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GA/COL/3350
26 August 2021

Speakers Focus on Questions of Western Sahara, Gibraltar, Falklands Islands (Malvinas), as Caribbean Regional Seminar Enters Second Day

SAINT JOHN’S PARISH, Dominica, 26 August — The long-running question of Western Sahara, the sole Territory in Africa remaining on the United Nations decolonization list, took centre stage on day two of the Caribbean Regional Seminar today, with speakers also discussing Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*.

Held under the auspices of the Special Committee on Decolonization, the theme for the 2021 Seminar is “Charting a dynamic course for decolonization in commencing the Fourth International Decade and in the light of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, through commitment to mandate, collaboration, pragmatism and agility”.  (For further information, see Press Releases GA/COL/3348 of 23 August and GA/COL/3349 of 25 August.)

The Special Committee is formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

The representative of the Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro (Frente Polisario) noted that Western Sahara has been on the Special Committee’s agenda since 1963, yet decolonization through the free and genuine expression of the will of its people in the exercise of their inalienable right to self-determination and independence remains pending to date.  That is due to Morocco’s ongoing military occupation and its frustration of all decolonization efforts undertaken by the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity and the African Union, including plans for a referendum, he said.

Ghalla Bahiya, who introduced herself as Vice-President of the Dakhla Oued-Eddahab region, spoke in support of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Territory.  She spelled out in detail that country’s ongoing development efforts, its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its initiative to extend autonomy to the Sahara, which she said has the support of a majority of Member States.  Development is irreversible and will exclusively benefit the local population, she added.

Several members of the Special Committee emphasized that the Western Sahara question must be resolved peacefully and through compromise.  They recommended that the Secretary-General’s next Special Envoy build upon progress already made by convening a third round-table meeting bringing together Morocco, Frente Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania.  The last round-table talks took place in Geneva in 2019.

Algeria’s representative said that decades of inaction have led to a deterioration of the situation on the ground and the collapse of the 1991 ceasefire, while the position of Special Envoy of the Secretary-General has been vacant for more than two years.  Even amid the pandemic, Western Sahara’s people are being subjected to gross violations of their rights and the plundering of their natural resources, he noted.

Morocco’s representative maintained that the Moroccan Sahara has been completely decolonized, definitively returned to Morocco and reintegrated in accordance with international law.  Selective interpretations of history only create mistakes and misunderstandings, he said.  Morocco is committed to the peace process, he added, emphasizing that Rabat’s autonomy initiative for the Sahara is the only way forward.

Joseph John Bossano, Minister for Enterprise, Training, Employment and Health and Safety of Gibraltar, said Spain is the only obstacle to that Territory’s decolonization.  A mutually beneficial economic relationship with that country is possible, but the Territory’s people will never sacrifice control of their land, sea and air space, he emphasized, declaring:  “Gibraltar will be Spanish over my dead body — and as the freedom fighter that I am, I still have a lot of years of fight left in me.”

Spain’s representative said that, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions, the Territory’s future is to be decided through bilateral negotiations between London and Madrid, with the two States bearing in mind the interests of its people.  With the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, Spain is well-disposed to protect the interests of Gibraltar’s inhabitants and is working to ensure they continue to enjoy basic European freedoms, he added.

Argentina’s representative reiterated his country’s stance in its sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands, saying that it is confident that — guided by international law and its commitment to the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes — the Special Committee will continue to call on the two sides to resolve the anachronistic colonial issue in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

Several members of the Special Committee spoke in support of Argentina’s position, with the Russian Federation’s representative expressing regret that the United Kingdom is not participating in the Seminar, given how often it is being mentioned today.

Also today, an official representing the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) briefed the Seminar, in a pre-recorded video presentation, on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Caribbean.

The General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (Declaration on Decolonization) in 1960, subsequently proclaiming the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (1990 to 2000), as well as the Second, Third and now Fourth International Decades (2001-2010, 2011-2020 and 2021-2030).  More than 80 former colonies have gained independence since the creation of the United Nations, but 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remain on the Special Committee’s list today.

Those 17 Territories are American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.  The administering Powers are France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.

The Seminar will reconvene to conclude its work on Friday, 27 August.

Discussion III

The Seminar held a discussion on the theme “Perspectives of the administering Powers, the Non-Self-Governing Territories and other stakeholders:  Political developments in the Non-Self-Governing Territories in other regions”.

JOSEPH JOHN BOSSANO, Minister for Enterprise, Training, Employment and Health and Safety of Gibraltar, said Spain is the only obstacle to the Territory’s decolonization.  Ever since the Special Committee first considered the question of Gibraltar, in October 1964, that country has attempted to turn that body’s invitation to hold talks with the United Kingdom on eliminating the affirmation that the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples applies to the Territory.  He emphasized that Gibraltar clearly is — and has been since 1946 — recognized as a colonial country and the Gibraltarians as its colonial people, and it cannot be any other way.

Recalling that he got involved in politics at the age of 25 to campaign for decolonization and oppose talks with Spain on the Territory’s future, he declared: “I am now 82 and still at it.”  He stated that the position of his Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party is that decolonization is exclusively a matter for negotiation between the non-self-governing colonial people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.  Even when Spain accepts that the Gibraltarians are a people, as it is beginning to do, he added, the sovereignty dispute remains an obstacle.

He went on to recall that he made it clear during many previous seminars that the people of Gibraltar will not relinquish one millimetre of their land nor one grain of sand from their beaches.  They believe that a mutually beneficial economic relationship with Spain is possible, but they will never sacrifice their right to the jurisdiction and control of their land, sea and air space.  He stressed that the city-state of Gibraltar will one day be decolonized, but to be fully owned by its people and not to become a colony of Spain.  He then asked Spain’s representative to tell his Government that “Gibraltar will be Spanish over my dead body — and as the freedom fighter that I am, I still have a lot of years of fight left in me”.

The representative of Spain, emphasizing his respect for Mr. Bossano, reiterated his country’s position regarding the decolonization of Gibraltar, describing it as a bilateral issue with its origins in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, when Spain ceded the Territory to the United Kingdom.  He said it involves the principle of territorial integrity as set out by the General Assembly in several resolutions.  They state that decolonization is to come about through bilateral negotiations between Spain and the United Kingdom, without prejudice to the Assembly’s authority to verify that the process had concluded, and with the two countries bearing in mind the interests of the people of Gibraltar, he noted.

With the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, he continued, Spain is well-disposed to protect the interests of Gibraltar’s inhabitants, who in a referendum voted overwhelmingly in favour of the United Kingdom remaining in the bloc.  Madrid is therefore making efforts to ensure that Gibraltar will continue to enjoy basic European freedoms, including freedom of movement, he said expressing hope that the fence separating Gibraltar from the rest of Spain, erected in 1909, will be dismantled.  Spain continues to await the return of the administering Power to bilateral negotiations known as the Brussels process, he added.

SIDI MOHAMED OMAR, Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguía el-Hamra and Río de Oro (Frente Polisario), said the question of Western Sahara is a clear-cut issue of decolonization in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions.  It has been on the Special Committee’s agenda since 1963, but decolonization through the free and genuine expression of the will of its people in the exercise of the inalienable right to self-determination and independence remains pending to date.  That is due to Morocco’s ongoing military occupation of the Territory since 31 October 1975, he emphasized, citing that country’s frustration of all decolonization efforts undertaken by the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity and the African Union, including plans for a referendum.

He said that for three decades, Frente Polisario has remained fully committed to the United Nations peace process in Western Sahara, making tremendous concession to move the process forward and achieve the mutually agreed objective of a referendum.  However, its political will and flexibility have never been reciprocated by the other party.  Moreover, the absence of a strong, unequivocal and firm position by the United Nations and the international community vis-à-vis Morocco’s stance has only emboldened that occupying State to persist with its colonial practices with complete impunity as it tries to impose a fait accompli, he said, stressing that those colonial practices, imposed by force, have no legitimacy nor any effect on the Territory’s status.

Morocco is using COVID-19 restrictions to intensify its repressive practices, he continued, citing the case of a human rights activist, Sultana Sid Brahim Jaya, whose home and family in Bojador have been under a “tight siege” since November 2020.  He warned that the entry of Morocco’s armed forces into the buffer strip in Guerguerat on 13 November 2020, leading to the collapse of a ceasefire after nearly 30 years, triggered a new conflict that could have serious consequences for regional peace, security and stability.  Faced with that act of aggression, the people of Western Sahara are left with no option but to exercise their legitimate right of self-defence, he declared.  Going forward, he said, the question facing the Special Committee is whether the logic of force should prevail in Western Sahara or whether the United Nations should defend the fundamental principles which underpin the international order, enshrine the right of peoples to self-determination and independence, and prohibit the acquisition of territory by force.

GHALLA BAHIYA, introducing herself as the Vice-President of the region of Dakhla Oued-Eddahab, said that her country, Morocco, is preparing to hold a series of elections later this year that will strengthen democracy in the Moroccan Sahara.  Without a doubt, the turnout will be overwhelming, reflecting the desire of the local population to contribute to Morocco’s development, she said, adding that her participation in the Seminar testifies to the active participation of women and young people in Morocco’s public life.

Speaking at length about the economic and social situation in the Moroccan Sahara, she said that under the leadership of King Mohammad VI, the country deployed a proactive approach to the coronavirus pandemic that has seen it become the most vaccinated nation in Africa.  She provided detailed statistics on novel coronavirus testing, vaccinations and hospitalizations.

Noting that Morocco’s new development model emphasizes the principle of local participation, allowing for broad consultation with regional representatives, she said the country’s southern provinces are poised to become a regional economic hub and transit point between Morocco and the rest of Africa.  Twenty-three of the countries on the continent, the Arab world and the Caribbean, as well as the United States, have established consulates in the Moroccan Sahara and others intend to do so, she said, welcoming and encouraging the decision by the United States to scale up investment in the region.

She went on to state that development in the Moroccan Sahara is paving the way for implementation of the autonomy initiative which the Government has submitted to the United Nations and which a large majority of Member States support.  Development is irreversible and will exclusively benefit the local population, she added.

Drawing attention to the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Tindouf camps, she described it as disastrous, with the host country refusing to allow the registration of refugees.  The international community must end that situation and allow refugees to return, she stressed.

The representative of Chile said the situation in Western Sahara should be resolved peacefully through diplomatic mechanisms established by the United Nations and in accordance with international law.  Morocco’s efforts should not be ignored, he added.

The representative of Congo appealed to all stakeholders to relaunch the Western Sahara political process in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.  He commended Morocco’s autonomy initiative and encouraged efforts of all kinds to achieve a pragmatic and lasting solution.

The representative of Côte d’Ivoire called on the next Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to build upon the progress of the first two round-table talks on Western Sahara in 2018 by convening a third round in a similar format.  Consolidating the political process can lead to a lasting solution based on compromise and relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, thus contributing to security and stability in the Sahel, the Arab Maghreb and the wider region, he said.

The representative of Dominica expressed her country’s full and unwavering support for the political process aimed at reaching a realistic, practicable and enduring solution to the regional dispute between Morocco and Algeria over Western Sahara, based on compromise.  She also reaffirmed its support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative as a truly viable compromise solution that aligns with international law and relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

The representative of Grenada voiced his country’s support for the ongoing political process, saying he looks looked forward to the appointment of the Secretary-General’s next Special Envoy, who should build on the progress already achieved.  He added that the Moroccan autonomy initiative is a viable proposal which the Security Council recognizes as serious and credible.

The representative of Indonesia said all parties must exercise restraint and avoid actions that might jeopardize the situation.  He stressed the delicacy and complexity of the issue and expressed hope for progress based on a spirit of cooperation.

The representative of Saint Lucia welcomed the momentum created by the two round-table discussions held in Geneva and the commitment of the participants to remain engaged in the political process.  She described the Moroccan autonomy initiative as the only serious and realistic solution to end the dispute and bring prosperity to the region.  She applauded Morocco’s efforts to develop the Sahara, lift the standard of living of its inhabitants and promote human rights.  She also expressed concern about the situation in the Tindouf camps.

The representative of Sierra Leone quoted Security Council resolution 2548 (2020) as saying that enhanced cooperation between member States of the Arab Maghreb Union would go a long way towards helping to achieve a settlement to the long-running dispute.  He emphasized that all parties must respect the ceasefire in Western Sahara, as the stability and security of the whole region is at stake.

The representative of Syria said her country is a peace-loving nation which favours settling disputes through diplomacy and dialogue.  Syria hopes that the parties will engage in fruitful negotiations for a just and lasting solution, she added, noting that her country supports the Secretary-General’s efforts to reach a mutually acceptable political solution that can restore stability and prosperity to the region.

The representative of Venezuela deplored the fact that the people of Western Sahara still cannot exercise their right to self-determination, and that more than 30 years after the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was established, its mandate still has not been carried out.  Venezuela rejects any attempt by any State to consider the matter as anything other than a question of decolonization, he emphasized, calling for the 1991 ceasefire to be upheld, relevant Security Council resolutions to be implemented and a peace process under United Nations auspices to be re-established.  He urged the Special Committee to make use of every tool at its disposal, including a visiting mission to the Territory.

The representative of Algeria said it is worrying that after three decades, only one Territory — Timor-Leste, in 2002 — has been delisted.  That disheartening observation should not, however, deflect the Special Committee from ensuring the decolonization of all Non-Self-Governing Territories.  There is a plan of action, he said, adding that all that is needed is courage and integrity.  There is no room for filibustering when it comes to peoples’ right to self-determination, he emphasized, noting that Western Sahara has been on the Special Committee’s agenda for many years, with little progress towards a referendum.  Decades of inaction has led to a deterioration of the situation on the ground, the collapse of the ceasefire and the position of Special Envoy remaining vacant for more than two years, he pointed out.  Even in the midst of the pandemic, the people of Western Sahara are being subjected to gross violations of their rights and the plundering of their natural resources, he said, adding that since the start of the political process, the critical components of good faith and political will have been missing.

Agility is something the people of Western Sahara practise every day as they overcome adversity, distorted truths and attempts to scorn their identity and their right to independence, he said.  The Special Committee has a duty to ensure that their faith in international law and the United Nations process is not lost.  It should use all tools at its disposal, including visiting missions, to ensure the rights of Western Sahara’s people, particularly in the context of the pandemic, and support the successful completion of the decolonization process, he urged.  Algeria continues to support the efforts of the Secretary-General and the African Union to resume negotiations and achieve a positive outcome that ensures Western Sahara’s people can exercise their right to self-determination, he said.

In response to Dominica’s representative, he pointed out that Algeria is not a party to the conflict, but rather an official observer of the peace process.

The representative of Morocco said he did not expect to take the floor, preferring to allow Ms. Bahiya to speak as an elected representative from the Moroccan Sahara and present a clear picture of what daily life is like there.  He stated that the Moroccan Sahara has been completely decolonized, definitively returned to Morocco and reintegrated in accordance with international law.  Selective interpretations of the Sahara’s history only create mistakes and misunderstandings, he cautioned.  He went on to note that more than 20,000 people have escaped the Tindouf camps and returned to their homes, adding that Algeria has prohibited a refugee census for 45 years because it does not want to the world to know the extent of the problems there.

For Morocco, the problem has been resolved, he continued.  A political process has been launched and Algeria is a stakeholder — not a mere observer — in that process.  Algeria created, finances and arms Frente Polisario and provides it with asylum and territory at the expense of its own population, he said, emphasizing that Algeria cannot be said to be neutral like Mauritania, which does not welcome Frente Polisario, issue passports to its members or pay for their lodging.  He said that when Algeria talks about defending the principle of self-determination, it forgets the Kabyle people within its own territory who desire that right.  It is also shameful that Algeria participates in all conventions on the rights of children yet allows groups within its territory to train children to wage war.  He went on to assure those who expressed support for the peace process today that Morocco is fully committed to the peace process.  The autonomy initiative was discussed at the Geneva round-table talks and it is the only way forward, he stressed.

The representative of Algeria, taking the floor a second time, said that Morocco’s representative has a talent for distorting the truth.  If Western Sahara is now decolonized, why is it still on the agendas of the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and the Special Committee, he asked.  Describing Frente Polisario as the legitimate representative of a people fighting for their freedom, he said that, as a neighbouring State and an observer, Algeria always encourages Morocco and Frente Polisario to make peace and support the Secretary-General’s search for a lasting solution.  He went on to point out that Morocco unilaterally stopped the United Nations dynamic by opposing all nominees for the position of Special Envoy.

Mr. OMAR, Frente Polisario, took the floor a second time, expressing appreciation for the statements of support for the United Nations peace process, while wondering whether their textual similarities were a coincidence or something else.  He said Morocco’s representative made preposterous and unfounded claims aimed at tarnishing the liberation movement he represents.  Noting that three General Assembly resolutions have identified Morocco as an occupying State, he said in response to those who called for restraint, that there has been no ceasefire since 30 November 2020, a fact acknowledged in reports of the Secretary-General and MINURSO’s Force Commander.  Hostilities have resumed as a result of Morocco’s breach of the ceasefire, he said, adding that Frente Polisario will not engage in the peace process so long as Morocco attempts to impose a fait accompli in Western Sahara.

The representative of Morocco, taking the floor a second time, said his delegation is used to Algeria resorting to vindictive language.  Regarding Algeria’s so-called neutrality, he asked whether there is a single Non-Self-Governing Territory that borders on a State that diverts humanitarian aid, sequesters refugees and uses a so-called liberation front to wage war.  Nobody has a neighbour like Algeria, which has been openly funding an armed group for 45 years, yet claims to be neutral, he said.  He added that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others have issued reports pointing a finger at Algeria regarding conditions in the Tindouf camps.

The representative of Algeria, speaking on a point of order, said today’s meeting was not devoted to the situation in his country, and asked the Chair if speakers could focus on the agenda item at hand.

The representative of Morocco said that if Algeria did not want him to talk about refugee camps and the training of child soldiers, it should not host those camps or allow people to train youngsters to use Kalashnikovs.  Algeria is directly responsible for the tragedy that is happening in the region, he affirmed.

The representative of Algeria said Morocco’s delegation is continuing its habit of blind hatred towards his country.  Rather than approaching decolonization with sincerity, it is using its phobia of Algeria to avoid the problem while also taking the Special Committee hostage, he added, emphasizing that Morocco has no right to teach others, especially given its lack of respect for international commitments.

The representative of Morocco said that, unlike his country, Algeria has issued no invitations for United Nations human rights experts to visit.  He also asked why the right of self-determination is denied to the Kabyle people, who existed before Algeria became a State.

The representative of Argentina reiterated his country’s position regarding its sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom over the question of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime area.  That special and particular situation, which dates back to 1833, led the General Assembly to adopt resolution 2065 (XX) in 1965 stating that the way forward for the Territory’s decolonization is through bilateral negotiations between Buenos Aires and London, he recalled.  Those sovereignty negotiations were interrupted 15 years later, and while Argentina remains willing to resume talks, the United Kingdom says there will be no negotiations without the consent of the Territory’s inhabitants.  In doing so, it disregards resolution 2065 (XX) by invoking the islanders’ supposed right to self-determination, he said.  That has no basis in international law and is merely a pretext for the United Kingdom to maintain a colonial presence in the South Atlantic, he emphasized.

Reiterating that the right to self-determination does not apply to the Malvinas, he said the Territory’s population is the result of colonization dating back to 1833, when the United Kingdom occupied it by force and expelled the Argentinian authorities.  Argentina has consistently shown its respect for the interests of the Territory’s inhabitants and is always ready to negotiate with the United Kingdom special safeguards to ensure that their interests are properly protected, he said, pointing out that respect for their way of life is enshrined in Argentina’s Constitution.  During the coronavirus pandemic, Argentina expressed to the United Kingdom its readiness to help the islanders with food, medical supplies, diagnostic tests, humanitarian flights and access to medical treatment, but that offer was never answered, he noted.

In addition to ignoring international calls to resume negotiations, he continued, the United Kingdom persists in carrying out activities contrary to Assembly resolution 31/49, which urges parties to refrain from taking unilateral actions in a disputed area until a definitive solution is found.  Those actions include the illegal exploration and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources, a practice repeatedly denounced by Argentina.  He went on to reaffirm his country’s desire to find a peaceful and definitive solution to the dispute and its support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to help resume negotiations through his good offices.  Argentina is confident, he added, that guided by international law and its commitment to the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes, the Special Committee will continue to call on the two sides to resolve the anachronistic colonial issue in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

The representative of Chile said that, since the Malvinas question involves a specific sovereignty dispute between two Member States, the Special Committee has no power to conduct a visiting mission to the Territory.

The representative of Syria reaffirmed Argentina’s right to the Malvinas Islands, based on the principle of territorial integrity.  She called upon the United Kingdom to engage in serious dialogue with Argentina to resolve the issue through peaceful means, with the Secretary-General providing his good offices.

The representative of Venezuela called for negotiations and for the Secretary-General to help the parties establish a lasting solution.  In the interim, the parties must abstain from actions that could unilaterally change the situation, he said.

The representative of Indonesia encouraged the United Kingdom and Argentina to resume their dialogue to find a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the question.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting how often the United Kingdom is mentioned in the Special Committee’s discussions, said it is regrettable that its representative is not participating in the Seminar.  The parties should behave responsibly, he said, adding that Argentina is taking a constructive approach.  He went on to express concern about the militarization of the South Atlantic and emphasized the obligations set out in the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).

The representative of Brazil reiterated his country’s firm support for Argentina’s legitimate rights vis-à-vis the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime area.  Calling upon the parties to engage in negotiations, he urged the United Kingdom to cease the exploration and exploitation of natural resources and abstain from military exercises in the area.

Discussion IV

The Seminar then held a discussion on the theme “Role of the United Nations system in providing development assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions”.

DALE ALEXANDER, Chief Caribbean Knowledge Management Centre, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean, said in a pre-recorded video presentation that the past two years have seen Caribbean Non-Self-Governing Territories in facing several extraordinary challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of climate change and natural disasters, and — for the British Territories — the effects of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

Reviewing the pandemic’s impact on health, education and economic activity in the Caribbean, he said the reduced contribution of tourism’s to gross domestic product (GDP) ranged from 3.5 per cent for Bermuda to more than 20 per cent for the British Virgin Islands.  Moreover, the pandemic further increased the vulnerability of the Territories still recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.  The Caribbean is the second-most disaster-prone region in the world and the 2020 hurricane season was the most active on record, he noted.

The impacts of climate change are being felt in many ways, he continued, drawing attention to a first-ever study into rising sea levels in British Overseas Territories.  Rising sea temperatures are posing a major threat to marine habitats, especially when heat waves hit coral reefs, he said.  Going forward, ECLAC is helping to increase the resilience of Caribbean countries and Territories, including through seminars and workshops on such topics as disaster risk management and evidence-based policymaking, attended by representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Discussing Brexit’s impact on the British Territories in the Caribbean, he said that because they were excluded from the United Kingdom-European Union trade and cooperation agreement, they no longer have quota- and tariff-free access to European markets.  Financial services, meanwhile, are subject to the rules of each European Union member State, rather than the bloc’s common financial regulations, he explained, noting that they also no longer have access to European development funding.  In response, ECLAC is supporting efforts by the affected Territories to advance their development plans, he said, pointing out that the Caribbean Non-Self-Governing Territories are all associate members of the ECLAC.

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* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.