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Answer – Disappearance of EUR 1.6 million at the development organisation AWEPA – E-006368/2017

1. The Commission signed ten contracts with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), of which only one is still ongoing(1). The EU Delegations that have been involved are: Sudan, South-Sudan, Zimbabwe, Kenya/Somalia (contract ongoing). The total contracted amount was EUR 14 611 185.38; the total paid amount: EUR 12 511 133.38. None of the finished contracts have led to the detection of a financial irregularity on the basis of the contractual control mechanisms. Considering that the final payments have been processed on the basis of previously incurred expenditures and the latest one has been processed before the end of 2016, there is no direct link with the recent events that concerns a misappropriation of funds that has taken place in September 2017. The ongoing contract amounts to a total of EUR 2 882 306; amount paid: EUR 782 254; balance to be paid: EUR 2 100 052.

2. The Financial Regulations, its Rules of Application (RAP) and subsequent financial procedures(2) establish criteria that have to be verified by the Commission for mandatory compliance before signing a contract or a grant with an external organisation. Following the signature of the agreement, the contractual provisions require verification and monitoring of specific features of the organisation. In certain specific cases, the provisions of Article 108 of the regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(3) also require the recording of organisations constituting a risk to the EU financial interests in a central database of all EU institutions, agencies, bodies and offices, named Early Detection Exclusion System (better known as ‘EDES’, which has replaced the prior Early Warning System). Beyond these requirements, there is no legal provision requiring regular monitoring of all possible events that could affect all counterparts. The Commission took measures to protect the EU interests for the ongoing contract since it received the notification on 25 September 2017 on the proposed liquidation of AWEPA.

3. The responsible Commission service has suspended the payment concerning the second year of the ongoing contract with AWEPA. On the basis of the technical and financial report received together with the external audit verification report, there would be a maximum of EUR 218 585 to be justified. The procedure to recover the amount unduly paid has been launched and the responsible Commission service is in contact with the liquidator of AWEPA in order to establish the final amount to be recovered. The Commission can only recover funds under its responsibility, i.e. those originating from the general budget of the Union and the European Development Funds.

Further steps will be considered on the basis of the assessment of the situation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to whom a formal notification on the situation has been sent.

(1)FED/2016/372-052, grant for action ‘Support to the legislative sector in Somalia’
(2)E.g. Practical Guide to Contract Procedures for EU External Actions
(3)Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 258 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council regulation (Ec, Euratom) No 1605/2002, (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1).
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As General Assembly Adopts Annual Resolution Urging End to United States Embargo on Cuba, Delegates Voice Concern About Possible Reversal of Previous Policy

The General Assembly today adopted its annual resolution calling for an end to the United States-led economic, commercial and financial embargo on Cuba, expressing near universal concern over President Donald Trump’s announced intention to tighten the blockade, a reversal from the previous Administration’s efforts to normalize relations.

Of the 193 Member States, 191 voted in favour with the United States and Israel voting against, signifying a shift in policy from last year when both countries abstained from the vote for the first time since it was tabled in 1992.

The resolution titled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” (document A/72/L.2), reiterated its call upon all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures, in line with their obligations under the United Nations Charter and international law, which, among other things, reaffirmed the freedom of trade and navigation.  The Assembly also urged States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the steps necessary to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible.

Introducing the text, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla said that the United States’ new policy on Cuba was intended to take relations back to a past of confrontation.  Two thirds of the United States population, including Cuban immigrants living in the United States, were in favour of lifting the blockade, he said.  Action to the contrary meant that the United States Government was acting in an undemocratic fashion.  He recalled that on 16 June, President Trump announced a series of measures intended to tighten the blockade in a hostile speech before an audience made up of staunch followers of the Batista regime, annexationists and terrorists.

He underscored the “total isolation of the United States in this room” and said that without any evidence, it was using as a pretext the ailments affecting some diplomats in Havana and adopting new political measures against Cuba which further tightened the blockade.  “President Trump does not have the least moral authority to question Cuba.  He is heading a Government of millionaires destined to implement savage measures against lower‑income families, poor people, minorities and immigrants,” he said.  The United States had its own set of issues to deal with, including the country’s lack of guarantees in education and health, the assassination of African‑Americans by law enforcement and the brutal measures threatening the children of illegal aliens who grew up in the United States.

Recalling the military interventions carried out by the United States against Cuba, he said that 60 years of domination had been ended by the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.  When Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz and then United States President Barack Obama made their hopeful announcement in December 2014, Mr. Obama described the blockade against Cuba as an obsolete policy which had failed to meet its goals.  However, the embargo was never recognized for what it was: a massive violation of the human rights of Cubans and an act of genocide.  Citing Cuban figures, he said between April 2016 and April 2017, losses caused by the blockade to the Cuban economy had been estimated at over $4 billion.  “There is not a Cuban family or social service that has not suffered the deprivations resulting from the blockade,” he said.

The representative of the United States said that people would wonder how the United States passively accepted the resolution in 2016 and adamantly rejected it now.  “The American people have spoken.  They have chosen a new President, and he has chosen a new Ambassador to the United Nations,” she stressed.  As long as the Cuban people continued to be deprived of their rights by their dictator regime, the United States would not fear isolation in the Assembly or anywhere else.

“Our principles are not up for a vote,” she underscored, adding that as long as the United States was a member of the United Nations it would stand up for human rights “even if we have to stand alone”.  “It is true that we have been left nearly alone in the opposition to this resolution,” she added.  But year after year, the Assembly’s time was wasted as the United States was subjected to ridiculous claims.  The Cuban regime was responsible for the suffering of the Cuban people.  The United States response had been to stand with the Cuban people and their right to determine their own future.  She also recalled that only the United States Congress could lift the embargo.

To the Cuban people she said: “I know many of you have been hopeful of the opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.  That is not changing.”   But since “this gesture of good will”, the Cuban Government had expanded its political detentions, with reports of 10,000 politically motivated detentions in 2016 alone.  The Government of Cuba was busy choosing the successor to the Castro dictatorship; the results of the election process were determined before the first vote was cast.  That was why the United States opposed the resolution in continued solidarity with the Cuban people.  “We might stand alone today, but when the day of freedom comes for the Cuban people we will rejoice with them as only free people can,” she said.

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that her region viewed the embargo “not just as a punitive act against Cuba, but as an impediment to our shared regional development.”  She noted that opposition to the embargo policy was almost universal, adding that citizens across the United States were joining the international community by increasingly voicing their disapproval and calling for the lifting of unilateral sanctions.  Today, 73 per cent of United States citizens and 63 per cent of Cubans living in the United States supported the lifting of the blockade.

Many countries said they had welcomed the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States in 2015 as a crucial step towards the normalization of relations.  The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern that the current United States President’s new policy aimed at strengthening the embargo.  He underscored the principles of the United Nations Charter, including the sovereign equality of States and non‑intervention in internal affairs.  Limited foreign investment and difficult access to development credits translated directly into economic hardship for the Cuban people.  If those economic sanctions continued, Cuba’s development potential would be unfairly undermined, making it impossible for it to embark on the path towards sustainable development.

The representative of the Russian Federation called the embargo a relic of the past and a glaring interference in the internal affairs of a State.  The embargo was not just a discriminatory practice, unfair and pointless, it undermined the basis for regional and global stability by making sanctions a way of life.  He said that while his country had welcomed the United States abstaining from the vote last year, any expected normalization of relations had been halted by the new Administration in Washington D.C.  “What we are hearing today is hostile cold war rhetoric,” he added.

Many Member States said that differences among States must be resolved through the multilateral system rather than unilateral actions, with the representative of Singapore, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), underscoring: “Differences between States should be resolved through engagement and inclusion, not confrontation and isolation.”

Bolivia’s delegate said that the illegal blockade of Cuba was a clear example of the unilateral fashion in which the United States conducted itself.  The United States had sought to “teach” lessons about democracy and human rights to others as it continued to promote torture and maintain clandestine jails.  “They want to believe they are exceptional,” he said, adding that the United States was only exceptional in its prideful acts.

The representative of Venezuela called the embargo a “savage and disproportionate act”, which represented a ridiculous pretext to attempt to prevent Cuba from exercising the right to choose its own system of governance.  Like Cuba, his country had also been subjected to the illegal sanctions of the United States and like Cuba, Venezuela would continue to stand against them.

Also speaking today were Gabon (on behalf of the African Group), El Salvador (on behalf the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Cote D’Ivoire (on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation), Viet Nam, Paraguay, India, Egypt, Algeria, Colombia, South Africa, China, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Estonia (on behalf of the European Union), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Argentina, Kenya, Syria, Iran, Angola, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Namibia, Myanmar, Belarus, Chad, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador and Zimbabwe.

Throughout the day Member States expressed their condolences to the victims and family members of those affected by the terrorist attack which took place in New York’s Lower Manhattan yesterday.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 2 November, to take up report of the Human Rights Council.

Statements

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), speaking on behalf of the African Group, associated himself with the statement to be delivered by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, recalling that at a recent summit of the Heads of State and Governments of African nations, leaders had decried “loud and clear” the longstanding embargo imposed against Cuba by the United States.  Following recent improvements in relations, he regretted to note the embargo had been strengthened, which was clearly a step backward in the bilateral relations between the two countries and a matter that must be urgently addressed.

Noting that the embargo had undermined collective efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, he said the international community must stand together to bring an end to that blockade, which had caused hardship and constituted an infringement on the Cuban people’s right to development.  Recalling Cuba’s many positive contributions to African countries over recent decades, he said the Group fully supported “L.2” and called for a diplomatic and political solution that would prove beneficial to both Cuba and the United States.

DIEGO FERNANDO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern that the economic, commercial and financial embargo remained in full application.  Recalling the positive steps the Government of the United States had taken between 2015 and 2016, he regretted to note that the current President’s new policy aimed at strengthening the embargo.  The Group of 77 was committed to the principles of the United Nations Charter, including the sovereign equality of States and non‑intervention in internal affairs, and any policy or action disregarding those principles should be seriously considered for immediate repeal.

Underscoring the sanctions’ negative effects, he said that from April 2016 to June 2017, the embargo’s impact on Cuba’s foreign trade amounted to more than $4 billion.  Limited foreign investment and difficult access to development credits translated directly into economic hardship for the Cuban people.  If those economic sanctions continued, Cuba’s development potential would be unfairly undermined, making it impossible for it to embark on the path towards sustainable development.  He also highlighted Cuba’s immense contributions to the international community, including to Ebola‑affected areas in Africa.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recalled that the draft resolution to end the embargo had been consistently adopted by an overwhelming majority since it was first tabled in 1992.  Since then, ASEAN had voted unanimously in favour of the text.  “Differences between States should be resolved through engagement and inclusion, not confrontation and isolation,” he said, welcoming the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States in 2015.  That was an important step toward the normalization of bilateral relations, and remained essential to building better regional relations in the Americas.

A very important step would be for the United States to end its economic, commercial and financial embargo on Cuba, he said.  That would significantly improve the quality of life and living standards of the Cuban people and contribute to the country’s economic and social development.  Bringing an end to the embargo would also advance the General Assembly’s efforts towards achieving an inclusive 2030 Agenda, he said, calling on the United States and Cuba to chart a new way forward.

Mr. HASBUN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), welcomed progress made between 2015 and 2016 by Cuba and the United States.  However, he regretted to note that the blockade was still a reality for the Cuban people, posing an undeniable obstacle to their normal development, and that the new policy announced by the current United States Administration sought to strengthen sanctions.  The latter ran contrary to the letter, spirit, purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.

Reiterating his strong rejection of the application of such illegal measures as the Helms‑Burton Act, he urged the United States Government to end those actions.  Highlighting that the United States Congress had the authority to completely eliminate the blockade, he said the President of the United States, if he so wished, could use his broad executive powers to substantially modify the application of sanctions.  Reiterating CELAC’s special declaration on the necessity of ending the blockade, he said the return to Cuba of the territory where the Guantanamo Naval Base was located should be an element of the process of normalizing relations through a bilateral dialogue in line with international law.  CELAC supported “L.2”, he said, hoping it would be adopted.

INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), associated herself with CELAC, the Group of 77 and the Non‑Aligned Movement.  Noting that CARICOM had maintained close relations with Cuba throughout the years, she said the sanctions worked contrary to the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda.  Striving for peace and the right to development had been CARICOM’s deepest concern.  “In this context, we view the embargo not just as a punitive act against Cuba, but as an impediment to our shared regional development,” she said.

“Opposition to this policy is now almost universal in nature,” she emphasized, noting that citizens across the United States were joining the international community by increasingly voicing their disapproval and calling for the lifting of unilateral sanctions.  Today, 73 per cent of Americans and 63 per cent of Cubans living in the United States supported the lifting of the blockade.  Yet, on 16 June, the current President of the United States had announced intentions to strengthen the blockade.  With such a policy in place, the current Government would reverse any progress achieved by the former Administration.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said during the Assembly’s seventy‑first session, the United States had chosen for the first time to abstain in the vote on the draft resolution on the need to end the embargo against Cuba.  That decision had led to much hope in the international community and had been followed by the reopening of embassies, restoration of commercial flights between the two countries and a visit to Havana by former United States President Barack Obama.

However, recent actions by the current President of the United States had reversed many of those decisions, he said.  “The time had come to lift the embargo against Cuba to enable its people to take full advantage of the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that no one is left behind,” he said, noting that member States of OIC would vote in favour of “L.2” and urging others to do the same.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that apart from violating international law and the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the embargo violated Cuba’s right to fully interact with the international community.  The Non‑Aligned Movement had always rejected unilateral coercive measures, especially against developing countries, and the current sanctions were a perfect example of their adverse effects, including denying Cuba access to global markets and assistance from international financial institutions and erecting obstacles to global connectivity and access to information.  “The embargo is inappropriate for our time,” he stressed, adding that it would negatively affect Cuba’s ability to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Initial steps to normalize relations between the two countries had regrettably been reversed, he said.  Calling for a total end to the blockade, he said 191 Member States had voted in favour of the draft resolution in 2016, which had expressed the international community’s unanimity and urgent call to respect the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  The United States stood alone in implementing such coercive measures, he said, calling on that country to comply with all relevant United Nations resolutions and bring about a full and immediate end to the embargo.  For its part, the international community must stand together against such unilateral and coercive measures.

Mr. RAMÍREZ, speaking in his national capacity, said Venezuela fully supported the critical principles of State sovereignty and non‑interference in the domestic affairs of all countries.  Warning against double standards, he said the embargo ran contrary to international law and was an act of criminal aggression against another State.  That “savage and disproportionate act” was the most abject form of flouting international law and represented a ridiculous pretext to attempt to prevent Cuba from exercising the right to choose its own system of governance.  Even in the face of that hostility, Cuba had been able to stand as a “moral point of reference” for the world, extending support to all counties in need without preconditions.  Their noble people had also played a major role in fighting against colonialism and apartheid around the world.  Describing attempts to reverse the process of normalizing Cuba‑United States relations as a re‑emergence of the latter’s long, sad history of imperialism and aggression, he said Venezuela had also been subjected to that country’s illegal sanctions.  Like Cuba, however, Venezuela would continue to stand strong against them.

NIKKI HALEY (United States) said that for more than 55 years, the Cuban regime had used the General Assembly’s annual debate as a “shiny object” to distract the international community from the destruction it had inflicted on its own people.  Even during the Cuban missile crisis, when the Castro dictatorship allowed the then Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, the Cuban regime and its Soviet allies had claimed that the real threat to peace was not the missiles aimed at the United States, but rather the United States’ discovery of those missiles.  At the time, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations had identified the Cuban regime’s habit of pointing its finger at anyone but itself.

But the real crime was the Government of Cuba’s oppression of its people and its failure to meet their most basic living standards, she said.  Year after year, the Assembly’s time was wasted and the United States was subjected to ridiculous claims.  The regime was responsible for the suffering of the Cuban people.  The United States response had been to stand with the Cuban people and their right to determine their own future.  For that reason, the United States would vote against the resolution.  “It is true that we have been left nearly alone in the opposition to this resolution,” she added.

People would wonder how the United States passively accepted the resolution in 2016 and adamantly rejected it now, she continued.  “The American people have spoken.  They have chosen a new President, and he has chosen a new Ambassador to the United Nations,” she stressed.  As long as the Cuban people continued to be deprived of their rights by their dictator regime, the United States would not fear isolation in the Assembly or anywhere else.  “Our principles are not up for a vote,” she underscored, adding that as long the United States was a member of the United Nations it would stand up for human rights “even if we have to stand alone”.  In reality the Assembly did not have the power to end the embargo.  Only the United States Congress could do that.  What the Assembly was doing today was political theatre.  It was aiding the Cuban regime in sending a warped message to the world that the sad state of the Cuban economy and oppression of its people was not its fault.

The United States strongly supported the Cuban peoples’ dreams to live a country where they could speak freely, have uncensored access to the Internet, provide for their families and determine their leadership, she said.  “I know many of you have been hopeful of the opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.  That is not changing,” she emphasized.  What the Cuban people did not know was that their Government responded to “this gesture of good will” by expanding its political detentions, with reports of 10,000 politically motivated detentions in 2016 alone.  “Your Government silences its critics,” she underscored, adding that the Government of Cuba had exported its destructive ideology to Venezuela.  “Now millions of Venezuelans join you in being denied their basic rights,” she added.  The Government of Cuba was busy choosing the successor to the Castro dictatorship; the results of the election process were determined before the first vote was cast.  That was why the United States opposed the resolution in continued solidarity with the Cuban people.  “We might stand alone today, but when the day of freedom comes for the Cuban people we will rejoice with them as only free people can,” she said.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), noting that the blockade ran counter to international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter, said it had inflicted enormous damage to the Cuban economy and prevented the country’s people from fully enjoying their human rights.  Despite it, the Government of Cuba had always generously responded to emergency appeals by sending doctors, medicine and equipment to countries affected by epidemic diseases or natural disasters.  Measures recently announced by the United States Government to reinforce the sanctions would reverse positive developments achieved since 2015.  The immediate removal of the blockade would be beneficial for both Cuba and the United States, and for peace and development in the region and the world.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), associating himself with CELAC and the Group of 77, rejected any measures that contravened international law and eroded the foundation of multilateralism.  Dialogue and direct negotiations in good faith were the appropriate way to resolve disputes between countries.  He urged the United States and Cuba to refrain from reversing recent progress and to start a new chapter based on trust, respect and development.  He expressed support for “L.2”, urging all Member States to do the same.

SUDIP BANDYOPADHYAY (India), associating himself with the “Group of 77” and the Non‑Aligned Movement, recalled how 191 Member States had voted in favour of the resolution in 2016, expressing strong support to lift the embargo.  Its continued existence continued to undermine multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations.  Embargoes impeded the full achievement of economic and social development, in particular among children and women.  They also hindered the full enjoyment of human rights, including the right to development, food, medical care and social services, and would severely impact Cuba’s ability to implement the 2030 Agenda.  He also commended Cuba’s expertise in healthcare and its swift response to the Ebola crisis in Africa.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLIZ (Bolivia) said the illegal blockade was a clear example of the unilateral fashion in which the United States conducted itself in the world.  Recalling that former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela had spotlighted Cuba as an example of selfless service to other nations and peoples, he said the United States had sought to “teach” lessons about democracy and human rights to others as it continued to promote torture and maintain clandestine jails and about multilateralism while refusing to believe in the science of climate change.  “They want to believe they are exceptional,” he said, adding that the United States was only exceptional in its prideful acts and its consistent rejection of, and flagrant disrespect for, international law.  Expressing Bolivia’s firm support for “L.2”, he thanked Cuba for its longstanding assistance to his own country and nations around the globe.

AWAD MUSTAFA (Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Non‑Aligned Movement, OIC and the African Group, described many of the embargo’s negative effects, emphasizing that it ran counter to the efforts undertaken by Member States to leave no one behind.  Calling for the full and complete lifting of those coercive measures, he expressed hope that Cuba and the United States would take advantage of early efforts that had been made in 2016 to normalize relations between the two countries.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group, the Group of 77, OIC and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the consecutive annual adoption of the draft resolution calling for the lifting of the blockade was a message not to be ignored, as it reflected a strong wish of the international community.  Cuba must have the freedom of trade and navigation with any economic partner, he said, highlighting some of the country’s contributions.  Cuba had stood by Algeria in “tough times” and had sent doctors to fight the Ebola crisis in Africa for the sake of the entire international community.  It was crucial to rebuild relations between the United States and Cuba, who must engage in a bilateral dialogue leading to ending the embargo.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said maintaining the embargo was not just a relic of the past, but a glaring interference in the internal affairs of States.  Every State had a right to provide its citizens with a decent life.  The embargo was a discriminatory practice, unfair and pointless, undermining the basis for regional and global stability by making sanctions a way of life.  The Russian Federation had welcomed the decision of the United States to abstain from voting on the draft resolution in 2016.  However, the expected improvement of relations between Cuba and the United States had halted upon the arrival of the new Administration in Washington, D.C.  “What we are hearing today is hostile cold war rhetoric,” he said, emphasizing that his delegation would vote in favour of “L.2”.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia), associating herself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the economic blockade ran contrary to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  Colombia had voted in favour of the resolution in the past and would continue to do so.  “This is our position regarding the non‑imposition of unilateral measures violating international law,” she said, noting that Member States must increasingly foster relations based on multilateralism and sovereign equality.  “We should undeniably be able to strengthen confidence so we can together face challenges as States.”

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed his disappointment that the current United States Administration had chosen a path of regression that furthered its isolation while causing more harm to the Cuban people.  South Africa had long supported Cuba, he said, calling on the international community to work together to free that nation from the economic shackles imposed on it by the United States for more than half a century.  The blockade could not continue into the modern era, especially in light of the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda, he stressed, noting that it not only affected Cuba but also South Africa’s efforts to trade with Cuban entities.  Indeed, the inhumane blockade must be immediately repealed, as it violated the principles of sovereign equality of States and non‑interference in their affairs.  South Africa therefore pledged its unwavering support for the Cuban people and for the text before the Assembly today, and requested other third‑party countries to do the same.

WU HAITAO (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, agreed that the economic blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba must end immediately.  The Assembly had been adopting a resolution calling for its lifting by an overwhelming majority for 25 years, he said, expressing regret that it had not had practical effect on the ground.  Indeed, the blockade continued to violate the principles of the United Nations, impede the Cuban people’s right to survival and development, and impact the rights of other countries seeking to trade with that country.  China had always imposed illegal unilateral coercive sanctions, he stressed, including of a military, economic and political character.  Describing his country’s positive relationship with Cuba, he said the world was currently undergoing major transformations that required cooperation between States “on an equal footing”.  For those reasons, China would vote in favour of the draft resolution.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said international relations should promote peace and harmony between States while also fostering the prosperity of their peoples.  Mutual respect was a critical element of those relationships, he stressed, reiterating his rejection of all unilateral actions imposed against Cuba including the longstanding economic blockade which ran counter to international law and the basic principles of friendship and cooperation between nations.  Issuing a fraternal call on both countries to find common ground ‑ with full respect for the sovereignty of both ‑  he said the blockade’s elimination would help Cuba gain access to the international financial system, rebuild in the wake of hurricane Irma, improve its development opportunities and provide room for reforms.  Noting that social development was at the core of Cuba’s policies, strategies and public programmes, he emphasized that the country had fully committed itself to implementing the 2030 Agenda.

FLORES HERRERA (Panama), associating herself with the Group of 77, CELAC, and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said her country would vote in favour of today’s draft resolution.  The embargo against Cuba must be done away with in order to foster the Cuban people’s development.  For its part, Panama maintained relations with all States in the spirit of multilateralism.  It also supported the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, she said, calling for a renewal of dialogue between the two countries.  There was currently an opportunity to move towards a shared agenda.  That opportunity must be seized, she emphasized.

Introduction of draft resolution

BRUNO EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, introduced the draft resolution titled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” (document A/72/L.2).  He said the statements delivered by the United States Ambassador against Cuba were disrespectful, also adding: “The United States does not have the slightest moral authority to criticize Cuba.”  He recalled the military interventions carried out by the United States against his country, emphasizing that 60 years of domination, had been ended by the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.  “She is lying,” he said of the United States Ambassador.  “This seems to be like one of those tweets that proliferate in this country in these times of division.”

“I speak on behalf of my people and on behalf of those people who cannot call President Trump and Ambassador Hailey by their names,” he continued, adding that “at least she recognized the total isolation of the United States in this room”.  Recalling how Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz and United States President Barack Obama made their hopeful announcement in December 2014, he said that the latter described the blockade against Cuba as an obsolete policy which had failed to meet its goals.  However, the blockade was never recognized as a massive violation of the human rights of Cubans or an act of genocide.  He said that tangible results had been achieved between the United States and Cuba in forming mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation to tackle terrorism, drug trafficking and cybercrime.

However, on 16 June 2017 United States President Trump announced a series of measures intended to tighten the blockade in a hostile speech before an audience made up of staunch followers of the Batista regime, annexationists and terrorists.  “President Trump does not have the least moral authority to question Cuba.  He is heading a Government of millionaires destined to implement savage measures against lower‑income families, poor people, minorities and immigrants,” he said.  United States citizens were being harmed by corruption in politics, he continued, emphasizing that there was an alarming lack of guarantees in education and health.  The assassination of African‑Americans by law enforcement agents, the death of civilians by United States troops, and the brutal measures threatening the children of illegal aliens who grew up and studied in the United States deserved condemnation.

The United States’ new policy on Cuba was intended to take relations back to a past of confrontation to satisfy the spurious interests of extreme right‑wing circles in the United States and a frustrated and aged minority of Cuban origin in Florida, he said.  With two‑thirds of the United States population, including Cuban immigrants living in the United States, in favour of lifting the blockade, the United States Government was acting in an undemocratic way.  Using as a pretext the ailments affecting some diplomats in Havana without any evidence, the United States Government had adopted new political measures against Cuba which further tightened the blockade.  Reiterating the sentiment expressed by President Castro, he said that any strategy intended to destroy the Cuban Revolution was doomed to fail.

Presenting the draft resolution, he said that the text was ever more relevant in the face of actions taken by the new United States Administration against Cuba.  According to Cuban figures, between April 2016 and April 2017, losses caused by the blockade to the Cuban economy had been estimated at over $4 billion.  The blockade was contrary to international law; its aggressive extraterritorial implementation harmed the sovereignty of all States and business interests everywhere.  “There is not a Cuban family or social service that has not suffered the deprivations and consequences resulting from the blockade,” he said.  He recalled how 18 United States companies had refused to sell Cuban medical products.  Citing examples, he said Promega had refused to sell its medical products to a Cuban medical company and Abiomed, a world market leader in circulatory support devices to treat cardiogenic shock and perform interventional cardiology, had refused to respond to Cuba’s call to incorporate its products into the Cuban health system.  The United States Government’s claim that Venezuela was a threat to international peace and security was a lie.  Cuba was embarking on elections “where seats are not bought”, he added, calling on people to vote in favour of the resolution.

The representative of the United States, speaking prior to the Assembly’s action on the draft resolution, said the people of Cuba deserved a stable, prosperous and democratic nation.  The embargo was just one part of the United States’ policy to support the rights of the Cuban people, she said, adding that her delegation would vote against the text.  Year after year, there was an attempt in the Assembly to use the United States as a scapegoat to deflect from the Cuban Government’s own practices.  Indeed, that Government currently had one of the most restrictive economies in the world, she said, adding that irrespective of United States policy the Cuban economy would continue to suffer until its Government began to support free labour markets, fully empower Cuban entrepreneurs, allow unfettered access to the Internet, open State monopolies and put in place sound macroeconomic policies.  The United States was a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people and supported their human rights, but not their dictatorial regime.  The Government of Cuba continued its politically motivated detentions as well as its harassment of those who advocated on behalf of political and social change.  Even if the embargo were lifted today, Cubans would still not be able to realize their potential without significant reforms by their own Government.

The representative of Nicaragua said Fidel Castro’s legacy continued to grow throughout Latin America and the Caribbean as more of its people succeeded in their struggles for freedom and dignity.  After nearly 60 years of strong resistance by the Cuban people under the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against them, Cuba remained a symbol of humanism, self‑determination, science and innovation around the world.  Expressing hope that the United States would ultimately return to the path embraced by former President Obama, she called on that country to “put things right once and for all” and accept Latin American countries’ right to choose their own path and live in peace and mutual friendship with all nations of the world.  For those reasons, Nicaragua would vote in favour of the draft resolution as it had always done.

Action

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/72/L.2 by a recorded vote of 191 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.

MINNA-LIINA LIND (Estonia), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said lifting the embargo on Cuba could facilitate the opening of the Cuban economy to the benefit of the Cuban people.  Positive change in Cuba was best brought about by closer government, economic and civil society engagement and people‑to‑people exchanges.  The European Union deeply regretted the United States’ intention to reintroduce restrictions on its relations with Cuba.  Beyond the embargo’s damaging impact on ordinary Cubans, unilateral United States sanctions and other unilateral administrative and judicial measures were negatively affecting European Union economic interests, The European Union’s Council of Ministers had adopted a regulation and joint action plan to protect against undue interference and problems for European Union citizens, businesses and non‑governmental organizations residing, working or operating in Cuba.

It was crucial that the United States continue to fully respect the United States‑European Union agreement that covered waivers to titles III and IV of the Helms‑Burton Act, by which the Unites States Government committed to resist future extraterritorial legislation of that kind.  The European Union‑Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement signed last year would support and accompany Cuba on its path to social and economic reform, sustainable development and modernisation.  “The United States embargo does nothing to promote these aims; but impedes their achievement,” she said.  For that reason, the European Union’s member States unanimously voted in favour of the draft resolution.

KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said his country voted in favour of the resolution, out of the “principled stand” of the Non‑aligned Movement and the Group of 77, which objected to any form of unilateral sanctions.  The United States’ embargo on Cuba was an infringement upon the sovereignty of the United Nations Charter and part of crimes against humanity, human rights and civilization.  The current resolution, adopted by all States except the United States and Israel, demonstrated the international community’s opposition to the economic embargo.  Similarly, the Trump Administration announced “reduction of relations with Cuba” was a continuation of the failed embargo policy which threatened the Cuban Government, its people’s sovereignty and hindered normal development of the region.  All kinds of heinous acts, including the Helms‑Burton Act, inflicted serious economic damages on Cuba and the region.  The passing of the current resolution proved the hypocrisy of the United States, manifested international support to and solidarity with the Government of Cuba and condemned the “America first” policy.  The United States had manipulated the Security Council to denounce the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear tests and the launch of ballistic rockets and satellites.  Those actions, however, had pushed the country to “become a full‑fledged nuclear power of Juche and a rocket power recognized by the whole world”.  Likewise, economic sanctions against Cuba would alert the Cuban people and push them towards the building of a “powerful Cuba”.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, underscored the urgent need to put an end to the illegal embargo imposed against Cuba by the United States, which also ran contrary to the Charter principles.  Argentina was opposed to the use of all coercive unilateral economic measures, he said, voicing concern about the reversal of 2016 efforts to restore relations between Cuba and the United States.  The adoption of today’s resolution by a broad majority of Member States reflected the unity of the international community on the issue, he said, adding that only dialogue between the two nations, without preconditions and based on mutual respect, could lead to its ultimate resolution.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said unfortunately unilateral sanctions continued to attract the attention of the powerful and dominant.  Such sanctions were prejudicial and purely politically self‑serving and they undermined multilateral solutions.  The United Nations should hold itself up to an ideal that should never demonstrate that the weak could suffer sanctions without recourse and almost without an end.  In the case of the tragic and seemingly perennial unilateral sanctions levelled against Cuba, history had become the intellectual and diplomatic prisoner of the international community.  “Why must we allow our historical habit to become a determinant of our current action?  How tragic is that?” he said.  Last year, the enforcer of the sanctions against Cuba had acknowledged that they finally needed to be stood down.  “The time to end these sanctions is long past,” he said.  The people of Cuba should be free to join the collective of international citizenry that enjoyed unhindered social, economic and political freedoms.  “Let us not let sanctions become the instrument we, or any one uses, to leave Cuba behind,” he said.  For those reasons, Kenya would vote in favour of the resolution.

MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the embargo demonstrated the disregard of the United States for international law and its determination to implement barbaric policies based on unilateral economic coercive measures against States that refused to be their satellites or to obey their orders.  The international community had welcomed the policy adopted by the previous United States Administration; however, the new one had demonstrated that its political doctrine was based on military force and economic dominance, aimed at forcing people to their knees.  Such measures were a form of collective punishment against entire peoples, hindering the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, while also serving as an obstacle to trade and violating the rights enshrined in human rights instruments.  It was imperative that the United States understood that such unjust policies only led to the rejection of the West and provided extremists and terrorists with new weapons as they recruited among the poor and the weak who were most affected by sanctions.  Sound mechanisms must be established to clearly condemn Member States that used illegal embargoes so they would be held responsible for their policies.  The blockade must be lifted and unilateral measures put in place by the United States and the European Union against various States, including his own, must be withdrawn.

Mr. DEHGHANI (Iran) said the ongoing economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed against Cuba ran counter to the principles of international law as well as the letter and spirit of the Charter.  Differences between States should be resolved through dialogue based on mutual respect, he stressed, adding that the embargo against Cuba served no purpose but to inflict hardship on its people, especially women and children.  Citing the international community’s overwhelming position against that embargo, and against the use of unilateral coercive measurers in general, he said the United States had also imposed such measures against Iran based on various pretexts and even following the agreement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015.  Indeed, such measures had regrettably become a regular part of the United States foreign policy, even in cases where Security Council resolutions had prohibited their use.  Iran remained opposed to the applications of such economic and trade measures, as well as extraterritorial actions that impacted free trade between nations.

JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola), associating himself with the African Group, the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, said his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution as the persistence of the unjust embargo against Cuba, unilaterally imposed by the United States, continued to cause harm to the Cuban people.  Calling for its immediate lifting, he said the United States should also respect the Cuban people’s right to freely choose their own system of governance.  Voicing regret over the imposition by President Trump’s Administration of additional limitations on already tightly restricted trade with Cuba, he encouraged the Secretary‑General to take measures to end the longstanding embargo.  In addition, the international community should redouble its efforts to encourage constructive dialogue between the United States and Cuba.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that the imposition of the unilateral embargo with its extra‑territorial implications had not only hindered the socio‑economic development of Cuba, it had also contradicted the principles and purposes of the Charter and international law.  His country welcomed the progress achieved in the past few years in re‑establishing diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, although it was regrettable to see that progress was now being compromised.

CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica), associating with the Group of 77 and CELAC, welcomed the previous progress that had been achieved in the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.  Costa Rica stressed the importance of respect for international law and the Charter, and reiterated its rejection of any unilateral measures that one State may impose on another.  Costa Rica and Cuba had continued to strengthen diplomatic relations in recent years, he pointed out, calling attention to the expanded bilateral trade cooperation between the two countries, as well as the exchange of scientific and health knowledge.  The constant dialogue between the countries was aimed at fostering mutual economic development.  Solidarity and respect must be the basis for exchanges, he stressed, adding that the United Nations had clearly shown that it was against the blockade, which should be brought to an end, once and for all.

Mr. RAHMANTO (Indonesia), associating with the Group of 77, the Non‑Aligned Movement, OIC and ASEAN, said that the Cuban people had been left behind because of the blockade, particularly as the country had been unable to exercise its full rights to reach for broader economic opportunities.  There had been widespread support to end the embargo, he recalled, adding that the United States policy in 2015 and 2016 had been encouraging and injected hope that the two countries could exist in an amicable environment.  It was therefore disheartening to witness new measures being put in place, aimed at strengthening the embargo against Cuba.  Indonesia had voted in favour of the draft resolution and reaffirmed its belief that the continued imposition of the embargo contradicted the main principles of international law, including the Charter.  He went on to emphasize that the application of the embargo ran contrary to objectives of the 2030 Agenda.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia), aligning with statements made on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, the African Union and the Group of 77 and China, said that the blockade against Cuba was contrary to international law.  It deprived Cubans of a range of rights and severely impacted their economy, impeding recovery from the massive devastation of Hurricane Irma, in addition to other negative effects.  After hopeful signs of the embargo’s demise during the Obama Administration, the current tightening of measures by the United States was doubly disappointing.  He urged that country to reconsider the new measures, retaining hope that both Cuba and the United States would soon reap the benefits of normal relations.

HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that as a country that had experienced similar unilateral sanctions, Myanmar fully understood that the imposition of sanctions on developing countries could cause great economic hardships, especially to poor and vulnerable populations.  Myanmar had consistently demonstrated that such a unilateral measure was inconsistent with international law, transgressed fundamental humanitarian principles and contravened the purposes and principles of the Charter.  Myanmar believed that an immediate end to the economic embargo against Cuba was necessary, and that doing so would serve to promote the economic and social development of the people of Cuba.

Ms. FEDOROVICH (Belarus), noting that her delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, said Belarus had consistently stood against the use of unilateral coercive economic measures which imposed pressure on sovereign nations.  Despite recent reversals, the process towards normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba had given the international community hope that the situation could be resolved in a civilized way, she said, adding that such a peaceful resolution was the only way forward.  In addition, she said attempts by any State to change the governance system of another country through the application of military, economic or political pressure were unacceptable.

ERIC MIANGAR (Chad), associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group and OIC, underscored his country’s support for the Charter principles of sovereignty, non‑interference in the domestic affairs of States as well as the preservation of relations between nations.  Urging the lifting of the United States embargo against Cuba ‑ and recalling that Chad had been in favour of recent efforts to work towards normalizing diplomatic relations between the two nations ‑ he regretted the decision to reverse that progress and said Chad had voted in favour of today’s resolution.  Among other things, the embargo impeded Cuba’s efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the building of international commerce and solidarity between States.

GHISLAINE WILLIAMS (Saint Kitts and Nevis), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Non‑Aligned Movement and CARICOM, expressed the strong belief that the embargo imposed on Cuba should be brought to an end.  Cuba was a close ally and had helped develop the healthcare system of Saint Kitts and Nevis.  The embargo was a burden on Cuba, negatively impacting the economy of that small island developing State, which was profoundly unfair to the Cuban people.  As the international community focused on the 2030 Agenda, Cuba remained stunned by the embargo, which went against the very principles of partnership that the United Nations stood for.  The fact that the majority of the United Nations membership traditionally voted in favour of the draft resolution signified that the overriding sentiment was that the embargo was wrong on all levels.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that for decades, Brazil had defended the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.  In that context, Brazil regretted the recent measures announced by the current Government of the United States, aimed at strengthening the embargo against Cuba, including the extraterritorial dimensions.  The embargo constituted a flagrant violation of the principles of the Charter and international law, and continued to negatively affect the well‑being of the Cuban people, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable.  Calls for ending the embargo had the undeniable support of the international community, as evidenced by the vote on today’s draft resolution.  Dialogue and cooperation between the two countries should be resumed as soon as possible, with the aim of overcoming the recent backslide in the normalization of relations.

CRISTINA CARRIÓN (Uruguay), associating herself with CELAC and the Group of 77, said her delegation had voted in favour of the text because the embargo against Cuba ran counter to the principles of the Charter.  Uruguay did not recognize the application of extraterritorial laws against other States, nor any unilateral coercive measures, she said, condemning the longstanding embargo imposed against Cuba by the United States in that regard.  Noting that that policy had resulted in incalculable damage to Cuba’s development and deprived its people of their rights, she said that, in voting for today’s resolution, Uruguay was reaffirming its commitment to multilateralism.

HELENA YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and CELAC, agreed that the embargo imposed against Cuba by the United States was contrary to the spirit of the United Nations and the principles enshrined in its Charter.  Regretting the continuation of the embargo, as well as recent backtracking in previous efforts to improve diplomatic relations between the two nations, she called for an immediate cessation of such unilateral measures, adding that lifting the embargo would benefit not only Cuba but the entire international community.

VUSUMUZI NTONGA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Group of 77, Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that his country believed that the embargo constituted a violation of the principles of international law as well as the principles enshrined in the Charter.  It also infringed on the rights of other countries to trade freely with Cuba.  Despite the embargo, Cuba continued to play a constructive role in international affairs and was among the first countries to send doctors to West Africa following the outbreak of Ebola.  With today’s vote, the international community had once against spoken in favour of dialogue and cooperation.

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African Delegates Press for Greater Regional Cooperation in Efforts to Resolve Western Sahara Question, as Fourth Committee Continues Decolonization Debate

Delegates from several African countries called for greater regional cooperation in the peaceful resolution of the Western Sahara question today, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its general debate on decolonization.

Senegal’s representative said that Security Council resolution 2351 (2017) had established a correlation between a negotiated solution to the dispute and the reinvigoration of cooperation among countries of the Arab Maghreb region.  As such, there was great potential that a settlement in Western Sahara would lead to solutions to other regional challenges, including terrorism, organized trans-boundary crimes and irregular migration, among others, he noted.

Burkina Faso’s representative agreed that the final resolution of the Western Sahara question would allow the region to tackle counter-terrorism, adding that Western Sahara represented a regional dispute and thus sought cooperation with other countries in the region.

Kenya’s representative stressed that Africa’s decolonization remained a top priority, noting that various regional organizations had clearly expressed their position on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.  Kenya urged the international community to lend its full support to African efforts to overcome impediments to the process in Western Sahara, she said, underlining that both Morocco and Western Sahara were members of the African Union and must engage in direct talks.

Also drawing attention to regional efforts, South Africa’s representative highlighted the African Union’s strong commitment to the decolonization of Western Sahara with its appointment of Joaquim Alberto Chissano, former President of Mozambique, as the bloc’s Special Envoy for Western Sahara.  He recalled that the African Union had made a decision in 2015 calling on the General Assembly to determine a date for holding the referendum in the Territory.

Ahmed Boukhari, representative of the Frente Polisario, said the organization had always had a clear position governed by the principle of self-determination, which was the same as that of the United Nations and the African Union.  The continued occupation of Western Sahara was a slap in the face of the credibility of the United Nations, but today, the Secretary-General wished the peace process to resume and had chosen a new Personal Envoy, he said, adding that Polisario was resolved to work cooperatively with him.

Also speaking today were representatives of Togo, Peru, Gabon, France, Central African Republic, New Zealand, Benin, Tonga, United Arab Emirates, Honduras, Mexico, Mauritius, China, Nigeria, Mozambique, Uganda, Saint Lucia, Lesotho, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, Venezuela and Namibia.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the United Kingdom, Argentina and Spain.

Petitioners on Western Sahara also addressed the Committee.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 9 October, to continue the decolonization general debate.

General Debate

KOKOU KPAYEDO (Togo) expressed regret that the different parties to the “thorny” conflict over Western Sahara had not reached agreement.  Emphasizing that negotiation was the only realistic way forward, he said Morocco’s initiative to grant Western Sahara broad autonomy was a constructive step towards a resolution of the dispute and represented a middle ground between the two sides.  He welcomed Morocco’s spirit of compromise, its efforts to develop the region and its progress on human rights.  Municipal elections in 2015 had been held without incident, he noted.  He called for a census in the Tindouf camps, in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report.  Underlining the vital need to end the conflict, he pointed out that it posed the risk of tragic consequences for the Sahrawi people and was also preventing regional development at the risk of instability.  Settlement of the Western Sahara question would also require improved relations between Morocco and Algeria, he stressed, calling for dialogue between those countries.

FRANCISCO TENYA HASEGAWA (Peru), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American nations (UNASUR), pointed out that more than half a century since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 1514 on granting independence to colonial countries, more than 80 territories had won independence.  However, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remained, he said, calling upon the United Nations to reverse that unjust reality.  Decisive political will was essential, he added, emphasizing that the administering Powers must cooperate with the Committee and ensure the sustained growth of colonized Territories.  He went on to voice support for Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands*, declaring: “There is no possible solution to resolve the Malvinas problem except through the involved parties.”

LILLY STELLA NGYEMA NDONG (Gabon) reaffirmed her delegation’s support for the political process in Western Sahara, welcoming the ongoing efforts of the Secretary-General and his Sahara Envoy.  She also commended the Moroccan autonomy initiative, saying it had the potential to end the impasse and allow for a final settlement.  “We need to take up all the political initiatives,” she said, emphasizing the role of regional countries in maintaining stability and security in the Sahel region.

ABDOULAYE BARRO (Senegal), calling for a new approach to the Western Sahara question, pointed out that the Security Council considered Morocco’s autonomy proposal a serious and credible option.  That initiative had been put together in 

good faith and constituted an appropriate framework for a solution to the regional dispute.  He asked neighbouring countries to make their contribution as part of the United Nations process.  Noting that Security Council resolution 2351 (2017) had established a correlation between a negotiated solution and the reinvigoration of cooperation between the countries of the Arab Maghreb region, he said that, as such, there was great potential that a settlement in Western Sahara would lead to solutions to other regional challenges, including terrorism, organized transboundary crimes and irregular migration, among others.

JACQUES LAPOUGE (France) said his country had cooperated fully with the United Nations on New Caledonia.  Earlier in the year, a United Nations mission had set out to observe the review of the special electoral list for the Territory’s provinces and congress as well as its efforts to establish a special electoral list for consultations.  The French authorities had read the mission’s report closely, and had encouraged and freely administered many of its recommendations concerning Caledonian local government.  Looking ahead to the coming weeks, he said that if a political accord was reached on the matter of electoral list inscriptions, the complementary review period could be longer than it had been in previous years, increasing the availability of United Nations teams.  France wished to play the role of arbitrator in the situation, rebalancing the local government situation while taking local culture into account, he said.  Recalling that the Nouméa Accord had set out a new division of competencies, he said that, accordingly, the gradually ascending competencies granted to the government of New Caledonia gave it the means to act within a legislative framework.  “In short, New Caledonia is sovereign,” he added.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) expressed regret that 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories still did not possess the right to self-determination, noting that the people of Western Sahara had been waiting for decades to exercise that right.  In August, the Secretary-General had launched a negotiation process between the parties and appointed a new Personal Envoy, he recalled, expressing hope that he would receive the support required to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution.  The African Union remained strongly committed to the Territory’s decolonization with its appointment of Joaquim Alberto Chissano, former President of Mozambique, as Special Envoy for Western Sahara, he said, recalling also that in 2015, the regional bloc had made a decision calling on the General Assembly to determine a date for holding a referendum in Western Sahara.

AMBROISINE KPONGO (Central African Republic) said it was unacceptable that some were still fighting for their independence more than 70 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  “We seek emancipation for the countries and Territories still under colonization,” she said, while emphasizing that it would be wise to avoid radical positions with unknown impacts.  Spotlighting Morocco’s economic investment in Western Sahara, and the holding of democratic and free processes, she welcomed its “serious and credible” efforts and expressed support for the processes under way at the United Nations for the autonomy of Western Sahara.  “All parties must be realistic and show compromise,” she said, adding that resolving the long-standing dispute called for greater cooperation among neighbouring countries.  Reiterating the African position, she said all must be done to ensure that the continent was not fragmented by external forces.  She also reiterated the need to address the plight of refugees and ensure their human rights were protected.

CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand), underscoring his country’s commitment to its relationship with Tokelau, said it was guided “by the pace that Tokelau alone sets as it develops towards the future of its choosing”.  In the Territory’s last referendum on its relationship with New Zealand, in 2006-2007, the majority required for Tokelau to become a self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand had not been met, he recalled.  While self-determination efforts were now paused, Tokelau continued to strive to improve its capacity and confidence in governing and managing its own affairs.  That was the best preparation for any future discussion of self-determination, he said, noting that Tokelau had built its own international profile in multilateral meetings on climate change.  New Zealand would support such efforts “as long as Tokelau wishes us to”.

JEAN-CLAUDE DO REGO (Benin) said that a consensual settlement must remain focused on ensuring greater stability in the Maghreb region.  Expressing support for any Security Council initiative laying out a timetable for the political process, he emphasized, however, that no initiative would succeed without a spirit of compromise on the part of all involved.  They must come to the table in order to secure a sustainable peace, he added.

MAHE ‘U.S. TUPOUNIUA (Tonga) said any compromise must be realistic, fair and in accordance with Security Council resolutions.  The Committee was currently at an important juncture in relation to the long-standing issue, he said, urging all involved to make important contributions to the United Nations led process in order to ensure the realization of a political solution.  Human rights and economic and social development must be guaranteed, he added.

AHMED ABDELRAHMAN AHMED ALMAHMOUD (United Arab Emirates) emphasized his country’s support for Morocco’s territorial integrity and for the kingdom’s efforts to reach a solution.  Noting that Security Council resolution 2351 (2017) described Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious and credible, he welcomed the kingdom’s efforts to develop Western Sahara, including through the new development model recently launched for the southern provinces.  It was important to enhance cooperation among members of the Arab Maghreb to ensure regional stability, he added.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with CELAC, stressed the need for ongoing dialogue among administering Powers, the Special Committee and the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  Concerning the Malvinas Islands question, she emphasized Argentina’s legitimate rights to that Territory, urging renewed efforts for a peaceful resolution of the dispute.  She said her delegation had demonstrated its support for Argentina on various occasions, recognizing that country’s sovereign right to the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  She reiterated that all Latin America supported Argentina’s claim.

RODOLFO FLORENTINO DÍAZ ORTEGA (Mexico) said that throughout the years, the United Nations had ensured that more than 80 colonies achieved independence.  However, it was important to remember that “colonialism is not over”, and that championing the principles of the United Nations Charter was a collective responsibility of the Organization.  Mexico reaffirmed its support for efforts to find a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the dispute over Western Sahara, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, he said, expressing support for the holding of a referendum that would determine the future of the Sahrawi people.  He called for efforts to ensure that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) continued to carry out its mandate fully and effectively.  On the Malvinas issue, he urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to seek a peaceful, fair and definitive solution to their dispute, and to avoid taking unilateral actions that could undermine prior agreements.

JAGDISH D KOONJUL (Mauritius) said no progress would be made unless the administering Powers dedicated themselves to the decolonization process.  An end to the suffering of the Sahrawi people was long overdue.  “We must ensure that the situation does not escalate into violence,” he stressed, pointing out that economic integration of North Africa had been delayed due to the situation in Western Sahara.  MINURSO must be free to carry out its mandate to organize the self-determination referendum, he said.  Since it was the General Assembly’s responsibility to complete the decolonization process, it would benefit from an advisory board of the International Court of Justice in relation to the legal consequences of the purported excision of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, he said, encouraging all Member States to participate in that process in support of completing the decolonization of Mauritius.

CHENG LIE (China) said the Non-Self-Governing Territories represented the legacy of Western colonialism.  While the Third International Decade for the Eradication for Colonialism was making progress, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remained, particularly in the Pacific and Caribbean regions, he observed.  China supported the efforts of those Territories towards exercising the right to self-determination.  On the question of the Malvinas Islands, he said China supported Argentina’s rights, and called upon the parties concerned to engage in peaceful dialogue and negotiations towards finding a just, lasting and acceptable solution for all.

YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso) welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2351 (2017) extending the mandate of MINURSO until April 2018 for the purpose of holding a referendum, saying that confirmed the Council’s firm will to help the parties reach a solution.  He said Burkina Faso supported the process under the auspices of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, noting that Western Sahara represented a regional dispute, and thus sought cooperation with other countries in the region.  In the context of counter-terrorism, he said a final resolution of the Western Sahara question would allow the region to tackle that problem as well.

HUSSEIN ABDULLAH (Nigeria) expressed regret at the continued existence of Non-Self-governing Territories that faced the challenge of exercising the right to self-determination.  “As new conflicts emerge, we must not lose focus on ongoing, unresolved old conflicts,” he said, noting that Western Sahara remained a Non-Self-Governing Territory even 40 years after the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justices on that issue.  The question of a homeland for the Palestinian people and the quest for a free and impartial self-determination referendum for the Sahrawi people were among the most urgent tasks on the United Nations agenda, he emphasized, calling on the Organization to set a date for the referendum.  “This Committee would be shirking its responsibilities if it fails to prick the conscience of the nations of the world to stand up,” he said.

CARLOS COSTA (Mozambique) said it was imperative to intensify efforts to end colonialism in all its forms.  Expressing great concern over the expansion of Israeli settlements, he called upon the international community to advance concrete actions for the attainment of a durable two-State solution to the question of Palestine.  Concrete action must also be taken to ensure that the people of Western Sahara could exercise their right to self-determination through implementation of the referendum and other elements of the relevant United Nations resolutions.  Lesotho welcomed Morocco’s re-entry into the African Union family, which could provide an additional avenue to the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, he said.

KINTU NYAGO (Uganda) reaffirmed his country’s support for the principle of self-determination.  “As we debate this today, many people still live under the bondage of colonization,” he said.  The issue of Western Sahara remained very much one of occupation and colonization in Africa, and Uganda was committed to the holding of a free and fair referendum as well as the total decolonization of the continent.  Morocco’s recent rejoining of the African Union offered an opportunity to resolve the Western Sahara issue.  Noting the Security Council’s call for a relaunch of the political process in a new dynamic spirit, he welcomed the appointment of the Personal Envoy for Western Sahara and urged him to establish time-bound negotiations between Polisario and Morocco.

COSMOS RICHARDSON (Saint Lucia) drew attention to the torrential rains, massive destruction and tragic loss of life suffered recently by Caribbean Non-Self-Governing Territories including Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Voicing his country’s solidarity with their peoples, he said the task of recovery and reconstruction would be daunting and external assistance would be required.  The annual resolutions on assistance in the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council would be of special importance.  Recalling the role of the United Nations in his own country’s self-determination process, he expressed concern that the same promise remained unfulfilled for many others, especially small island Non-Self-Governing Territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific.  The process had remained “virtually static” for more than a quarter of a century, he said, calling upon the Secretary-General to identify specifically that lack of implementation and take appropriate measures to move the process forward.

KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho) said colonialism violated the human rights of the colonized, and it would be in the best interest of humanity to implement the decolonization Declaration as part of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.  He reiterated the call to end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations, including through negotiations on Western Sahara.  To that end, he expressed support for Western Sahara’s struggle for self-determination, emphasizing:  “Denial of this fundamental right will remain a source of conflict until independence is attained.”

MOHAMED CHERIF DIALLO (Guinea) said the question of Western Sahara must be resolved through a political and constructive dialogue.  Morocco’s autonomy initiative had the merit of transcending traditional positions, and it could also be instrumental in the holding of fair and free local and regional elections.  He noted with concern the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the refugee camps, emphasizing the importance of ensuring the protection of their human rights.

FREDERICK M SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern that all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Western Sahara question had failed so far.  Noting that most of the Sahrawi people were subjected to severe poverty and forced to seek asylum in neighbouring countries, he said the refugees looked to the international community for assistance.  Zimbabwe supported self-determination for the people of Western Sahara as well as fair and transparent dialogue.  Pointing out that MINURSO was mandated to ensure a free and fair referendum, he said:  “The people of Western Sahara are still waiting.”  He expressed support for the African Union’s call for immediate and direct talks between the two sides.

KOKI MULI GRIGNON (Kenya) said her country’s long struggle for national liberation from colonialism had set a strong foundation for its foreign policy orientation.  Kenya’s architects had underscored the link between national independence and humanity’s right to a shared heritage.  Africa’s decolonization remained a top priority, she said, noting that various regional organizations had clearly expressed their position on the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, and those of the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean.  “Western Sahara is still colonized because it is rich in natural resources,” she said, adding that the prevailing deadlock in the peace process only heightened tensions in the Territory.  Kenya urged the international community to lend its full support to African efforts to overcome impediments to the process in Western Sahara, she said, underlining that both Morocco and West Sahara were members of the African Union and must engage in direct talks.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said administering Powers had responsibilities under the Charter and relevant United Nations resolutions to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  As such, they should develop time-bound work programmes on a case-by-case basis, in regular compliance with their reporting obligations.  He highlighted the need for educational and training assistance for students in those Territories, expressing appreciation for Member States that made scholarships available to them and requesting that others follow suit.

AMADU KOROMA (Sierra Leone) observed that the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism would end soon, but progress towards the goals set out in its programme of action was not encouraging.  Recalling that efforts had been made in previous years to forge a closer working relationship between the administering Powers and the Special Committee on Decolonization, he encouraged the administering Powers to provide information on the socioeconomic situation in the Territories, and to cooperate with visiting missions so that Special Committee members could receive information on the actual situation on the ground.  Concerning Western Sahara, he said that his delegation fully supported the ongoing process.  As for New Caledonia, the 2018 referendum would be crucial, he said, emphasizing that the problems of the electoral list must be settled amicably before the voting process.

INTISAR NASSER MOHAMMED ABDULLAH (Yemen) said her country supported the aspirations of Territories to independence, commending the work of the Special Committee on Decolonization towards that end.  Regarding Western Sahara, she said all relevant Security Council resolutions must be implemented and Morocco’s efforts to reach a solution must be supported.  She also highlighted Israeli settlement activities, stressing that they were the source of conflict in the Middle East.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in exercise of the right of reply in regards to a 3 October statement on Gibraltar, said the Territory’s people enjoyed the right to self-determination, a constitution supported by the referendum, and a vigorous political life.  The United Kingdom refuted allegations that it was illegally occupying the waters surrounding Gibraltar, she said, underlining that the State, which was sovereign over the land, was also sovereign over the waters.  Concerning taxation in the Territory’s, she said Gibraltar maintained a fair tax system and was in compliance with all legal European Union directives.  As for claims of cigarette smuggling through Gibraltar, she recalled the European Commission’s efforts to address that issue and Gibraltar’s commitment to work with partners, including its counterparts in Spain.

In response to the delegations of Peru, Mexico, Honduras and China regarding the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), South Georgia Islands, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, she reiterated that the United Kingdom harboured no doubt about its sovereignty over the Territory.

The representative of Argentina, in right of reply, recalled that the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas were a part of Argentina, illegally occupied by the United Kingdom.  That was recognized by various international organizations, and the illegal occupation had led the United Nations to adopt various resolutions on the matter, he said.  All those resolutions recognized Argentina’s jurisdiction over the Malvinas, she pointed out, emphasizing also that the interests of the Territory’s people as well as their lifestyle were monitored and guaranteed under the Argentine Constitution.

The representative of Spain, speaking in right of reply in response to the United Kingdom, said the Treaty of Utrecht governed the question of Gibraltar.  Under that agreement, the waters fell under Spanish sovereignty and had never been ceded.  Therefore, the United Kingdom was illegally occupying the isthmus of Gibraltar.  She noted that there were no agreements between the European Union and Gibraltar on tax matters since Spain was a member of that bloc.  Spain was a democratic State governed by the rule of law, she said, describing the referendum said to have taken place in Catalonia as illegal.  Spain protected the rights of all citizens, and its police and Civil Guard responded to orders from the courts and judicial system to ensure legality and respect for all Spaniards.  If there had been excesses, that would be up to the courts to determine.

The representative of Algeria said the daily press releases were not reflecting the Committee’s discussions, recalling that his delegation and others had raised that issue in the past.  The matter had been raised during an informal meeting on the revitalization of the General Assembly.  At that time, lack of resources had been blamed, but considering the situation today, that seemed not to be the case.  The names of people who had not yet addressed the Committee were included in the press release, he said.  If that was a mistake, it was unjustifiable, he stressed.  He asked the Department of Public Information not to deviate from its objective, and the Secretariat to shed light on the reasons for what was happening.  He also asked for formal apologies and corrections.  What happened in the meeting must be faithfully reflected in the releases, he said, emphasizing that a representative of the Department of Public Information must appear before the Committee to explain the issue.

The Chair said he shared the delegate’s disappointment and anger, adding that the Secretariat and the Department of Public Information must clarify what had happened and provide an apology in an information note, as well as with an appearance before the Committee.

A Secretariat official apologized on behalf of the Fourth Committee Secretariat, saying it was following up with the Department of Public Information, and that a correction was being posted.

The representative of Algeria said the apology must not be directed to his delegation but to the entire Committee.

Petitioners on Western Sahara

NAVJOT KAUR, Chief of Staff, Young Progressives of America, said that building walls to keep people out instead of welcoming them in was cruel.  While Morocco had divided the Sahrawi, they refused to accept violations of their human rights.  Recalling former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s 2014 visit to the Territory, she said that during the visit he had noted the anger of the people who had lived there for more than 40 years and felt the world had forgotten their cause.  Indeed, they had every right to be angry because no progress had been made, she said, expressing hope that more would be achieved under the new Secretary-General.  However, the absence of cooperation from Morocco and its refusal to give the Sahrawi the freedom they deserved was concerning.  Both the European Union and the African Union were in support of the Sahrawi, and neighbouring countries around Morocco continued to accept refugees, she said, strongly urging the United Nations to resolve the decades-long dispute.

SILVIA BOAVENTURA, Justice for Western Sahara, said the people of Western Sahara were still waiting for freedom since Spain had occupied the Territory and then illegally transferred it to Morocco.  Those who lived under the violent and abusive Moroccan occupation could not live free, and the occupation authorities did not offer proper health care, education and other basic services, in contravention of human rights, she said.  The occupation had also built a large wall guarded by heavily armed guards.  “It is a war zone,” she said, adding that Morocco continued to unlawfully exploit both the people and their natural resources.  Many companies around the world did business with Moroccan firms benefitting from those resources, and the silence from the United Nations, other countries and the media and showed a lack of interest in the issue.  The United Nations must help the Sahrawi people’s pursuit of self-government, she stressed, calling for an end to the occupation.

FERAT AHMED BABA DIH, PhD student and adjunct instructor, New York University, said she was a refugee born in the camps, and outlined the history of the Sahrawi people, saying they still had a strong sense of belonging with a Territory “that is still their own”.  Noting that 2017 marked the forty-second anniversary of the Madrid Accord, which had been followed by the war between Spanish forces and the Polisario Front, she said many Sahrawi had been tortured or killed and those who had escaped had fled to Algeria’s Tindouf region where they remained to the present day.  In Western Sahara, the occupation continued, based on the idea that the Territory was a fundamental part of Morocco, and police brutality against the people was common.  She called upon the Government of Morocco to end its occupation and on the international community to “stop listening passively to our demands”.

AHMED BOUKHARI, representative of the Frente Polisario, said the continued occupation of Western Sahara was a slap in the face of the credibility of the United Nations.  Dozens of political prisoners languished in Moroccan jails as that country plundered the Territory’s natural resources, bringing drugs and instability to the region.  He recalled that after the agreement to hold a referendum, MINURSO had been established to organize it, but Morocco had unilaterally broken off its commitment and had been sabotaging the peace process ever since.  In August 2016, the kingdom had violated the terms of the ceasefire by trying to build a road in Guerguerat, which had almost led to violent conflict, he recalled.  Noting that today the Secretary-General wanted the peace process to resume and had chosen a new Personal Envoy, he said Polisario was resolved to cooperate with him, because it had always had a clear position, governed by the principle of self-determination, which was the same as that of the United Nations and the African Union.  The question was one of decolonization, he stressed.

The representative of Venezuela asked for greater detail on the occupying Power’s exploitation of natural resources in the Territory and how it affected Western Sahara’s capacity to develop in the future once the issue had been resolved.

The representative of Namibia said her country contributed aid for the refugee camps, and asked for information about accusations that it had been sold.  She asked what measures were in place to ensure that aid reached the refugees.

Mr. BOUKHARI said natural resources constituted one of the main reasons for the occupation, estimating that Morocco made between $7 and $12 million a year from the Territory’s resources.

Responding to Namibia’s representative, he said there had been no report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in Tindouf or any other camp.  Instead a visiting woman accompanied by a French deputy had given information to the press.  Basically, the information was false, he said.

The representative of South Africa asked how the referendum would unfold.

The representative of Morocco, on a point of order, asked about the system for asking questions and responding within a time limit.  He also requested that petitioners be mentioned by name rather than by title.

The representative of Algeria said the floor could not be denied to a Member State because each had a sovereign right to speak.

The representative of Morocco said he was not trying to deprive Member States of the right to speak, but instead to group questions together.

The representative of Zimbabwe asked about the new Personal Envoy and expectations for his appointment.

Mr. BOUKHARI said in regard to the question of self-determination that three months would be enough to organize the referendum.  As for the Personal Envoy, he was a person of great authority, but he faced major problems because of Morocco’s insistence on maintaining the status quo so that it could continue to occupy the Territory.  He called upon all members of the Security Council to work together to ensure his success.

FATIMETU JATRI EMHAMED, Sahrawi student in Iowa, said that despite having pursued a college education and a career in the United States, she remained dispirited about her people’s plight.  It was regrettable to see France, a permanent member of the Security Council, constantly and blindly support Morocco in the United Nations on the issue of Western Sahara.  Calling upon all States to support the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination, she said they remained oppressed and made to feel like foreigners in their own land.  Protesters and fighters had been imprisoned, she said, asking “Who else is going to speak for us?”  It was painful to call oneself a refugee when one still had a homeland, she said, rejecting allegations made yesterday linking refugees in the camps with terrorism.

KIM GUEST, President, Artists for Kids Rights, noted that freedom of expression in Moroccan-occupied areas of Western Sahara was strictly curtailed.  Moroccan authorities detained or expelled Sahrawi, Moroccan, Spanish and other foreign reporters covering sensitive issues related to Western Sahara.  The Government of Morocco asserted judicial and penal administration within the Territory and its security forces there had a history of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest and detention and disappearances, she said.  Noting that Western Sahara possessed extensive natural resources, including phosphates, iron ore, hydrocarbon reserves and fisheries, she said a history of resource exploitation by foreign companies had left the local population largely impoverished.  The international community could not allow decolonization in that latest of colonial enclaves to be diverted as a result of the biased analysis or temporal interests of certain Powers, she said, emphasizing that the General Assembly must confirm its commitment to the relevant resolutions and decisions.

CHRIS SASSI, President, S.k.c., said the legal status of Western Sahara was unequivocal and it remained under occupation by Morocco.  Recalling that the International Court of Justice had rejected the historical links invoked by the occupying Power to justify its occupation, she said the European Court had reaffirmed that position in 2016.  The Territory’s status must be decided by the Sahrawi people, he emphasized.  Morocco continued its cruel oppression, pillaging natural resources and violating human rights, she said.  The kingdom also continued to refuse all visits to the Territory by parliamentary delegations, NGOs and others, she added, noting that Morocco enjoyed impunity with the complicit support of some Member States, even permanent members of the Security Council.  The Secretary-General and his new Personal Envoy must work to renew negotiations on the question of Western Sahara, she said.

JUAN CARLOS DUQUE, Executive Director, ONG Rehabiilitacion y Esperenza, also voiced concern about breaches of human rights, noting that the Polisario Front had marginalized the population, including people who questioned their authority.  He also voiced concern about the lack of liberty for those living in the Tindouf camps, drawing attention to a related Human Rights Watch report.  While the Polisario Front was on record as firmly opposing slavery, more must be done to eliminate residual slavery among the minority black population, he said.

CLARA RIVEROS, political scientist, CPLATAM Observatory, noted that the rate of political participation in Western Sahara was among the most notable in Morocco.  People had been elected democratically at the provincial, municipal and regional levels, and there was competition between the various political parties, she noted.  One of the very traditional parties had been displaced by an emerging political force, which was what democracy was all about.  Preferences had been changing in the region, leading to a new civil society because of the new sedentary living conditions of a formerly nomad population, she said.

RACHID TAMEK, President, Assemblée Provinciale d’Assa-Zag, said he wished to clarify Morocco’s history.  The kingdom had enjoyed internationally recognized borders for several centuries, he recalled, noting that, alongside Ethiopia, Morocco had been the last country on the continent to become a protectorate, divided between France and Spain.  The kingdom had been divided into six parts between those two Powers, and had regained its independence incrementally.  The repercussions of those events were still being witnessed today, he said, asking why there had never been a demand for a referendum in any other region, and why only Western Sahara was demanding one.  Speaking as a Moroccan Sahrawi citizen, he said it was because the region had borders with a neighbouring country that was interfering in its internal affairs.

NAGLA MOHAMEDLAMIN SALAM, representative in the United States of Nova (Western Sahara), said the Territory’s people were fighting for dignity and to choose where they would belong.  Ending the dispute over Western Sahara meant allowing the Saharawi people to vote and to choose by themselves, she said, underlining that they would not compromise the right to self-determination under any circumstances.

__________

*  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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Human Rights

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 13:21

An international court's condemnation of the Colombian state's role in an infamous military operation in the city of Medellín speaks to the failings of militarizing the fight against illegal armed groups, particularly in heavily populated urban areas.

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 07:24

Turkey has halted the activities of 370 non-governmental groups including human rights and children's organizations over their alleged terrorist links, the government said as it widens purges following a failed coup in July.

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 07:20

That practice has fueled resentment among the local Arab population and risks breathing new life into the insurgency just as a U.S.-backed government offensive pushes into Mosul, the Sunni extremist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq.

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 06:50

Authorities have arrested more than 11 000 people since Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in early October amid violent protests, state TV said on Saturday.

Friday, November 11, 2016 - 07:56

A former U.S. state department top expert on Nigeria has asked the American government not to sell 12 warplanes worth $500 million to the Muhammadu Buhari administration due to allegations of human rights violations and corruption.

Friday, November 11, 2016 - 07:09

Human Right Watch (HRW) on Thursday called on Colombia’s Defense Ministry to prevent the promotion to general of at least five top military officials accused of executing civilians, but to no avail.In spite the protest, a Colombian senate commission approved the officials’ promotion, which will now be sent to the full senate for approval.

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 08:23

“From the outset this trial has been marred by irregularities, and allegations of torture that have not been investigated. The authorities have failed to prove any criminal responsibility for the acts of violence these individuals have been accused of. The Appeal Court must put an end this farce," said Kiné Fatim Diop, Amnesty International’s West Africa Campaigner.

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 08:21

The government of Zimbabwe is crafting a bill to clamp down on cybercrime and terrorism, but journalists fear the bill will trample the fragile freedoms of the press and expression in the country.

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 08:18

The Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) said journalists have had to contend with frequent death threats, arbitrary arrests, assaults, detention and killings under President Salva Kiir's administration.

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 08:13

Colombian authorities should ensure that generals and colonels against whom there is credible evidence of involvement in extrajudicial executions and other abuses are not elevated in rank during impending promotions, Human Rights Watch said today.

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Busani Bafana

Zimbabwe: Will Free Expression Equal Terrorism? Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 08:21 The government of Zimbabwe is crafting a bill to clamp down on cybercrime and terrorism, but journalists fear the bill will trample the fragile freedoms of the press an...
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Motion for a resolution on the EU strategic objectives for the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to be held in Johannesburg (South Africa) from 24 September to 5 October 2016 – B8-2016-0987

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the seriousness of the decline in global biodiversity, which represents the sixth mass extinction of species,

–  having regard to the role of forests and tropical forests, which are the world’s largest reservoir of terrestrial biodiversity and an essential habitat for wild fauna and flora and for indigenous populations,

–  having regard to the forthcoming 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP 17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to be held from 24 September to 5 October 2016 in Johannesburg (South Africa),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 69/314 on tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife, adopted on 30 July 2015,

–  having regard to the questions of xxx to the Council and to the Commission on key objectives for the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Johannesburg (South Africa) from 24 September to 5 October 2016 (O-00088/2016 – B8‑0711/2016 and O‑00089/2016 – B8‑0712/2016),

–  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas CITES is the largest global wildlife conservation agreement in existence, with 181 parties, including the EU and its 28 Member States;

B.  whereas the aim of CITES is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants is not a threat to the survival of the species in the wild;

C.  whereas, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, more than 23 000 species, representing about 30 % of the 79 837 species assessed by IUCN, are threatened with extinction;

D.  whereas tropical rainforests contain 50 to 80 % of terrestrial animal and plant species; whereas today these environments are particularly under threat, including from the commercialisation of species, in particular the exploitation of tropical timber and subsoils; whereas deforestation and the illegal sale of wood are having a disastrous impact on the preservation of forest flora and fauna;

E.  whereas intensive fishing, commercial hunting and the unrestricted exploitation of micro-organisms and sub-seabed resources are harming marine biodiversity;

F.  whereas many species subject to trophy hunting are suffering a serious population decline; whereas over a 10-year period EU Member States declared as hunting trophies imports of almost 117 000 specimens of wildlife species listed in the CITES appendices;

G.  whereas wildlife trafficking has become an organised transnational crime which has major negative impacts on biodiversity and on the livelihood of local populations, as it denies them a legal income, creating insecurity and instability;

H.  whereas wildlife trafficking has become the fourth largest black market, after the drugs, people and arms markets; whereas the internet has come to play a key role in facilitating wildlife trafficking; whereas terrorist groups also use the above types of trafficking to finance their operations; whereas wildlife trafficking offences are not punished severely enough;

I.  whereas corruption plays a central role in wildlife trafficking;

J.  whereas evidence suggests that wild-caught specimens are being laundered through the fraudulent use of CITES permits and claims of captive breeding;

K.  whereas the EU is a major transit and destination market for illegal wildlife trade, especially for the trade in birds, turtles, reptiles and plant species(1) that are listed in CITES appendices;

L.  whereas a growing number of illegally traded exotic species are kept as pets in Europe and internationally; whereas the escape of these animals can lead to an uncontrolled spread affecting the environment and public health and safety;

M.  whereas the EU and its Member States provide substantial financial and logistical support for CITES, and for tackling illegal wildlife trade in many third countries;

N.  whereas the species under CITES are listed in appendices according to their conservation status and levels of international trade, Appendix I containing species threatened with extinction for which commercial trade is prohibited, and Appendix II species in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival;

O.  whereas CITES Appendix I species are strongly protected, whereas any commercial trade in species listed therein is prohibited, and whereas any permit to sell confiscated specimens or products (for example ivory, tiger products or rhino horn) would undermine the aim of the CITES Convention;

P.  whereas efforts to improve transparency in decision-making are essential;

1.  Welcomes the EU’s accession to CITES; considers the accession to be a fundamental step in ensuring that the EU can further pursue the wider objectives of its environmental policies and the regulation of the international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna, and promote the sustainable development policies of the UN Agenda 2030;

2.  Welcomes in particular the fact that the EU is participating for the first time as a party, and supports the proposals made by the EU and its Member States, in particular the proposed resolutions on corruption and on hunting trophies, the extension of CITES protection to a number of species imported into the EU, notably as pets, and the proposed amendments to Resolution 13.7 (Rev. CoP14) on the control of trade in personal and household effects;

3.  Highlights the fact that the accession to CITES by the European Union has rendered the legal status of the European Union in CITES more transparent vis-à-vis third parties to the Convention; believes that it is a logical and necessary step to ensure that the European Union is fully able to pursue its objectives under its environmental policy; recalls that accession enables the Commission, on behalf of the European Union, to express a coherent EU position in CITES matters and play a substantial role in negotiations during the Conferences of Parties;

4.  Stresses that the European Union became a party to CITES in 2015 and that it will be voting with 28 votes on issues of EU competence at the CITES CoP; in that regard, supports changes to the CoP’s Rules of Procedure which reflect the text of the CITES Convention on voting by regional economic integration organisations and which are consistent with what has been in place in other international agreements for many years, and objects to having the votes by the European Union calculated on the basis of the number of Member States that are properly accredited for the meeting at the time the actual vote occurs;

5.  Welcomes the recently adopted EU Action Plan against wildlife trafficking, which aims to prevent such trafficking by addressing its principal causes, improving the implementation and enforcement of existing rules, and combating organised wildlife crime more effectively; welcomes the inclusion in the Action Plan of a specific chapter on strengthening the global partnership of source, consumer, and transit countries against wildlife trafficking; and urges the EU and its Member States to adopt and implement the strengthened Action Plan, which will demonstrate a strong European commitment to tackling wildlife trafficking;

6.  Supports the initiative by the Commission and the Member States to agree on global guidelines on trophy hunting within CITES in order to better control internationally the sustainable origin of hunting trophies of the species listed in Appendix I or II;

7.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to adhere to the precautionary principle with regard to species protection in all their decisions on working documents and listing proposals (as set out in CITES Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP16)) – in particular regarding the import of hunting trophies of CITES species – taking account, in particular, of the user-pays principle, the principle of preventive action and the ecosystem approach; calls on the EU and its Member States, furthermore, to promote the removal of exemptions for permits for all hunting trophies from CITES-listed species;

8.  Demands that all CITES/CoP 17 decisions be based on science, careful analysis and equitable consultation with the affected range states, and be reached in cooperation with the local communities; underlines that any wildlife regulation should incentivise the rural population’s engagement in nature protection by linking their benefit with the state of biodiversity;

9.  Encourages CITES Parties to strengthen cooperation, coordination and synergies between biodiversity-related conventions at all relevant levels;

10.  Calls on the Member States to provide for cooperation, coordination and a prompt exchange of information among all relevant agencies involved in implementing the CITES Convention, in particular the customs authorities, the police, border veterinary and plant health inspection services, and other bodies;

11.  Encourages the EU and its Member States to promote and support initiatives to increase protection against the impact of international trade on species for which the European Union is a significant transit or destination market;

12.  Is concerned that the boundary between legal and illegal trade is very thin as regards the commercialisation of species and their derived products, and that with the cumulative effects of human activity and global warming the great majority of wild fauna and flora species are today threatened with extinction;

13.  Urges the EU to adopt legislation to reduce illegal trade by making it illegal to import, export, sell, acquire or buy wild animals or plants which are taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of the law of the country of origin or transit;

14.  Commits particularly to strongly encouraging all the Member States: to ban the export of raw ivory, as already do Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and some US States; to increase their vigilance with regard to marketing certificates on their territory; to make the fight against fraud effective, in particular at borders; to launch destruction operations of illegal ivory; and to strengthen the penalties for trafficking in protected species (notably elephants, rhinos, tigers, primates and varieties of tropical wood);

15.  Encourages the EU and its Member States, and the wider CITES Parties, further to Articles III, IV and V of the Convention, to promote and support initiatives to improve the welfare of live CITES-listed animals in trade; such initiatives include mechanisms to ensure animals are ‘prepared and shipped so as to minimise the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment’, that destinations are ‘suitably equipped to house and care for them’, and that confiscations of live specimens are undertaken with due consideration for their welfare;

16.  Is concerned about the impact that ‘banking on extinction’, or the buying of products in the hope that the species concerned will soon be extinct, might have on the protection of endangered wildlife; invites the CITES Parties and Secretariat to carry out further research on whether emerging financial products and technologies such as bitcoin play an enabling role;

17.  Recognises that CITES observers play an important role in providing expertise on species and trade, and in lending their support to capacity-building by the Parties;

Transparency of decision-making

18.  Considers that transparency in decision-making in international environmental institutions is key to their effective functioning; welcomes all voluntary and procedural efforts to increase transparency in CITES governance; strongly opposes the use of secret ballots as a general practice within CITES;

19.  Welcomes the decision made at COP 16 to include a requirement for members of the Animals and Plants Committees to provide declarations of any conflicts of interest; acknowledges, however, that the requirement is based only on a self-assessment by members; regrets that there have been no declarations of any potential financial conflicts of interest from members of these committees so far;

20.  Urges the CITES Secretariat to investigate the potential for an independent review board, or the expansion of the mandate of the Standing Committee to include an independent review panel, in order to create an oversight safeguard for the conflict of interest provisions;

21.  Considers transparency imperative to any funding process and a requisite for good governance, and therefore supports the resolution proposed by the EU on the ‘Sponsored Delegates Project’(2);

Reporting

22.  Considers traceability essential for legal and sustainable trade, whether commercial or non-commercial, and also central to the EU’s efforts to fight corruption and wildlife trafficking and poaching, which is recognised to be the fourth largest illicit market on the planet; in this regard highlights the need for the implementation by all Parties of the e-permitting system, which should be organised transparently and jointly by all of them; acknowledges, however, the technical challenges faced by some Parties in doing so, and encourages the provision of capacity-building support to enable the implementation of the e-permitting system by all the Parties;

23.  Welcomes the decision made at COP 16 on regular reporting by CITES Parties on illegal trade; regards the new annual illegal trade report format, as included in CITES Notification No 2016/007, as a significant step towards developing a better understanding of wildlife trafficking, and encourages all CITES Parties to accurately and regularly report on illegal trade using the prescribed format;

24.  Welcomes private-sector initiatives such as those taken by the International Air Transport Association on e-freight for and by the air cargo supply chain; considers the expansion of such traceability initiatives, especially for the transport sector, to be an important tool in intelligence-gathering;

25.  Highlights the importance of the permit-issuing process in effective data-collection, and thus the key role played by the Management Authorities; reiterates that permit-issuing authorities must be independent, in accordance with Article VI of CITES;

Wildlife trafficking and corruption

26.  Draws attention to cases of corruption where deliberate fraudulent issuing of permits by actors in the permit-issuing authority has occurred; calls on the CITES Secretariat and the Standing Committee to address these cases as a matter of priority and urgency;

27.  Underlines that corruption can be detected at every stage in the wildlife trade chain, affecting countries of origin, transit and destination, and undermining the effectiveness, proper implementation and ultimate success of the CITES Convention; considers, therefore, that strong and effective anti-corruption measures are essential in the fight against wildlife trafficking;

28.  Raises serious concerns over the deliberate misuse of source codes for the illegal trade in wild-caught specimens in the form of fraudulently use of captive-bred codes for CITES species; calls on COP 17 to adopt a robust system for recording, monitoring and certifying trade in ranched or captive-bred species, in both countries of origin and the EU, in order to prevent this abuse;

29.  Urges the CITES Parties to develop further guidance and to support the development of additional techniques and methodologies to differentiate between species originating from captive production facilities and species from the wild;

30.  Condemns the high degree of illegal activity by organised criminal gangs and networks in violation of the Convention, which frequently use corruption to facilitate wildlife trafficking and frustrate efforts to enforce the law;

31.  Urges the Parties that are not yet signatories to, or have not yet ratified, the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption to do so without delay;

32.  Welcomes the international commitment under UNGA Resolution 69/314 (July 2015), inter alia on counter-corruption (Article 10)(3);

33.  Supports EU and Member State initiatives that call for more action in the global fight against corruption under CITES; urges the Parties to CITES to support the EU proposal for a resolution against corruption-facilitating activities conducted in violation of the Convention;

Enforcement

34.  Calls for the timely and full use of sanctions by CITES against Parties that do not comply with key aspects of the Convention, and in particular for the EU and its Member States to make use of the mechanisms available to encourage Parties to comply with the CITES Convention and other international agreements aimed at protecting wildlife and biodiversity;

35.  Underlines the importance of joint international cooperation between all actors in the enforcement chain, in order to strengthen law enforcement capacities at the local, regional, national and international levels; welcomes their contribution, and calls for even more engagement; points to the importance of setting up special prosecutors’ offices and specialised police squads to fight wildlife trafficking more effectively; highlights the importance of joint international enforcement operations under the ICCWC(4), congratulates in this respect the successful COBRA III operation(5); welcomes the EU support for the ICCWC;

36.  Acknowledges the increasing illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products via the internet, and calls on the CITES Parties to liaise with law enforcement and cybercrime units and the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime in order to identify best practices and model domestic measures to tackle illegal online trade;

37.  Calls on the Parties to adopt and implement clear and effective policies to discourage the consumption of products derived from vulnerable wildlife species, to raise consumer awareness of the impact of their consumption on wild species and to inform on the dangers of the illegal trafficking networks;

38.  Calls on the Parties to support the development of livelihoods for the local communities closest to the wildlife concerned and to involve these communities in the fight against poaching and in the provision of information on the effects of the trade in species of fauna and flora threatened with extinction;

39.  Asks for continuing international engagement in order to facilitate long-term capacity building, to improve the exchange of information and intelligence and to coordinate the enforcement efforts of government authorities;

40.  Calls on the Parties to ensure effective prosecution of persons who commit offences related to wildlife and to ensure that they are punished in a manner commensurate with the seriousness of their actions;

Funding

41.  Points to the need to increase the funding being made available for wildlife conservation and capacity-building programmes;

42.  Stresses the need to allocate adequate resources to the CITES Secretariat, especially in view of its increased responsibilities and additional workload; also stresses the need for the timely deposit of financial contributions pledged by the Parties to CITES;

43.  Encourages the Parties to consider increasing the core budget of CITES to reflect inflation and to ensure the proper functioning of the CITES Convention;

44.  Encourages the extension of public-private partnership financing for capacity-building programmes to other areas of the CITES Convention framework, as well as of direct funding, in order to support the implementation of the Convention;

45.  Welcomes the EU funding provided for the CITES Convention through the European Development Fund, and encourages the EU to continue to provide and ensure targeted financial support and, in the long term too, to continue to support specific and targeted financial aid;

Amendments to the CITES Appendices

46.  Expresses its strong support for the listing proposals submitted by the EU and its Member States;

47.  Urges all Parties to CITES and all participants in COP 17 to respect the criteria laid down in the Convention for the inclusion of species in the appendices, and to adopt a precautionary approach in order to ensure a high and efficient level of protection of endangered species; observes that the credibility of CITES depends on its ability to alter listings in response to negative trends as well as positive ones, and therefore welcomes the possibility of downlisting of species only when it is appropriate, in accordance with established scientific criteria, providing evidence that the CITES listing functions well;

African elephant and ivory trade

48.  Notes that with the doubling of illegal killing and the tripling of the quantity of ivory seized over the past decade, the crisis faced by the African elephant (Loxondonta africana) as a result of poaching for the ivory trade remains devastating and is leading to a decline in populations across Africa, and is a threat to the livelihood of millions of people, given that the illegal ivory trade harms economic development, fosters organised crime, promotes corruption, fuels conflicts and threatens regional and national security by providing militia groups with a source of funding; urges the EU and its Member States, therefore, to support proposals that would strengthen the protection of African elephants and reduce the illegal trade in ivory;

49.  Welcomes the proposal submitted by Benin, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Uganda and endorsed by the African Elephant Coalition that seeks to list all the elephant populations of Africa in Annex I, which would simplify the implementation of the ban on international trade in ivory and would send a clear message to the world regarding the global determination to prevent the extinction of African elephants;

50.  Calls on the EU and all Parties to maintain the current moratorium and hence to oppose the proposals made by Namibia and Zimbabwe on the ivory trade, which seek to remove restrictions on trade associated with the annotations to the Appendix II listing of those parties’ elephant populations;

51.  Observes that attempts by CITES to reduce poaching and illegal trade by permitting legal ivory sales have failed and that ivory trafficking has increased significantly; calls for further efforts by the parties concerned under the National Ivory Action Plan process; supports measures for the management and destruction of ivory stockpiles;

52.  Recalls the call made in Parliament’s resolution of 15 January 2014 on wildlife crime on all 28 of its Member States to introduce moratoria on all commercial imports, exports and domestic sales and purchases of tusks and raw and worked ivory products until wild elephant populations are no longer threatened by poaching; notes that Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Austria, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Denmark have already decided to not grant any export permits for pre-Convention ‘raw’ ivory; encourages the EU and its Member States, therefore, to ban the export and import of ivory and prohibit all commercial sales and purchases of ivory within the EU;

White rhino

53.  Regrets the proposal made by Swaziland to legalise trade in rhino-horn from its white rhino population (Ceratotherium simum simum), which would facilitate the laundering of poached rhino-horn into legal trade, undermining existing demand reduction efforts and domestic trade bans in consumer markets, and might fuel poaching of rhino populations in Africa and Asia; urges the EU and all Parties to oppose this proposal, and consequently calls on Swaziland to withdraw its proposal;

African lion

54.  Notes that while African lion (Panthera leo) populations have experienced a dramatic inferred decline of 43 % in 21 years and have recently been extirpated from 12 African States, international trade in lion products has increased significantly; urges the EU and all Parties to support the proposal by Niger, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Rwanda and Togo to transfer all African lion populations to Appendix I of CITES;

Pangolins

55.  Observes that pangolins are the most illegally traded mammal in the world, for both their meat and their scales, which are used in traditional medicine, putting all eight species of pangolin (Manis crassicaudata, M. tetradactyla, M. tricuspis, M. gigantea, M. temminckii, M. javanica, M. pentadactyla, M. culionensis) at risk of extinction; welcomes, therefore, the various proposals for transferring all Asian and African pangolin species to Appendix I of CITES;

Tigers and other Asian big cats

56.  Urges the EU and all the Parties to support the adoption of decisions proposed by the CITES Standing Committee which lay down strict conditions for tiger farming and trading in captive tiger specimens and products, as well as the proposal made by India encouraging the Parties to share images of seized tiger specimens and products, which would assist law enforcement agencies with the identification of individual tigers by their unique stripe patterns; calls on the EU to consider providing funding for the implementation of these decisions, and calls for the closure of tiger farms and for an end to be put to the trade in captive tiger parts and products at the CITES COP 17;

Pet traded species

57.  Observes that the market for exotic pets is growing internationally and in the EU and that a large number of proposals have been submitted to list reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and mammals that are threatened by international trade for the pet market; calls on all the Parties to support these proposals in order to ensure better protection for these endangered species from exploitation for the pet trade;

58.  Calls on the EU Member States to establish a positive list of exotic animals that can be kept as pets;

Agarwood and rosewood

59.  Acknowledges that illegal logging is one of the most destructive wildlife crimes, as it threatens not just single species but entire habitats, and that the demand for rosewood (Dalbergia spp.) for Asian markets has continued to increase; urges the EU and all the Parties to support the proposal by Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala and Kenya for the inclusion of the genus Dalbergia in CITES Appendix II, with the exception of the species included in Appendix I, as this will be a critical contribution to the efforts to halt unsustainable rosewood trade;

60.  Notes that the current exceptions to CITES requirements could allow resinous powder of agarwood (Aquilaria spp. and Gyrinops spp.) to be exported as exhausted powder, and other products to be packaged for retail sale before export, thus evading import regulations; calls, therefore, on the EU and all the Parties to support the United States of America’s proposal to amend the annotation in order to avoid loopholes for trade in this very valuable aromatic timber;

Other species

61.  Urges the EU and all the Parties:

–  to support the proposal from Peru to amend the annotation to Appendix II for the vicuña (Vicugna vicugna), as it will consolidate the marking requirements for the international trade in this species;

–  to support the inclusion of the nautilus (Nautilidae spp.) in Appendix II, as proposed by Fiji, India, Palau and the United States of America, given that the international trade in chambered nautilus shells as jewellery and decoration is a major threat to these biologically vulnerable species;

–  to oppose the proposal by Canada to move the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) from Appendix I to Appendix II, as this may exacerbate the significant illegal trade in the species;

62.  Recalls that the Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) is on the IUCN list of endangered species and that a huge proportion of the species has been lost, including several entire populations, due to the continuing high demand for the aquarium trade, with main destinations being the European Union and the United States; calls on the European Union and its Member States, therefore, to support the inclusion of the Banggai cardinalfish in Appendix I rather than Appendix II;

63.  Notes that the international trade in raw and worked coral has expanded and that market demand for precious corals has increased, threatening the sustainability of precious corals; urges the European Union and all the Parties to support the adoption of the report on precious corals in international trade submitted by the United States;

64.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Parties to CITES and the CITES Secretariat.

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