Statement by Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, before Action on Draft Resolution entitled "Universal Realization of the Right of the Peoples to Self-Determination" during 74th Session of the UNGA Third Committee (Agenda Item-69) (19 November 2019)

Mr. Chairman,

I have the privilege to introduce, on behalf of my delegation and the co-sponsors, the draft resolution entitled “Universal Realization of the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination” contained in document A/C.3/74/L.61.

Mr. Chairman,

One of the central “Purposes and Principles” of the UN Charter is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples…” Article-II, common to both the international conventions on political and economic and social rights, upholds the right to self-determination as a fundamental basis for the promotion of the objectives of both conventions.

The incorporation of the right to self-determination in the Declaration of Principles of International Law Covering Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States, adopted in 1970 by the General Assembly crystallized the status of self-determination as customary international law.

The right of self-determination was also the central principle in the Declaration and the Granting of Independence to Colonial countries and peoples embodied in General Assembly resolution 1514 of the Assembly’s 25th Session.

The UN resolution 1514 stipulates that the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, and is impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation.

Mr. Chairman,

The resolutions of the United Nations and international practice have established the scope of the right to self-determination, and the methods and modalities for its realization. The erga omnes nature of the right to self-determination was conferred by the ICJ inter alia in the Namibia and East Timor cases. The Scope and Conduct of the right to self-determination has been further elaborated by the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination on Racial Discrimination and numerous prominent jurists.

Peoples who have been promised the free exercise of a decision on their own political future are obviously embodied to the rights to self-determination.

Resolution 2649 considers that the acquisition and retention of territory in contravention of the right of the peoples of that territory to self-determination is inadmissible and gross violation of the Charter. Certainly, attempts to unilaterally change the status of the territory which have yet to exercise their right to self-determination are illegal. This has been reaffirmed in several resolutions of the Security Council.

Thus, resolution 1514 states that “all armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence…”

Curfews and blackouts, and lockdown of civilian population, to suppress their ability to express their demand for freedom and self-determination is obviously a gross violations of human rights including the right to self-determination.

Likewise, several resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council have categorically declared that attempts to unilaterally change the status of an occupied territory – legally or demographically – whose people have yet to exercise their right to self-determination are ipso facto null and void.

The modalities for the exercise of the right to self-determination are well established. Almost all former colonies and subjugated peoples were “granted” freedom and independence in the decades after the Second World War by legal acts of the Colonial powers. Often this peaceful exercise of the right to self-determination has been through a “free and fair” referendum or a plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations, such as in East Timor and Namibia.

While most dependent or occupied peoples have been able to exercise their right to self-determination peacefully, there are some who have been considerably denied this right and have been obliged to struggle for it.

Operative Para 1 of General Assembly resolution 2649 (1970) “Affirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples under colonial and alien domination recognized as entitled to the right of self-determination to restore to themselves that right by any means at their disposal”. In operative Para 2, it “Recognizes the right of peoples under colonial and alien domination in the legitimate exercise of their right to self-determination to seek and receive all kinds of moral and material assistance, in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations and the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Mr. Chairman,

The next year would mark the 60th Anniversary of the “Declaration on Decolonization” – General Assembly resolution 1514 – and the 50th Anniversary of GA resolutions 2625 and 2649. The draft resolution presented to the Committee today, seeks to reaffirm the cardinal principle of self-determination as elaborated in these landmark resolutions whose provisions are equally applicable in contemporary situations of denial of freedom and self-determination by foreign occupation, alien domination, illegal annexation and military intervention.

Mr. Chairman,

Recent history attests that the suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination has been trampled and violated, inevitably results in violence and conflict. Secondly, in recent times, such suppression is often been justified by portraying struggles for self-determination and freedom as “terrorism”. This canard propagated by aggressors and occupiers is being progressively exposed.

Mr. Chairman,

Due to the universal character of this right and its continued applicability in situations of foreign occupation and intervention, this resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination has been traditionally adopted by consensus in the General Assembly.

We hope that this year too, this Committee and the Assembly will reaffirm the global commitment to the principle to self-determination by adopting this resolution by consensus.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank wide numbers of cross regional co-sponsors who have joined us and supported this important resolution.

We would also take this opportunity to urge all other members, who have not done so, to co-sponsor the draft resolution before adoption.

I thank you.