Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations at the General Debate of the Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth Committee) on Decolonization Issues (October 15, 2018)

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation congratulates you and members of the Bureau on assuming your office. We look forward to a productive session this year.

57 years after the adoption of the 1960 Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, we are assembled here, just as we did last year, and for successive years before, to review and discuss its implementation.

This means, while we deliberate, more than one generation has not had the opportunity to experience and enjoy the freedom that we all take for granted.

Let us pause to reflect on the grim if not chilling fact that 2 million people in 17 non-self governing territories continue to suffer colonialism.

The desperation and hopelessness of a people living under alien or colonial subjugation doesn't just deserve our attention and empathy. It should be a call for action.

Mr. Chairman,

The Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples says the following, “Subjection of people to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation”.

Colonialism, in any form or manifestation, is contradictory to the values and principles enshrined in the UN Charter, as well as those in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is utterly contrary to the spirit of our times.

The political and socio-economic progress of a people is imperiled and retarded in territories, under colonial occupation and alien domination. History teaches us that colonialism thrives by commodifying an occupied territory’s labour, land and natural resources. Its perpetuation is indefensible.

Here, I would like to congratulate New Caledonia, which will finally be exercising its right to self-determination through a referendum on 4th November this year.

Mr. Chairman,

Implementation of the Declaration and the De-colonization Agenda is not limited to Non-Self Governing Territories. It also encompasses other peoples, still living under alien occupation and foreign domination. Our aim therefore, should be to ensure that all peoples under colonial administration or foreign occupation are allowed to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.

The decolonization agenda of the United Nations will remain incomplete without resolution of the long festering dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, among the oldest items on the UN’s agenda.

The right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination has been recognized and promised to them by the UN Security Council, and by both India and Pakistan. But they still wait for the fulfillment of the promise of holding a UN-supervised plebiscite, to enable them to determine their political destiny. Unless this pledge is kept this will continue to represent the most persistent failure of the United Nations.

India has deployed hundreds of thousands of troops in Indian occupied Kashmir to suppress the legitimate freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people. It has unleashed a reign of terror, employing the most brutal violence to deny the Kashmiris their right to self-determination, and perpetuate its unlawful occupation. Human rights violations have now been documented in the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well.

The future of Jammu and Kashmir should and must be determined in accordance with UN SC resolutions. This is the demand of law, morality and the dictate of the fundamental right to self-determination.

Mr. Chairman,

The tragedy of Palestine too has intensified. Lasting peace will continue to elude the Middle East until the Palestinian people are provided the means to exercise their right to self-determination.

Mr. Chairman,

General Assembly resolutions and decisions on decolonization provide the legal framework for decolonization, and with the plan of action also available, implementation is the logical next step to take.

But without political will by both the General Assembly and the Security Council, that implementation is not possible.

Concerted effort is required for uniform and non-discriminatory implementation of the relevant UN Resolutions.

Selective application only erodes the confidence of the international community, undermines the credibility of the UN system, and encourages a culture of impunity. Law must prevail over arbitrary power. And Right must prevail over Might.

As we approach the conclusion of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the Special Committee on Decolonization must take stock of current challenges, and draw up a concrete course of action.

The UN, Mr. Chairman, has a moral responsibility in this regard, and we the member states must work earnestly and collectively towards eliminating the scourge of colonialism.

I thank you.