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Caribbean Regional Seminar Considers Trends, Developments in Decolonization Process on Second Day

Caribbean Regional Seminar Considers Trends, Developments

in Decolonization Process on Second Day


(Reissued as received.)

QUITO, 29 May ‑ On its second day, the Caribbean Regional Seminar on the Implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism discussed developments and trends in the decolonization process of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

The three-day event is part of the work of the General Assembly’s Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, also known as the Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization.

STEPHANIE GRAFF, New Caledonia, speaking via Skype on behalf of Roch Wamytan, highlighted at the outset of the meeting the importance of a more significant and direct intervention from the United Nations regarding oversight of the Nouméa Accord.  She noted that preparations for the referendum on self-determination to be held between 2014 and 2018 are currently under way through the completion and review of the electoral rolls constituting the special electorates and pointed out the problems encountered recently in the electoral review process, stemming from issues with the interpretation of the relevant texts, procedural flaws, and lack of training.

She noted “that significant and permanent local monitoring by experts appointed by the United Nations, on all preparations for the exercising of the right to self-determination in New Caledonia, would be crucial to the arbitration role, which belongs to the United Nations and not the colonial State, in order to ensure respect for the right to self-determination and independence of the colonized people and the people to whom it opened access to such rights”.

She pointed out the importance of having guarantees that the case of New Caledonia will be still under United Nations supervision and that New Caledonia will not be removed from the list.  “Because we believe that this is an option being seriously considered and worked on by France in the event of failure of the referendum,” she added.

SERGEI CHERNIAVSKY, expert, said that the General Assembly’s resolutions clearly emphasize as a general principle that a process of self-determination should be based on the exercise of an informed, free and voluntary choice by the peoples concerned.  He added some recommendations:  “As the experience with East Timor has clearly demonstrated, it is important for the Special Committee to take an early and proactive initiative in delisting a territory.”

RICHARD ARIIHAU TUHEIAVA, Senator for French Polynesia, addressing the seminar in his personal capacity, pointed out the importance of determining appropriate eligibility criteria in an act of self-determination in light of the New Caledonia case and relevant international instruments, as well as his concern over the uncertainty of the legal status of the indigenous people of French Polynesia by virtue of the French Constitution.  He finally underlined the “importance of an authenticpolitical education programme on the legitimate options of political equality with direct support of the United Nations in all stages of the process”.

MICHAEL LUJAN BEVACQUA, expert from Guam, said the results of an ethnographic study showed that the resistance to decolonization was animated by a set of strange and bewildering fantasies.

He indicated that Chamorros have a very limited understanding of decolonization.  “In truth, decolonization means a change in political status to something that is equitable or fair based on the desires of the native people.  It can manifest in many forms, it is not only independence,” he emphasized at the end of his speech.  He recalled the importance of the United Nations role in resolving the colonial deadlock and asked the United Nations to become involved and publicize its role in the decolonization process.

MICHAEL VICTOR SUMMERS, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, stated that the Special Committee lacked “the will to remove countries from the list” because “the interests of Member States have been put above the interests and wishes of the Non-Self-Governing Territories”.  The Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization lacks the mechanism to delist the territories “because it has not truly adopted the “fourth way”, he added.

He stated that the “Falkland Island Government, not the United Kingdom Government, decided last year to hold a referendum to publicly, and in an open and transparent manner, demonstrate to the international community the views of the islanders.”  “Such a demonstration of the will of the inhabitants of the territory”, he stated, “should be sufficient to persuade members of the [Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization] that the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) are not a colony, and are free to choose,” he explained.  “We are not a colony, and have not been a colony for many years,” he added.

He also said that “the United Kingdom has repeatedly stated that there won’t be negotiations regarding sovereignty over the Falklands Islands unless and until the Falkland Islander so wish.  And this is not our wish.”

JOSEPH BOSSANO, Minister, Gibraltar, said the job of the Committee is to assist the peoples under colonial rule to achieve full self–government.  “It is not your role to transfer a people from the rule of one administering Power and place them under another administering Power of your choice, whether that is what the people want or not.”

AHMED BOUKHARI, Western Sahara, said the Territory is the last colony in Africa and that human rights violations are an issue of great concern.  In this context the African Union wanted to revive its role in the decolonization of Western Sahara.  He invited the Special Committee to visit the Territory and pointed out the fact that in the case of Western Sahara, since there is not an administering Power, the Committee should not be intimidated to undertake soon a visiting mission.

ALEJANDRO BETTS, expert, exposed diverse arguments to demonstrate the actual colonial situation in the Islands, and the British interests in the natural resources that belong to Argentina.  He noted that the question of the Malvinas Islands is a particular and special colonial situation, as recognized by the United Nations.  He dismissed the legality of the so called referendum held this year and questioned British refusal to comply with the call of the United Nations to solve the sovereignty dispute and resume negotiations with Argentina.

GERARDO DÌAZ BARTOLOME, Argentina, stated that every year, the United Nations reiterate that the special and particular case of colonialism in the question of the Malvinas Islands can only come to an end through the resumption of negotiations over sovereignty between the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Not only have all States recognized the existence of this century-long dispute, but also there exists a mandate to resolve it as soon as possible through negotiations.

The United Kingdom, while dismissing the Argentine claims, started shaping a “tailored” colony in the Islands by bringing settlers from the metropolis and implementing rigorous immigration rules aimed at preventing the entry and/or settling of Argentine citizens from the continent.  These prohibitions are still in force today.  Indeed, the ultimate goal of the United Kingdom is to control the composition of the inhabitants of the islands in order to justify the implementation of non-existent rights allegedly based on international law.  The United Kingdom uses this excuse to illegitimately exploit renewable and non-renewable natural resources that belong to Argentina, as well as to deploy its military forces in the South Atlantic ‑ a peaceful area ‑ under arguments that only hide its real intentions.

Argentina, he added, though having no doubt over its sovereignty rights over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, is willing to comply with the international community’s call on the question of the Malvinas Islands, which is a national priority for the Argentine Government, and in which the territorial integrity of our nation is at stake.

Today, Argentina’s cause is a Latin American cause, a Caribbean cause, and an African cause.  Indeed, this has been expressed in declarations adopted at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, ALBA and ASA summits.  The call for negotiations to be resumed between Argentina and the United Kingdom is heard on all continents through several forums, such as Group of 77 plus China, the Organization of American States and the United Nations, all of which are represented on this Committee.  Not only Argentina, but also MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market), the Union of South American Nations and ALBA have rejected the illegal vote organized by the United Kingdom in the Islands, to ask British citizens if they want to continue being British, he concluded.

FRANCISCA M. PEDROS-CARRETERO, Spain, said the country is suffering from a colonial situation, which cannot be justified in the twenty-first century.  This flagrant violation of the territorial integrity makes the case of Gibraltar clearly different to those of other territories subject to decolonization.  Therefore Spain does not and will never acknowledge any international legal status to the current inhabitants of Gibraltar nor will it ever accept their pretend right to dispose of the Rock, she concluded.

BARBARA MAGAÑA, Morocco, stated that the country has made a significant effort on a national and international level, which allowed Morocco to present to the United Nations in April 2007 an autonomy initiative as a framework for a political settlement negotiated and definitive.

He further said that the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Moroccan Sahara, Christopher Ross, visited the region in 2012 and 2013 and has insisted on the need to formalize relations between Algeria and Morocco for further negotiations and reaffirmed that the security threats and the evolution of events in the region impose a new approach based on greater coordination between the countries of the region.

IDRIS LATRECHE, Algeria, said the situation in Western Sahara, qualified as a Non-Self-Governing Territory by the United Nations since 1963, was still an issue of incomplete decolonization.  And he added that the current impasse over Western Sahara “can be seen as adding to the challenges that the United Nations is already facing with respect to its authority and credibility”.

In the most recent resolution adopted on 25 April 2013, the Security Council reaffirmed its commitment to the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara by expressing its attachment to “a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”.

FRANKLYN B. FAWUNDU, Sierra Leone, welcomed the opportunity to review progress on the work of the Committee in this decolonization process geared towards the expeditious and complete eradication of colonialism in all its forms and manifestations, in line with the mandate contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), since “colonialism has no place in the modern world”.  He outlined the importance of these regional seminars since they are platforms for the Committee and the inhabitants of the territories to interact on complex issues.

OSCAR LEON GONZALES, Cuba, stated that his country fully supports “the Argentinean position over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime areas, a common position of Latin America and the Caribbean”.  He called for a negotiated, just and definitive solution to the question of the Malvinas Islands, as soon as possible.  He rejected unilateral actions in the dispute area, such as the militarization of the South Atlantic, which would be a violation of international law.

He also referred to the struggle of the people of Western Sahara who have been fighting for more than 40 years to exercise their right to self-determination.  The Saharawi people are the only one that can freely decide their future, he concluded.

HELENA YANEZ, Ecuador, said the country is “strong and fully supports to the position of the Republic of Argentina on the question of the Malvinas Islands”.  She went on to express Ecuador’s support to the legitimate aspirations of the Saharawi people to exercise, through a referendum, their self-determination right.  At the end of her speech she renewed Ecuador’s support to the legitimate aspiration of Puerto Rico to their self-determination.

ZHANG TAO, China, reiterated her country’s position on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  She “called Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume the sovereignty negotiations, as requested by the [United Nations General Assembly] resolutions and in accordance with the spirit of the United Nations Charter”.

CRISTINA VIEIRA MACHADO, Brazil, reiterated her country’s support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in the Question of the Malvinas, regretting that, after so many years, that issue was still pending of a durable solution, despite the calls of the General Assembly for the resumption of negotiations.

She stressed the strong regional support for the legitimate rights of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands, as evidenced by many statements of MERCOSUR, Union of South American Nations and other regional forums.  She referred to the “Special Declaration of the Presidents of MERCOSUR and Associated States, adopted in Brasilia, in December of 2012, which rejected the realization of an illegal vote in the Malvinas Islands, which won’t alter the essence nor end the sovereignty dispute over the aforementioned archipelagos”.

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*  A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (see document ST/CS/SER.A/42).

For information media. Not an official record.