18 August 2008

Non Aligned Movement Adopts 2008 Recommendations on Self-Determination

Some 118 Ministers of state or government of the Non Aligned Movement, at its 15th Ministerial Conference held in Tehran from 27-30 July 2008, adopted a final communiqué with specific portions directly relevant to overseas countries and territories, including indigenous peoples in those territories. In this connection, the relevant provisions are excerpted:


Relevant Decisions of 2008 Non Aligned Movement

Self-Determination and Decolonisation

38. The Ministers reaffirmed and underscored the validity and relevance of the Movement's principled positions concerning the right to self-determination of peoples under foreign occupation and colonial or alien domination, as follows:

38.1 The Movement stressed the fundamental and inalienable right of all peoples, including all non-self governing territories, as well as those territories under foreign occupation and colonial or alien domination, to self determination, the exercise of which, in the case of peoples under foreign occupation and colonial or alien domination, remains valid and essential to ensure the eradication of all these situations and to guarantee universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

38.2 The Movement reaffirmed the right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence on the basis of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and expressed its unwavering support to the resolutions on Puerto Rico adopted by the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation; and called for their immediate implementation.

38.3 The Movement remained concerned at the loss, destruction, removal, theft, pillage, illicit movement or misappropriation of and any acts of vandalism or damage, directed against cultural property in areas of armed conflict and territories that are occupied.

39. Consistent with and guided by the afore-mentioned principled positions and affirming the need to preserve, defend and promote these positions, the Ministers agreed to undertake the following measures, among others:

39.1 Strongly support the work and activities of the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, and again urge the Administering Powers to grant their full support to the activities of the Committee and fully cooperate with this UN body;

39.2 Request the colonialist countries to pay full compensation for the economic, social and cultural consequences of their occupation, bearing in mind the right of all people who were or are still subjected to colonial rule or occupation to receive fair compensation for the human and material losses they suffered as a result of colonial rule or occupation;

39.3 Strongly condemn the ongoing brutal suppression of the legitimate aspirations to self-determination of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation in various regions of the world;

39.4 Urge UN Member States to fully implement the decisions and resolutions of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) concerning the return of cultural properties to the peoples who were or still under colonial rule or occupation, and in this regard, further urge UNESCO to identify the stolen or illegally exported cultural properties in accordance with the relevant conventions on the subject, and also urge the process of returning these properties to their countries of origin, in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, be expedited, bearing in mind the right of the Non-Aligned Countries to maintain and conserve their national heritage as it constitutes the foundation of their cultural identity;

39.5 Renew its call to UN Member States to speed up the process of decolonisation towards the complete elimination of colonialism, and including by supporting the effective implementation of the Plan of Action of the Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010);

39.6 Work towards the full implementation of the principle of self-determination with respect to the remaining territories within the framework of the Programme of Action of the Special Committee on Decolonisation, in accordance with the wishes of the people consistent with the UN Charter and the relevant UN resolutions; 13

39.7 Oppose any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a State, which is incompatible with the UN Charter; and

39.8 Call on the Government of the United States to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and urges the Government of the United States to return the occupied land and installations on Vieques Island and at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station to the Puerto Rican people, who constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation.

39.9 Work actively to have the U.N. General Assembly to consider in its 63rd Session the question of Puerto Rico in all its aspects;


154. The Ministers reiterated that democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. They reaffirmed that while all democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy, that it does not belong to any country or region, and further reaffirmed the necessity of due respect for sovereignty and the right to self-determination. They expressed their conviction that international co-operation for the promotion of democracy, on the basis of respect for the principles enshrined in the UN Charter as well as those of transparency, impartiality, nonselectivity and inclusiveness, could contribute to the attainment of the goal of democracy consolidation at national and international levels.

155. The Ministers reaffirmed that democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The international community should support the strengthening and promotion of democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the entire world, in compliance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

Chagos Archipelago

196. The Ministers reaffirmed that Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, is an integral part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Mauritius. In this regard, they called on once again the former colonial power to pursue constructive dialogue expeditiously with Mauritius with a view to enable Mauritius to exercise its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.

Western Sahara

208. The Ministers reaffirmed the previous positions of the Non-Aligned Movement on the question of Western Sahara.

209. The Ministers reaffirmed all resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council on Western Sahara. They reaffirmed UN General Assembly resolution 62/116, adopted without a vote, and reiterated that, in accordance with the said resolution, they continued to support strongly the efforts of the Secretary General and his Personal Envoy to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution which will provide self-determination for the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 and other relevant resolutions. The Ministers recognized that all available options for self-determination are valid as long as they are in accordance with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned and in conformity with the clearly defined principles contained in General Assembly Resolutions.

210. Bearing in mind the above, the Ministers welcomed the four rounds of negotiation held under the auspices of the Secretary General and welcomed the commitment of the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, in order to enter into a more intensive phase of negotiations, thus ensuring implementation of Security Council resolutions 1754, 1783 and 1813 and the success of negotiations. They took note of efforts and developments since 2006.

211. They called upon the parties and the States in the region to cooperate fully with the Secretary General and his Personal Envoy, and with each other, and reaffirmed the responsibility of the United Nations towards the people of Western Sahara. They further welcomed the commitment of the parties to continue the process of negotiations through United Nations sponsored talks.

Indigenous Peoples

361. The Ministers took note with deep appreciation of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples by the General Assembly. Likewise, they reiterated their support for the need to promote the economic, political and cultural rights of the indigenous peoples and their commitment to give special attention to the efforts made at the national and multilateral levels in order to improve their living conditions through civil participation. Likewise, in face of undue appropriation and use of the traditional indigenous knowledge, they agreed to promote the defence of the bio-cultural collective heritage to allow indigenous peoples to have appropriate legal instruments on intellectual property so that their
traditional knowledge is protected against unauthorized or inappropriate use by third

362. The Ministers also supported the need to promote within the UN system, in particular its agencies, funds and programmes, the rights of indigenous peoples, through a series of policies and programmes for the improvement of indigenous peoples’ well-being around the world and, where applicable, through the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

363. The Ministers took note with appreciation of the adoption of the Human Rights Council resolution 6/36 of 14 December 2007, that established the expert mechanism on
the rights of indigenous peoples to provide the Council with thematic expertise on the rights of indigenous peoples.