16 October 2014

Guam's natural resources "USurped" again by unilateral federal action

"The General Assembly...urges the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Non Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources (,) and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources..."  -  United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/97 of  11 December 2013.



SPEAKER Judith Won Pat has sent a letter to the federal government, asking it to pursue meaningful consultation with Guam over the recent execution of a treaty that appears to remove the deepest known point in the Mariana Trench, Challenger Deep, from Guam’s exclusive economic zone.

The “Treaty Between the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Government of the United States of America on the Delimitation of a Maritime Boundary” was executed between the U.S. Government and the Federated States of Micronesia on Aug. 1 in Palau during the 45th meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The treaty was negotiated to formally redefine overlapping maritime boundary lines between Guam and the outlying islands of the FSM, but Won Pat said at no point was Guam "meaningfully consulted" during discussions, negotiations and ultimately the execution of the treaty.

Won Pat said there is still confusion as to where Challenger Deep actually lies under the treaty and the potential adverse impacts the treaty would have on Guam’s rights over marine resources, including deep sea minerals possibly located in the area.

“This lack of engagement is especially problematic given the ambiguity surrounding the precise location of the deepest known point in the Mariana Trench, i.e. Challenger Deep. To be sure, many of us in Guam have long understood Challenger Deep as falling within Guam’s EEZ, i.e. on the Guam side of the line identified in the U.S.-FSM treaty,” Won Pat wrote in her letter.

In her correspondence with the federal government, she also attached a 2005 United States Geological Survey publication explicitly indicating that Challenger Deep falls on the Guam side, and not the FSM side, of the line.

"The United States should have been significantly more diligent in discharging its duties to the people of Guam as Guam’s administering power, and more specifically, it should have provided a mechanism for the meaningful consultation of the people of Guam prior to executing a treaty that potentially divests them of no insignificant part of their natural resources inventory,” Won Pat said.

Won Pat also attached a legal memorandum analyzing the international law issues surrounding the treaty.

Specifically, the memo discusses Guam’s right – as a non self-governing territory – to be consulted on matters impacting its ability to pursue economic, social and cultural development and to have a say on issues affecting the island's natural resources.

“Guam had every right to be privy to information surrounding the execution of the U.S.-FSM treaty, particularly as it potentially significantly impacts the territory’s prospective economic development,” Won Pat said.

Copies of Won Pat's letter have been sent to President Barack Obama, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, the U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, the assistant secretary of Insular Affairs, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization chairman, President Emmanuel Mori of the Federated States of Micronesia, the FSM Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the FSM consul general in Guam, Gov. Eddie Calvo, all Guam legislators, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, and the executive director of the Commission on Decolonization.