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.