Home » General » Special Committee Approves 10 Draft Resolutions, Including 1 Reiterating Need for Peaceful Talks to Resolve Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Question

Time Has Not Diminished Validity of Argentina’s Claims, Says Foreign Minister, while Urging Frank Dialogue with United Kingdom

The Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution today reiterating that a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom was the only way to end the “special and particular” colonial situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*.

One of 10 draft resolutions approved without a vote, that text (document A/AC.109/2018/L.8) called for those Governments to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation by resuming negotiations in order to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute as soon as possible.

Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship said his country’s right of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime areas, was based on solid historical and legal grounds.  “The passage of time has not diminished the validity of our claims,” he emphasized.  However, Argentina sought to keep a wide agenda with the United Kingdom, convinced that frank dialogue would allow a higher level of cooperation and the resumption of negotiations towards a peaceful settlement of the sovereignty dispute.  He pressed the United Kingdom to achieve that goal, while cautioning against unilateral actions in the area, as established by General Assembly resolution 31/49.

During the Special Committee’s hearing of petitioners, Ian Hansen, a member of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Legislative Assembly, said Argentina’s claims were unfounded and unwelcome, citing the 2013 referendum in which 99.8 per cent of the Territory’s inhabitants had voted to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.  “Why would we wish to change our way of life?  We make our own laws and directly regulate all industry activities within our territory.”

Luis Gustavo Vernet, a great‑great grandson of the first Argentine governor of the Malvinas Islands, recalled the 1825 Treaty of Friendship and Trade with the United Kingdom, which acknowledged Argentina’s legitimacy.  However, with the arrival of the British warship Clio in 1833, the United Kingdom had usurped the Malvinas and sold its lands to the Falkland Islands Company.  “The inhabitants of the Malvinas want to determine their own future in their own country,” he emphasized, reproaching the Special Committee for not having defended their right to self‑determination.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates from around the region expressed resounding support for Argentina’s claims to the Territory and the surrounding maritime area, calling for the resumption of negotiations to end the sovereignty dispute.  Several cited the outcomes of regional meetings attesting to that need.  El Salvador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), recalled the 2014 Havana Declaration, in which Heads of State reiterated their commitment to consolidate the region as a zone of peace.

On that point, Brazil’s delegate urged the United Kingdom to end its unilateral exploration and exploitation of natural resources in the disputed area, saying that, in support of resolution 31/49, his country did not authorize the use of its ports or airports for any transport to the Malvinas that could introduce unilateral modifications to the area under dispute because the region was a zone of peace.

In other business, the Special Committee heard a request by the Premier of Montserrat to reinstate the island on the list of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, because his predecessor’s request to remove it had been undemocratic since the people of Montserrat had not been consulted.  Recalling that Hurricane Hugo had flattened the island in 1989, and volcanic eruptions in 1995 and 1997 had turned its capital into “a modern Pompeii”, he said many development projects had been unduly delayed for more than 20 years.

He went on to call upon the United Nations to support a memorandum of understanding between Montserrat and United Kingdom which would list projects, as well as committed funds and timelines for implementation.  It would also address Montserrat’s relationship with the United Kingdom, he said, suggesting the Special Committee appoint a neutral team to monitor progress in the negotiation and implementation of those projects, and provide yearly reports.  “If we pull this off together, it will be a win‑win outcome for all concerned:  the people of Montserrat, the United Kingdom and the United Nations,” he said.

The Special Committee also heard from the following two petitioners:  Michael Summers, member of the Falklands (Malvinas) Legislative Assembly, and Ricardo Ancel Patterson, another petitioner from that Territory.

In other action, the Special Committee approved, without a vote, draft resolutions on Montserrat (document A/AC.109/2018/L.17), American Samoa (document A/AC.109/2018/L.10), Anguilla (document A/AC.109/2018/L.11), Bermuda (document A/AC.109/2018/L.12), British Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2018/L.14), Cayman Islands (document A/AC.109/2018/L.15), Guam (document A/AC.109/2018/L.16), Pitcairn (document A/AC.109/2018/L.18), and Saint Helena (document A/AC.109/2018/L.19).

By the terms of those texts, the General Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right of the people of those Territories to self‑determination, in conformity with the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

Chile’s representative introduced draft resolution “L.8” on behalf of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

Also speaking today were representatives of Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Syria, Russian Federation, Paraguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), China, Indonesia, Guatemala (on behalf of the Organization of Ibero‑American States), Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Peru.

The Special Committee on Decolonization will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 22 June to conclude its work.

Question of Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

As the Special Committee took up the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), members had before them a working paper (document A/AC.109/2018/6) and a draft resolution (document A/AC/109/2018/L.8).  They heard several petitioners.

IAN HANSEN, Legislative Assembly, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said Argentina’s claim to the islands was unfounded and unwelcome.  Describing the islanders as a peaceful people who only wished to be left to their own devices and continue to develop their country, he recalled that in the 2013 referendum, 99.8 per cent of them had voted to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.  Their right to self‑determination was enshrined in the United Nations Charter and it was difficult to understand why any country would wish to remove that fundamental right, he said.  While relations between the United Kingdom and the Government of Argentina were arguably better than they had been for years, he said the situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in relation to Argentina’s claim of sovereignty remained the same.  “Why would we wish to change our way of life?  We make our own laws and directly regulate all industry activities within our territory,” he said.  Reviewing the economic situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), he said the Territory received no financial aid from the United Kingdom except in terms of defence.  Inviting the Special Committee to visit the Territory, he requested that it ignore false claims presented by Argentina and support the wishes of the people of the Falklands (Malvinas) to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom and not a colony of Argentina.

MICHAEL SUMMERS, Legislative Assembly, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the islanders, with a rich heritage and diverse ethnic society, met all the requirements of the United Nations Charter in terms of the right to self‑determination.  They had met the terms for removal from the list of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, he added.  Noting that Argentina regularly stated that its claim had run continuously from the 1920s, he said that was incorrect.  With some 60 nationalities from Argentina to Zimbabwe — literally from A to Z — no one could say that the islanders were an implanted population, he emphasized.  Over the years, the Territory’s political status had changed, from a colony of the United Kingdom to an Overseas Territory.  A completely new constitution had come into being in 2009, devolving even more powers to the local Government.  The United Kingdom was responsible for defence and foreign affairs, with a military presence kept at a level to deter any aggressor.  While there had recently been less rhetoric from the President of Argentina, it must always be remembered that Argentina’s wish to take over the Territory was built into its Constitution, he cautioned.  “It is they who would, today, like to colonize us,” added, reiterating that the right to self‑determination was a fundamental right that he was seeking before the Special Committee today.

LUIS GUSTAVO VERNET, a great‑great grandson of Luis Vernet, the first Argentine governor of the Malvinas Islands, said he was an Argentine citizen and living evidence of the Argentine people who had peacefully inhabited the islands and been expelled by force.  In 1823, Argentina had allowed Luis Vernet to settle in the Malvinas, he said, recalling that until 1810, Spain had been in control of the islands.  After the May Revolution, however, Argentina had inherited title over the Territory and a settlement of 200 people had developed.  Argentina had accepted Luis Vernet’s proposal to establish a settlement, paid for by Buenos Aires, and the land had been granted on 5 January 1822.  Luis Vernet had given the British representative, Woodbine Parish, a translation of the concessions, a document legalized by the British Vice‑Consul.  He recalled the 1825 Treaty of Friendship and Trade with the United Kingdom, saying it was of crucial importance as it acknowledged Argentina’s legitimacy.  The United Kingdom had not registered any reservations over the Territory, which at the time was administered by Rio de la Plata.

However, with Luis Vernet’s appointment as governor, the United Kingdom had claimed the appointment was incompatible with its rights over the Territory.  Protests had ensued, and in 1833, the British warship Clio had arrived in Puerto Soledad, raised the British flag, lowered that of Argentina and pressed inhabitants to leave, he said.  “This was an illegal British administration,” he said, adding that, after having recognized Luis Vernet’s properties as his own, they had forced him to withdraw them in 1833 and sold the lands to the Falkland Islands Company.  The United Kingdom had usurped the Malvinas.  “The inhabitants of the Malvinas want to determine their own future in their own country,” he insisted, reproaching the Special Committee for not having defended their right to self‑determination.  He urged the United Kingdom to find a solution to the sovereignty dispute, taking into account the interests of the islanders and with mutual respect for the rights of all parties.

RICARDO ANCEL PATTERSON said his four children were born in Santa Cruz Province, an area that he had represented in the National Congress between 1993 and 2003.  He said that his great‑great grandparents had gone to the Malvinas and his grandparents — James Patterson and Elizabeth Frazier — were born there.  In 1890, part of his family had settled in Santa Cruz Province, where they had quickly integrated with the local community.  Argentina had claimed sovereignty over the Malvinas since 1833 and had never agreed to occupation by the United Kingdom.  Noting that islanders had also been integrated on the mainland, he said Argentina had made efforts to comply with General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX), adopted in 1965, but the other party had avoided all attempts to find a solution.  Respect for the inhabitants’ way of life, culture and values was a long‑standing tradition in Argentina, he said, adding that he had told the National Congress about his efforts to encourage friendly relations with the islands’ inhabitants.

However, those efforts had not been met with a good response:  the inhabitants had been reluctant and the United Kingdom had delayed restoring sovereignty negotiations, he said.  “Both countries have an obligation to find a peaceful solution to the dispute”, yet the United Kingdom’s refusal to do so prevented Argentina from complying with United Nations resolutions, he continued.  Argentine tradition respected the rights of all inhabitants, he said, citing the experience of Welsh people in Patagonia.  Argentina’s historic position to respect the lifestyle of the islanders had been consistent and a solution would have a positive impact on their lives.  There was a viable framework for restoring negotiations, he said, underscoring Argentina’s ability to integrate a diverse group of migrants while respecting their customs and lifestyles.  “We have to find a negotiated solution respecting the way of life of the inhabitants,” he reiterated, pressing the United Kingdom to return to the negotiating table.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) introduced — also on behalf of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua — a draft resolution titled “Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)” (document A/AC.109/2018/L.8), saying it recognized that the question of the Malvinas Islands was a special and particular colonial situation, different from others due to the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  It reiterated that the only way to end that situation was through a negotiated solution and urged the parties to resume talks with a view to finding a solution in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions.  The Malvinas was a manifestation of colonialism, which the international community was called upon to end, he said, expressing regret that despite numerous resolutions, direct diplomatic negotiations had not resumed, while voicing support for Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.

JORGE MARCELO FAURIE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina, said his country’s sovereignty rights over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime areas, were based on solid historical and legal grounds.  “The passage of time has not diminished the validity of our claims” nor modified his country’s conviction that the sovereignty dispute should be settled peacefully through bilateral negotiations with the United Kingdom, he added.  Argentina sought to recover the full exercise of its sovereignty, in accordance with international law, while respecting the lifestyle of the Malvinas inhabitants.

He said the dispute had originated in the disruption of Argentina’s territorial integrity in 1833, when the United Kingdom had occupied the islands, expelling both the Argentine population and the legitimate Argentine authorities.  It had then populated the territory with its own settlers and impeded the settlement of Argentine citizens.  As such, none of the United Nations resolutions incorporated the principle of self‑determination as a criterion in the Territory’s decolonization process, he noted.  To apply that principle would require the existence of a people subjected to foreign domination.  However, a people entitled to that right did not exist in the Malvinas, and granting the Territory’s inhabitants the power to decide its status would contravene both resolution 1514 (XV) and international law.  Argentina had a commitment, embodied in its constitution, to respect the lifestyle of the Territory’s inhabitants, he said, citing the establishment of air links in the 1970s and the supply of fuel, services and food.

President Mauricio Macri had introduced a new phase in Argentina’s relationship with the United Kingdom through reciprocal visits at the highest level, as well as commercial and business missions, he said.  The most important development, however, was Argentina’s collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) whereby the remains of unknown Argentine soldiers buried in Darwin Cemetery in the Malvinas had been identified.  In March, the soldiers’ families had travelled to the islands, he said, thanking the islanders for the “excellent disposition and respect” they had shown at that time.  Argentina sought to keep a wide agenda with the United Kingdom, convinced that frank dialogue would allow a higher level of cooperation and the resumption of negotiations towards a peaceful settlement of the sovereignty dispute.  He reiterated the call on the United Kingdom to achieve that goal, bearing in mind the importance of avoiding unilateral actions in that area, as established by resolution 31/49.

Action

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) recalled that the Special Committee had already approved 33 resolutions and the General Assembly 10 resolutions on the Malvinas Islands.  General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX) made clear that the question of the Malvinas Islands was a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom that should be resolved through negotiations.  The Malvinas were and would always be Argentine, she emphasized, adding that military exercises in their vicinity contravened to the status of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace.  She urged the United Kingdom to respond positively to provisions reiterated by Argentina to renew bilateral negotiations.

MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), confirmed her country’s full support for Argentina’s position on the Malvinas question.  She welcomed actions taken by both countries to broaden cooperation, but expressed regret that the United Kingdom had failed to take steps on the mandate given to it by the General Assembly.  Noting that Nicaragua’s National Assembly had declared 10 June a national day of solidarity with Argentina over the Malvinas, she said Special Committee members had a moral and ethical responsibility to eradicate colonialism, and that the Malvinas would return to Argentina.

Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia), associating himself with CELAC and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said the Malvinas question was a Latin American and Caribbean Island issue of concern to all countries in the world.  It was an issue that went back to 1833 when the British navy had invaded Argentine territory, he said, emphasizing that invasions did not create rights.  “When we talk about the Malvinas Islands, we are talking about Argentine, Latin American and Caribbean identity,” he said, stressing that the principle of self‑determination was meant to combat colonialism, not consolidate it.

Mr. BARROS MELET (Chile), associating himself with CELAC and MERCOSUR, acknowledged the progress made in bilateral relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  However, there must be progress towards a higher level of rapprochement between the two countries, he said, calling attention to resolutions on the Malvinas adopted by the United Nations and other regional and multilateral forums.

MARIO A. ZAMBRANO ORTIZ (Ecuador), associating himself with CELAC, said the passage of time had not diminished Ecuador’s belief that the only way to settle that question of colonization was to resume negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  He said that his country supported Argentina’s right to the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, and urged the Secretary‑General to use his good offices to help resolve the dispute.

BASHAR JA'AFARI (Syria) expressed support for the draft resolution on the Malvinas, stressing that his delegation could not accept the right to self‑determination being used to justify a dispute imposed by settlement in defiance of Argentina’s rights.  He rejected the United Kingdom’s unilateral measures, expressing support for Argentina’s rights in the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, as well as its territorial integrity.  Syria called for dialogue to end the situation, in accordance with United Nations resolutions, he said, stressing that the Malvinas question was a special case.  He called on the Secretary‑General to use his good offices to ensure implementation of resolutions on the Malvinas, and on the United Kingdom to enter serious dialogue with Argentina to both settle the dispute and inform the Special Committee of all steps it had taken towards implementing its resolutions.

The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of CELAC, said the Community’s Heads of State had reiterated strong support for Argentina’s rights over the Malvinas.  In the Havana Declaration adopted at the second CELAC summit in 2014, they had reiterated that they would continue to consolidate the region as a zone of peace, settling disputes peacefully in accordance with international law.  He also recalled that during the fifth meeting in Punta Cana, in January 2017, Heads of State had reiterated their firmest support for Argentina’s rights in its sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, and requested that the Secretary‑General use his good offices to foster resumed negotiations aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the dispute and to inform them of such progress.  He underscored the importance of observing resolution 31/49 which called on the parties to avoid unilateral modifications to the situation, as all the Islands were subject to a process outlined by the General Assembly.

STANISLAV S. ALEKSAEV (Russian Federation) expressed concern over possible militarization of the region in the context of the dispute, pressing the parties to respect their commitments under the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  He urged compliance with the Special Committee’s decisions.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of MERCOSUR, cited the 21 December 2017 joint communiqué by the region’s Heads of State in affirming the declaration by Bolivia and Chile, signed on 25 June 1996, in support of Argentina’s rights over the Malvinas.  He also recalled the fiftieth regular meeting of the MERCOSUR Council, which noted the regional interest in resolving the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, in hopes that they would achieve a solution as soon as possible in accordance with United Nations resolutions and the position of the Organization of American States (OAS) on that issue.  The MERCOSUR Presidents had also rejected unilateral acts that were incompatible with those resolutions, he said, also highlighting the need for dialogue and Argentina’s willingness to identify joint areas of work with the United Kingdom as a way to foster a climate conducive to resumed sovereignty negotiations.

SONG LI (China) said the Malvinas question was, in nature, a colonial problem, recalling that, through their many resolutions, the General Assembly and the Special Committee had called for negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  China had always supported Argentina’s claim of sovereignty over the Malvinas and for the dispute to be resolved in accordance with international law.  He went on to call upon the Government of the United Kingdom to undertake negotiations with Argentina.

ACHNASUL HABIB (Indonesia) said his delegation acknowledged the particular and unique situation relating to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), and encouraged the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations leading to a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Ibero‑American States, said the Malvinas were a part of Argentine territory, occupied by subjects of the occupying Power who could not invoke the right to self‑determination.  It was a colonized Territory, not a colonized people, and Argentina was simply claiming its historic right over its own territory.  Appealing to the United Kingdom to begin negotiations, he expressed concern over its unilateral actions, including the exploration and exploitation of natural resources.

ELBIO OSCAR ROSSELLI FRIERI (Uruguay) recalled appeals by the international community that no decisions be taken that would unilaterally change the status of the Malvinas.  The question was a special and particular case of colonialism involving a dispute over sovereignty.  Conveying his country’s firm support for Argentina’s legitimate right to the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surround maritime areas, he stated:  “The Malvinas are Argentina’s.”

FREDERICO DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC and MERCOSUR, reiterated his delegation’s support for Argentina’s legitimate right in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  The Malvinas was a special situation and Brazil did not support the exercise of self‑determination, as the British population had been introduced through illegal occupation.  The Malvinas were part of the Argentine national territory, he said, defending the principle of territorial integrity and calling on parties to return to the negotiation table.  A settlement would depend on dialogue between the parties, and the use of good offices, in accordance with resolution 37/9 of 1982.  Expressing full support for Argentina’s sovereignty in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, he urged the United Kingdom to end its unilateral exploration and exploitation of natural resources in the disputed area, saying that, in support of 31/49, Brazil did not authorize the use of its ports or airports for any transport to the Malvinas that could introduce unilateral modifications to the area under dispute, notably because the region was a zone of peace.

The Special Committee then adopted the draft resolution “Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)” without a vote.

Mr. FAURIE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina, thanked the draft resolution’s co‑sponsors and all who had supported his country’s position and efforts to recover the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), associating himself with CELAC, urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to seek a definitive solution to the dispute, in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions.  He cited the 5 June statement of OAS, which reaffirmed the need for the parties to resume negotiations as soon as possible with view to finding a peaceful settlement to the dispute.  They should also avoid unilateral measures contravening international law and make use of the Secretary‑General’s good offices.

The representative of Colombia, associating himself with CELAC and MERCOSUR, reaffirmed Argentina’s right of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  He urged the parties to resume negotiations on a peaceful solution, underlining the importance of dialogue and cooperation and use of the Secretary‑General’s good offices.  Pointing out that 50 years had passed since the adoption of resolution 2065 (XX), the first to refer to the Malvinas question, he expressed regret that the dispute had not been resolved.  Resolution 31/49 called on the parties to refrain from any actions that would unilaterally change the situation while it was under the General Assembly process, he added.

DULCE SÁNCHEZ DE OROZCO (Honduras), associating herself with CELAC, reiterated her delegation’s support for Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  In the 2017 Punta Cana statement, CELAC Heads of State had reiterated their commitment to work in the context of international law for Latin America to be free of colonialism, and reiterated Argentina’s desire to resume dialogue towards resolving the dispute.  She also cited the draft declaration of OAS on the Malvinas question, reaffirming the need for Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations on their sovereignty dispute with a view to finding a peaceful settlement.

VERÓNICA GARCÍA GUTIÉRREZ (Costa Rica), associating herself with CELAC, said her delegation supported Argentina’s legitimate right over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, and reaffirmed the justice of its claim.  Cooperation between Argentina and the United Kingdom must continue with a view to achieving a peaceful solution, she said, adding that Costa Rica was committed to supporting anything that would lead to a world free of colonialism and its manifestations.

RONNIE HABICH (Peru), associating himself with CELAC, said his delegation had invariably supported Argentina’s legitimate right of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX).  Its position was based on historical, legal and geographical criteria.  He renewed Peru’s wish for negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom as soon as possible with a view to a peaceful, constructive and lasting solution in the context of relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States resolutions.  Welcoming recent efforts by the two countries to improve bilateral relations, he urged both to refrain from decisions that would unilaterally change the situation of the islands.

Question of Montserrat

DONALDSON ROMEO, Premier of Montserrat, noted that the island was a Territory to which the Declaration continued to apply.  He said he was present today to withdraw the request by his predecessor that Montserrat be removed from the list of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, which had been ill‑advised and undemocratic since the people of Montserrat had not been consulted on the matter.  Recalling that in the 1980s, Montserrat’s budget had been self‑financed, with tourism, the American University of the Caribbean and a nearly crime‑free society all pointing to a bright future, he said.  Then came Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which had flattened the island, followed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Soufrière in July 1995 and others thereafter, which had turned Montserrat’s capital into “a modern Pompeii” under 40 feet of ash and mud.  Two thirds of the land, as well as critical infrastructure, including the Territory’s only sea and air ports, seven villages, schools, clinics, farmlands and police stations had been destroyed, he said, adding that the economy had collapsed and many people had been forced into exile in Antigua and Barbuda and in the United Kingdom.

While acknowledging support from the latter country’s Government, he said many development projects had been unduly delayed by “fits and starts, restarts and non‑starts”, with some critical initiatives deadlocked for more than 20 years.  Of those that had been carried out, many had been cut to an ineffective level, affecting development.  He said that while he was not present as a distant acquaintance of the British, “we are British citizens”, and called upon the Special Committee to work with the United Kingdom and Montserrat “to enhance the flourishing of the good name of us all”.  It was said that £500 million sterling had been spent on Montserrat over the last 20 years, yet, the island was still 60 per cent dependent on the United Kingdom for its budget and 90 per cent for its capital programme, he noted.  Had half of that sum been spent years ago to fix critical infrastructure, Montserrat would have been well on its way out of dependency on the United Kingdom for the recurrent and capital budgets.

He advocated using Montserrat as a showcase of what was possible when politicking was set aside, noting that the United Kingdom had been under internal intense pressure to renege on commitments that would have allowed the Territory island to free itself from dependency.  Such ambivalence by the United Kingdom pointed to the need for the Special Committee’s involvement to “nudge things along”, he said.  The population in the designated safe zone in the northern third of the island was determined to “build back better”, marking a step towards post‑colonial emancipation.  He called on the United Nations to support a memorandum of understanding between Montserrat and the United Kingdom which would list projects, as well as committed funds and timelines for implementation.  The memorandum would also address Montserrat’s relationship with the United Kingdom, he said, suggesting that the Special Committee appoint a neutral team to monitor progress in the negotiation and implementation of those projects, and provide yearly reports.

Encouraging the Special Committee to meet evacuees in Antigua and Barbuda, he said many of them wished to return and contribute to Montserrat’s development.  However, the replacement of basic infrastructure destroyed by the volcano stood between the people and economic independence.  Their plight could best be understood in a former Chief Minister’s comments nearly 30 years ago, he said, paraphrasing that many people would like political independence but they were deterred by the lack of infrastructure.  With infrastructure, Montserrat could opt for independence, but the Territory had failed to convince the United Kingdom that such assistance would remove the need for more handouts.  It would therefore be a mistake to demand independence on the basis of Montserrat’s physical conditions; people were hindered from exercising that right due to the lack of a suitable economic situation and adequate preparation for independence.  Reiterating that appeal, he stressed that “if we pull this off together, it will be a win‑win outcome for all concerned:  the people of Montserrat, the United Kingdom and the United Nations”.

The Special Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft resolution on Montserrat (document A/AC.109/2018/L.17), reaffirming the inalienable right of the people of Montserrat to self‑determination, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).

Other Territories

In other action, the Special Committee approved, also without a vote, draft resolutions on American Samoa (document A/AC.109/2018/L.10), Anguilla (document A/AC.109/2018/L.11), Bermuda (document A/AC.109/2018/L.12), British Virgin Islands (document A/AC.109/2018/L.14), Cayman Islands (document A/AC.109/2018/L.15), Guam (document A/AC.109/2018/L.16), Pitcairn (document A/AC.109/2018/L.18), and Saint Helena (document A/AC.109/2018/L.19).

By their terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable right of the people of those Territories to self‑determination, in conformity with the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

__________

* 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).

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