UN Calls for acceleration of self-determination for the small island territories
Excerpts from the United Nations Press Release with OTR Commentary
Fourth Committee Approves 11 Draft Resolutions as It Concludes General Debate on Decolonization Questions
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) concluded its consideration of decolonization questions this morning, forwarding 11 draft resolutions to the General Assembly, five of which it approved by recorded votes.
Resolution on Small Island Territories
As in past years, the Committee approved, without a vote, its omnibus draft 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.
That text would have the General Assembly reaffirm that it was ultimately for the peoples of the Territories themselves to determine freely their future political status.
(OTR: Yet, there are no self-determination processes underway in any of the seven listed Caribbean territories, and only New Caledonia in the Pacific has a recognised process.)
By the terms of a draft resolution on the Question of Western Sahara — also approved without a vote — the Assembly would welcome the efforts of the Secretary‑General and his Personal Envoy in search of a mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute, which would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, as well as 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.
OTR: The adoption of the resolution followed several days of 'point-counterpoint' over whether the dormant referendum process funded annually by the U.N. should be followed, or whether an alternative establishment of an "autonomous" status under Morocco should be followed).
Other draft resolutions approved without a vote today included three on the specific territories of New Caledonia, Tokelau and French Polynesia. The sixth text was on study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories, while a draft decision on Gibraltar would be considered at a later date.
Resolution on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 (e) of the United Nations Charter
Among the five texts requiring a recorded vote was a draft resolution on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 (e) of the United Nations Charter, which the Committee approved by 154 votes in favour to 1 against (Sierra Leone, who voted in error), with 4 abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).
By the terms of that draft, the General Assembly would request the administering Powers concerned to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General, for information purposes, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories for which they were respectively responsible.
OTR: The transmittal of information is a mandate of Article 73(b) of the United Nations Charter. Does this mean that these four 'States' have 'abstained' from the Charter ?)
Resolution on Economic and other activities affecting the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories
The Committee approved — by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (France, Palau, United Kingdom) — a draft resolution on economic and other activities affecting the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.
By that text, the General Assembly would urge the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources.
(Comment: The administering powers continue to ignore international law by usurping the natural resources of the territories affecting the economic interests of the territories. It is unclear why Palau - a former territory - abstained from a resolution which would support the economic advancement of its neighbors who still remain non self-governing. Or is this a function of its political status to consult with the U.S. on its foreign policy?)
Resolution on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations
The Committee also approved — by a recorded vote of 112 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 50 abstentions — a draft resolution on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations. By its terms, the General Assembly would urge those and other organizations of the United Nations system that had not yet provided assistance to the Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.
Comment: A repetitive comment from member States explaining the abstentions is that the rules of procedure of the relevant U.N. agencies muse be respected. Since this is the only way that the NSGTs participate in these U.N. bodies - through existing provisions in the rules of procedure - the reasons for the abstention remain puzzling...
Resolution on Dissemination of information on Decolonization
A draft resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization was approved by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 2 abstentions (Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), France). By that text, the Assembly would request that the United Nations undertake efforts to give publicity to its work in the field of decolonization.
(Comment: Apparently the administering and occupying powers do not wish the U.N. to disseminate information on a genuine decolonisation process. The abstention of the DRC is unexplainable...)
Resolution on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
The fifth text approved by a recorded vote was a draft resolution on Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which had 153 in favour to 6 against (Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Israel, Morocco, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (France). By its terms, the Assembly would, among other things, affirm its support for the aspirations of the peoples under colonial rule to exercise their right to self‑determination, including independence.
(Comment: Two of the main administering powers (UK,US) continue to refuse to foster independence for the territories under their administration since they derive much economic and strategic benefit from controlling these areas. France is, at least, paying lip service to the process in New Caledonia where independence is under consideration, although it manipulates the voter eligibility process which it controls. Morocco, of course, does not wish that this resolution be seen applying to Western Sahara while continuing to push their 'autonomy' proposal for the last formally-listed territory in Africa - yes, there are many others which are not so listed).
Some delegations expressed surprise and disapproval over programme budget implications amounting to an additional $269,000 assessed on that draft resolution.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to conclude its consideration of decolonization issues and to take action on several related draft resolutions contained in the Report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples for 2015 (document A/70/23). Also before the Committee were draft resolutions on offers by Member States of study and training for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/C.4/70/L.3), and on the Question of Western Sahara (document A/C.4/70/L.4). For further background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/584.
JEAN-FRANCIS RÉGIS ZINSOU (Benin) said his country believed firmly in the possibility of a just settlement in Western Sahara, and supported the efforts of Special Envoy Christopher Ross. However, Benin had grown impatient in waiting for a change for the good of the Maghreb region. “Africa needs all its children” to implement the 2030 development programmes, and regional integration was a high priority. The United Nations needed to make possible a timetable for credible negotiations, yet no action could succeed without all parties being committed to a spirit of compromise, he emphasized, adding that Benin wished to support the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco, which could provide a good-faith resolution of the conflict.
ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique) said that most of the current United Nations Member States were beneficiaries of the implementation of the 1960 General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV). “The granting of independence and self-determination of most former territories under colonization has reinforced the participation of their peoples in world affairs,” he said. However, the world still faced the harsh reality that some Territories were still under foreign occupation. The case of Western Sahara was a prime example, whereby concrete action was needed on the part of the United Nations to ensure that the Territory’s people could at long last exercise the right to self-determination, as called upon by the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. The Saharan people had been denied that inalienable right for more than 50 years, he noted, emphasizing that Mozambique supported the efforts and commitment of the international community, in particular the African Union, aimed at securing the holding of the long-delayed self‑determination referendum that could lead to a peaceful solution of that question.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his delegation stood firmly on the side of peaceful dialogue for peace and security. All the issues before the Committee could be resolved in that way, he added, emphasizing that the issue of Western Sahara was in some ways moving positively towards dialogue. He congratulated the commendable work being done by the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy in their quest for a viable and realistic solution to the question of Western Sahara, while expressing support for the steps taken by Morocco. The international community and neighbouring countries should act in a positive fashion in order to help the Sahel region benefit from the fruits of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Finally, he urged that the draft resolutions to be adopted on Western Sahara and other decolonization issues be agreed upon by consensus.
FRANÇOIS SOUMAH (Guinea) said that, having taken note of the Secretary-General’s report, his delegation appreciated all that had been done with regard to Western Sahara and welcomed the visits by Special Envoy Christopher Ross. The Secretary‑General had also asked that a census be carried out in the Tindouf refugee camps, he noted. Guinea believed Morocco’s proposed autonomy plan was the only framework for a lasting solution.
YOUSSOUPH DIALLO (Senegal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the autonomy plan put forth by Morocco was an appropriate framework with a felicitous outcome for the dispute that had lasted for so many decades. Many challenges proliferated in the region — terrorism, organized crime and trafficking in drugs and people — and the unity of the Maghreb countries strengthened and made possible better possibilities for actions to address those problems. Morocco’s proposed plan would also make it possible to deal with the refugees in the Tindouf camps.
MAURA MWINGIRA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the existence of colonialism of any sort was incompatible with the principles of the United Nations. “We should strive, therefore, in finding a lasting, justifiable solution that will be most agreeable to the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions,” she said. Reaffirming her delegation’s support for the aspirations of people under colonial rule to exercise their right to self‑determination, she went on to say that the question of Western Sahara was a divisive one, adding that that division was neither healthy, sustainable nor good for the Saharan people, whose right to self-determination was at stake. She urged all parties to set aside national self-interest and work together to give the Saharan people the right to determine their own future. The United Republic of Tanzania would continue to support the work of the Committee, the Secretary‑General and his Special Envoy, as well as the African Union, with the aim of reaching a lasting and peaceful solution to the question of Western Sahara and other remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, she said. Finally, she urged the Security Council to take all necessary steps to expedite a lasting solution on Western Sahara, as well as to address issues relating to human rights violations — regardless of which party committed them — and the illegal exploitation of the Territory’s natural resources.
PETER WILSON (United Kingdom) said his Government’s relationship with its Overseas Territories was a modern one based on partnership, shared values and the right of the people of each Territory to choose to remain British. Where the people of a Territory chose to remain British, the United Kingdom would maintain and deepen that special relationship, he said, adding that his country and its Territories recognized that their relationship brought mutual benefits and responsibilities. Since the publication of the Government’s White Paper “Security, Success and Sustainability”, in June 2012, the United Kingdom had worked closely with its Overseas Territories to develop their partnership further, he said, adding that elected leaders of the Overseas Territories were invited to participate in the annual meetings of the Joint Ministerial Council.
Citing the most recent communiqué of the Joint Ministerial Council, he said that, while the United Kingdom, its Overseas Territories and its Crown Dependencies formed one undivided realm under the Crown, each Territory was unique and had its own constitution, its own form of government and its own laws. The peoples of all the Territories had a right to self-determination, and for those that wished it, the United Kingdom would continue to support requests for the removal of that Territory from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The White Paper made clear that the United Kingdom Government’s fundamental responsibility and objective was to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples. The 2013 referendum in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) showed that an overwhelming majority wished to remain a Territory of the United Kingdom. In closing, he restated his country’s longstanding commitment to the people of Gibraltar, noting that the United Kingdom would not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar was not content.
AMADU KOROMA (Sierra Leone) said the right to self-determination was an inalienable right of peoples the world over, irrespective of their size, race, colour or ethnic origin. The international community was now at the midpoint of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, but the prospect of achieving the goals set out in the adopted Plan of Action was not encouraging. It was tempting to ask why very little had been achieved since 1990. “What is it that we are not doing right?” he asked, suggesting that an in-depth study might be necessary to determine the reasons behind the lack of progress. The Special Committee on Decolonization and the administering Powers needed to work together closely in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, he emphasized.
On Western Sahara, he said that was the longest-running dispute in Africa and the only African Territory remaining on the United Nations list. The decision by the African Union Peace and Security Council to consider the question of Western Sahara at least twice a year was a clear indication of the regional body’s readiness to scale up its role in the matter. It was crucial that the United Nations and the African Union maintain a high level of collaboration and cooperation in the quest for a peaceful, sustainable and mutually acceptable solution to the dispute, he said. Furthermore, the Secretary-General’s recent warning that the lack of a political solution could have regional repercussions amid the growing threat of extremism in the Sahel region should be taken seriously, he stressed.
JUDY OTTO (Palau) said that, on 1 October, her country had celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of its independence, and thus, her delegation understood and empathized with those undergoing the decolonization process. On Western Sahara, she expressed hope that the United Nations would press ahead on the matter and ensure an agreement that was acceptable to the Saharan people.
JAMAL AL MUSHARAKH (United Arab Emirates) expressed support for agreements based on international law, as well as on Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Commending the efforts of Morocco to that end, as well as the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, he also voiced support for Security Council resolution 2218 (2015), saying it would have a positive impact on peace and security in the Maghreb region.
ANTHONY BOSAH (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, since its creation in 1945, the United Nations had been the “bastion and focal point” of international efforts to ensure that the right to self‑determination was granted to Territories under colonial rule. However, that process remained incomplete. The eradication of all forms of colonialism and the promotion of the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination remained a key priority of the Organization and must be pursued with added impetus. More than 40 years had passed since the International Court of Justice had delivered its advisory opinion on Western Sahara, yet the issue remained on the Committee’s agenda, he noted. It was inappropriate that, since the 1979 adoption of General Assembly resolution 34/37 recognizing the right of the Territory’s people to self‑determination on the basis of a referendum, not much had been achieved in negotiations. Nigeria viewed the quest for a free and impartial referendum on self-determination for the Saharan people as one of the most pressing tasks of the United Nations.
MUHAMMAD ANSHOR (Indonesia) said that, in the fifth year of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the fact that 17 colonies remained on the United Nations list meant the Committee’s work was far from over. Indonesia welcomed political efforts and the work of the visiting missions on the ground, which provided the necessary information on the political, social and economic situation in each Territory. Beyond that, however, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) should provide the technical input needed to enhance dialogue between the administering Powers and the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Furthermore, the Committee needed to double its efforts for the decolonization of the remaining Territories as a prerequisite to achieving all the goals of development. It was Indonesia’s view that such endeavours should be carried out under the principles of the United Nations Charter, taking the specificities of each Territory into account on a case-by-case basis.
ISMAEL A. GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) expressed concern over the unilateral measures taken by the State of Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on East Jerusalem. Angola called on Israel to cease its policy of illegal occupation and construction of settlements, which had been a major source of violent conflict, reaching a peak in recent days. Thus, it supported efforts for the re-launch of direct talks between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in order to foster the principle of two independent States within internationally agreed borders. The question of Western Sahara was still a concern, as no real progress had been made in the negotiations between the parties. More than a quarter of a century had passed since the ceasefire and the adoption of a peace plan, he noted, adding that a just solution to that conflict should start with a self-determination referendum.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said the Fourth Committee remained fully instrumental and decisive in the duty bestowed upon the United Nations to effect the decolonization process. “It is rather puzzling that we are still debating the issue of decolonization”, an anachronism in the twenty-first century, he said. There remained an unfulfilled responsibility towards the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories. “There is a tremendous meaning to the principle of self‑determination,” he emphasized, describing it as a “cornerstone” of the Organization’s work. Algeria therefore fully supported the Committee’s work, he said, adding: “The ink that served to draft resolution 1514 (XV) has not dried yet.”
Turning to the question of Western Sahara, he said the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente Polisario) was the Territory’s legitimate representative, adding that the matter was a question of decolonization and the Committee was mandated to address it. The question could only be resolved through the granting of self-determination to the Saharan people. Many resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as the ruling of the International Court of Justice, agreed that the right of the Saharan people should be granted in line with the right to self-determination. To that end, Algeria would support all fact-finding missions from the United Nations, media or non-governmental organizations. In light of reports of the increasing resource exploitation in the Territory, all those present should be aware of the 2002 United Nations legal opinion: if those activities proceeded, they would be in violation of the principles of international law regarding the exploitation of the natural resources of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
He went on to recall that the Heads of State and Government of the African Union had affirmed their “unwavering and unconditional support” for the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination. The regional organization had also called upon the General Assembly to determine a date for a referendum in Western Sahara and had urged the Security Council to fully assume its responsibilities with regard to the protection of human rights and natural resources in the Territory. The African Union had further reaffirmed its commitment to Western Sahara’s right to self-determination in all its resolutions. “It is with steadfast regularity” that the Security Council supported that right, he said, adding that Algeria still believed that the peaceful settlement of the question of Western Sahara was “possible, feasible and attainable”. However, no one had the right to change the rules laid out by the “sole referees”, the Security Council and the General Assembly.
Noting that some representatives had mentioned the risks that the conflict entailed for the region, he said he agreed, emphasizing that no country was more concerned about that than Algeria, which had proven its commitment to peace. He also stressed the need to support the United Nations, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). The Saharan people continued to believe in the United Nations and in the Fourth Committee, even while seeing aid shrinking. It was a shame that some in the Committee had dared to describe the refugees as “captives”. The Saharans had abided strictly by the ceasefire, and had always cooperated with MINURSO. Algeria urged the Committee members to speak directly to the Frente Polisario leadership and to the people of Western Sahara. “We are not here to score points against anyone,” he stressed. Instead, Algeria believed in free choice for the Saharan people to achieve the future they wanted. It would be the first to applaud and endorse any decision that the Saharan people chose. “This is the responsibility we all share here,” he said.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the Fourth Committee’s 2015 session was taking place at a critical time for the people of Western Sahara, with the celebration of two important anniversaries. The first was the fortieth anniversary of the glorious Green March in which 350,000 people, brandishing the Moroccan flag and the Koran, had celebrated the reunification of Western Sahara. The signing of the Madrid Accords, between Morocco and Spain and confirmed by the General Assembly, had put an end to the Territory’s colonial status and sealed the return of Western Sahara to the motherland, Morocco, in 1975. The issue of Western Sahara was therefore not a matter of decolonization but a question of restoring the territorial integrity of Morocco.
The second historic event had taken place on 4 September, with the holding of the first regional elections for Morocco’s new configuration in 12 regions, including two in Western Sahara, he said. The people of the southern provinces had once again proved, with strength and determination, their undying attachment to the motherland through massive participation. The Sahara region had witnessed the highest participation rate at the national level, with a 79-per-cent turnout. Some 4,000 independent foreign and national observers from six international organizations had provided all the guarantees of freedom, equity and transparency during the process. The vote had also permitted the election of two Saharans to the presidency of two Saharan regions, one of whom had been a former Frente Polisario representative who had returned to the motherland around 10 years ago.
He recalled that King Mohammed VI, addressing the two chambers of Parliament, had declared on 9 October that, because those officials had received democratic and popular legitimacy through the election, they were the true representatives of the “Moroccan Sahara”, unlike a minority of the people residing outside the motherland who were trying falsely and without legal basis to arrogate to themselves the characteristics of the region’s populations. Morocco had always pursued dialogue at the United Nations as a means to end the dispute, and to implement the settlement plan in good faith. Since the framework agreement put forth by James Baker, there had been a failure of several proposals for Morocco because of various manoeuvres and backtracking, which had led the Security Council to adopt several initiatives since 2004 to put an end to the deadlock. In 2007, Morocco had put forth the autonomy plan drawn up by local and national representatives, in lieu of the pseudo-alternatives brought forth by other groups.
The Moroccan autonomy plan satisfied the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara, giving them many prerogatives, he continued. It was obviously not the end, but the beginning, of an agreement that would be submitted to a referendum by the people of Western Sahara, as well as those of Morocco. Since the return of the southern provinces to the motherland, Morocco had put forth its best efforts to bring prosperity to the people there. Each dollar of the feeble financial resources coming from the area had been reinvested for the benefit of the Saharan people in order to achieve development. To that end, Morocco was deeply concerned about the absence of a census in the Tindouf camps, he said, adding that the world needed to know the number of people there in order that they not be denied humanitarian aid or see the assistance intended for them fraudulently embezzled to enrich members of the Frente Polisario. He concluded by stating that it was not just the business of a King or a Government to keep Moroccan Sahara united, but the sacred call of 356 million people. Morocco was prepared to defend its national integrity and would not allow any deviation that would damage the region, he emphasized.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), welcomed the Committee’s recent decision to hold annual meetings with the Secretary-General, with the aim of advancing efforts towards decolonization, as well as the holding of several meetings with each administering Power for the first time in several years. The international community was halfway through the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and thus the time was ripe for a deeper evaluation of what had been achieved and what needed to be done to facilitate the decolonization of each Non-Self-Governing Territory, while taking into consideration their specific situations. Jamaica maintained its support for the initiatives of the General Assembly and the Security Council on the question of Western Sahara, and encouraged dialogue and understanding, trust and mutual respect among all parties, he said, pointing out that several Non‑Self‑Governing Territories were in the Caribbean and the issue was therefore of special importance to his delegation.
Right of Reply
The representative of Argentina, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said in response to the statement by his counterpart from the United Kingdom, that the Malvinas, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas were an integral part of Argentina’s territory under occupation by the United Kingdom. That illegal occupation had led the General Assembly to adopt a number of related resolutions and was the subject of discussions calling on the two parties to find a solution to the dispute. He rejected any reference to the White Paper and rejected any unilateral British action on the archipelago and the surrounding areas.
He went on to reject totally any references to “Overseas British Territories”, noting that they extended to Argentina’s territories. The question of the Malvinas was defined as a “special and particular” case of sovereignty that did not involve the principle of self-determination. To dissipate any doubt about that, the General Assembly had specifically discarded that principle in 1985, when it rejected two British initiatives to amend resolutions on the issue. As for the unilateral “referendum” called by the United Kingdom, he said it had been a referendum held among British citizens implanted on the islands, a spurious tautological exercise amounting to asking the British if they wished to continue being British. Argentina reasserted its sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas as integral parts of its national territory.
The representative of Spain, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, in response to the United Kingdom’s statement on Gibraltar, said his delegation aligned itself fully with the United Nations doctrine of self‑determination. Gibraltar was an “amputated” part of Spain and a resolution of the dispute depended upon bilateral negotiations between Spain and the United Kingdom, in line with the Brussels Declaration of 1984. The international status of Gibraltar had not changed; it was illegally occupied by the United Kingdom, he said, reiterating his offer to re-enter bilateral negotiations on the issue.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee first took up draft resolution I, on information from Non‑Self‑Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 (e) of the Charter of the United Nations, approving it by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 1 against (Sierra Leone), with 4 abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).
Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said he had abstained not because he objected to the draft resolution, but because he believed that the decision of a Non-Self-Governing Territory to leave the administering Power was ultimately a decision for the Territory and the administering Power, and not the General Assembly.
Also speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Sierra Leone said he had voted in error, and that he had intended to vote in favour.
The Committee Chair asked the Secretary to register the new vote.
Taking up draft resolution II on Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (France, Palau, United Kingdom).
Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, the representative of Argentina stated that, as part and parcel of a permanent resolution on decolonization, the applicability of the text would depend upon the right to self‑determination, which required an active subject. Since an active subject did not exist, it did not apply. Because the Malvinas were illegally occupied by the United Kingdom, the issue of self-determination was inapplicable. The way to end the dispute was not self-determination, but negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
The Committee then took up draft resolution III on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations, approving it by a recorded vote of 112 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 50 abstentions.
Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the United Kingdom reaffirmed his country’s support for the specialized agencies in the humanitarian field, but said that their individual statutes must be respected. The United Kingdom had therefore abstained.
Also speaking in explanation, the representative of Argentina said the draft should be applied in conformity with resolutions of the General Assembly and the Committee on specific territories only.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on offers by Member States of study and training for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/C.4/70/L.3), approving it without a vote.
It then took up a draft resolution on the Question of Western Sahara (document A/C.4/70/L.4).
Making a general statement before the vote, the representative of the European Union said the bloc reaffirmed its full support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. It encouraged the parties and neighbouring States to continue to work with the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Christopher Ross, to move the political process forward. He also expressed support for the methodology of shuttle diplomacy proposed by the Special Envoy and encouraged the parties to continue to cooperate with MINURSO, as well as to collaborate further with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in implementation of its Confidence-Building Measures (CBM) programme, namely in the resumption of family visits. The European Union was convinced that progress on those issues could help improve the atmosphere of the political process.
The Committee then approved the text without a vote.
Next, the Committee took up draft resolutions IV, V, VI and VII, approving them all without a vote. Those texts related, respectively, to the Question of New Caledonia, the Question of French Polynesia, the Question of Tokelau, and the Questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.
Speaking in explanation of position after the decision, the representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation had joined the consensus, reflecting its full support for the principle of self-determination. Regrettably, however, the Special Committee continued with its “outdated” approach, he said, emphasizing that his country’s Overseas Territories had all freely chosen to retain their link to the United Kingdom. The draft did not reflect the modern relationship that country had with its Overseas Territories, he added.
Also speaking in explanation of his position, the representative of Spain said he had joined the consensus in favour of the draft resolution because his country supported the principle of self-determination. However, self‑determination was not the only defining principle when it came to decolonization, he said, stressing that, on the question of Gibraltar, the Committee should apply the principle of territorial integrity. Spain was ready to reach an agreement on that Territory, with the consent of the United Nations.
The representative of Argentina, also speaking in explanation of position, said it was up to the people to determine freely the purposes of self‑determination, in collaboration with the governing Powers, but in the case of the Malvinas, the principle of territorial integrity should apply. Argentina was willing to renew negotiations with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas, he added.
Taking up draft resolution VIII on dissemination of information on decolonization, the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 2 abstentions (Democratic Republic of the Congo and France).
Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the United Kingdom said he had voted against the text because the obligation to publicize decolonization issues put a drain on the resources of the United Nations.
Also speaking in explanation, the representative of Argentina expressed his strong support for the right to self-determination of peoples in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514. However, the text just approved should be interpreted and applied to the draft resolutions at hand. Until today, all the pronouncements on the Malvinas had described it as a special consideration because it involved an issue of sovereignty. Argentina was ready to resolve the dispute and relaunch bilateral negotiations to find a solution, while taking into account the wishes of the Territory’s inhabitants.
The Committee then approved draft resolution IX, on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 6 against (Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Israel, Morocco, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (France).
Speaking in explanation of position was the representative of Morocco, who said that the Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization had used “subterfuge” in submitting the report on the Managua Regional Seminar on Decolonization, while knowing full well that many delegations would be deprived of their right to express their rejection of its procedural portion. Morocco rejected the report as a violation not only of the Special Committee’s credibility, but also its very existence.
Also speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Chile, Rapporteur of the Managua Seminar, said the report had been approved in the presence of the Moroccan delegation, and if the delegates had not been paying attention, that was not the Special Committee’s problem.
The representative of Cuba said the Managua Seminar had been successful — the report had been analysed and the text endorsed. No delegation had challenged the procedural text.
Recalling that he had chaired the Special Committee, the representative of Ecuador said he would vote in favour of the draft resolution, pointing out that the procedural part of the report had been adopted without objection. “If anybody is doing political manoeuvres, it’s not us,” he added.
The representative of Nicaragua said he would vote in favour of the text. The report had been approved in Managua, and the remarks by the delegate from Morocco were unfortunate.
Associating herself with all the previous statements, the representative of Venezuela expressed support for the working methods of the Managua Seminar.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said he found some parts of the draft resolution unacceptable because of the programme budget implications. The budget had not been reviewed and it seemed that approval of the text should not precede discussion in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
Also speaking after the vote, the representative of France voiced concerns about some of the budgetary articles, “without prejudice”.
The representative of Japan, speaking after voting in favour of the text, expressed disappointment with regard to the budgetary issues, saying it was regrettable that almost all delegations had not expected them.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United States said his delegation maintained its well-known concerns about the budget, and that he had just received programme budget implications amounting to $269,000. The delegation of the United States had voted against the draft resolution because it felt that the United Nations should use the resources available.
The representative of Canada said she supported implementation of the draft resolution, but expressed serious concerns over the programme budget implications. The Secretary-General had just submitted his budget and she was surprised that the activities would not fall within the existing request. Canada would be looking at it seriously, she added.
Spain’s representative said he had voted in favour of the draft because he supported the principle of self-determination, but only where self–determination applied, not with respect to sovereignty.
The representative of Argentina stated that visiting missions only took place in relation to issues of self-determination, to not territorial disputes. Visiting missons should consider each specific case with regard to resolutions of the United Nations.
It was announced that consideration of a draft decision on the Question of Gibraltar would be taken up at a later date.
 A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).