15 December 2008

Caribbean – Puerto Rico Cooperation Expanded

Cooperation between the independent and non-independent Caribbean has been further enhanced as the result of the activation of an agreement between the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the University of Puerto Rico. The agreement follows the establishment in 2006 of an OECS Office in Puerto Rico to facilitate trade, investment and tourism, and to provide commercial support for Puerto Rican and Eastern Caribbean entrepreneurs.

The office was one of the outcomes of the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Puerto Rico and the OECS which is designed to facilitate cooperation in trade and investment, agriculture and fisheries, health, education, sports, information technology, tourism justice and governance, security, disaster management and the environment, civil aviation and air and sea ports.

The most recent agreement with the University of Puerto Rico was highlighted in the official OECS communiqué of November 2008:


48TH Meeting of the OECS Authority
19th to 21st November 2008
Montserrat Cultural Centre
Little Bay, Montserrat

Mem. of Understanding with University of Puerto Rico

The Authority noted the provisions of the Collaborative Agreement established between the OECS and the University of Puerto Rico in May 2008 which has as a first step, the development of a Study Programme to strengthen cultural understanding and educational exchanges and growth between the two parties. The Programme will allow OECS Nationals to:

􀂾 Pursue an academic degree in any field of study on any campus of the University of Puerto Rico and be accorded the same status as Puerto Rican students;

􀂾 Make payments for tuition, accommodation and health insurance at the same amount set for Puerto Rican students and,

􀂾 Obtain full scholarships to pursue studies at the University based on availability of places and a predetermined selection criteria.

The Meeting endorsed the next steps required to operationalise the Study Programme by September 2009 to ensure, inter alia, the enrollment of the first batch of students in the Study Programme at the 2009/10 academic year.

Procedures of Accreditation

The Authority noted the increase in the numbers of requests from countries to the OECS Secretariat for its policy on accreditation and approved the accreditation procedures presented by the Secretariat.

01 December 2008

Development and Social Decline in the British Virgin Islands

The linkage between rapid economic development and the effects on the social climate of the small island developing country of the British Virgin Islands is examined by Benito Wheatley, Program Board Associate and Co-Chair of Youth Programs and Initiatives at the Institute of Caribbean Studies in Washington, DC., and is published below with the kind permission of Mr. Wheatley.

In the wake of nearly three decades of unprecedented economic growth, the British Virgin Islands has slipped into a period of social decline. No where is this more apparent than in the increase in crime and other social ills affecting the society. Crimes such as burglary, armed robbery, and drug trafficking have become commonplace, while social ills like teen pregnancies and high school drop-outs have become an ugly feature of the territory. How the BVI arrived at this point and what can be done to reverse the negative trends that have arisen are important questions for discussion.

The poor social climate emerging in the British Virgin Islands is a byproduct of changing social and economic conditions that have eroded the social foundation of the society. Prior to the economic rise of the territory, the islands were a smallholder society made up of a number of remote villages. These villages were populated by several close-knit families which relied upon subsistence farming, animal husbandry, fishing, handicraft, and barter for their survival and livelihood. The economic and social needs of the population encouraged close cooperation between the families, which fostered a strong sense of community.

Both the family and the church played vital roles in the functioning of the smallholder society. Within the family the close working relationship between parents and children was a critical factor in their survival under what were challenging economic circumstances. Parents or caretakers worked inside or in close proximity to the home, enlisting the children of the house or community in their trades and livelihoods. This instilled a great deal of discipline in the youth, encouraged a healthy respect for hard work, and helped develop good character in the individual. Many young men and women also served as apprentices under local artisans and craftsmen and women from whom they learned a trade. The extended family and larger community were also very important, and provided a social safety net for those vulnerable members of society in need of support and protection, including children and the elderly. The smallholder society literally embodied the creed “it takes a village to raise a child”.

The church was at the very center of social life and education in the villages, and acted as the moral authority over the community. Together, the family and the church, served as the primary transmitters of moral and social values from one generation to the next; and the close linkages between the extended family, church, and community ensured the healthy development of the society. Notably, the moral fabric of the smallholder society was predicated upon a high sense of integrity, respect for elders, and collective responsibility.

By the end of the 1970s the territory had undergone a significant economic transformation. Two successive governments had begun laying the foundation for a modern society by expanding education, building roads, modernizing ports; and providing services such as electricity, running water, and telecommunications. The marked improvement in economic and social conditions contributed to rising expectations among the population which desired a modern lifestyle. This in turn stimulated local demand for modern goods and services and the need for income to purchase them.

The confluence of British Virgin Islanders’ demand for earned income and demand for labor in the rapidly growing economy, drew a new generation of workers (i.e. Baby Boomers) into the newly emerging market economy, being driven by tourism, financial services, and an expanding civil service; and away from the traditional agrarian economy of the past. Simultaneously the church began to lose its relevance as many of its functions like education and social organization were assumed by the government, civic organizations, and social clubs. By the mid-1990s, the smallholder society had all but withered away and vanished.

The transition to a modern society had serious implications for the BVI and brought with it a host of challenges. The shifting of the labor force into the public and private sectors of the new economy effectively changed the family structure. The new workplace imposed unprecedented demands upon employees which required a disproportional amount of their time and energy. Households became dual-income and parents began dedicating more time and attention to their jobs for the purpose of survival and financial gain, while having less time for children, extended family, and the larger community. Under the new circumstances, the importance of the church and community declined as the close social bonds that had developed out of the economic and social needs of the past lost their force in the face of a booming economy.

With the family, church, and community’s influence diminished, other influences emerged, many of which were introduced by exposure to the outside world that came with economic change. Key among these influences were television, radio, and eventually the internet. The content of these mediums, which included music, movies, and information, strongly influenced the ideas, identity, and culture of British Virgin Islanders. Not only did these mediums become major forms of entertainment, but they also became major instruments in the socialization of children in the home, daycare, and school.

In addition to new information, the new economy also brought with it a wave of guest workers who arrived to fill in gaps in manpower unfulfilled by BVIslanders. These expatriates brought with them their own set of values and interests from their countries, some of which ran counter to the traditional culture of the BVI. The influx of immigrants and their ideas and attitudes about life impacted the attitudes, identity, and values of British Virgin Islanders who worked, lived, and grew up alongside them.

Another influence that came with the new economy is drug-trafficking and drug dealing. The heightened profile of the BVI and easy access to its waters attracted narcotics dealers who viewed the islands as an ideal transit/drop point. Some BVIslanders partnered with outsiders in this underground business as a means of earning income and achieving financial success in the modern society. Among some elements of the population, particularly youth, drug dealers and drug traffickers were, and still are, idolized for their glamorous lifestyles and wealth.

What is important to note is that there are two generations of British Virgin Islanders (i.e. Generation X, Generation Y) who have grown up far removed from the traditional values of their parents and grandparents. They are a generation that has been raised under the influences of a modern society filled with great possibilities, but littered with materialism and many practices and attitudes that are counter to progress.

The diminished role of the family, church, and community, coupled with the impact of outside influences, has opened up the society to a whole slew of social ills that are now being felt. Crime in particular is a major problem, with serious implications for the economy. Both the tourism and financial services sectors depend heavily upon the image of the British Virgin Islands as a safe and friendly destination where people can visit and do business. Ongoing crime and social deviancy are only hurting the territory’s image and driving business away. Steps must be taken to address the underlying causes of the society’s social problems before they become worse.

Addressing social decline in the British Virgin Islands will require a concerted effort to instill and promote values, particularly in the youth, which encourages making an honest living and living a modest lifestyle. The process can begin with restoring the influence of the family and its traditional role as the central transmitter of moral and social values. Parents must lead the way by paying adequate attention to their children and setting a good example, as opposed to leaving this example to be set by television/movie characters, entertainers, athletes, or unscrupulous people on the streets. In addition, steps must be taken to restore a sense of community and collective responsibility for the society. The church and other civic institutions can support these efforts through various religious and civic campaigns targeting the family and community. The government can also play a role by implementing a social policy that addresses the social needs of the territory. It can start by boosting its social services capacity to provide support for those families and individuals in need of assistance regarding their own specific set of circumstances.

A crime free and socially stable BVI is in the best interest of the territory and absolutely essential to the long-term economic prosperity and well-being of the islands. No effort should be spared in reversing the current negative social trends if the British Virgin Islands is to continue to thrive and prosper in the 21st century.

Global Economic Slowdown and Economic Security in the British Virgin Islands

As the global economic crisis continues amid the uncertain remedies of massive financial bail-outs and stimulus packages instituted in the developed world, the vulnerability of the economies of the developing world to these external shocks is quite considerable. The impact of the crisis on small island developing countries, and in particular the non-independent countries, takes on its own unique dimension. Benito Wheatley, Program Board Associate and Co-Chair of Youth Programs and Initiatives at the Institute of Caribbean Studies in Washington, DC. examines the “Global Economic Slowdown and Economic Security in the British Virgin Islands” in the following analysis which is published below, with the kind permission of Mr. Wheatley.

The recent global economic slowdown has raised the critical issue of economic security in the British Virgin Islands. The fragile relationship of the territory to the global economy places it in a precarious position. The BVI exhibits all the trappings of a modern economy, but lacks the productive capacity to support the modern lifestyle enjoyed by its inhabitants.

The deficit between what the territory can produce and local demand for modern goods and services, necessitates the importing of foreign products to meet the demands of a growing population. The bulk of these imports are financed by income generating activities in the tourism and financial services sectors, upon which the economy is based. It is by virtue of this relationship that the economic security of the BVI is threatened.

The current downturn in the global economy exposes the BVI’s vulnerability to swings in the global economy. When the cost of oil rises or the price of food escalates on the world market, it creates a ripple effect that leads to a spike in prices and higher costs in the local marketplace. Likewise, when a global economic downturn hits primary markets such as the United States or the United Kingdom, it reduces their overall purchasing power, which restricts consumer spending and decreases the amount of income available for leisure, travel, and entertainment.

This directly affects the British Virgin Islands, whose tourism sector is dependent upon tourists from primary markets to feed the hotel, boating, and other industries that are the engine of economic growth in the territory. The projected slowdown in the tourism sector endangers the financial security of the 25 percent of the working population that depend upon its industries for their livelihood.

The BVI’s economic dependence forces a fundamental rethinking of the economy, which in current form raises serious questions about the wisdom of relying upon tourism for long-term economic growth. It also raises serious concerns about the reliance of the territory on imports to sustain daily life on the islands. The financial services sector at this stage does not appear to be as susceptible as tourism to fluctuations on the world market, but none the less requires close monitoring considering the ongoing turbulence in capital and financial markets around the globe.

The impact of high fuel costs and rising food prices have only heightened the degree of economic uncertainty in the world. Already there is a shortage of basic foods upon which people depend, including rice. Notably, high food prices in the BVI have turned arguments against the production of food locally on their face. At current price levels it is now financially feasible and profitable to engage in local food production. As a matter of food security, the Government must encourage the strategic development of a food production industry to ease the financial pressure of high food prices.

Given the BVI’s current level of dependence on the outside world for economic survival, a careful strategy must be devised by which the territory can reduce its exposure and vulnerability to external shocks to the global economy and price fluctuations on the world market.

Some consideration must be given to creatively diversifying the economy, ranging from the sectors and industries upon which the BVI depends for economic growth and development, to the trade partners with which the territory engages in commerce and trade. Over-reliance on any one sector, industry, market, or trade partner could be detrimental to the BVI in the event of a sudden economic downturn such as that being experienced by the United States.

This was the case of several Caribbean countries in the 1990s which were overly dependent upon the production of sugarcane and bananas for export. A single-sector economy or single-industry economy is not in the strategic or economic interest of the British Virgin Islands. The territory would be better served having a wider range of economic arrangements and trade relationships than is presently the case.

Economic security is of paramount importance to the BVI. The great challenge facing the territory is to determine how best to manage the fragile economic relationship between the islands and the global economy. While it may not be possible to achieve total economic security, arguably uncertainty can be reduced through the diversification of the economy. Strategies in support of this goal will go a long way toward creating a stronger and more economically secure British Virgin Islands.

25 November 2008

Comparative Dependent Systems in the British and US Virgin Islands

The following comparative analysis of the neighboring British and U.S. Virgin Islands was written by political historian Dr. Carlos Lopez de Otero, and is made available to Overseas Territories Review, with kind permission.

The people of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and US Virgin Islands (USVI) have been connected by ancestral ties over many generations. Yet, as in the case where Europe “under-developed” Africa through the creation of artificial geographical borders cutting across these historical ties, individual islands comprising these two colonial territories were claimed by numerous European and other developed countries. In the process, a single people was divided into two separate jurisdictions, and evolved under different laws and governance structures.

The subsequent application of respective British and North American political systems in the two territories has resulted in incremental colonial reforms, but not in a process of self-determination and requisite decolonisation. Perhaps, this was never the intent. Thus, neither territory has yet achieved a full measure of self-government through one of the internationally recognised political options of independence, free association or integration.

Historical Evolution

British Virgin Islands

The first permanent European settlement in what is now known as the British Virgin Islands (BVI) was established in 1648 by the Dutch. By 1666, British planters took control, attaining the status of British colony for the islands, and by 1672, the British Governor of the Leeward Islands annexed Tortola (the main island) to the British Crown. (This was the same year that the Kingdom of Denmark laid claim to St. Thomas which would emerge as a major mercantile centre and free port of the later Danish West Indies, and after 1917, the US Virgin Islands).

In 1773, the planters in the British Virgin Islands were granted civil government, coinciding with the introduction of large scale importation of enslaved Africans for forced labour in the planting and harvesting of sugar and cotton. Following the decline and collapse of the sugar industry, and after the end of slavery in the 1830s, the British Virgin Islands became administratively a part of the Federation of the Leeward Islands by 1872. The islands became a separate British colony again in 1956 when the Leewards Islands Federation was dissolved. Unlike the other islands of the Leewards Federation, the BVI was not made a part of the subsequent West Indies Federation. The Territory is presently governed through a constitution which, under the British colonial system, is written by the United Kingdom Government.

US Virgin Islands

Barely three miles across the Caribbean Sea on the same archipelago is the other part of the Greater Virgin Islands, comprised of St. Thomas and St. John, and the largest island of St. Croix 40 miles south. In the 1630's, Dutch, British and French settlements were established on St. Croix, and by 1650 the French won official control of that island until 1733. In 1672, Denmark established a permanent settlement on St. Thomas, and another on St. John in 1717.

In 1733, Denmark bought St. Croix from the French, thus unifying the three. For 251 years, the Danish West Indies, in particular St. Croix and St. John, was developed primarily for the cultivation of sugar, as chattel slavery was introduced in order to service the plantation economy. St. Thomas became a key Caribbean port for transshipment between Europe and the Americas. On St. Croix and St. John, sugar plantations flourished until the mid-1800’’s, but slaves rebelled in 1848. By the late 1800’s the United States became interested in purchasing the islands, and bought them from Denmark in 1917 for US $25 million in gold to develop a naval base against the German threat to Panama Canal Zone shipping. As the BVI, the USVI is similarly governed by an “organic act” which, under the US colonial system, is written by the United States Government.

Governance and Power Arrangements

Consistent with contemporary colonial arrangements, both the BVI and USVI are administered through similar systems which project the appearance of democratic governance, but which lack full self-government. A comparison of the systems is useful.

British Virgin Islands

The United Nations classification for the BVI is that of a “non self-governing territory.” The present constitution reflects the ministerial system of government, and makes provision for a British governor, appointed by the Queen of England, who enjoys reserved powers in the areas of defence, internal security, external affairs, public service, the administration of the courts and other areas of jurisdiction. The Governor also maintains the power to issue an “Order in Council” which can annul any legislation adopted by the elected Legislative Council, led by the elected Chief Minister.

A Virgin Islands Constitutional Order 1976 as amended from the original version of the original 1967 constitution was in force until 2006. This provided that the Legislative Council approve and adopt the budget, and approve legislation necessary to the operation of the territory. However, all legislation had to be assented to by the Governor, who also operates as Chair of the Executive Council.

A constitutional review was conducted by the UK in 1993 with recommendations on internal adjustments of the present arrangement. It also called for a report on the costs and obligations of independence. The 1999 British White Paper on Partnership for Peace and Prosperity: Britain and the Overseas Territories provided for the first time the opportunity for the British dependent territories themselves to review the constitutions that governed them, and to make recommendations. Before the White Paper, constitutional reviews were conducted by a United Kingdom – appointed body. The BVI Government formed a constitutional review committee in 2004 in order to examine possible constitutional reforms. It was clear, however, that the constitutional review process would only address the internal mechanisms of government, and any suggestion on limitation of the powers of the British-appointed Governor would not be entertained by the administering power.

US Virgin Islands

As in the case of the BVI, the US Virgin Islands is classified by the United Nations as “non self-governing.” In the words of a 1987 US Court decision, the territory “does not exist by virtue of a constitution, (but rather),by legislative grace of Congress.” Accordingly, the US Congress first issued an Organic Act in 1936 to serve in lieu of a constitution, and this was amended in 1954 with focus on reforming the internal structures of government. This Act clearly indicates the politically subordinate position of the territory vis a vis the administering power.

Modifications to the governance of the territory proceeded in an ad hoc manner through US (federal) legislation in the form of amendments to the Revised Organic Act of 1954, as well as unilateral application or withholding of US laws to the territory. There existed a US-appointed governor until the enactment by the US Congress of the Elective Governor’s Act of 1968 which provided for the election of a native Governor in 1970. The territory had made four attempts to draft locally-written constitutions, dating back to 1964, to replace the Revised Organic Act. Several of the drafts contained provisions designed to alter the power imbalance which exists in favor of the administering power. The drafts were either dis-approved by the administering power, or were rejected in referendum, in part because of the retention of the authority of the administering power to unilaterally modify any draft constitution prior to its enactment by the people in referendum. The people of the USVI decided in a 1982 referendum to determine the political status before writing a constitution.

Two political status commissions and one select committee of the territory’s 15-member legislature began programmes of education at varying times from 1984 to 1993 to inform the people of the political options with the aim of conducting a referendum on political status choices. The most recent commission which convened in 1988 held the first and only political status referendum in 1993, resulting in a vote on seven options grouped into three categories. Confusion caused by the excessive number of options, coupled with issues of who should be eligible to vote, and substantial mis-information in the public domain, resulted in organised boycotts by several groups. The resultant 27.4 per cent participation of the electorate was far less than the 50 per cent threshold, and result was declared null and void.

A territorial law to convene a constitutional convention was adopted in 2006, and the Fifth Constitutional Convention convened in 2008 with the aim of drafting a local constitution which would be submitted through the elected governor to the U.S. Congress where amendments can be made unilaterally. When the Congress finishes with the document, it is then sent back to the territory where a referendum would be conducted. Consistent with this approach, this would address only the internal governance of the territory and not the political status.

The Decolonisation Process

Both the BVI and USVI were placed on the United Nations list of non self-governing territories by the United Kingdom and United States, respectively, pursuant to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 66-1 of 1946. Both remain as two of the 16 territories on the present list. The territories are reviewed by the United Nations under Chapter 11 of the UN Charter through its Special Committee on Decolonisation. As such, the General Assembly adopts annual resolutions in promotion of the political, socio-economic and constitutional development of all of the territories, including the BVI and USVI, in order to facilitate an orderly process of self-determination leading to their decolonisation.

The United Nations General Assembly at the end of 2007 adopted a series of resolutions designed to facilitate the decolonisation process in the territories. Of particular note were provisions of the resolutions which reaffirmed that self-determination is a fundamental human right of the people of these territories as recognised under human rights conventions including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Other provisions reiterated the importance of political education programmes to heighten the awareness of the people of their legitimate options of political equality as clearly defined in General Resolution 1541 (XV), namely independence, free association and integration.

The resolutions have had limited specific reference to the specific situation in the BVI, but in the case of the USVI, the resolution have called for a number of actions to be taken. These include support for USVI participation in CARICOM, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). The resolution also called for the inclusion of the USVI in UN technical programmes, and the return of natural resources to the territory which had been unilaterally taken by the administering power.

Resolutions have also called for all 16 of the territories to be given access to programmes and activities of the wider UN system, including the Economic and Social Council.

External Affairs

Both the BVI and USVI participate to varying degrees in UN and other international organisations, either through full or associate membership, or observer status. This is done through a form of delegation of authority from the cosmopolitan country to the territory. Within this framework, the BVI and USVI joined the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) in 1984, and the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee the following year. The USVI served as chairman of the CDCC in 1988, and again in 2005 and was the founding chair of the Working Group of Associate Member Countries. The USVI, unlike the BVI, routinely presented its views on its development process to the UN Decolonisation Committee between 1975 and 2006.

On the whole, however, the BVI participates in regional and international organisations at a significantly greater level than the USVI. This may be due to the perception by the UK that the BVI is a separate country, whilst the USVI and other US territories are erroneously characterised as “ part of the US.” Thus, the BVI is an associate member of CARICOM, OECS and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Meanwhile, the US in the 1990s rejected requests for the USVI to seek a similar status in the OECS and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), whilst it has kept “under review” the USVI request for observer status in CARICOM for over a decade. The fact that consensus resolutions of the UN General Assembly have repeatedly supported the participation by the USVI in these organisations is clear illustration of the selectivity of implementation of UN resolutions.


An important response to these prevailing political conditions in both territories has been a collaborative effort at functional cooperation. In 1990, the elected governments of both territories entered into an agreement creating the Inter Virgin Islands Conference as a mechanism to cooperate on a range of economic, social and political issues, including a working group on constitutional development. A second agreement signed in 2004 by the respective elected heads of government formalised the earlier conference format to a more permanent Inter Virgin Islands Council (IVIC) with a similar standing committee on political and constitutional issues. The sustainability of these initiatives, however, has proven inconsistent.

All things considered, it may be the cooperation at the functional level that will benefit these two respective territories as they develop politically and constitutionally. To this end, a proposal tabled in the Inter Virgin Islands Conference in 1994 to establish a Confederation of the Greater Virgin Islands was considered as the ultimate step in functional cooperation, but following changes of government on the USVI side and the untimely death of the head of government on the BVI side, the proposal did not get sufficient consideration. Such a proposal bears renewed consideration in an era of globalisation.

05 November 2008

UN Asked to Monitor Decolonisation in New Caledonia

OTR’s coverage of the impending unilateral referendum on French departmental status being contemplated for the Comorian island of Mayotte has elicited significant reaction from many readers who were unaware of the extent of the current role of France in the African region. The French role in the Pacific also remains significant, and was the subject of two addresses delivered on 8th October 2008 before the UN Special Political and Decolonisation Committee examining the state of the decolonisation process in the non self-governing territory of New Caledonia, administered by France.

The first presentation was made by Mr. Roch Wamytan who was a signatory to the 1998 Noumea Accord which was designed to provide for a transitional period preparatory to a political status referendum in that territory. Mr. Wamytan is a Special Advisor to the Office of the President of the Customary Senate. The second formal statement was delivered by Mr. Julien Boanemoi who is a Customary Senator for the Ajie-Aro area of New Caledonia.

Consistent with the promotion of multilingualism, the English and Spanish versions of the text are presented below:

Statement by Mr Roch Wamytan, FLNKS signatory to the Nouméa Accord, Special Adviser to the Office of the President of the Customary Senate to the Fourth Committee of the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (New York, Thursday 9 October 2008, 15.00 hrs)

Mr Chairman,
Members of the 4th Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please let me begin by congratulating you on your election, Mr Chairman, together with your fellow office-bearers, to lead the work of this important committee responsible for addressing decolonisation issues. Please also allow me to salute the immense contribution made by your Committee, enabling many colonised peoples to gain Independence.

Since 1986, the year of New Caledonia’s re-inscription on the list of countries to be decolonised, the representatives of the Kanak People and later those of the Government of the autonomous Territory of New Caledonia have come to address your committee about their hopes and expectations. I continue to do so today as an FLNKS Signatory to the Nouméa Accord, in accordance with the provisions of that accord signed on 5 May 1998: “that progress towards emancipation will be reported to the UN”.

The FLNKS represents our future emerging State. Since November 2001, our national liberation movement has had no President and the Political Bureau has tried to manage the action of the organisations’ political groups as best it could. In the same way as the history of decolonisation processes has shown, the FLNKS has also been the target of destabilisation manoeuvres from parties driven by nostalgia for the French colonial empire, seeking its implosion or neutralisation. Encouraging signs are however perceptible and indicate that the FLNKS is preparing to go into the provincial elections in May 2009 with a strategy of unity.

The attempts to neutralise the FLNKS are part of what the Kanak People has been seeing for the past 155 years, i.e. that the Administering Power, France does not want Independence for our country and is doing its utmost to prevent our country from achieving sovereignty. Both right and left-leaning political regimes, with a few minor differences, agree on one thing: everything must be done to keep New Caledonia within the French and European fold in the name of their higher interests. France’s place in the world and its status as a medium power take precedence over the interests of New Caledonia’s communities. In order to impose its domination, no technique is overlooked: manipulation and destabilisation techniques tried and tested in ex-French colonies: looting and a situation of enduring dependency imposed on the country; stifling of the Kanak People through a policy large-scale of immigration from mainland France; the decoy value of the three major nickel ore metallurgical processing projects in Nouméa, the South and the North. In response to questioning from the Independence Movement on these issues, the French State always brandishes the French Constitution to deny international law. Neither the 1960 decolonisation charter, nor the annexed resolutions and action plans, adopted by the General Assembly during the two Decades for the Eradication of Colonialism: 1991 – 2000 and 2001 – 2010 (Resolution 55 / 146 dated 8 December 2000) are respected by the Administering Power.

Faced with this determination on the part of the coloniser to keep New Caledonia French, the Kanak People has fought unceasingly for its freedom and independence. From 1853 until the present, our history has been one of constant struggle. The signing of the Matignon-Oudinot Accords in 1988 and the Nouméa Accord in 1998 represent stages on the road to Independence, an Independence that will “close this unfinished chapter in history” to quote the former UN Secretary-General on Mr Kofi Annan on 12 February 2003.

This accord is a decolonisation agreement and not a peace accord, as some senior French officials have claimed. Negotiated in a manner consistent with United Nations principles, this accord is designed to place the Kanaks at the core of the arrangements, ensure the country’s political and economic emancipation and accompany the emergence of a common consciousness within a New Caledonian citizenship. These are the reasons why the FLNKS, supported by the Customary Senate, has always demanded strict compliance with the Accord, which must be respected in both letter and spirit.

After nine years of implementation of this Accord, it is very apparent that, despite some significant progress and the French State’s commitment to transferring the responsibilities referred to in the agreements, the decolonisation process is stalled and similarly the Kanaks are finding it hard to find their place in the present set-up, as Customary Senator Julien Boanemoi has just described.

The Kanaks remain marginalised in the economy and the training sphere, especially where the exercise of the responsibilities directly related to sovereignty are concerned (justice, army, security) and the land they claim is subject to wild speculation, while the State has drastically reduced the financial resources available for the acquisition and transfer of land back to the owning clans. In the mining sector, the country’s main source of wealth, the traditional rights of the Kanak clans and chiefdoms are not recognised. For the past 128 years, mining titles have been issued free of charge to operators and leading European settler families. In 2008, these titles were concentrated in the hands of a dozen or so operators and no Kanak-owned company as such owns any such title, no Kanak-owned mining company operates any mine and only some thirty Kanak truckers are involved in ore haulage from the mountain to the wharf.

Immigration from mainland France is occurring on a massive basis in the wake of the major ore-processing and tax-relieved projects, with this immigration mainly concerning the Southern Province. It is intensifying because no local employment protection measures have yet been taken. The spectre of partition is looming up, with a mostly European population in the Southern Province. The scenario is familiar: it failed in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) in 1980 but succeeded with the island of Mayotte in the Comoros in 1975.

The looting of natural resources continues and is intensifying. Article 12 of the United Nations Action Plan states that: “Administering Powers should implement measures aimed at conserving natural resources, preserving the environment and assisting the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in achieving the maximum possible level of economic self-reliance, environmental protection, and social and educational development.” The Kanak People, through its customary representatives (Customary Senate) and its political representatives (FLNKS), has always defended the principle of “control by the country of natural resources and control of the tools that can develop those resources”. These natural assets should remain under the control of the country in the interests of its population. They are not supposed to perpetuate colonial domination.

Consistent with the principle defended by the FLNKS, negotiations resulted in New Caledonia taking a 34% holding in the share capital of ‘Société le Nickel’ (SLN) and its parent company ERAMET, whose stockholders include the French State, New Caledonia (5%) and the publicly-owned group AREVA (26.3%). Discussions are in progress at present to increase the New Caledonian share in the capital of Eramet. Under the same principle, a 51% shareholding was negotiated for the Northern Province via its mining company, SMSP, (‘Société Minière du Sud Pacifique’), in the capital of the company mining the Koniambo deposits in partnership with the Canadian company Falconbridge, which has since been bought by Xstrata.

Regarding the project initiated by the multinational INCO to mine the major laterite deposit in the south of New Caledonia at Goro, the country owns a bare 5% of the share capital of the Goro Nickel company, which has become a subsidiary of the Brazilian company CVRD since the latter bought out INCO in 2006. The Goro deposit, known as the ‘Goro Diamond’, had been sold by the French State to INCO for the paltry sum of 3.5 billion CFP francs, as compared to the 275 billion paid out to purchase the smaller Canadian Voisey Bay deposit, which is harder to work than Goro. In this way, New Caledonia saw a major share of its mineral assets slip through its fingers at the same time as it missed out on a major potential source of revenue. This ‘discount’ mineral resource sale to INCO was inconsistent with the process of acquiring sovereignty enshrined in the signing of the Matignon Accord. Once again, the Administering Power was hindering the very same political process that it had supported. It was deliberately breaching the contents of the Action Plan (report A/46/634/Rev.1 dated 13 December 1991) of the first Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism 1991/2000.

In addition, INCO came close to getting its hands on the second such deposit in the south at Prony. The asset value of the Goro and Prony deposits, ranked N° 1 and N°2 in the world, is estimated to be some 300 billion CFP francs, if Canadian criteria are used: a rich deposit, acquired for nothing, an exceptional natural site, tax relief etc. The implementation of this project raises two approaches in terms of the strategy of the administering authorities, as in turn applied by the industrial operator and the local institutions: First, the building of the plant would permit large-scale immigration by French nationals in order to achieve majority non-Kanak demography within a future Independence. Also, it was essential to outstrip the northern project to try and discredit the 51% / 49% capital structure that guarantees the Kanak People a relatively high degree of control over its resources as part of New Caledonia’s achievement of full sovereignty.

In any event, the looting of this resource is prejudicial to the future exercising of the right to self-determination and jeopardises the viability of the emerging Kanak State. This is in complete contradiction with the provisions of articles 12 and 17, Chapter IV of the Action Plan. Indeed, control of assets is essential for states while remaining a major strategic issue. It is therefore urgent to put a stop to the ‘discount sale’ of our heritage and to set up a control mechanism for our national wealth and call those responsible to account for the action undertaken, often without our knowledge or against our will.

These major current or planned ore-processing projects, especially Prony, which is already attracting covetous outside attention can, in the absence of coordination and control, weaken New Caledonia’s potential for self-determination between 2014 and 2019. How then could our people decide on their future in a looted and polluted country?

Clearly, we are here again witnessing a new form of colonisation hazardous to the viability of the future State.

Regarding the entitlement to vote in the self-determination referenda and 2013/2014 and 2018 elections, we need to remain vigilant over possible manoeuvres, interpretations or changes of course concerning the text of the Nouméa Accord defining the special electorate for these polls. The history of decolonisation makes such vigilance necessary when one has seen what the colonial has been capable of: exclusion of indigenous peoples from the right to vote, double electoral college, colony of settlement, bogus colonial referenda, rigging of electoral rolls, etc…

Lastly, to refer to the latest decision by President Nicolas Sarkozy to group French military assets in the Pacific in New Caledonia, so as to ensure a presence in the Melanesian arc (PNG, Solomons, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia) subject to chronic destabilisation, we should bear in mind Article 18 of the Action Plan: “Member States, in particular Administering Powers, should refrain from the use of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories for military bases and installations”. Clearly, France is not complying with this provision in terms of its own strategies in this part of the world, which is in complete contradiction with its obligations as the supervisory authority of a territory appearing on the list of countries to be decolonised.

Mr Chairman,

At the end of this address, we call for your organisation to closely watch the emancipation process under way in New Caledonia. We reiterate our confidence in all the forms of action you may be able to undertake, especially with the Administering Power, to ensure that the Nouméa Accord, in essence a decolonisation agreement, is respected. France must be called to account, not in its role as an arbiter between two forces: pro and anti-Independence, but in its role as a player in a successful decolonisation in a world suffering constant upheaval and constantly in crisis. France must leave it up to us to choose and decide on our future and not impose on us by devious means a course determined by its own self-interest.

In order to put a permanent stop to the looting of our resources, we ask for the UN to conduct an enquiry, including the possible lodging of a complaint, over the conditions governing the transactions that resulted in the French State transferring the Goro deposit to the multinational INCO in 1991. We also ask, on this 20th anniversary of the death of 19 Kanak martyrs in the attack on the cave on Ouvéa in 1988, that a UN enquiry be opened to determine the political responsibilities in this massacre. Lastly, following on from the initiative taken by other FLNKS leaders and by the Customary Senate, as a signatory to the Nouméa Accord, I support the proposal to hold the next UN Decolonisation Seminar in Nouméa. Finally my request is that your organisation, in view of the many problems and consequences stemming from the derailing of the Nouméa Accord, organise a special mission to New Caledonia as it did in 1999.

Before I close, please allow me to thank your organisation for all the contributions to our struggle in the past and those yet to come. Lastly I thank you for your support to our combat within the Non-Aligned Movement and the constant support of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum for our claim for Independence.

Thank you for your attention.

(English translation)

Declaración de Señor Roch WAMYTAN, firmante FLNKS del Acuerdo de Nouméa, consejero especial de la presidencia del Senado Coutumier.

En la 4ta. Comisión de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas, 63ra. Sesión (Nueva York, Jueves, 9 de octubre del 2008, las 15h)

Señor Presidente,
Señoras y Señores miembros de la 4a Comisión
Señoras y Señores

Permítame en primer lugar felicitarle Señor Presidente, por su elección y la de los miembros de su equipo en esta importante Comisión encargada de los problemas de descolonización. Permítame también reconocer la inmensa contribución de su Comisión la cual ha permitido acceder a la independencia a numerosos pueblos colonizados.

Desde 1986, fecha de la reinscripción de Nouvelle-Calédonie en la lista de países a descolonizar, los representantes del pueblo kanak y el gobierno del territorio autónomo de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, vienen expresando delante de su comisión sus esperanzas y sus aspiraciones. Yo lo hago hoy cómo signatario del FLNKS del acuerdo de Nouméa, siguiendo lo que dice el acuerdo de Nouméa firmado el 5 de mayo de 1998: “que el camino hacia la emancipación será llevado a la comisión de la ONU.”

El FLNKS representa nuestro futuro Estado emergente. Desde noviembre del 2001, nuestro movimiento de liberación nacional no tiene presidente, el equipo directivo intenta gestionar de la mejor forma las acciones de los grupos políticos de la organización. Cómo la historia de las descolonizaciones nos ha enseñado, el FLNKS ha sido también objeto de maniobras de desestabilización de nostálgicos del imperio colonial francés, intentando implosiónarlo o neutralizarlo. Signos alentadores son perceptibles en estos momentos e indican que el FLNKS se prepara a afrontar, con una estrategia unitaria, las elecciones provinciales de mayo del 2009.

Las tentativas de neutralizar el FLNKS forman parte de lo que el pueblo kanak constata desde hace 155 años, que el poder administrativo, Francia, no desea la independencia de nuestro país y pone todos los medios para impedir el acceso de nuestro país a su soberanía. Los regimenes políticos de derecha y de izquierda con algunas diferencias, están de acuerdo sobre este punto: hacer todo lo posible para mantener la Nouvelle-Calédonie en el regazo de Francia y de Europa y esto en nombre de sus intereses superiores. La posición de Francia en el mundo, su rango de potencia mediana, pasa delante de los intereses de la población de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Para imponer su dominación todos los métodos son buenos: prácticas de manipulación y de desestabilización testados y ejecutados en ex-colonias francesas, pillaje y situación de asistencia permanente impuesta en el país, asfixia del pueblo kanak por la política de inmigración masiva provinente de Francia metropolitana, los tres grandes proyectos de transformación metalúrgica del mineral de níquel en Nouméa, en el Sur y en el Norte son espejismos, promesas que no se concretan. A los interrogantes de los responsables independentistas sobre estas cuestiones, el Estado nos opondrá siempre la Constitución francesa frente al derecho internacional. Ni la carta de descolonización de 1960, ni las resoluciones y planes de acción anexos, adoptados por la asamblea general con ocasión de las dos décadas para la erradicación del colonialismo, 1991 – 2000 y 2001 – 2010 (resolución 55/146 de 8 de diciembre del 2000) no son respetados por el poder administrativo.

Frente a esta feroz voluntad colonizadora de guardar la Nouvelle-Calédonie francesa, el pueblo kanak se ha batido siempre por su voluntad y su independencia. Desde 1853 hasta nuestros días, nuestra historia es de luchas constantes. La firma de los acuerdos de Matgnon-Oudionot en 1988 y de Nouméa en 1998 constituyen dos etapas en la vía de la independencia, la independencia que vendrá “a clausurar este capitulo inacabado de la historia” como lo recuerda el ex-secretario general de la ONU, Sr., Kofi Anan el 12 de febrero del 2003.

Este acuerdo es un acuerdo de descolonización y no un acuerdo de paz como algunos altos responsables franceses han afirmado. Negociados a menudo los principios de Naciones Unidas, este acuerdo debe remitir a los kanak en el centro del dispositivo, asegurar la emancipación política y económica del país, acompañar la emergencia de una conciencia comun dentro del cuadro de una ciudadanía caledoniana. Es por lo que el FLNKS, junto con el Senado coutumier, siempre a exigido una estricta aplicación del Acuerdo que debe ser respetado en la letra y en el espíritu.

Después de nueve años de aplicación de este Acuerdo, es necesario constatar que a pesar de los avances significativos y el compromiso del Estado francés a transferir las competencias previstas, el anómalo funcionamiento del proceso de descolonización hace que el kanak tenga dificultades en encontrar su sitio en el dispositivo actual, esto es lo que ha recordado el senador coutumier Julien Boanemoi.

El kanak resta marginalizado en los dominios económico y de la formación, particularmente para el ejercicio de las competencias regalianas (justicia, ejército, seguridad), sus tierras, reivindicadas, son objeto de especulación desenfrenada mientras que el estado ha reducido drásticamente los medios financieros necesarios para operaciones de adquisición y de retrocesión de territorio a los propietarios clánicos. En el dominio minero que constituye la riqueza del país, los derechos tradicionales de clanes i jefaturas kanak no son reconocidos. Desde hace 128 años los títulos mineros han estado dados gratuitamente y explotados por grandes familias de colonos europeos. En 2008, los títulos se concentran entre las manos de una decena de explotadores, ninguna sociedad kanak cómo tal no posee ninguna sociedad de explotación minera, ningún capital que pertenezca a los kanak explota las minas, sólo una treintena de camioneros kanak participa al transporte de minerales de la montaña hacia los muelles.

La inmigración que proviene de Francia metropolitana es masiva en la estela de los grandes proyectos metalúrgicos y los proyectos de desfiscalizacion, esta inmigración concierne esencialmente a la Provincia Sur. Ésta se intensifica por el hecho de que las medidas de protección del empleo local no están aplicadas todavía. El espectro de la partición dibuja un poblamiento mayoritariamente europeo de la Provincia Sur. El guión es sobradamente conocido, ha sido suspendido en Nuevas Hebridas (Vanuatu) en 1980 pero ha tenido éxito en la isla de Mayotte en la Islas Comores en 1975.

El pillaje de recursos naturales sigue y se intensifica. El Articulo 12 del plan de acción de Naciones Unidas precisa que “las potencias administrativas deberán aplicar las medidas en vista a conservar los recursos naturales, a proteger el medio ambiente y a ayudar a los pueblos de los territorios no autónomos a conseguir un nivel máximo de autosuficiencia económica, de protección ecológica y de desarrollo social y educativo” El pueblo kanak por su representación coutumier (Senado coutumier) y político (la FLNKS) siempre ha defendido el principio de “ control por el país de los recursos naturales y el control de los útiles que valorizan esos recursos. Estas riquezas naturales deben quedarse en el país según el interés de su población. Ellas no están destinadas a perpetuar la dominación colonial.

Dentro del contexto de principios defendidos por el FLNKS, se ha negociado la entrada de Nouvelle-Calédonie en el capital de la Sociedad el Níquel (SLN) hasta un 34% y en su sociedad madre ERAMET puesto que el capital esta en posesión del Estado francés, Nouvelle-Calédonie tiene el 5% y el grupo publico AREVA tiene el 26,3%. Actualmente se esta negociando para aumentar la participación de Nouvelle-Calédonie en el capital de ERAMET. Siguiendo el mismo principio se ha negociado la participación en un 51% para la provincia Norte a través de su sociedad minera SMSP (Sociedad Minera del Pacifico Sur), dentro de capital de la sociedad de explotación del macizo de Koniambo en partenariado con la sociedad canadiense Falconbridge comprada luego por Xstrata.

Con respecto al proyecto iniciado por la multinacional INCO, para la explotación del gran yacimiento laterítico del sur caledoniano en Goro, el país detenta a penas un 5% del capital de la sociedad Goro Níkel convertida en filial de la brasileña CVRD después de la compra de INCO por esta última en el 2006. Este yacimiento de Goro llamado “el diamante de Goro” estuvo cedido por el Estado francés a INCO por el irrisorio precio de 3,500 millones de Cfp, contra 275.000 millones por la adquisición del yacimiento canadiense de Voisey Bay menos importante y más difícil a explotar que Goro. Nouvelle-Calédonie veía escapar, por este hecho, una parte importante de su capital minero y al mismo tiempo pasaba al lado de importantes entradas financieras en potencia. Nuevamente el poder de la administración interfiere un proceso político al que se había adherido. Violando deliberadamente las disposiciones del plan de acción (rapor A/46/634/Rev.1 de 13 de diciembre de 1991) del primer decenio para la erradicación del colonialismo 1991/2000.

Por otro lado, faltó poco para que INCO se apoderara del segundo yacimiento del sur, el de Prony. El valor patrimonial de los yacimientos de Goro y Prony, clasificados cómo el 1ro. y el 2do, a nivel mundial, se estima en cerca de 300.000 millones de Cfp tomando cómo criterio la practica canadiense: yacimiento rico, gratuito, entorno natural excepcional, ayudas fiscales, etc. La conducta de este proyecto descansa sobre dos hipótesis en términos de estrategia de la autoridad tutelar llevada por el industrial y las instituciones locales: Primero, la construcción de la fábrica permitiendo una fuerte inmigración de nacionalidad francesa con el fin de terminar de construir una demografía mayoritariamente no kanak en vistas a una futura independencia. Por otro lado había que batir rápidamente el proyecto del Norte para intentar desacreditar el montaje el 51 % / 49 % que garantiza al pueblo kanak un control relativo de sus recursos en el marco del acceso de Nouvelle-Calédonie a la plena soberanía.

En todo caso, este pillaje de los recursos perjudica el ejercicio futuro del derecho a la autodeterminación y hace peligrar la viabilidad del Estado Kanak. Esto esta en perfecta contradicción con las disposiciones de los artículos 12 y 17, capitulo IV del plan de acción. En efecto, el control de las riquezas es esencial para los Estados y responde a una situación estratégica superior. Es pues urgente poner freno al expolio de nuestro patrimonio, prever un dispositivo de control de nuestras riquezas nacionales y pedir cuentas de las acciones emprendidas a menudo sin nuestro conocimiento o contra nuestra voluntad.

Estos grandes proyectos metalúrgicos en curso o futuros, claramente el de Prony que ya atrae codicias exteriores, pueden en ausencia de una coordinación y un control, agotar los recursos de Nouvelle-Calédonie en vistas a su autodeterminación entre 2014 y 2019. ¿Cómo en estas condiciones podrá la población decidir su futuro en un país completamente pillado y manchado? Esta claro que asistimos a una nueva forma de colonización en detrimento de la viabilidad del futuro Estado.

Tratándose del derecho de voto para referéndum de autodeterminación, consultas de 2013/2014 o 2018, conviene estar vigilante sobre maniobras eventuales, interpretaciones o derivas en cuanto a la interpretación del texto del acuerdo de Nouméa fijando el electorado especial para estas consultas. La historia de las descolonizaciones hace necesaria esta vigilancia puesto que hemos visto lo que fue capaz el sistema colonial: exclusión de los indígenas del derecho de voto, doble colegio, colonización de población, falsos referéndum coloniales, la falsificación de las listas, etc …

En referencia, para finalizar, a la última decisión del presidente Nicolás SARKOZY de reagrupar en Nouvelle-Calédonie los medios militares franceses en el pacífico, con el fin de asegurar una presencia en el arco melanesio (PNG, Salomón, las Fidji, Vanuatu, Nouvelle-Calédonie) sujeto a una desestabilización crónica, conviene recordar el artículo 18 del plan de acción: "los Estados miembro, particularmente las poderes administrativos, deberían abstenerse de utilizar los territorios todavía no autónomo como bases o instalaciones militares". Es claro que Francia no respeta esta disposición atendiendo a sus propias estrategias en esta parte del mundo, está en completa contradicción con sus obligaciones de autoridad de tutela de un territorio inscrito sobre la lista de los países en vías de descolonización.

Señor Presidente,

Para finalizar esta exposición apelamos a la vigilancia de su organización sobre el proceso de emancipación comprometido en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Reiteramos nuestra confianza en todas las formas de acciones que usted podrá emprender particularmente cerca de la administración para hacer respetar el acuerdo de Nouméa, acuerdo de descolonización en esencia. Francia debe ser interpelada, no en su papel de árbitro entre dos fuerzas: independentista y no independentista, sino en su papel de actor de una descolonización con éxito en un mundo trastornado y en crisis permanente. Es necesario que nos deje la decisión de elegir nuestro futuro y no imponernos por medios apartados, una dirección con arreglo a sus propios intereses.

Con el fin de prevenir definitivamente el pillaje de nuestros recursos, pedimos que se realice una investigación de la ONU, con eventual depósito de denuncia, sobre las condiciones en las cuales se celebraron las transacciones que terminaron con la cesión por parte del Estado francés del yacimiento de Goro a la multinacional INCO en 1991. Pedimos también, en ocasión del 20 aniversario de la muerte de los 19 mártires kanak en el asalto de la cueva de Ouvéa en 1988 que se abra una investigación de la ONU para determinar las responsabilidades políticas en esta masacre. En consecuencia y siguiendo la iniciativa tomada por otros responsables del FLNKS, así como por el Senado coutumier, me sumo como firmante del Acuerdo de Nouméa a la proposición de organizar el próximo seminario sobre descolonización de la ONU en Nouméa. Solicito, para acabar que su organización, teniendo en cuenta los numerosos problemas y las consecuencias de las derivas del acuerdo de Nouméa, pueda organizar una misión especial en Nouvelle-Calédonie como ya se produjo en 1999.

Permítame antes de concluir agradecer a su organización por todas las contribuciones aportadas a nuestra lucha en el pasado y por las que vendrán en el futuro. Agradezco el soporte a nuestro combate del Movimiento de los Países no alineados, así como el apoyo permanente del grupo de Fer de lance Mélanésien y del Foro del Pacífico a nuestra reivindicación de independencia.

Les agradezco su atención.
(Spanish translation)


Statement by Mr Julien Boanemoi, Customary Senator for the Ajie-Aro area to the 4th Committee of the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (New York, Thursday 9 October 2008, 15.00 hrs)

Mr Chairman,
Members of the 4th Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please let me begin by congratulating you on your election, Mr Chairman, together with your fellow office-bearers, to lead the work of this important committee responsible for addressing decolonisation issues. I address your committee as a Customary Senator of New Caledonia. Our institution has asked me, in the time available, to give you our assessment of the decolonisation process in New Caledonia through the application of the Nouméa Accord, a decolonisation agreement signed on 5 May 1998 between the FLNKS, representing the interests of the Kanak People, on one side and the anti-Independence groups and the French State on the other.

The Customary Senate forms one of the key provisions of the Nouméa Accord, as it is responsible for representing, defending and promoting the Kanak identity throughout the institutional arrangements introduced by that accord. This Kanak identity is the sound foundation on which the structure of our future State will be built. In a few short minutes, I would like to remind your committee of the main obstacles to the emancipation of our People.

1- The Kanaks were supposed to be at the core of the arrangement. In fact they remain marginalised.

During the negotiations over the colonial grievance between the State and the Kanak People, it was resolved to restore to the Kanaks their rightful place in the transitional arrangements to prepare for the emergence of the future State. Similarly, it was recognised that reparations for the wrongs done to our People and the attempts to achieve social cohesion would necessarily require this principle to be respected. Despite colonial domination and its retinue of betrayal, humiliation and exclusion, the Kanaks have always shown their ability to adapt and find solutions for their own survival and for coexistence with the communities who had immigrated freely or under duress onto their ancestral lands. In order to be able to really exercise their right to offer hospitality, recognition of their central place was essential. After nine years of application of this principle, the clear conclusion is that the marginalisation of the Kanaks has been worsened in certain key areas of society. Gradually: “the guest has taken the place of the host”.

1.1- Colony of settlement by immigration.

In this way, we are increasingly becoming a minority in our own country. Inward migratory flows from mainland France have increased considerably since the signing of the Matignon and Nouméa Accords. This has happened despite the promises made by Mr Michel Rocard who, as Prime Minister at the signing of the Matignon Accord in 1988, had given a commitment to stopping in-migration. The only attempt to slow this incessant flow was a restriction on the right to work, which was supposed to be included in a draft country law. This intention has been neglected since 1998. Every year, hundreds of retired public servants on index-linked pensions step off the plane: retired French servicemen, shopkeepers, craftsmen, speculators etc; the goal is clear – populate New Caledonia (exactly as postulated in the circular signed by Prime Minister Messmer in 1972) so as to submerge the Kanaks demographically and thus deprive them of Independence

1.2- Disintegration of Kanak Society

The dualism of Kanak society is increasing: on one side are the Kanaks, either confined to their Provinces and rural villages in a way of life considered as non-standard, or lumped together in the outskirts of Nouméa, and the others, living according to a social model portrayed as the ultimate form of social progress and modern living. The resulting conflict wreaks havoc and produces adverse effects like delinquency, abuse of cannabis and alcohol, and indeed suicide, to which it is mostly young Kanaks who fall victim, in their loss of social and cultural structure. The French High Commissioner has in fact just approached the Senate on this sensitive topic of rising delinquency among Kanak youth. The exclusion and marginalisation of some of these young people is worsening with the gradual introduction of a society whose model duplicates mainland France. The consequence of this is the sidelining of those young people, which can ultimately lead only to delinquency, violence and confrontation.

1.3– Training and employment against the promotion of the Kanaks.

For decades, we have been witnessing the lack of success of Kanak children in the French school and university system. Despite the resources invested under the various political agreements, the results show that a major gap continues to prevail between Kanak youth, most of whom are unqualified, and European youth. The consequences are known: high unemployment, problems with finding a job, unstable living conditions and delinquency. The first reforms of the education system are gradually emerging, but they will be difficult to apply for a number of reasons, including extreme administrative and institutional inertia and the high cost of a system copied from the French system, placing the Provinces in a position of financial difficulty. Generally speaking, the school system remains elitist with regard to the obtaining of paper qualifications even if extensive resources have been invested in it. After 155 years of colonisation, there are still no Kanak lawyers at the Nouméa bar, a single Kanak judge, one Kanak university lecturer, three Kanak doctors and a few dozen holders of post-graduate qualifications.

1.4– Land to the detriment of the Kanaks.

The Nouméa Accord acknowledged the need to satisfy Kanak land claims in the peri-urban areas and approved the principle of endowing ADRAF with adequate resources to do so. However, the land purchase budget of this State agency has been drastically reduced making fresh land acquisitions in the suburban areas of Nouméa virtually impossible because of the unbridled speculation on land and built property. This speculation is beginning to spread to the rest of the main island. We are witnessing a new form of colonisation. Profit for real estate agencies and investors and the need to accommodate new arrivals are taking precedence over the claims by the deprived clans, whose right to live in a protected environment so as to achieve ‘the maximum possible level of economic self-reliance’ is recognised in Article 12, Chapter IV of the action plan of the UN Resolution dated 8 December 2000.

Lastly Mr Chairman,

1.5- The Kanaks are being forced to fight to protect their environment.

Having experienced mining pollution at close quarters since 1880, they are fighting hard to make the big ore-processing companies like INCO, developers building residential estates along the coast or on the foreshore or indeed aquaculture ventures, respect anti-pollution standards. The Kanaks have always been friends of the environment and their relationship with nature is part of their philosophy of life. The cosmos, the earth, water and humankind form a continuous whole in which harmony must reign. Environmental disruption has therefore had consequences on the very Kanak conception of life. The threats to biodiversity, climate change, sea level rise, etc. are becoming a constant source of anxiety for a people already greatly destabilised by their situation as colonised people. The French Government should be aware of this because it has been championing this cause since the conference on biodiversity held in February 2004 in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).

To conclude, Mr Chairman, on behalf of the Customary Senate, I would like to reiterate to your committee that the future of the Kanak People, a colonised people under your responsibility, can help us close this phase in history – colonialism – with our dignity intact. Do not let us decline into the rubbish bin of history. We have not forgotten that colonialism is a crime. Any initiative reinforcing colonialism is characterised as follows by Resolution 2621 (XXV) adopted on 12 December 1970 on the 25th anniversary of the United Nations: “The General Assembly declares the further continuation of colonialism in all its forms and manifestations a crime which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, the declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the principles of international law.”

To enable you to see for yourselves the difficulties currently being experienced by the Kanak People, the Customary Senate wishes to invite your committee to undertake a mission to New Caledonia, as was the case in 1999 just after the signing of the Nouméa Accord. In a similar vein, it would be a great honour for our country, if the next decolonisation seminar could be held in New Caledonia; the Customary Senate will be there to give you a warm welcome.

Thank you.

(English translation)

Declaración de Señor Julien BOANEMOI senador coutumier del área Ajie-Aro En la 4ta. Comisión de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas, 63ra. sesión (Nueva York. Jueves, 9 de octubre del 2008, a las 15h)

Señor Presidente,
Señoras y Señores miembros de la 4a Comisión
Señoras y Señores

Permítame en primer lugar felicitarle, Señor Presidente, por su elección y la de los miembros de su equipo en esta importante Comisión encargada de los problemas de descolonización. Intervengo delante de su comisión en mi calidad de senador coutumier del Nouvelle-Calédonie. Nuestra institución me encargó mostrarle, en el tiempo que nos esta concedido, nuestra apreciación sobre el proceso de descolonización del Nouvell-Calédonie a través de la aplicación del acuerdo de Nouméa, el acuerdo de descolonización, firmado el 5 de mayo de 1998 entre el FLNKS que representa los intereses del pueblo kanak de una parte y los antiindependentista y el Estado francés por otra parte.

El senado coutumier constituye uno de los elementos claves del acuerdo de Nouméa, es el encargado de representar, defender y promover la identidad kanak en conjunto del dispositivo institucional de este acuerdo. Esta identidad kanak forma el cimiento duro sobre el cual se edifica los fundamentos de nuestro futuro Estado. En algunos minutos, querría recordarle a su comisión los principales problemas que se presentan para la emancipación de nuestro pueblo.

1-El kanak debería estar en el centro del dispositivo. Queda de hecho marginado.

En el momento de la negociación sobre el contencioso colonial entre el Estado y el Pueblo kanak, se acordó el principio de devolver a los kanak, su plaza en el dispositivo transitorio que preparaba la emergencia del futuro Estado. Fue, así mismo reconocido que la reparación de los daños causados a nuestro Pueblo y la búsqueda de la cohesión social necesariamente pasaba por el respeto de este principio. A pesar de la dominación colonial y sus traiciones, humillaciones, exclusiones, el kanak supo adaptarse siempre y encontrar las respuestas para asegurar su propia supervivencia y la coexistencia con las comunidades inmigradas de grado o por fuerza sobre su tierra ancestral. Para poder realmente ejercer su derecho de acogida, el reconocimiento de su sitio central era ineludible. Después de nueve años de aplicación de este principio, es necesario constatar que la marginación del kanak se acentuó en ciertos sectores claves de la sociedad. Poco a poco: " el invitado tomó la plaza del huésped”.

1.1-La colonia poblada por la inmigración.

Así, se vuelve cada vez más minoritario en su propio país. El flujo de migración procedente de la Metrópoli aumentó considerablemente desde la firma de los Acuerdos de Matignon y de Nouméa. Esto a pesar de las promesas del Sr. Michel Rocard que se había comprometido como Primer ministro en el momento de la firma del acuerdo de Matignon en 1988 a bloquear los flujos migratorios. El único medio utilizado para frenar este flujo incesante era la restricción sobre el derecho a trabajar el cual debía ser objeto de un proyecto de ley del país. Este proyecto se quedo en papel mojado desde el 1998. Cada año desembarcan por centenas funcionarios jubilados con salario indexado, militares franceses retirados, comerciantes, artesanos, especuladores etc. … El fin es claro, se trata de poblar Nouvelle-Calédonie (en la línea de la circular del Primer ministro Messmer en 1972) con el fin de ahogar al kanak demográficamente para privarlo de acceder a la independencia.

1.2-Desestructuración de la sociedad Kanak

El dualismo kanak de la sociedad se acentúa: De un lado el kanak, ya sea arrinconados en sus Provincias y sus tribus en un modo de vida considerado como fuera de norma, o ya sea hacinados en la periferia de Nouméa algunos y los otros viviendo un modelo de sociedad presentado como la referencia del progreso social y de la modernidad. La consecuencia que emana de eso induce a estragos con sus efectos negativos tales como la delincuencia, el consumo excesivo de cannabis y de alcohol, o peor el suicidio del que son víctimas prioritariamente las jóvenes kanak puesto que han perdido los referentes sociales y culturales. . El alto comisario de la Republica acaba por otra parte de interpelar oficialmente el Senado sobre este sujeto delicado del aumento de la delincuencia en la juventud kanak. La exclusión y la marginación de una parte de esta juventud se acentúan con la penetración progresiva de una sociedad cuyo modelo es duplicado del de la Francia Metropolitana. Esto tiene como consecuencia una exclusión que sólo puede engendrar delincuencia, violencia y contestación.

1.3-La formación y el empleo contra la promoción kanak.

Desde hace décadas, es comprobado el fracaso de los niños kanak en los estudios tanto en la escuela cómo en la universidad francesa. A pesar de los medios puestos en funcionamiento en el marco de los diferentes acuerdos políticos, los resultados demuestran la persistencia del descarte entre la juventud kanak, la mayoría sin diploma y la juventud europea. Las consecuencias son conocidas: paro elevado, problema de inserción profesional, precariedad, delincuencia. Les primeras reformas de la enseñanza salen progresivamente, pero su aplicación es difícilmente factible por varias razones: extrema pesadez administrativa e Institucional, gastos financieros importantes de un sistema copiado del sistema francés que engendra una incapacidad financiera de las Provincias. Por regla general, la escuela queda cómo una escuela elitista respecto a la obtención de los diplomas aunque son invertidos muchos medios. Después de 155 años de colonización, no hay todavía ningún abogado kanak inscrito en la corte de Nouméa, un solo magistrado, a un solo profesor de universidad, tres médicos, algunas decenas de ingenieros.

1.4-La territorialidad en detrimento del kanak.

El acuerdo de Nouméa reconoció la necesidad de dar satisfacción a las reivindicaciones territoriales kanak en las zonas suburbanas y reconoció el principio de dotar el ADRAF de medios adecuados. Pero el presupuesto de adquisición de terrenos de este establecimiento de Estado ha sido disminuido de manera drástica haciendo prácticamente imposible nuevas compras en las zonas suburbanas de Nouméa a causa de la especulación desenfrenada en materia de terrenos e inmobiliaria. Esta especulación comienza a extenderse sobre el conjunto de la Grand Terre. Asistimos a una nueva forma de colonización. El provecho para los profesionales e inversores inmobiliarios y la necesidad de alojar a los nuevos recién llegados ganan por la mano a las reivindicaciones de los clanes expoliados cuyo derecho a vivir en un entorno protegido con el fin de alcanzar un "nivel máximo de autosuficiencia económica" es reconocido por el artículo 12, del capítulo IV del plan de acción de la resolución de la ONU del 8 de diciembre de 2000.

En fin, Sr. Presidente

1.5-El kanak es forzado de pelearse para defender su entorno.

Habiendo vivido en su propia piel la polución minera desde el 1880, lucha con energía con el fin de que las grandes sociedades metalúrgicas tal como INCO, sociedades de construcción de urbanizaciones residenciales en el litoral y en zona marítima o incluso sociedades de acuicultura, respeten las normas antipolución. De siempre, el kanak fue respetuoso con la naturaleza, su relación con el medio ambiente forma parte de su filosofía de vida. El cosmos, la tierra, el agua y el hombre forman un conjunto coherente en el cual debe reinar la armonía. Los trastornos del medio tienen pues consecuencias sobre la misma concepción de la vida del kanak. Las amenazas sobre la biodiversidad, los cambios climáticos, la subida del nivel de los mares son fuente de angustia permanente para un pueblo ya bien desestabilizado por su situación de colonizado. El gobierno francés debería ser sensible a eso ya que se convirtió en campeón de este combate desde la conferencia sobre la biodiversidad de febrero de 2004 en Kuala Lumpur (Malasia).

Para concluir Sr. Presidente, quisiera en nombre del senado coutumier recordarle a su comisión que el futuro del pueblo kanak, pueblo colonizado está bajo su responsabilidad, ayude a cerrar con dignidad este paréntesis de la historia que es el colonialismo. No lo deje zozobrar en los cubos de la basura de la historia. No olvidamos que el colonialismo es un crimen. Toda iniciativa que refuerza el colonialismo es caracterizada así por la resolución 2621 XXV) adoptada el 12 de diciembre de 1970 en ocasión del 25 aniversario de las Naciones Unidas: " el Junta general declara que la persistencia del colonialismo bajo todas sus formas y en todas sus manifestaciones representa un crimen que constituye una violación de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, de la Declaración sobre la concesión de la independencia de los países y de los pueblos colonizados y los principios del derecho internacional ".

Con la finalidad de informarles de las dificultades actuales del pueblo kanak, el senado coutumier invita su comisión a venir en misión a Nouvelle-Calédonie, como fue el caso en 1999 al día siguiente de la firma del acuerdo de Nouméa. En la misma línea, sería un gran honor para nuestro país, acoger en Nouvelle-Calédonie el próximo seminario sobre la descolonización, el senado coutumier estará allí para acogerle calurosamente.

Muchas gracias.
(Spanish translation)

28 October 2008

Chamoru Summit stresses indigenous leadership

Guam’s News Network

By Ronna Sweeny
(Ken Quintanilla contributed to this report)

With the hope of uniting and educating generations of Guam's indigenous people in our island community towards the movement of Chamoru Self-Determination, several Chamoru professors and students gathered this morning for the Second Chamoru Summit. Entitled "Protecting Our Way of Life and Ensuring Our Survival," the forum brought out over 50 participants today to learn about effective Chamoru leadership and self-determination.

Committee chairperson for the planning of the Summit Lisa Natividad says the intent of the event was twofold: being an educational track to teach younger generations of Chamorus the meaning of self-determination and to create a planning committee.

"The different committees that we've established are specific to educational strategies on Chamoru self-determination, there's a second one on rethinking education for Chamorus, one on a legal committee looking at developing legal strategies for achieving self-determination, there's another one on revitalizing the Chamoru Registry, to get more Chamorus on the Registry, which is absolutely necessary as we move towards the vote," Natividad explained.

One of the organizers of the summit, former senator Hope Cristobal, says committees were broken into task forces to cover decolonization including statehood, free association, and independence. The Summit provided those committees to share new findings and report about their task force. She said, "We decided to do this because there has been no conversation in the public and we also noticed to have seemed to disappear in the discourse and conversation at the local political level and we felt we need to continue the conversation so we can study it a little more and see where we can go where we left off."

Natividad feels this issue has been dead in terms of community involvement and government leadership for many years and hopes the summit helps others understand its importance. "I think in order for Chamorus to be able to accomplish self-determination it's going to require the support of all community members and not just those who self-identify as a Chamoru or those who are legally defined as Chamoru."

With the impending military presence to increase in the near future, it may make it difficult for Chamorus to exercise self-determination. The summit provided planning of concepts and identifying what the next steps are toward the movement. The Committee hopes to hold a summit every six months to present new findings and information to the community.

With the hope of uniting and educating generations of Guam's indigenous people in our island community towards the movement of Chamoru Self-Determination, several Chamoru professors and students gathered this morning for the Second Chamoru Summit. Entitled "Protecting Our Way of Life and Ensuring Our Survival," the forum brought out over 50 participants today to learn about effective Chamoru leadership and self-determination.
Committee chairperson for the planning of the Summit Lisa Natividad says the intent of the event was twofold: being an educational track to teach younger generations of Chamorus the meaning of self-determination and to create a planning committee.

"The different committees that we've established are specific to educational strategies on Chamoru self-determination, there's a second one on rethinking education for Chamorus, one on a legal committee looking at developing legal strategies for achieving self-determination, there's another one on revitalizing the Chamoru Registry, to get more Chamorus on the Registry, which is absolutely necessary as we move towards the vote," Natividad explained.

One of the organizers of the summit, former senator Hope Cristobal, says committees were broken into task forces to cover decolonization including statehood, free association, and independence. The Summit provided those committees to share new findings and report about their task force. She said, "We decided to do this because there has been no conversation in the public and we also noticed to have seemed to disappear in the discourse and conversation at the local political level and we felt we need to continue the conversation so we can study it a little more and see where we can go where we left off."

Natividad feels this issue has been dead in terms of community involvement and government leadership for many years and hopes the summit helps others understand its importance. "I think in order for Chamorus to be able to accomplish self-determination it's going to require the support of all community members and not just those who self-identify as a Chamoru or those who are legally defined as Chamoru."

With the impending military presence to increase in the near future, it may make it difficult for Chamorus to exercise self-determination. The summit provided planning of concepts and identifying what the next steps are toward the movement. The Committee hopes to hold a summit every six months to present new findings and information to the community.

22 October 2008

France Seeks Referendum in Mayotte despite UN Resolutions

The recent announcement by the government of France that it was preparing to conduct a referendum in March, 2009 among the inhabitants of the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte violates relevant United Nations resolutions which have rejected such an action. The proposed referendum would only offer the political status option of integration with France, with no other choice.

International legal experts have questioned both the legitimacy of such a referendum on a single alternative, as well as the fact that it would be conducted by France which occupies the island rather than by the United Nations or another international body.

The Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte has been a longstanding item on the agenda of the United Nations, but UN discussions on the future of the territory have been routinely deferred. A decision on whether the UN will examine the issue this year is scheduled for discussion on 23rd October by the UN General Committee which will make its recommendation to the full General Assembly.

Mayotte is located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique. The territory is part of the Union of Comoros, but is occupied by France which ignored the results of the only legitimate referendum held in 1974 where the people of Mayotte joined its compatriots in overwhelming supporting independence. The Comoros is a member of the African Union.

The Permanent Mission of Comoros has made available an Aide Memoire, (below) which provides an historical perspective on the continued challenges faced by the Union of Comoros on the disposition of Mayotte - an integral part of its national territory.

Aide memoir on the Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte

A global referendum for self-determination was organized in the Comoros archipelago on 22 December 1974 in conformity with an Agreement signed earlier by the French and the internal self-government of the Comoros in June 1973. Following the referendum, 96% of Comorian voted for independence. Contrary to the signed Agreement, the French Government wanted to reorganize another referendum island by island. This was not accepted by the Comorian authorities who went by the Agreement which stipulated that the results of the referendum would be counted globally.

On 6 July 1975 Comoros declared its independence following a resolution adopted by the Comoros House of Representatives convened for that purpose. The new Comorian State was unanimously admitted to the United Nations on 12 November 1975 by General Assembly resolution 3385 (XXX) reaffirming the need to respect the unity and territorial integrity of the Comoros composed of the islands of Anjouan, Grand Comore, Mayotte and Moheli. The new State is recognized by all international Organizations namely the Organization of African Unity (now African Union, AU), the Non Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States.

In February and April, France organized illegal referendums in Mayotte; on October 21 1976 the United Nations adopted resolution A/31/4 condemning those consultations and any other in the future.

Every year from 1976 to 1995, the UN General Assembly adopted resolutions on the Comorian island of Mayotte and placed on its agenda the item entitled “The Question of the Comorian island of Mayotte’’ as requested by its resolution 31/4 of 21 October 1976. Resolution 31/4 of 21 October 1976 condemned the referendums organized on the Comorian island of Mayotte by France on 8 and 11 April 1976 and rejected any kind of referendum or consultation which might be organized on the territory of Mayotte in the future by the French Government.

Since 1995 France requested the Comoros to sit and discuss bilaterally the question of the Comorian island of Mayotte and therefore requested the Comorian government, at the opening of each UN General Assembly not to include the question of Mayotte in the definitive agenda of the UN General Assembly sessions but defer it to the next session. Thus since 1995 the question of Mayotte has always been on the temporary agenda of the United Nations.

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted more than a dozen resolutions on the question entitled “The Question of the Comorian island of Mayotte” in which they condemned the illegal occupation of Mayotte by France and the unity and territorial integrity of the Comoros was every time reaffirmed in those resolutions.

In all those resolutions, the United Nations invited France to respect the Agreement signed by both French and Comorian Governments in 1973, called upon France to implement the wish expressed by the then French President to find a just solution to the problem of Mayotte, ardently requested France to speed up negotiations with the Comorian Government in view of the rapid return of Mayotte to the Comorian Republic.

Efforts to resolve the problem of the illegal occupation of the Comorian island of Mayotte have subsided and lost momentum.

During the Summit of the Organization of the African Union in Port Louis, Mauritius, in July 1976, the Head of States adopted resolution (497 XXVII) as a follow up mechanism of the Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte. The OAU Ad-hoc Committee on the question of the Comoros Island of Mayotte also known as the Committee of Seven composed of the following countries; Algeria, Cameroon, Comores, Gabon, Maurice, Mozambique, Tanzania has not met since decades. There is a risk that the issue might be forgotten indefinitely.

Despite the eagerness of all the successive Comorian Government, to sit and discuss with the French Government, French authorities have accelerated their actions and political activities by obliterating the Comorianity of Mayotte and imposing French Laws in the Comorian Island of Mayotte, which are mainly against the Comorian culture and religion.

In Mayotte, Comorian from the other islands have been harassed and humiliated before been expelled Manu military. Thousands of Comorian have lost their lives while traveling to Mayotte by improvised and rudimentary boats.

Last year the French government for the first time agreed to create a bilateral Commission Comorian and French. Since than, several meetings have taken place, in France, in the Comoros and last month in Mayotte, yet despite the efforts and willingness of the Comorian government to negotiate with France. Recently the French government has announced that in March 2009 it will organize a referendum in Mayotte with the intention of changing the political status of Mayotte from a “French Territorial Collectivity” to a French Overseas Department. This is in violation of the United Nations Resolution A/31/4 of October 1976.

Taking into consideration the recent decision of the French government, the Comorian government has clearly indicated that it wants the question of the Comorian island of Mayotte to be included in the definitive agenda of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly. On September 17, 2008 during the opening meeting of the UN General Committee decided to examine the question of Mayotte during its next meeting on which the date has to be fixed soon.

The French colonialism attitude on keeping the Comorian island of Mayotte under its occupation has clearly become aggressive. The recent event of the French government of unilaterally switching the Comorian telephone area code (269) from the Island of Mayotte is the most recent destructive and incomprehensible approach of the French authorities.

After more than 30 years of independence, it is clear that the French irritated the question of the Comorian island of Mayotte. There is therefore a need to act and to act fast. That is why Comorians are unanimous claiming the return of the Comorian island of Mayotte and their hope depends on the International Community and particularly the African Union. They believe that it’s only through a multilateral dialogue with the concerned parties that a road map for the return of the Comorian island of Mayotte to the Comoros could be elaborated in a fair manner.

Chronology of events

December 22, 1974

Consultation of the Comorian for the auto determination for the independence of the Comoros; 96% voted for the independence.

July 06, 1975

Unilateral proclamation for the independence of the Comoros by H.E.Mr Ahmed Abdallah Abderemane, President of the Internal Autonomy.

October 17, 1975

The United Nations Security Council adopt resolution 376 (1975) of 17 October 1975 and recommends the admission of the Comoros to the United Nations.

November 12, 1975

The General Assembly adopted resolution 3385 (XXX) reaffirming the need to respect the unity and territorial integrity of the Comoros composed of the islands of Anjouan, Grand Comore, Mayotte and Moheli, admit the Comoros to membership of the United Nations.

February 08 1976

France organized an illegal referendum on the Comorian Island of Mayotte.

February 11, 1976

France vetoed a resolution on the Question of the Comoros Island of Mayotte.

April 11, 1976

France organized another illegal referendum on the Comorian Island of Mayotte. Which was followed by several others referendums until 2001.

July 06, 1976

During the Summit of the Organization of the African Union in Port Louis, Mauritius, the Head of States adopted resolution CM/946 (XXVII) requested the Africa Group in New York to introduce the Question of Mayotte to the General Assembly and at the same time created the Ad-hoc Committee of (7) Algeria, Cameroon, Comores, Gabon, Maurice, Mozambique, Tanzania as a follow up mechanism of the Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte.

On it’s (31st) session the General Assembly of the United Nations introduced the Question entitled “ The Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte” in its agenda and since it has always been on the agenda of the General Assembly.

October 21, 1976

The General Assembly adopted Resolution 31/4 considering that the referendums imposed on the inhabitants of the Comorian island of Mayotte by France on 8 February and April 1976 null and void and constitute a violation of the Sovereignty of the Comorian State and its territorial integrity and that the occupation by France of the Comorian island of Mayotte constitutes a flagrant encroachment on the national unity of the Comorian State a Member of the United Nations. Condemned and considered null and void the referendums of organized by France and rejected any other form of referendum or consultation, which may be organized on the Comorian territory in Mayotte by France, and any foreign legislation purporting to legalize any French colonial presence on Comorian territory in Mayotte.

More than a dozen other resolutions were adopted by the General Assembly until 1995 when the Comorian Government accepted to withdraw the resolutions and decided to discuss with France.

December 1976

Mayotte became a “Collectivite Territorial Francaise” administrated by a “Prefet”.

December 22 1979

A Law was adopted and considered Mayotte belonging to the Republic Francaise.

April 1995

The French Government introduced a Law requiring Comorian entering the Comorian island of Mayotte to have an entrance visa.

October 1995

After a meeting in New York with the members of the OAU Ad-hoc Committee on the question of the Comoros Island of Mayotte also known as the Committee of Seven, the Comorian Government decided to withdraw its resolutions at the United Nations and accepted to sit and negotiate with the French Government. On the contrary, France organized several illegal referendums on the Comorian island of Mayotte.

June 2000

France organized another illegal referendum in Mayotte and changed its status and became “Collectivite Departemantale Francaise.”

March 2005

Comorian and French authorities created a Bilateral Commission; the question of Mayotte was among the major issues, discussed.

September 2005

Both the French and the Comorian Governments decided for the first time to suspend for 2 years to discussion of the “Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte” in the United Nations General Assembly.

March 2007

The French Government decided unilaterally to switch the Comorian telephone country code (269) of Mayotte and attached it with (262) the one of Reunion Island a French Department in the Indian Ocean.

June 2007

The AU Ad-hoc Committee on the question of the Comoros Island of Mayotte also known as the Committee of Seven met at the Ambassadorial level in New York to discuss on the French Government decision unilaterally on switching the Comorian telephone country code (269) of Mayotte and attached it with are code (262).

September 2008

The French government announced that it will organize a referendum in Mayotte in March 2009.

October 01, 2008