12 August 2019


Statement to Special Committee on Decolonization 
Reverend François Pihaatae 

Coordinator of Moruroa E Tatou Association

United Nations, New York, N.Y.
28th June 2019

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Members of the Special Committee,

We acknowledge with appreciation the progressive recognition by the General Assembly of the "inalienable right of the people of French Polynesia to the ownership, control and disposal of their natural resources, including marine resources and undersea minerals" beginning with Resolution 71/120 of 6 December 2016, and most recently by Resolution
(73/112) of 7 December 2018 which "urges the administering Power to ensure this permanent sovereignty pursuant to relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.

In this connection, it is to be noted that the annual resolution on the Implementation of the Decolonization Declaration applicable to all territories including Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia consistently "urges the administering Powers 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...".

The willful absence of the administering Power in participating in the work of this committee on the "Question of Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia," in violation of the U.N. Charter, precludes the opportunity to assess their level of compliance with international law - or lack thereof - that clearly confirms that the ownership of these resources lies with the people of the territories.

Despite this clear "rule of law on natural resources," we continue to advise that the administering Power has kept full control and sovereignty over our natural resources in violation of international law.

These violations of the administering Power were examined in depth in the 2019 report “Enduring Colonization: How France’s Continuing Control of French Polynesian ResourcesViolates the International Law of Self-Determination,published by Blue Ocean Law, the Pacific Network on Globalisation, and the International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at Allard Law School, University of British Columbia.

Some of the key findings of the analysis are particularly poignant:

● France’s continued control over and interference with the islands’ resources

works to disenfranchise the people of Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia, violating their fundamental right to self-determination, particularly their right to freely determine their own economic, social, and cultural development.

● In its recent efforts to develop seabed mining programs in the region, France continually asserts sovereignty over Ma’ohi-Nui waters. At the same time, it has failed to consult
with – let alone obtain the consent of – indigenous, coastal, and local communities within Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia, who are most likely to be affected by this new extractive activity.

● The failure to clean up or otherwise remedy damage done by France’s 30 year nuclear testing program in the islands constitutes another violation of Ma’ohi-Nui people’s right to benefit from their natural resources and to chart a course of economic development of their own design. Existing military installations and contaminated atolls continue to affect terrestrial and marine resources and contribute to ongoing food insecurity, in addition to debilitating health and environmental impacts.

● Self-determination standards oblige a much greater devolution of powers from France to Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia and the strict non-alienation of Ma’ohi-Nui people
from their natural resources.

Thank You, Madam Chair.

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