The United Nations Fourth Committee has rejected by a vote of 61 - 40 the attempt, made through a draft resolution at the last decolonization Committee of 24 seminar, to include a specific exclusion of territories affected by a sovereignty dispute, such as the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, from the omnibus resolution that reaffirms inalienable right of self-determination of 11 territories.
The territories directly affected are American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena and Turks and Caicos Islands. But the principle was of concern to all the 16 remaining UN listed territories including the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar. UK moved and voted to remove the "dispute" clause while Argentina and Spain wanted it to remain. The omnibus text achieved consensus only after an amendment to its second operative paragraph was adopted by a recorded vote of 61 in favour to 40 against, with 47 abstentions. Official UN reports say that the amendment, which struck the qualifying phrase "and where there is no dispute over sovereignty" from that operative paragraph, had been tabled by the United Kingdom, which argued, as it had the previous week, that, not only was the new language inapplicable to the 11 Territories targeted in the resolution, but that it introduced conditions that could have "unexplored ramifications". As action was taken, delegations were clearly split between those that supported the text, which had been approved by consensus in the Special Committee in June, and those that did not. Differences centred over the new wording, which, Bolivia's speaker said, acknowledged that there were two guiding principles in the decolonisation process â€" that of self-determination and of territorial integrity â€" and those that believed the phrasing was unnecessary, as the representative of the United States said, and only served to divide the Committee. UK and Gibraltar have consistently stated that the principle of territorial integrity does not apply and it was this very dispute which led to the European Union having to withdraw from making a statement on decolonisation each year. By the terms of the amended resolution, the Assembly would further reaffirm that, in the process of decolonisation, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which was also a fundamental human right. It would also address the questions of the 11 individual Territories, elaborating recommendations tailored to their specific circumstances. Regarding the omnibus resolution, the representative of Argentina restated his support for the decolonisation process and to bringing an end to colonialism in any form. The principle of self-determination was a fundamental human right which applied in all cases where people were subjugated to a colonial power. He hoped those issues would be addressed in regions where sovereignty disputes did exist and wished to recall that Argentina did not share or agree with the proposed amendment. He appealed to the delegations to more closely follow up on the work of the Special Committee in order to avoid discussions such as that which had taken place over the current resolution. The representative of Spain said his delegation had joined consensus on the omnibus draft because it supported the right of self-determination. Yet, that principle was not the only applicable one in cases where the decolonisation process was under way. Indeed, the principle of territorial integrity was also relevant, and that fact had been taken into account by the Special Committee in the original draft text. His delegation regretted that there was no acknowledgment in the present draft of the range of situations that existed in the Territories. The representative of South Africa said that, although his country was not a member of the Special Committee, he had admired its work from a distance, as well as the way in which it had dealt with "very, very sensitive issues" with great care. However, his delegation could not accept the language â€¦(on territorial integrity) â€¦ as it would put up another barrier for people seeking self-determination to cross, making it even more difficult for those Non-Self-Governing Territories. The right to self-determination was enshrined in the Charter without qualification and was a fundamental principle of international law. It would, therefore, now set an unfortunate precedent, were it to be qualified in the Committee. He said that his delegation could not be seen to have any sympathy for the colonising powers. Now that the international community had "crossed the River Jordan", in terms of considering colonialism to be unacceptable, it could not now turn its back on the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories by setting them with "another hurdle that they must cross". The UK representative said the Committee of 24 had done important work over the years, and he did not want to reflect badly on what that body had accomplished. But it was clear that the ramifications of its resolution had not been brought out in the Special Committee's discussion. It was also clear that the new language did not apply to the Territories that were the subject of the resolution. It was right to return to the consensus language of previous years. Further, it was clear that the language would have unexplored implications. Self-determination was a fundamental principle of the United Nations, he said, adding, "We tinkered with the fundamental principle of the Organisation at our peril." Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Australia said his delegation concurred with the statements made, particularly by the representative of South Africa, that the right to self-determination was one of the organisation's fundamental precepts. The representative of Ecuador said her country supported the statement made by MERCOSUR and the Special Committee Chairman. It, therefore, supported the draft submitted by that body. Speaking in explanation of position after action, the representative of the United Kingdom offered full support and said he was grateful to those who had supported the amendment. He hoped the Committee would take note of the way that the United Kingdom had modernised its relationship with its overseas territories. The resolution in question did not fully reflect that relationship and some of the language did not concur with the United Kingdom's practice and views. However, the United Kingdom was willing to cooperate with the Committee were it to recognise the modern nature of those relationships. The UN Fourth Committee "sovereignty" clause vote recorded 61 in favour to 40 against with 47 abstentions, broke down as follows: IN FAVOUR: Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe. AGAINST: Argentina, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Russian Federation, Senegal, Spain, Suriname, Syria, Tunisia, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam. ABSTAIN: Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Benin, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Morocco, Namibia, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Thailand, Togo. ABSENT: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, CÃ'te d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Yemen.