Statement by Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, before Action on Resolution entitled: “Universal Realization of the Right of the Peoples to Self-Determination” during 75th Session of the UNGA Third Committee (Agenda Item-71)
(19 November 2020)

Madam Chair,

On behalf of the Pakistan delegation and the co-sponsors, I have the privilege to introduce the draft resolution entitled “Universal Realization of the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination” contained in document A/C.3/75/L.47.

Madam Chair,

The right to self-determination is a cardinal principle of the UN Charter. Article-I, paragraph-2 of the Charter states that the purpose of the United Nations is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples…”.

Article-II in both the international Conventions on political and economic and social rights upholds the right of self-determination as a fundamental basis for all human rights and international law.

The principle of self-determination was further elaborated in General Assembly resolution 1514, “the Declaration and the Granting of Independence to Colonial countries and peoples”. Its Article-I states 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 an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation”. Article-II notes that “all peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they can freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”.

The Declaration of Principles of International Law Covering Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States, adopted by this Assembly in 1970, also incorporated the right to self-determination and crystallized its status as customary international law.

Madam Chair,

The General Assembly has not only established the scope of this right, it has also detailed the methods and modalities for its realization.

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…”

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. Its operative paragraph 1 “affirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples under colonial and alien domination and recognizes their right to restore to themselves the right to self-determination by any means at their disposal”; while its operative paragraph-2 “recognizes the right of people waging legitimate struggle against colonial and alien domination 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”.

The “ergaomnes” nature of the right to self-determination was conferred by the ICJ inter alia in the case of both Namibia and East Timor. The Scope and Conduct of the right to self-determination has also been elaborated by the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination on Racial Discrimination and numerous prominent jurists.

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.

Madam Chair,

Almost all former colonies and subjugated peoples, who are represented in this Assembly today as sovereign nations, secured their independence by exercising their right to self-determination. Often this peaceful exercise of the right to self-determination has been realized through a “free and fair” referendum, or a plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations, such as in the cases of East Timor and Namibia.

There are, however, situations where occupied peoples are systematically denied this right and are obliged to struggle for the realization of that right. The means by which occupying powers continue to suppress the legitimate struggles for self-determination are often brutal and violent; including naked military force, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, curfews, communications blackouts, lockdown of civilian population, illegal settlements and demographic changes.

These illegal actions constitute the gravest violations of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, fundamental human rights, and international law. They subvert and delay the realization of right to self-determination.

Madam Chair,

Recent history attests that the suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination results inevitably in violence and conflict. Often, aggressors and occupiers have attempted to justify their suppression of legitimate struggles for self-determination and freedom by portraying them as “terrorism”. Those so-called terrorists today emerge as the freedom fights and leaders of tomorrow. This twisted and self-serving canard of modern-day colonizers is being progressively exposed.

Madam Chair,

My delegation is proud to propose and table the resolution on “Universal Realization of the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination” each year in the General Assembly. We are gratified that its provisions have enjoyed consistent support of the General Assembly and reflect the global international consensus on the fundamental right of self-determination.

By reaffirming the universal character of the right to self-determination, and its continued applicability in situations of foreign occupation and intervention, this resolution serves as a beacon of hope to those millions of peoples who are striving to realize this fundamental right. The General Assembly’s affirmation of support preserves their belief that their destinies will be decided in accordance with the principles of justice not by the power of force.

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 the large number of co-sponsors from across the world’s regions who have joined in sponsoring this important resolution.

We would also take this opportunity to urge all other members to co-sponsor the draft resolution before adoption.

I thank you.