11 October 2010

U.N. Special Political Committee Adopts 12 Decolonisation Resolutions

Decolonisation has gone "From Unfinished Agenda to Unattended One,"  Warns CARICOM.

Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Fourth Committee
7th Meeting (AM)

Fourth Committee Sends 12 Draft Texts to General Assembly on Decolonization,

Including Request for Third International Decade, Concludes Debate on Topic

'United Nations Decolonization Effort in ‘Virtual Inertia'

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), guided by the fundamental and universal principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, would have the General Assembly declare the period 2011-2020 as the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, by one of 12 draft texts approved today, capping its general debate on decolonization.

That draft, which also calls upon Member States to intensify their efforts to continue to implement the plan of action for the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and use those efforts as the basis for a plan of action for the next Decade, was approved by a recorded vote of 130 in favour and 3 against (Israel, United States, United Kingdom), with 20 abstentions.

The Committee also proposed, in a resolution on the Fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, that the Assembly urge Member States to do their utmost to promote effective measures for the full and speedy implementation of the Declaration in all Non-Self-Governing Territories to which the Declaration applied.

Also by that text, similarly approved by a recorded vote of 150 in favour and 3 against (United States, United Kingdom, Israel) and no abstentions, the Assembly would urge the administering Powers and other Member States to ensure that the activities of foreign economic and other interests in colonial Territories did not run counter to the interests of the inhabitants of those Territories and did not impede the implementation of the Declaration.

The representative of the United Kingdom, explaining his delegation’s opposition to both those texts, said the proposals for the Third International Decade and the Fiftieth anniversary of the Decolonization Declaration were “unacceptable”, as the texts failed to recognize the progress that had been made in the relationship between the United Kingdom and its territories. With regard to the text relating to the Third International decade, his delegation strongly considered the “Special Committee of 24” to be outdated, and believed that the United Nations should devote its resources to more urgent issues.

Five other drafts also required recorded votes for passage. Those texts were on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories; and on implementation of the (decolonisation) Declaration by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations.

Three resolutions and one draft decision on four of the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories were approved without a vote, as was a resolution on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories. An omnibus resolution on the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands was postponed until a later date.

Prior to consideration of the drafts, the Committee wrapped up its general debate on decolonization, begun on 4 October. Jamaica’s representative Ambassador Raymond Wolfe, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it was not so long ago that each of the 14 States in that group had been colonies, having since been decolonized with the United Nations support. However, in recent years, the work of the United Nations remained in a state of “virtual inertia” and was devolving from an “unfinished agenda” to an unattended one.

He went on to say that the United Nations stood at a historical crossroads. While there was a reaffirmation of decolonization in statements and resolutions, this was insufficient if the corresponding mandates were not operationalized.

Zambia’s representative said that it was regrettable that the process of decolonization was still incomplete, leaving the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to endure suffering. He urged parties to continue engaging in dialogue in order to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution, and expressed the hope that the Organization’s efforts would accelerate the process leading up to self-determination, especially by the people of Western Sahara.

Also speaking to the conflict over Western Sahara, the representative of Algeria said the exercise of the right of self-determination was a permanent axis of his country’s foreign policy. Faithful to its commitments to Africa, he reaffirmed Algeria’s “brotherly solidarity” and pledged support to the inalienable right to self-determination, such as through Security Council resolution 1754 (2007) which aimed to re-launch negotiations to end the impasse and promote dialogue in Western Sahara.

While the differences that had undermined the first four sets of formal negotiations were widely known, Algeria’s speaker welcomed the re-launch of informal negotiations, as long as the parties ascribed to a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution. Participating in formal and informal talks, Algeria was fully aware of its responsibilities to the people in the region and in recognition that peace was in everyone’s self-interest. He reiterated his support for expansion of confidence-building measures, as the building of a prosperous Western Sahara was part and parcel of its historical fate.

The representative of Morocco said that prior to submitting its autonomy plan to the Security Council three years ago, Morocco had ensured the plan’s “national legitimacy” by involving representatives of the population and the entire political spectrum in its drafting. Still, he said Algeria and the Polisario persisted in their “business as usual” attitude, putting forth a whole gamut of subterfuges to undermine a fragile and difficult negotiating process.

The Maghreb needed Morocco, just as it needed Algeria, he stressed. The united Maghreb was grounded on respect for the territorial integrity of all, reconciliation, and a sincere commitment to build on a Maghreb edifice that was strong, politically supportive, and capable of taking its rightful place. “We reach out to our Algerian brothers and have made the strategic choice of negotiation to achieve this common future,” he said.

Also speaking in the debate were the representatives of Kenya, India, Libya, South Africa, Ecuador and Uganda.

During consideration of the various draft texts, the representatives Argentina, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Fiji, Saint Lucia, and Bolivia spoke in explanation of position.

The detailed press release can be read by clicking here.