a visiting mission had been considered and were an integral part of the draft. The texts reiterated the inalienable rights of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to self‑determination, establishing requirements and recommendations for each Territory in order for the corresponding administering Power to tackle different aspects in the advance to decolonization.
The representative of Venezuela made a general statement on both texts, saying his delegation understood the desire of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to exercise self‑determination, which was why it supported the drafts under consideration. Concerning the text on New Caledonia, he noted that it contained a request for a visiting mission before the 2018 referendum, particularly to evaluate questions about the electoral lists. On the Guam text, he recalled that petitioners from that Territory had given testimonies on the urgent need for a decolonization process and the obstacles imposed by the administering Power by means of a plebiscite. He said that his delegation had been moved by their statements about their fears concerning the military exercises in the Territory.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution “Question of New Caledonia” (document A/C.4/72/L.15).
Taking up the draft resolution “Question of Guam” (document A/C.4/72/L.16), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 9 against (France, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Malawi, Morocco, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 62 abstentions.
The representative of Brazil, speaking in explanation of position, said he had voted in favour, in accordance with his country’s past position on similar resolutions. However, Brazil did not support the trend of politicizing decolonization efforts, and aspects of the text required further discussion, he said. Language on regional security and its implications for the Territory of Guam must consider threats made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The representative of Canada said her delegation fully supported the right of the peoples of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to self‑determination, but she had abstained due to concerns about an ongoing judicial process mentioned in the text.
The representative of the United States said he was deeply disappointed at having been forced to vote against a draft on Guam for the first time in 20 years. Problematic language inserted by Venezuela showed demonstrated the existence of efforts to politicize the issue, he said. Reiterating the sovereign right of the United States to conduct military activities in accordance with its national interests, he said allegations that the people of Guam opposed his country’s military presence were baseless. He went on to state that language referring to tensions in the region mischaracterized the situation by ignoring Pyongyang’s provocations. The only reference to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that must be included in the draft was condemnation of that country’s unlawful nuclear programme, he emphasized. Objecting to criticism of a planned court ruling relating to a plebiscite on Guam, he said the right to self‑determination could not be limited to just one segment of a Non‑Self‑Governing Territory’s population. Recalling the Chair’s 11 October statement to the effect that Venezuela’s commitment to self‑determination was rooted in its own colonial history, he called upon the United Nations to eschew independence as a “one‑size‑fits‑all” solution and expressed opposition to a visit to Guam by the Special Committee on Decolonization. He concluded by reaffirming that decolonization‑related resolutions were non‑binding and did not reflect international law.
The representative of Singapore said his delegation had voted in favour because it supported the right of peoples in Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to self‑determination. However, it was unfortunate that the draft on Guam could not be approved by consensus, he said, expressing hope that consensus could be reached in 2018. Guam was located in a complex region that had witnessed provocations by one State, he noted.
* 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).