19 December 2019

U.N. General Assembly - Indigenous Languages Face Extinction



Indigenous Languages Face Extinction Without Concrete Action to Protect Them, Speakers Warn General Assembly, as International Year Concludes

Two Vanish Each Month, President Says, Urging Focus on Survival of Remaining Ones Rather than Assigning Blame Indigenous languages are in danger of extinction unless concrete measures are taken to protect them, speakers warned today, as the General Assembly convened a high‑level event marking the conclusion of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said that to prevent the extinction of indigenous languages, speaking them must be normalized and promoted. Citing several benefits of doing so, he said the languages express the wisdom, world view and laws of ancestors, and teach how people can live in balance with Earth, which will be vital in facing future ecological challenges.

Tijjani Muhammad‑Bande (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, cautioned that every two weeks, at least one indigenous language vanishes, leading to two language extinctions each month. At the same time, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples calls on States to take concrete measures to preserve them and combat discrimination against them through related effective policies. Rather than look for who to blame, he urged, the world should focus on measures to ensure the survival of remaining ones.

Liu Zhemin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, warned that with every time a language disappears, the world loses a wealth of traditional knowledge. Mr. Zhemin, who also serves as the Senior Official of the United Nations System to Coordinate Follow Up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, called for their political, economic and social empowerment, given that they face continued marginalization and the expropriation of their lands. Further, the 2020 World Population and Housing Census must ask about regular home use of indigenous languages, not just what languages are spoken.

Yalitza Aparicio, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Goodwill Ambassador for Indigenous Peoples, recalled her own experience growing up in Mexico, where her parents taught her Spanish, but not their indigenous mother tongue. “We are not different or strange beings the way we are often made to feel when we are stared at because of our colourful clothes, or the colour of our dark skin and our physical characteristics, or for the language we speak, which are codes of our history,” she said.

Anne Nuorgam (Finland), Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, called upon Member States to formulate evidence‑based policies, long‑term strategies and regulatory frameworks to ensure the protection and revitalization of these languages. Indeed, expanding the use of their languages allows them to have better access to services, such as health care or legal proceedings. Meanwhile, language barriers make indigenous peoples vulnerable to actions by others that threaten their land, natural resources, cultures, sacred sites or economic livelihoods.

Marie‑Paule Roudil, Director of the UNESCO New York Liaison Office, highlighted the achievements of the International Year, noting that more than 900 events were held, bringing together key players, and distributing training materials on how to preserve, protect and promote indigenous languages. Describing indigenous peoples as guardians of knowledge, she said that knowledge can only be conveyed and transmitted through one vehicle — language. “Protection and promotion of indigenous languages is our common responsibility,” she declared.

During the day, the Assembly held a plenary segment, hearing statements from Member States, observers and representatives of indigenous peoples from the seven sociocultural regions and United Nations entities.

In closing remarks this afternoon, Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, Co‑Chair of the Steering Committee of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, welcomed the decision to proclaim a Decade for Indigenous Languages. “Let us work on a positive and assertive plan of action,” he said, adding: “Starting now, no more indigenous languages will die.” They are living and the value they add to the beauty and rich diversity of humankind can only make the world better. By 2032, there will be at minimum a doubling in the language fluency among indigenous language speakers. Many interventions must work together as one to ensure that indigenous languages are not subject to further gaps or marginalization, and must be accomplished by joining efforts outlined in the objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Craig Ritchie, also Co‑Chair of the Steering Committee, said language matters to people on a personal and individual level. “They also matter to us as nations,” he said, noting that the International Year was a chance to highlight the damage done when language is lost. “We look back on a year of tremendous success and celebration. We are still here, and our voices are being heard.” While this year of recognizing that all people gain when indigenous languages are preserved and revitalized, he said, despite the progress, much work remains to be done.

Assembly President Mr. Muhammad‑Bande said, in his closing remarks, that indigenous peoples and their languages are an integral part of the global identity. “There is no doubt that the protection of linguistic diversity and multilingualism is crucial for peaceful co‑existence, good governance and sustainable development within and across countries,” he said, calling on Governments to redouble their efforts to include the use of indigenous languages in public life, and to provide the resources needed to make this happen.

Also speaking were: Kristen Carpenter, Chairperson of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Ali Keskitalo, Co‑Chair and Steering Committee Representative of the Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic; and Juan Fernando Velasco Torres, Minister for Culture and Heritage of Ecuador and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.

12 August 2019


Nos Ke Boneiru Bek, due to escalating discrimination and lack of respect by the new Dutch immigrants for the humble Bonerians, has recently launched an awareness and information campaign to protect Bonaire as we are a nation with its own culture, language, and our own way of life.

One of our main objective with this campaign is to expose and bring to light cases of injustice to the people of Bonaire committed by individuals, organizations, the local and Dutch government and their governmental institutions of abusive discriminatory actions, policies, laws and governmental corruption that are violating the fundamental civil, economic, social, political and cultural rights of our peoples. 

In our struggle to raise awareness by publicizing factual information on violations of aforementioned rights, NKBB was approached by Mr Rene Lauffer, former president-director of Oil Trading Bonaire, that recently denounced and exposed governmental corruption-scandal in the energetic sector. Mr Lauffer recognizes NKBB efforts to protect the rights of the Bonerians peoples and volunteered to share in our upcoming campaign series with valuable factual information based on his experience and expertise in this main socio-economic sector.

Mr Rene Lauffer (l), former president-director of OTB, join forces with NKBB 

to fight injustice and violation of fundamental rights of the Bonerian people.

Mr. Lauffer :
-        The stage is set and is very clear that the Dutch policy together with the local government is directed to eliminate the Oil Trading Bonaire.

-        The consequences hereof will result in another mayor loss of possibilities and potential income for the local government that would amount to two (2) or three (3) times more than the “vrije uitkering”.

-        Another mayor economic risk factor is that the strategic and secure fuel supply will never become same, equal as in Holland in Europe. But what most Bonerians, especially the majority of the peoples below the poverty line, are experiencing a continues raise in all fuel-related-economic and food consumer prices and especially WEB tariffs.

-        By elimination of  OTB the Bonaire peoples will lose the possibility of alleviation of  lowered and reduced WEB bills as much of  $.100 (one hundred U$) - to $150 (one hundred-fifty U$) every month.

Mr Lauffer voiced he will be committed to bring awareness in upcoming information series because “his love for Bonaire and the peoples” and that the “fast pace of the developments are not in the interest of Bonaire and its peoples”, although not being a whistle-blower, but made so by this local government corruption-scandal, his future on Bonaire is minimized.  Mr Lauffer is committed however to leave valuable information behind for the future generations.


Statement to Special Committee on Decolonization (C24) 

Ms. Tiare-Maohi TAIRUA
President of the Association Union Chrétienne des Jeunes Gens 
United Nations, New York, N.Y. 
27th June 2019 

Madam Chair, 

Distinguished Members of the Special Committee, 

Independent expert analyses as the Blue Ocean Report on the French control of natural resources of French Polynesia as a violation of international law, the 2014 Independent Report on "The French Nuclear Testing in Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia," the 2013 independent "Self-Governance Assessment on Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia (already acknowledged by the General Assembly), and others could prove highly useful in informing the C24 and other relevant U.N. bodies of the challenges faced by the territories amid the insufficient implementation of the decolonization mandate in relation to French Polynesia and other territories similarly situated. 

Such independent analysis separates the facts from the political "spin" designed to lend an unwarranted legitimacy to contemporary dependency governance models such as the illusory autonomy administratively exercised by Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia proxies. 

The overall lack of implementation of actions contained in decolonization resolutions since the beginning of the first International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism in 1990 is disturbing, and brings into serious question the extent of political will for the U.N. to carry out its mandate to bring an end to contemporary colonialism. 

It is, therefore, not surprising that there has been limited progress in achieving the goals of genuine decolonization, as opposed to mere colonial reform and modernization through attempts to justify contemporary colonialism. As one global decolonization expert observed before this committee in 2018: 

"This lack of implementation of actions mandated by the General Assembly can have the effect of relegating the debate to an exchange of differing opinions between those who recognize the true nature of contemporary colonialism, and those who have made an accommodation with it, irrespective of its democratic deficiencies. But this is not supposed to be about opinion. Rather, it is about providing member States with the opportunity for in-depth examination of the extent of genuine self-government in these territories on the basis of the requisite criteria of full political equality." 

Implementation of the mandate is the fundamental challenge, and continues to be the major stumbling block as we reach the end of the third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. The re-inscription of Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia on the U.N. list of non self-governing territories in 2013 was a historic moment, achieved with great expectations that the U.N. would live up to its promise. 

We remain optimistic that a genuine process of implementation of these mandates will be enacted with the renewed energy and political will to advance our territory to the full measure of self-government with equal rights and justice. 

Thank You, Madam Chair.


Statement to Special Committee on Decolonization 
Reverend François Pihaatae 

Coordinator of Moruroa E Tatou Association

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

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Members of the Special Committee,

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

In this connection, it is to be noted that the annual resolution on the Implementation of the Decolonization Declaration applicable to all territories including Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia consistently "urges the administering Powers to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Non Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources...".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank You, Madam Chair.



The Board of Directors at the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) has appointed Mrs. Beverly Nicholson-Doty as the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Mrs. Nicholson-Doty has over three decades of industry leadership experience, including most recently serving as Commissioner of Tourism at the USVI Department of Tourism from 2007 to 2018. She brings significant experience in marketing, sales and strategic planning in Caribbean travel, tourism and hospitality. Mrs. Nicholson-Doty has developed deep relationships with executives across the airline, cruise, hotel and service industries that serve the region, and has created partnership opportunities that include public, private, non-profit, non-governmental and community-based entities.

Mrs. Nicholson Doty’s achievements include the successful development of the Ports of the Virgin Islands concept to brand and develop a collaborative effort to elevate the territory’s port facilities, and the creation of a strategic plan for positioning the USVI as one of the top destinations for the Meetings and Incentives (MICE) market. She was also instrumental in engineering double-digit airline capacity growth over a 10-year period.

The CEO will be responsible for overall management of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, including oversight of the development of the Authority’s marketing and destination services, and general administration. She intends to work closely with agencies, institutions and individuals within the public and private sectors of Saint Lucia at home and abroad.

“We welcome Mrs. Nicholson-Doty to the organisation and look forward to the strategic leadership that she will provide implementing and developing our sustainable tourism growth strategy,” said Nicholas John, Chairman of the Board at the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority.

In addition, as CEO, Mrs. Nicholson-Doty will work closely with the Board of Directors to achieve overall objectives, including coordinating and directing the programmes of the Board. In marketing, promotions and publicity, she will be tasked to utilize and deploy resources in the best interest of the development of tourism to Saint Lucia.

I look forward to this opportunity. Our team at the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority will be focused on developing and implementing a strong strategic plan aimed at increasing market share, and even more importantly, increasing visitor spend for maximum return on investment,” said Mrs. Nicholson Doty.

11 July 2019


Statement to Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24)
Mr. Philippe NEUFFER Attorney at Law in Tahiti 
United Nations 
New York, N.Y. 
27th June 2019

Madam Chair, 
Distinguished Members of the Special Committee, 

One of the most egregious acts perpetuated on mankind has been the testing of nuclear weapons in spite of the known human cost, and the challenges to just compensation and reparation for the veterans and for their widows and children.

 The aftermath of 30 years of French nuclear testing in our homeland continues to plague our people, victims of 193 atmospheric and underground nuclear tests from 1966 to 1997. This was equivalent to 720 Hiroshima bombs in our atmosphere, and 210 underground. 

It has been 20 years since the final nuclear testing came to an end in 1996, and the moral and practical recognition of the health and social consequences of the testing which have been confirmed as inter-generational, remain a major challenge to the health and well being of our people. 

The current mishandling of the nuclear waste generated by these tests is a lingering danger of monumental proportions for Maohi Nui/French Polynesia and the entire Pacific region.

 The General Assembly has adopted a series of resolutions since 2013 "recognizing the significant health and environmental impacts of this nuclear testing” conducted by the administering Power in my country over this period. The resolutions further recognized the consequences of those activities on the lives and health of the people, especially children and vulnerable groups, as well as the environment of the entire Pacific region. The General Assembly resolutions have also made the natural linkage between the aftermath of the French nuclear testing in our region and the work of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. 

The resolutions also take note of the two reports of the Secretary-General on the environmental, ecological, health and other impacts of the testing, and have requested the Secretary-General to provide continuous updates on the impacts of the testing. 

Interestingly, the French had devised a compensation scheme in 2010 containing a clause suggesting that the nuclear tests were of "negligible risk." This resulted in only a handful of approvals for compensation from hundreds of claims made by our people - despite disproportionate rates of thyroid cancer and leukemia with overall cancer rates over 30 per cent higher than average. 

Because of extensive public outrage in our community over this sham compensation scheme, the French National Assembly voted in February 2017 to remove the element of "negligible risk" but by the end of 2018, "negligible exposure" was re-inserted in the programme by way of an amendment to a budgetary rider in the 2019 French Finance Act establishing a "criterion of non-accountability" - "negligible risk" by different form.

 It is highly disappointing for us that such important developments are not referenced in the U.N. resolution on French Polynesia, and important conclusions from existing U.N. research were omitted from the two previous Secretary-General reports. And it is highly deceiving for the people of Maohi Nui that the wives and the children of veterans of French nuclear tests still are not recognized as direct victims, and don’t have the compensation they deserve. 

Thank You, Madam Chair.

08 July 2019


Statement to Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24)

Mr. Richard Ariihau TUHEIAVA
Elected Member of the Assembly of French Polynesia
United Nations, New York, N.Y.
27th June 2019

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Members of the Special Committee,

I have the honour to address you in my capacity as an elected member of the House of Assembly of Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia from the Tavini Huiraatira party.

Since the adoption of Resolution 67/265 of 17 March 2013, the General Assembly has adopted seven resolutions on Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia calling for specific actions to be undertaken in furtherance of our decolonization process. These resolutions have recognized the inalienable right of our people to self-determination and independence, and have reaffirmed that Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia remains a non self-governing territory within the meaning of the United Nations Charter.

The General Assembly also adopts its annual resolution on the implementation of this Decolonization Declaration which is applicable to all territories, including Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia, which have not achieved a full measure of self-government. The Assembly adopted these resolutions on the self-determination and independence of our territory on the basis of careful review and assessment of the actual dependency relationship which existed in 2012, and which informed its consensus adoption of its resolution 67/265 of 17 March 2013. 

The political status of Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia has not changed since 2013 despite cosmetic adjustments to the so-called Autonomy Statute made unilaterally by France in 2019 as an attempt to avoid a true self-determination process.

Madam Chair,

Accordingly, the General Assembly is consistently clear that Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia “remains a non self-governing territory within the meaning of the (U.N.) Charter” and this should remain our point of departure. What must follow now are the ways and means to implement this General Assembly decolonization mandate through the actions adopted in its resolutions.

Continued violation by the administering Power of Article 73 of the U.N. Charter in withholding its cooperation with the U.N. on our territory can no longer be used as an excuse or rationalization for not implementing this mandate. On this point, this Committee may wish to consider strengthening its repeated language in resolutions which only politely expresses "regret that the administering Power has not responded to the request to submit information on French Polynesia under Article 73(e) of the U.N. Charter."

In fact, it is not a mere request. It is an international legal obligation that is being violated. The resolution on the question of Ma’ohi Nui/French Polynesia should reflect this noncompliance for what it is - a violation of the Charter which should be condemned, as in the
same language of General Resolution 1699(XVI) of 19 December 1961 on similar violations.

Since the re-inscription in 2013, a work programme for Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia has been requested repeatedly, and included in the resolution on such territory. I wish to state again that this is the recognized approach to initiate the self-determination process. The outline of a work programme for Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia has been drafted to update the procedure adopted by the General Assembly in its Resolution 57/91 of 6 December 1999, and
can be provided at the appropriate time.

This updated outline is divided into five phases beginning with
1) an in-depth examination of the intricacies of the dependency relationship between the territory and the administering Power, proceeding with 2) an extensive public education programme in the
territory with 3) a subsequent C-24 visiting mission, followed by 4) an act of self-determination to select a choice from the legitimate political status options. The 5th step phase concludes with the
transition to the full measure of self-government. 

The entire process would involve the participation of the relevant U.N. institutions.

Madam Chair,

This committee in its 2018 resolution on Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia inexplicably recommended to the Fourth Committee the deletion of the entire operative paragraph that would have requested the Secretary-General to “provide continuous updates to his report on the environmental, ecological, health and other impacts of the 30-year period of nuclear testing in French Polynesia”. Our pleas to the C-24 and Fourth Committee that the language be restored could not be honored in 2018, but promises were made that the issue would be addressed this year.

We are very pleased that these promises were honoured and the language has been restored in this year’s draft resolution. We strongly request that the Committee ensures that the “continuous updates” requested of the Secretary-General in the resolution are far more extensive than the two previous reports. 

In this connection, I would humbly urge the researchers for the Secretary-General’s report to avail themselves of a broader range of information available in the public domain to include such documents as the 2014 Independent Report on “The French Nuclear Testing in French Polynesia” prepared by renowned scientists, or the compliant of the Tavini Huiraatira Party that was submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last 2 October 2018. 

Thank You, Madam Chair.


St. Kitts & Nevis Observer

Britain’s Overseas Territories say they will “stand together” to defend their right to self-government amid increasing concerns over “constitutional overreach” from the UK.

Any attempts to enforce legislation from Westminster on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to ‘belongership’ and financial services regulation will be strongly resisted, according to leaders of several territories, following talks in Grand Cayman this week.

Despite the disparate concerns of the various territories, leaders from the Falklands to Bermuda were united in their opposition to the UK dictating policy from thousands of miles away.

A UK law seeking to impose public registers of beneficial ownership on Britain’s territories – seen as a threat to the financial services industry – is a key concern for several islands.

“Modern-day colonialism is what is being attempted by those persons is Westminster, and I am certain that all Overseas Territories will resist it vociferously,” Bermuda Premier David Burt said at a press conference following the summit at the Kimpton Seafire Hotel on Wednesday.

Several other leaders expressed similar concerns, and insisted the pressure from the UK on various issues is helping them to forge closer bonds as they seek to resist what they see as constitutional overreach from the mother country.

“I see a beacon of hope with our team here, because we all realise that divided we fall, united we stand,” said Andrew Fahie, premier of the British Virgin Islands.

A recent report from a Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which included a number of suggestions including recommendations that the UK government force its territories to adopt same-sex marriage legislation and open discussions on allowing resident UK citizens to vote and stand for election, is also stoking controversy.

Though the current British government says it has no plans to follow through on the report’s recommendations, the uncertainty and instability in UK politics amid a Conservative party leadership battle, division over Brexit and the possibility of a general election, is fuelling concern.

Burt said it was possible that the report’s recommendations could gain traction in a new government, and highlighted the possibility that some of its authors could be part of a future government.

“It is sad to see persons who don’t have a familiarity [with the various islands] reverting to a position we thought was long gone, where Westminster feels able to dictate to the Overseas Territories,” he added.

Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s minister for commerce, said the specifics of the issues at stake were largely irrelevant. He said it was “anti-democratic” of the UK to attempt to make laws for its territories on issues that were the responsibility of the elected governments.

“There is no way today we can accept modern colonialism through the back door by allowing these things to happen. On that, as has been demonstrated today, we are all 100 percent on the same page,” he said.

The report caused ripples as far away as the Falklands. Teslyn Barkman, a legislator from the islands, off the coast of Argentina, said it was omitted entirely from the report, but could be faced with the impact of its findings.

She said the recommendation that UK citizens be given the right to vote and run for office in the territories was the most controversial.

“You are talking about giving UK citizens the right to vote in a population of 3,000. You could very quickly have a population of UK citizens who don’t know the territory’s needs or priorities, or care about the long-term viability of the economy.”

Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, of the Turks and Caicos, said she expected pressure from the UK, particularly over voting rights and same-sex marriage, would continue.

“It is a matter of constitutional overreach, and respecting territories rights to choose how they want to govern, how they want to grow their countries, who they want to run in their elections and certainly their culture and religious beliefs,” she said.

Montserrat Premier Donaldson Romeo said the UK clearly understood the democratic values at stake, because they were fighting for autonomy from the European Union on the basis of the same principles.

“We have just the same right as they have and we need to insist on our right to self determination, and our people need to support us in this regard.”

He urged the leaders around the table to remain united on issues, even when they only affected a handful of islands, and vowed to offer Montserrat’s support to others on issues, like financial services, which do not directly affect the island.

“We have a saying in Montserrat, ‘today for you, tomorrow for me’. I am counting on us to stand together,” he said.

02 July 2019


Reverend Taaroarii Maraea 
President of the Ma’ohi Protestant Church
Statement to Special Committee on Decolonization
United Nations, New York, N.Y. 
28th June 2019

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Members of the Special Committee,

I have the honour to address you in my capacity as President of the Ma’ohi Protestant Church. I wish to express my deepest gratitude for allowing myself to speak before this
Committee on the question of Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia.

I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the communication submitted in early October 2018 to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in
The Hague, Netherlands, and a second communication submitted on 30 October 2018 to the Special Rapporteur on the Implications for Human Rights of the Environmentally Sound Management and Disposal of Hazardous Substances and Wastes, in Geneva, Switzerland, both in relation to the 30 years of French nuclear testing in our territory.

In this regard, the International Law Commission is to be commended for its ongoing work on the draft articles on crimes against humanity. This work is especially important in
giving further clarity to what constitutes such a crime and the requisite recompense.

I take note that the 2019 Working Paper on Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia makes only a short reference to both ICC and Human Rights Committee complaints while the draft resolution on Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia omits any reference to it altogether.

We continue to pose the question as to why these developments are not worthy of U.N. consideration, or whether there is undue pressure exerted by the administering Power behind the scenes to censor such references. Nevertheless, our people will continue to monitor how the U.N. deals with these stealth diplomacy tactics in future.

To this end, I recall that as a presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron stated that:

“Colonization is a crime. It’s a crime against humanity. It’s truly barbarous and it’s part of a past that we need to confront by apologizing to those against whom we committed these acts... At the same time, we must not sweep this past under the rug…"

We hold the now-French President to this commitment. However, the actions of a U.N. member State and P-5 member - is that of a contemporary colonial power utterly dismissive of Article 73 of the U.N. Charter, reflecting the opposite of his earlier lofty words. It is, in fact, doing its best to "sweep the issue under the rug" by seeking to persecute those who have stood bravely in the face of the colonial power.

This was one of the motives of the Ma’ohi Protestant Church for submitting an official communication to the relevant U.N. Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Committee.

Recently, the Administering Power monitored a revision process of the bilateral Organic Law regarding Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia within its Parliament in Paris. As a matter of fact, the new preambular paragraph of such Organic Law now reflects a so-called “positive contribution” provided by the territory of Ma’ohi-Nui/French Polynesia in favour of the colonial nuclear programme implemented by France.

This provocative language currently being adopted by the French Parliament is an outrageous “mis-interpretation” of the painful history and the sufferings that the Ma’ohi People
went through without its consent.

The Ma’ohi Protestant Church is nevertheless extremely pleased that the Committee resolution this year has restored an amended version of the paragraph in its 2019 resolution on our territory, and we strongly request that the committee ensures that the "continuous updates" requested of the Secretary-General in the resolution are far more extensive than the two previous reports.

Thank You, Madam Chair.

25 June 2019


24 JUNE 2019

Speakers Voice Concern about Environmental, Fiscal Challenges of Puerto Rico as Special Decolonization Committee Approves Annual Self-determination Text

Panel Hears Petitioners Describe Health-care Woes, Increased School Closures, Sell-off of Assets to Foreign Interests

Noting with concern the way in which political insubordination impedes Puerto Rico’s ability to tackle its serious economic and social problems, the Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution today that calls once again upon the United States to shoulder its responsibility to facilitate the realization of the right of Puerto Ricans to self‑determination.
More than 50 petitioners from Puerto Rican advocacy groups and international allies addressed the Special Committee, with many denouncing the colonial occupation of the Territory by the United States.  Several called for Puerto Rico to be reinstated on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories; others suggested that it be admitted to the United Nations as the Sovereign State of Borinken.  Speakers also called attention to the Territory’s environmental challenges, including climate change and the devastating aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
Approving its annual draft resolution on Puerto Rico without a vote, the Special Committee — formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples — called on the Government of the United States to promote a process that enables Puerto Ricans to fully exercise their right to self-determination and independence, and to take decisions in a sovereign manner to address their challenges.  It also noted with concern that, by virtue of the decision by the United States Congress under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act — known as PROMESA — the already weakened area in which the prevailing regime of political and economic subordination in Puerto Rico operates is reduced any further.
The Special Committee further expressed serious concern about actions carried out against Puerto Rican independence activists and encouraged investigations into those actions, while also requesting that the General Assembly comprehensively consider the question of Puerto Rico and decide on the issue as soon as possible.
Oscar López Rivera of Fundación OLR Libertá — a Puerto Rican political prisoner held in the United States for more than 35 years and released in 2017 by former President Barack Obama — said that the only way Puerto Rico can only exist as a Latin American and Caribbean nation is by becoming an independent and sovereign nation.  Otherwise, it will lose its national identity, culture, language and way of life.  “What’s happening in Puerto Rico is the culmination of colonialism,” he said, emphasizing that it is time for the General Assembly to rectify the mistake it made in 1953 when it took Puerto Rico off the list of NHon-Self-Governing Territories.
Agreeing, Edgardo Roman-Espada of the Colegio de Abogados y Abogadas de Puerto Rico added that the Special Committee should recommend to the General Assembly that it ask the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the international status of Puerto Rico and the fiduciary responsibility of the United States.  Trilce Torres Lopez of the Gran Oriente Nacional de Puerto Rico said that Puerto Rico’s absence from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories means it cannot access support and services from the United Nations.
Many speakers drew attention to the impact the Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico is having on the social, economic and political life of Puerto Rico and its estimated 3.2 million inhabitants.  Established through the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), adopted by the United States Congress in 2016, that entity oversees the payment of Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt.
Julio Ortiz-Luquis of the Boricuas Unidos en la Diaspora said the Board is imposing austerity measures while robbing the pockets of the people.  Millions of Puerto Ricans are going elsewhere while the island’s assets are being sold off to foreign interests. 
“We need to revise our relationship with the United States,” said Maria de Lourdes Santiago of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, who emphasized that Puerto Rico has yet to recover from the devastating impact of fatal hurricanes in 2017.  The United States has a moral imperative to give Puerto Ricans the right to decide their own future, she added. 
Walter Alomar of the Organization for Culture of Hispanic Origins said hundreds of schools in Puerto Rico are closed and rotting due to fiscal austerity measures.  Also underlining the challenges faced by health‑care workers, he said Puerto Ricans have become a permanent underclass.  “If I didn’t know any better, I would say this systemic sociocultural process of dismantling the education system is intentional,” he said.
Puerto Rico cannot participate in the global economy, nor can it care for its own needs, he said, emphasizing also its vulnerability to climate change.  He said the Assembly should address the situation in Puerto Rico, adding that the Special Committee should call for a free Puerto Rico, which should have the opportunity for independence and self-determination.
“The legacy of United States colonialism in Puerto Rico has been, is now and will always be one of racism, exploitation, forced relocation, repression, assassination and incarceration,” said Benjamin Ramos Rosado of the ProLibertad Freedom Campaign.

20 June 2019


Elena Katselli, Senior Lecturer in Law
 Newcastle University

A nation’s military and geo-strategic interests cannot, under international law, prevail over the sovereign rights of other states. State sovereignty, self-determination and decolonisation are fundamental legal principles the UK should honour as it refuses, despite widespread international condemnation, to hand back control of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Indeed, Britain’s expressed policy that it will protect its interests at any cost, even at the expense of international law and fundamental human rights, has unwelcome echoes of colonialism and discrimination that should have no place in the 21st century.
On May 22, a UN General Assembly resolution calling for the complete decolonisation of Mauritius by ending the UK’s administration over the islands was voted for by 116 nations. Only six – the US, Hungary, Israel, Australia, the Maldives and the UK – voted against it, with 56 abstaining.

31 May 2019

Wamytan elected as New Caledonia Congress president


The pro-independence politician Roch Wamytan has been elected as the president of New Caledonia's Congress.

Wamytan of the Caledonian Union secured 29 of the 54 votes after getting the backing of the three members of the new Pacific Awakening party.

He defeated Magali Manuhoalalo of the anti-independence Caledonia Together party who won 25 votes.

Pacific Awakening was tallied as being part of the anti-independence bloc after the provincial elections 12 days ago.

However, the party, which represents mainly ethnic Wallisians and Futunians, decided to endorse Wamytan over Manuhoalalo, who is also an ethnic Wallisian.

The Congress vote has gone against this week's deal struck within the anti-independence camp which had earmarked the Congress presidency for Philippe Michel.

This was agreed after the big winner of the provincial election, Sonia Backes of the Future with Confidence, assumed the presidency of the southern province.

The deal also provides for the presidency of the collegial government to go to Future with Confidence.

United Nations chief concerned nuclear 'coffin' leaking in Pacific

Suva (Fiji) (AFP)
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres raised concerns Thursday that a concrete dome built last century to contain waste from atomic bomb tests is leaking radioactive material into the Pacific.
Speaking to students in Fiji, Guterres described the structure on Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands as "a kind of coffin" and said it was a legacy of Cold War-era nuclear tests in the Pacific
"The Pacific was victimised in the past as we all know," he said, referring to nuclear explosions carried out by the United States and France in the region.
In the Marshalls, numerous islanders were forcibly evacuated from ancestral lands and resettled, while thousands more were exposed to radioactive fallout.
The island nation was ground zero for 67 American nuclear weapons tests from 1946-58 at Bikini and Enewetak atolls, when it was under US administration.
The tests included the 1954 "Bravo" hydrogen bomb, the most powerful ever detonated by the United States, about 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Guterres, who is touring the South Pacific to raise awareness of climate change issues, said Pacific islanders still needed help to deal with the fallout of the nuclear testing.
"The consequences of these have been quite dramatic, in relation to health, in relation to the poisoning of waters in some areas," he said.
"I've just been with the President of the Marshall Islands (Hilda Heine), who is very worried because there is a risk of leaking of radioactive materials that are contained in a kind of coffin in the area."
The "coffin" is a concrete dome, built in the late 1970s on Runit island, part of Enewetak atoll, as a dumping ground for waste from the nuclear tests.
Radioactive soil and ash from the explosions was tipped into a crater and capped with a concrete dome 45 centimetres (18 inches) thick.
However, it was only envisaged as a temporary fix and the bottom of the crater was never lined leading to fears the waste is leaching into the Pacific.
Cracks have also developed in the concrete after decades of exposure and there are concerns it could break apart if hit by a tropical cyclone.
Guterres did not directly address what should be done with the dome but said the Pacific's nuclear history still needed to be addressed.
"A lot needs to be done in relation to the explosions that took place in French Polynesia and the Marshall Islands," he said.
"This is in relation to the health consequences, the impact on communities and other aspects.
"Of course there are questions of compensation and mechanisms to allow these impacts to be minimised."

29 May 2019


Amata Cosponsors College Access Act

Press Release
Washington, DC – Thursday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata announced she has teamed up with Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI) for the introduction of the bipartisan Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa College Access Act to provide tuition assistance to students in the islands.

The Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa College Access Act would authorize tuition assistance grants to cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition costs for Northern Marianas and American Samoa community college graduates wanting to go on and attend a four-year public university, or seek to complete a four-year degree program.

“We have many good students that study at our accredited community college. That’s a great start, but our students deserve the same access from that point to a four-year University degree that students in the 50 States have because of in-State tuition opportunities,” said Aumua Amata. “This bill would help correct that major financial disadvantage, and give our students better opportunities to pursue goals for higher education.”

Congresswoman Amata with Congressman Sablan
Congresswoman Amata with Congressman Sablan during Committee work this week

This bill, introduced by Rep. Sablan this week with Rep. Amata as the original cosponsor, emphasizes the importance of education for the future of both Territories, the local economies, and our students, and their ability to compete in the modern, interconnected job market throughout the country.

“Thank you to Congressman Sablan for introducing this important effort for our students,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “In-State tuition ensures many students in every State have a chance to complete a four-year college education that they might otherwise not be able to afford. That’s a wonderful concept, and this bill would extend an equivalent possibility to our students from American Samoa and the Northern Marianas.”

The need is clear. Household incomes in the Northern Marianas are less than half the national median, while American Samoa is geographically and economically isolated, causing poverty concerns and the need for more jobs and better jobs.

According to the College Board, nonresident students end up spending $14,480 more on average just to cover out-of-state tuition and fees. Currently, that’s a cost our students can’t avoid. Students in the Marianas and American Samoa also face the significant added expenses of flight tickets to even the nearest State, Hawaii.

The bill is based on the precedent of Public Law 106-98, the DC College Access Act, which allows students residing in the District of Columbia to apply for grants to help pay the cost of attending colleges outside DC, however, this bill does not cost nearly as much as the DC Act that it’s modeled after.

28 May 2019

A New UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent Advances

May 24, 2019

A multi-stakeholder consultation on the modalities, format and substantive and procedural aspects of the new United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent took place at Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on May 10, 2019. The meeting provided an opportunity for civil society organizations and other interested stakeholders from around the world to present their views on the new Forum.

Prior to the consultation, an International Coalition of PAD leaders and organizations developed a Consensus Proposal on the Permanent Forum which was presented to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The proposal was signed by 118 NGOs from across Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and North America. The US Human Rights Network was among the lead organizations that contributed to the development of the proposal and supported its submission.

During the consultation, USHRN Board Member and co-founder of Black Voters Matter LaTosha Brown took the floor to support the submission of the proposal and comment on the process. A number of civil society statements made during the consultation highlighted the need for the new forum to be democratic and empowering to people of African descent. Additionally, several interventions focused on the critical issue of inclusivity of all interested stakeholders, whether or not they hold NGO consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) or not. A vote on the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent will take place in June 2019.