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.