Fourth Committee Speakers Press Case for Tangible Results to Draw Down List of Non-Self-Governing Territories

The decolonization agenda of the United Nations remains an urgent priority today, amidst new challenges affecting Non-Self-Governing Territories, speakers told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard as it continued its general debate on decolonization.
Representatives of several erstwhile colonies which gained independence and became Member States of the United Nations shared their experiences as they reaffirmed the importance of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 1960.
India’s delegate recalled that his country was the first Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization, established to monitor the Declaration’s implementation. It is concerning that while more than 80 former colonies have gained independence since the United Nations was founded in 1945, another 17 places remain on the Organization’s list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, he said.
Cameroon’s representative called for tangible results for the remaining Territories, noting that his nation achieved its liberation through a process that unfolded under the auspices of the United Nations.
Bangladesh’s delegate, in the same vein, recalled his country’s experience of being under foreign occupation and pointed out that its Constitution enshrines support for oppressed peoples worldwide in their struggle against imperialism, colonialism or racism.
Saint Lucia’s representative likewise said that the United Nations played a key role in the decolonization of his country, which attained its independence 43 years ago. He drew particular attention to the impact of climate change on many Non-Self-Governing Territories which are small islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Poland’s representative, noting his country’s participation in many peacekeeping activities, welcomed United Nations peacekeeping mandates which refer to climate change. He noted that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) features the first United Nations Environmental Security Advisor and encouraged similar appointments in other missions and operations.
France’s delegate also addressed the Committee today, noting that New Caledonia, of which his country is the administering Power, has started an important phase in the Nouméa Accord process. Drawing attention to the outcome of the third referendum on the question of full sovereignty and independence for that Territory, he encouraged all delegations to support the draft resolution on the question of New Caledonia and to adopt it by consensus.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Bahrain, Viet Nam, Honduras, United Arab Emirates, Paraguay, Chile, Togo, Russian Federation, Comoros, Guyana, Gambia, Mozambique, Kuwait, Colombia, Angola, Benin, Indonesia, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Qatar and Yemen.
Representatives of Iran, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 14 October, to conclude its debate on decolonization.
Decolonization
ABDULLA ALI ABDULRAHMAN MOHAMED AHMED (Bahrain), highlighting the Organization’s tireless efforts towards decolonization, said that the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East depends on the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian State with its capital in East Jerusalem based on the two-State solution. He expressed solidarity with Morocco’s efforts to protect its territorial integrity and welcomed its initiative on self-rule. Reaffirming solidarity with the United Arab Emirates and its right to restore its sovereignty over the three Emirati islands occupied by Iran, he called on that country to resolve this matter through direct negotiations.
TRA PHUONG NGUYEN (Viet Nam) said that constructive political dialogue is the right path toward decolonization and urged the administering Powers to strengthen their cooperation with the United Nations to expedite that process. The Organization should continue to ensure that the administering Powers’ activities do not negatively affect the legitimate interests of the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Instead, efforts should be carried out in a constructive manner that supports the wishes of the people of the Territories and assists them in addressing new and emerging challenges as well as promoting cultural, economic and social development.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras) reaffirmed support for the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the work of the Special Committee on Decolonization. Noting that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) has reiterated its commitment to making Latin America and the Caribbean a region free from colonialism, she recalled the group’s firm support for the legitimate rights of Argentina over the Malvinas*, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime areas. Cooperation between the two parties in that dispute is essential to restore Argentina’s sovereignty over that Territory, she said, adding that Honduras will stand in solidarity with other countries to achieve the well-being of all people, she said.
Ms. ALMEHAIRBI (United Arab Emirates) highlighted the importance of settling disputes peacefully. Expressing support for the full sovereignty of Morocco over the Moroccan Sahara, she said that that country’s self-government initiative is a serious and credible solution that is in accordance with the Charter. Morocco has made many efforts to raise living standards in the Territory, she said, noting that her country has opened a consulate in the Moroccan Sahara. Calling for the end of the occupation by Iran of the three Emirati islands in the Gulf, she said that both history and international law reaffirm her country’s sovereignty over those islands. The United Arb Emirates will never give up its sovereignty on those islands whether through direct negotiations or through the International Court of Justice, she said.
CECILIA MARTÍNEZ (Paraguay), associating herself with CELAC and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), stressed the need to do more to protect the rights of indigenous communities, adding that political will must transcend whoever is in power. She voiced support for Argentina’s legitimate right of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime areas and called on that country and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations as soon as possible towards a peaceful solution to the dispute. She also supported efforts by the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for Western Sahara to help the parties in that dispute reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable resolution.
The representative of Chile, associating herself with CELAC and MERCOSUR, said that although the decolonization process has yet to be completed overall, there has been progress. She encouraged the international community to undertake efforts within the United Nations framework and international law to eliminate colonialism. She voiced support for the “legitimate rights” of the sovereignty of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, as well as their surrounding waters, stressing the need for the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations in order to arrive as soon as possible at a peaceful and definitive resolution to the sovereignty dispute.
KOFFI AKAKPO (Togo), reaffirming respect for the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, expressed support for any political processes implemented in still-colonized Territories. On Western Sahara, he welcomed the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and called for a continuation of the roundtable processes. All parties must remain active throughout the process to reach a pragmatic political solution, he said, stressing that the different parties involved must respect the ceasefire. He went on to note the socio-economic development being made in Moroccan Sahara and welcomed the inauguration of consulates by various countries in that Territory.
Mr. ILICHEV (Russian Federation), emphasizing that the United Nations must not rest on what has been accomplished so far on the decolonization agenda, pointed out that this matter is not just about political independence. Outside forces control Institutions and do not allow the local population to fully engage in peaceful coexistence, he said. Calling for a long-term mutually acceptable solution to the problem of Western Sahara, he expressed support for the efforts of the Special Envoy to promote direct talks between the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO) and Morocco. Also stressing the importance of a solution for the Palestinian issue, he expressed support for a two-State solution. Calling for urgent resumption of direct negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Malvinas, he voiced concern about London’s unwillingness to start such a dialogue and the fact that the United Kingdom is undertaking economic activity in the islands.
ISSIMAIL CHANFI (Comoros) voiced full support for Morocco’s autonomy initiate in Moroccan Sahara, calling for stakeholders’ constructive engagement based on Council resolutions adopted since 2007. Visits of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy in January, June and September provided strong impetus to the process of restarting roundtable discussions. The international community should mobilize support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative, which has the support of more than 90 countries. He welcomed the King of Morocco’s efforts to guarantee the socio-economic development of Moroccan Sahara, adding that Comoros has established a consulate general there alongside offices set up by several regional organizations.
TRISHALA SIMANTINI PERSAUD (Guyana), associating herself with CELAC, called on the administering Powers of Non-Self-Governing Territories to fully cooperate with the United Nations for the speedy decolonization of all peoples. She also welcomed the decision to dispatch visiting and special missions to those Territories. She voiced support for Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the question of Western Sahara and urged all parties to respect and uphold their provisions. She went on to urge the international community to cease the perilous plight inflicted upon the people of Palestine.
LAMIN B. DIBBA (Gambia), reaffirming support for the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, said that the right to self-determination is an inalienable right of all peoples. Discussing the Moroccan Sahara, he encouraged all parties to remain committed to the roundtable process. The participation of elected representatives of the regions of the Sahara in meetings of the Special Committee on Decolonization is a welcome sign, he said, expressing firm support for Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity over the Sahara region and praising that country’s constructive spirit and sustained engagement. He also expressed strong support for the Moroccan autonomy initiative, saying that it could contribute to security and stability in the Sahel region.
ANTÓNIO MAPUA BAMBISSA (Mozambique), noting that it is unfortunate that there are still many Non-Self-Governing Territories waiting to be decolonized, reaffirmed his country’s long-standing support for an acceptable solution that will allow the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination. He called for the unconditional implementation of United Nations resolutions and African Union decisions aimed at bringing forth a durable solution that meets the aspirations of the people of Western Sahara. While acknowledging the importance of the appointment of a Special Envoy, he drew attention to the delay in implementing approved legal instruments and the negative impact this is having on the Sahrawis. He also noted the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of Palestine and expressed support for international efforts to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) said each State should enjoy the rights of sovereignty and territorial integrity under the same conditions, and that the United Nations should not be a place where the privileges of certain States are used to deprive others of their rights. Poland remains engaged in many peacekeeping activities and has been present in United Nations peacekeeping missions since 1953, he said, underscoring the missions’ role in integrating climate and security considerations. He welcomed progress made in addressing climate change in specific mandates, notably by United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) where the first United Nations Environmental Security Advisor has been appointed, and encouraged similar appointments in other missions and operations.
ABDULAZIZ A. M. A. ALAJMI (Kuwait) said that although Palestine is not a Non-Self-Governing Territory under the Committee’s consideration, his delegation reiterates the need to end Israel’s occupation and to grant full political rights to the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination. He also urged the Special Committee on Decolonization to explore different ways and means to grant independence to the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Administering Powers must cooperate with the Special Committee and provide accurate information on conditions in those Territories. He voiced support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative for the Sahara, describing it as a constructive option that will enable parties to reach an acceptable solution with full respect for Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh) said that it is concerning that 61 years after the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, that document’s aspirations remain unfulfilled. Recalling his country’s experience under foreign occupation, he said that its Constitution enshrines support for oppressed peoples throughout the world in their struggle against imperialism, colonialism or racism. He urged the administering Powers to fully cooperate with the Special Committee on Decolonization, including by facilitating its field missions in Territories under their administration. He went on to express support for the just cause of the Palestinian people for an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
CARLTON RONNIE HENRY (Saint Lucia), associating himself with CELAC, recalled the key role that the United Nations played in his country’s decolonization process. Noting that many Non-Self-Governing Territories are small islands in the Caribbean and in the Pacific vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, he expressed concern about an impending order that would suspend the elected Government of the British Virgin Islands and impose direct rule on that Territory. Calling on the international community to support a genuine decolonization process for the British Virgin Islands, he stressed the importance of implementing a case-by-case work programme for small Territories.
SONIA MARINA PEREIRA PORTILLA (Colombia) associating herself with CELAC and MERCOSUR, expressed support for Argentina in its sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime areas. She called for negotiations to reach a peaceful and definitive solution to that dispute, underscoring the importance of complying with the General Assembly resolution that calls on the parties to abstain from adopting decisions that would unilaterally modify the situation while the process recommended by the Assembly is ongoing.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) welcomed the participation of the Government of New Caledonia and others in the work of the Committee, noting that New Caledonia has started an important phase in the process called for in the Nouméa Accord. He drew attention to the outcome of the third referendum on the question of full sovereignty and independence for the Territory, conducted on 12 December 2021. He also encouraged all delegations to support the draft resolution on the question of New Caledonia as it is presented to the Committee and to adopt it by consensus.
MARIA DE JESUS DOS REIS FERREIRA (Angola), reaffirming respect for the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, highlighted the role of visiting missions to Territories. She voiced support for all initiatives to establish peace in the Middle East and reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Noting that Western Sahara is the last Non-Self-Governing Territory in Africa, she welcomed the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to advance the political process. Noting that the mandate of MINURSO will be reviewed soon, she added that the Mission is mandated to facilitate a referendum to ensure that the Sahrawi people exercise their right to self-determination.
MAURILLE FIRMIN BIAOU (Benin), reaffirming support for all diplomatic initiatives to find a peaceful and sustainable solution to the question of Western Sahara, said it is essential to build on the accomplishments of the political process that has unfolded under the Secretary-General’s relevant Security Council resolutions, he welcomed the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy. Stressing the importance of resuming the roundtable negotiations in the same format with the effective participation of all parties to the dispute, he said that everyone’s co-operation is needed to reach a happy resolution.
ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia) said that his country, as Vice-Chair of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, is fully committed to the United Nations decolonization agenda. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Special Committee was able to engage with the Non-Self-Governing Territories, administering Powers and relevant stakeholders. Recommendations were put forward by the Special Committee to advance decolonization discussions. Urging momentum in the decolonization process, he said that to advance the decolonization agenda, delisting the remaining Territories should be the only focus of the Special Committee. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, he pointed out, underscoring that the Committee must ensure a careful balance and fair assessment of the situation of each Territory. Continuous dialogue and consultation between all stakeholders is essential, as that is the only way to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution, he said.
The assistance and support of the United Nations system, including the Secretary-General’s good offices, can help ensure that the Special Committee can effectively discharge its mandate, such as on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), he continued. On that matter, the Special Committee continues to encourage both parties to resume dialogue and cooperation, while considering the interests of the islands’ population. On the question of Western Sahara, he said good cooperation with the Security-General’s Personal Envoy could build a positive step towards moving the political process forward. On the issue of New Caledonia, he said the Special Committee continues to encourage all parties to maintain conditions conducive for the next step post the referendum process. To further advance the decolonization agenda, communication and constructive engagement must be continuous and intensified, he said, encouraging more in-person meetings and visits among stakeholders as the pandemic nears its end. Also needed is strengthened international support and cooperation to help the Territories face global challenges, including the food and energy crises. He went on to say that Indonesia, as president of the Group of Twenty (G20), has emphasized inclusiveness and intensified engagement with developing countries to better understand their needs.
HELENA NDAPEWA KUZEE (Namibia) said that during its current session, the Committee must endeavor to yield outcomes that transform lives and changes living conditions in the Non-Self-Governing Territories. On the question of Western Sahara, she voiced regret that the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General has received an indication that he cannot have full access to stakeholders in Morocco and that he was forced to call off his visit earlier this year. Urging support for the people of Western Sahara to be granted their right to self-determination, she called for a United Nations-led visiting mission to provide more context on the situation on the ground. On the question of Palestine, she called for adequate supplementary support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA).
GULED ABDO MOHAMMED (Ethiopia), noting that the world is grappling with multiple and complex challenges, drew attention to their impact on the social and economic conditions in Non-Self-Governing Territories. The international community, including the United Nations development system, must help improve the conditions of the people in these Territories, he said, adding that the administering Powers have the responsibility to promote the socioeconomic advancement of Territories. Voicing support for the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination, he called on parties to resume direct negotiations and pursue an African solution to this matter.
KINGSTONE ZIYERA (Zimbabwe), noting that it is disheartening that the decolonization agenda remains unfulfilled, highlighted the role of the United Nations Charter and its principles in defending the interest of weaker and smaller countries. Urging all Member States to use the same yardstick at all times, he called on Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO to implement the commitments made under the 1988 Settlement Plan that was approved by the Security Council. Noting that his country is a former colony, he expressed concern that the people of Western Sahara have not been afforded the opportunity to decide their future. The judgment of the European Court of Justice indicates that Western Sahara has a clearly defined territory which should remain indivisible, he said, also drawing attention to the September 22 judgement of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, concluding that Morocco’s occupation is a violation of the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.
SHEIKH JASSIM ABDULAZIZ J. A. AL-THANI (Qatar) called on all countries, Member States and parties to arrive at a just resolution for all matters brought to the Committee pursuant to international law, taking into consideration the specificities of each situation. On the Moroccan Sahara, he voiced support for the Secretary-General’s efforts seeking to facilitate a political, sustainable and consensual resolution within the framework of Council and Assembly resolutions to guarantee Morocco’s sovereignty. Morocco’s autonomy initiative is a constructive one and represents an objective basis for a realistic solution to the conflict, he said.
ABDULRAHMAN HASAN YAHYA AL-BARATI (Yemen) voiced support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination and to build an independent sovereign State. He rejected all measures of Israeli occupation seeking to change the Syrian Golan area, stressing that Syria must work to recover the borders of 1967 pursuant to relevant resolutions. He voiced support for Morocco’s territorial integrity and its efforts to peacefully resolve the Sahara question. He noted the United Arab Emirates’ sovereignty over three islands in the Gulf, adding that his delegation supports any peaceful action to recover those islands.
MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), stressing that decolonization remains as important as ever, welcomed the report of the Special Committee and the efforts of the Secretary-General. His country was liberated through a process that unfolded under the auspices of the United Nations, he noted, calling for tangible results on decolonization. Reaffirming his country’s support for the political process in Western Sahara, and the actions being carried out under the auspices of the Secretary-General, he expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Personal Envoy who has spared no efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution for all stakeholders.
KELVER DWIGHT DARROUX (Dominica) said his country remains committed to playing its part in the work of the Special Committee, taking into account the challenges faced by the Territories. He supported the United Nations’ involvement in the political process to achieve a real, pragmatic, sustainable and compromise-based solution to the Moroccan Sahara issue based exclusively on Council resolutions since 2007. The autonomy plan proposed by Morocco is the most and credible basis for resolving the Sahara conflict and bringing long-term peace to the region. He welcomed Morocco’s commitment to respecting the ceasefire and military agreements and commended the Government for its efforts in developing the Sahara, resulting in the improved quality of living and broader opportunities for the inhabitants of the southern provinces.
NITISH BIRDI (India) said that his country has been at the forefront of the struggle against colonialism since its independence in 1947. It was also the first Member State to chair the Special Committee on Decolonization. More than 80 former colonies have gained their independence and joined the family of the United Nations, but in this Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, there remains 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories in various stages of the decolonization process, he said. Further, the principle of self-determination continues to be deliberately misinterpreted and misused by a particular delegation, he added. The United Nations established that principle as a vehicle for decolonizing Non-Self-Governing Territories, not as a justification for undermining the territorial integrity of any Member State, he said.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that he rejected the false and baseless statements made against his country by the representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Iran was a pioneer in combating colonialism and extremism, he said, adding that the three islands mentioned by those delegates remain part of Iran’s territory. He added that Persian Gulf is the only correct term for the body of water between the Arabian Peninsula and the Iranian plateau.
The representative of the United Kingdom said his country has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime areas, nor about the principle and the right to self-determination of Falkland Islanders. On the British Virgin Islands, he said that his country has worked with its Government of National Unity to turn its commitment to reform into a strong implementation plan with a strict sense of milestones.
The representative of Pakistan said the Council has explicitly and by implication rejected India’s claim that Kashmir is legally Indian territory. Through a resolution, it established self-determination as the governing principle for settling the Kashmir dispute. He called on the international community, particularly the United Nations and its human rights machinery, to hold India accountable for its failure to ensure the security and well-being of Muslim citizens in Kashmir.
The representative of Argentina said that the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime areas are an integral part of his country’s national territory, illegally occupied by the United Kingdom. That country has an obligation to peacefully resolve all disputes, he said, adding that the concept of free determination which the United Kingdom uses in its arguments is inapplicable in the case of this dispute.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates said the three islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs are part and parcel of her country’s territory and that it rejects their occupation by Iran. She reiterated her country’s calls for a peaceful solution, noting however that Iran has rejected an invitation to work towards that objective.
The representative of Saudi Arabia voiced support for all peaceful measures taken by the United Arab Emirates to regain sovereignty over the occupied islands. Iran’s continued occupation of those islands is a flagrant violation of international law and the United Nations Charter, he said.
The representative of Iran said no dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Iran has been recognized and that the three Persian Gulf islands in question are an inseparable part of Iran. While his country welcomes negotiations, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iran over the islands are not negotiable, he said.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates, reiterating that the three islands in question are Emirati islands which lie in the Arab Gulf, called on Iran to settle the dispute in accordance with international law and to accept his country’s extended hand of friendship.

Source: United Nations

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