UN General Assembly adopts Pakistan backed resolution on self-determination

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Published: November 19, 2017 12:40:00 AM

A UN General Assembly committee has unanimously passed a Pakistan-sponsored draft resolution over the right to self-determination for peoples who are subject to colonial domination and foreign occupation.

However, the US was quick to point out that the draft resolution contains many misstatements of international law and is inconsistent with current state practice. (Reuters)

A UN General Assembly committee has unanimously passed a Pakistan-sponsored draft resolution over the right to self-determination for peoples who are subject to colonial domination and foreign occupation. The draft resolution, which now moves the General Assembly for passage next month, calls on countries to cease immediately their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories, and all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment.

It was co-sponsored by 75 countries. However, the US was quick to point out that the draft resolution contains many misstatements of international law and is inconsistent with current state practice. Introducing the resolution, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi said the right to self- determination “forms the bedrock” of the most important human rights conventions – the covenant of civil and political rights and the covenant of economic social and cultural rights.
“The latter categorically states ‘All people have the right of self-determination by virtue of their right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic social and cultural development’. The right to self- determination has also been reaffirmed and upheld time and again repeatedly by all major UN, NAM, OIC and other summits as well other numerous resolutions and declarations,” she said.

Of late, Pakistan has itself been facing demands for right to self-determination in various parts of the country, including in Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan. ‘Free Balochistan’ posters and banners have appeared in various parts of the world including Switzerland and the UK. Altaf Hussain of the Muhajir Quami Movement (MQM) in recent months has also started demanding right to self- determination alleging that Muhajirs have been subject to brutal repression by Pakistani security forces.

Lodhi told members of Third Committee of the General Assembly that the “draft resolution before the committee reaffirms the universal significance of the right to self- determination” and declares firm opposition to all acts of foreign occupation, military intervention and domination, which resulted in the suppression of this fundamental human right and gives rise to chaos and insecurity in the world.

The resolution, she said, sends a strong signal of support from the international community to peoples everywhere in the world who still find themselves “subjugated and oppressed and struggling against foreign occupation”.

After the unanimous passage of the vote, the Spanish representative told the committee that the colonial situation in Gibraltar affected the territorial integrity of his country.
Spain had asked for decades for a dialogue-based solution and had proposed co-sovereignty as a way to address the socio-economic well-being of the territory.
Asserting that this means that the right to self- determination is not fully enjoyed, Spain alleged that the UN Charter is being used to uphold the interests of colonising powers.
Spain has been calling for “shared sovereignty” on Gibraltar.

The US representative said that the country considers the right of self-determination of peoples to be important and therefore joins a consensus on this resolution.
“We note however as has frequently been stated by the United States and other delegations that this resolution contains many misstatements of international law and is inconsistent with current state practice,” he said in the committee after the passage of the draft resolution.

Exercising its right to reply, Britain recalled its sovereignty over Gibraltar, saying the people of Gibraltar had enjoyed the right of self-determination. The constitution endorsed by the people of Gibraltar had provided for a modern relationship, and the UK reiterated its commitment to the people of Gibraltar. The British representative said Britain would not enter into sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar was not content. She expressed regret that Spain had withdrawn from talks in 2012.

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