Thursday, February 09, 2017

Mensahi Ginen i Gehilo' #21: UN Fourth Committee 2015

As a contemporary colony, Guam doesn't get much attention anywhere.

In a world where colonialism isn't supposed to exist anymore, being a colony isn't that great.

When you try to articulate your colonial existence people tend to respond in a number of different ways.

They may dismiss the colonial nature of your situation since it can't be as bad as colonialism was in the past.

They may dismiss your complaints because you come from a small island that should be grateful to be colonized, especially by the most powerful country in the world.

They may attempt to correct you and say that Guam is really a territory not a colony. Or a dependency and not a colony. Or a protectorate and not a colony.

The United Nations is one of the few places where the idea of there being colonies left in the world isn't controversial, although this remains a salient topic in only certain parts of the bureaucracy.

For example, a place like Guam doesn't have much representation or power at the UN.

But there are a number of times during the year where Guam is discussed, a number of committees or bodies that discuss its past, present and future.

The Fourth Committee of the UN is one such place.

Here is the summary of the discussion about the remaining colonies in the world from 2015.

In this forum Guam was represented by Senator Tony Ada and Speaker Judith Won Pat from the Guam Legislature.

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GA/SPD/581
9 October 2015
Seventieth Session, 3rd Meeting (PM)
Petitioners Raise Issues of Displacement, Marginalization, Ills of Nuclear Testing, as Fourth Committee continues decolonization debates.  
Members also Hear Competing Claims of Sovereignty over Gibraltar 

A far-reaching debate on the best interests of Non-Self Governing Territories fostered contentious exchanges and strong opinions from a broad array of representatives and petitioners this afternoon, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) entered its second day of debate on decolonization issues.

High-level representatives from the territories of Gibraltar and New Caledonia addressed the Committee, declaring their readiness for self-determination.  However, they faced opposition from petitioners claiming the current local governments denied the claims of their original inhabitants — the Spanish and, in the case of New Caledonia, the native Kanaks.

Fabian Picado, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, said the Territory remained on the United Nations list due only to Spain’s insistence that the principle of self-determination did not apply to the people of Gibraltar.  Recounting Spain’s incursions into British Gibraltar’s territorial waters, as well as other incidents involving Spain’s Guardia Civil, he said the lives of all nationalities at sea were put at risk by such “political recklessness”, while Spanish drug smugglers went unchallenged in their importation of huge amounts of cannabis and cocaine into Europe from North Africa.

For his part, Spain’s representative said that Gibraltar was not viable without the will of his country, whose territorial integrity had been recognized many times before the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly.  Gibraltar, he continued, had participated in environmental infractions, tax evasion — especially the establishment of tax havens for international companies — as well as illegal smuggling, including of tobacco, which deprived the European Union of revenue.

As the Committee turned to New Caledonia, Thierry Cornaille, a Minister and Spokesperson for the territorial government, listed the measures it had to ensure a smooth transition from the administering Power to the Territory’s people.  The government had been granted economic sovereignty to control natural resources and, “guided by the principle of equality”, had instituted new budgetary, finance and social reforms, including the establishment of housing for all and the building of two new hospitals.
However, Mickaël Forrest of the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS), representing the native Kanaks, questioned the administering Power’s ability to guarantee independent electoral rules for the status referendum slated for 2018.

Roch Wamytan of the Union Calédonian-Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste and Nationals Group, pointed out that an influx of French nationals migrating into New Caledonia was making the Kanak people a minority in their own land, adding that the French used New Caledonia as a “Trojan Horse” to achieve its goals in the Pacific.

Also referring to France’s involvement in Non-Self-Governing Territories, Richard Ariihau Tuheiava, a Member of the House of Assembly of French Polynesia, said that despite United Nations resolutions confirming ownership, control and permanent sovereignty over natural resources for the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the administering Power continued unilaterally to usurp the Polynesian people’s marine resources, including “strategic metals” such as rare earths, manganese and cobalt.  In so doing, it deprived them of the means to build a sustainable economic and social future.

Moetao Brotherson, the Third Deputy Mayor of Faa’a, French Polynesia, called on France to acknowledge the colonial nature of its nuclear testing on the atolls and to constitute a committee to assess the financial damage caused by the occupation.

Also today, the Committee engaged in a procedural discussion with its Chair, Brian Bowler (Malawi), regarding the objection raised yesterday by Algeria’s representative to the participation of two petitioners.  A number of delegations strongly backed that objection, while others supported the position of Morocco, which wished those petitioners to be heard.  The Chair ruled that the petitioners would remain on the list.

Also speaking today were a several other petitioners from Gibraltar, New Caledonia, Guam, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)[1], French Polynesia and Western Sahara.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the United Kingdom and Spain.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 12 October, to continue its work.

Background

As it continued its annual general debate on decolonization issues this afternoon, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was scheduled to hear from representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories and petitioners.  For further background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/580 of 8 October.

Statements

JAVIER GUTIERREZ BLANCO-NAVARRETTE (Spain) said that although his country had been in negotiations with the United Kingdom over Gibraltar, it was time to take those talks to a definitive solution.  Gibraltar was not viable without the will of Spain, whose territorial integrity had been recognized many times before the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly.

After recounting the history of the territorial dispute, he said that Spain’s issues must be taken into account by the United Kingdom and not the local government of Gibraltar, because the local authorities lacked administrative power.  Citing three specific problems, he said the first was environmental, entailing unregulated fishing which had affected the seal population and the regeneration of fish; tax havens, which the local authorities had created for unknown international businesses; and tobacco smuggling, which deprived the European Union of revenue and which the European Commission had designated as fraud in a recent report.  He reiterated that negotiations with the United Kingdom must result in a mutually acceptable solution.

PHILIP TAULA (New Zealand), speaking also on behalf of the Administrator of Tokelau, said his country remained committed to ensuring that timely and accurate information about that Territory was provided not only for the Committee’s consideration, but also for the wider United Nations system.  Describing some developments in Tokelau, he said it faced challenges that were unlikely to change due to its position as one of the most geographically isolated communities of his country’s citizenry.

Reaffirming that New Zealand was committed to its constitutional relationship with the government and people of Tokelau, he said the country’s focus remained on ensuring that all Tokelauans living on the three atolls were receiving appropriate essential services.  Improving the education available to Tokelau’s children was a priority, and New Zealand was continuing to support the Territory in that regard through a jointly managed process to transform the delivery of education on the atolls.  The focus remained on providing such core services before any further act of self-determination was considered.  “There is no push for change to the status quo,” he said, assuring the Committee that New Zealand remained committed to Tokelau’s long-term development, and had allocated NZ$14 million for 2015-2016.

COLLIN BECK (Solomon Islands), speaking on behalf of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, said it was regrettable that the vestiges of colonialism continued to hound the United Nations and humanity despite the adoption of the decolonization Declaration 55 years ago.  Today, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories across the globe were still to be decolonized.  Among them was New Caledonia, which was entering a seminal phase as it prepared to carry out an act of self-determination in 2018, consistent with the letter and spirit of the Noumea Accord.  While positive developments had taken place in the Territory, progress had been slow in addressing the “primordial” issues relating to the finalization of credible, fair and transparent provincial and special electoral lists, as well as an electoral process.

He called on the Committee to consider an enhanced role for the Special Committee on Decolonization, including on the question of New Caledonia, in particular.  Recalling the principles enshrined in resolutions 1514 (XV) and 1541 (XV), as well as the 1998 Noumea Accord, he reiterated calls for effective implementation of the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the inaugural Special Committee’s visiting mission in 2014.  He also called on the administering Power to ensure the free expression and exercise by the Territory’s indigenous inhabitants of their right to self-determination.  Furthermore, it must create a proper political climate for a referendum to be conducted on a free and democratic basis, respect the decisions taken by New Caledonia’s elected representatives regarding the electoral process, and resolve the dispute on the special list for provincial elections before the establishment of the electoral list for the referendum upon the Territory’s attainment of full sovereignty.  The administering Power should also arrange to have a United Nations presence before and supervision during the holding of the referendum, he said.

Question of Gibraltar

FABIAN PICADO, Chief Minister, Gibraltar, said that since 1993, his government had been addressing the Fourth Committee and the Special Committee each year, yet little or no progress had been made in respect to Gibraltar’s decolonization.  It remained on the list of Non-Self Governing Territories due only to Spain’s objections and its insistence that the principle of self-determination not apply to the people of Gibraltar.  He said that, despite having encouraged the Committee’s to conduct visiting missions, his government’s invitations had remained formally unanswered.  “We are treated each year only to the repetition of a stale consensus decision.”

Nevertheless, Gibraltar had put in place the “building blocks” of its nationhood, he said.  Its government was autonomous in all respects, except in relation to defence and external relations.  Its democratic institutions were strong and vibrant.  Gibraltar had established the University of Gibraltar, as well as a national bank, the Gibraltar International Bank.  The “nation” was the third largest in the world in gross domestic product (GDP) terms per capita and its financial services were among the most highly regulated in the world.  It would be the first European Union jurisdiction to have a central register of beneficial ownership of companies, which would be in place before the end of the year, he said.

Recounting Spain’s incursions into British Gibraltar’s territorial waters, as well as other incidents involving Spain’s Guardia Civil and other officers that had endangered people’s lives, he said the lives of all those at sea, from all nationalities, were put at risk by “this political recklessness”, while Spanish drug smugglers operating in Spanish waters went unchallenged in their importation of huge amounts of cannabis and cocaine into Europe from North Africa.  Despite Spain’s withdrawal from the Trilateral Forum for Dialogue, Gibraltar remained committed, recognizing that dialogue would allow both sides to work together to deliver an “arc of prosperity” that would be of mutual benefit to both their economies, he said.

RICHARD BUTTIGIEG, Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group, said the concept of a people, however small, choosing what they wanted to be, was the very essence of self-determination.  The people of Gibraltar had expressed their wishes clearly in two referenda, with 99 per cent of the population clearly rejecting Spain’s sovereignty claims on both occasions.  If their wishes had been expressed loud and clear, why was their desire not respected?  Gibraltar was no longer a colony, and if it was the Committee’s view that Gibraltarians had not done enough to prove that fact, what more could they do?  Additionally, if the Committee visited Gibraltar, as it had been invited to do, members would be shocked to see Spanish authorities continually trespassing on land, sea and air, with incidents of unwarranted aggression.  There was also the matter of the closing of the economic frontier, which had led to suffering among the Gibraltarian people.  However, he stressed that “Gibraltar grows stronger in the face of adversity”, adding that Spain’s antagonistic tactics would not yield the desired result.  It was time for the Committee to stop turning a blind eye to the Gibraltar issue and to act decisively once and for all.

Question of New Caledonia

THIERRY CORNAILLE, Minister of Budget, Housing, Energy, Digital Development and Audiovisual Media, New Caledonia, said he would respond to a number of issues brought forth by the Special Committee, the first concerning the smooth transition from the administering Power to the Territory’s people.  The local government had been granted economic sovereignty to control natural resources, and had instituted new budgetary, finance and social reforms, including by establishing housing for all and building two new hospitals.

He went on to say that equality was the principle by which the new government was guided.  Caledonian men and women enjoyed the same opportunities, and the government had undertaken efforts to better educate them about the cultures making up the Territory.  Furthermore, New Caledonia had pursued integration into the Pacific region, seeking membership in the Pacific Islands Forum and joining regional strategic organizations within the United Nations.

Turning to electoral rules, he said the government had consulted with a national expert on the right to vote and run for office, adding that an international expert would be given a role in revising the final agreement.  The administering Power had worked in cooperation with New Caledonians, giving them possession of their natural resources, to use and exploit as they wished.  However, the government required companies to submit better frameworks for the export of natural resources and to rethink their stock structures in order to construct a fund for the sovereignty of future generations of New Caledonians.

MICKAËL FORREST, Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS), said the Committee remained the appropriate venue for those struggling for independence to be heard.  Recalling the fragile consensus reached in Paris recently, as well as the upcoming status referendum planned for 2018, he said that all parties recognized the possibility of electoral fraud.  He therefore requested the assistance of the United Nations Electoral Assistance Office, since the occupying Power was currently unable to guarantee independent electoral rolls.  He went on to point out that the Kanak people were marginalized in their own land, their percentage of the population having dropped while the overall population had grown.  Complete political sovereignty was the goal of FLNKS, he emphasized.

ROCH WAMYTAN, Union Calédonian-Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste and Nationals Group, said that after 162 years of French colonization, New Caledonia was now facing a referendum for self-determination in 2018.  Seventy years ago, France had withdrawn New Caledonia from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories to be decolonized, without consulting the Kanak people, he recalled, noting that France still maintained a “red line” banning independence.  It was the French Government policy that he had condemned before the Committee year after year.  An influx of French nationals were migrating to the Territory, making the Kanak people a minority in their own land, he said, adding that the French used New Caledonia as a “Trojan Horse” to achieve its goals in the Pacific.  While all member groups of the Congress of New Caledonia had officially given their agreement to United Nations observers in the referendum process, France was “dragging its feet” over United Nations involvement, he noted.

The representative of the Solomon Islands asked Mr. Wamytam what kind of role he expected the United Nations to play in the referendum process.  Mr. WAMYTAN said he expected the Organization to be the guarantor of a free and fair election in the Territory, which had encountered problems with voting in the past.  The United Nations could give all New Caledonians confidence in the 2018 vote.

JULIEN BOANEMO, Federation of the GDPL, said the Kanak people had begun a process of recovering their lands in the wake of the Second World War. Official figures indicated that more than 100 clans had not had their lands returned.  A study on land reform was necessary, he said, calling for United Nations support in that regard.  Claims to land must lead to economic development, he added, stressing that, after 30 years, the GDPL instrument should be more effective in its function.  Customary lands were the generator of great social tensions in New Caledonia.  In the short term, the problem to address was the status of the GDPL.

Question of New Caledonia

DARYL MORINI, Centre for Common Destiny, said that because the New Caledonians had suffered from the wounds of violent unrest in 1988, the lack of a pardon was a source of hate and poison passed on from one generation to the next.  That hate fed the psychosis of the referendum.  The true question was not France or independence, but rift or reconciliation, he said.  Those elected must make a strong gesture to break the cycle of hatred — a national reconciliation custom that was part of the Kanak tradition, possibly.  Additionally, the dispatch by the United Nations of electoral observers for the self-determination referendum would result not only in a peaceful unfolding of the situation, but also an assurance of protection from political violence, thus gaining the goodwill of New Caledonians.

Question of Guam

TONY ADA, Senator, Guam Legislature, said that, while Guamanians taught their children that democracy was a gift that all United States citizens enjoyed, those same citizens living on Guam could not vote for their President, nor could the Guam representative to Congress cast a vote of behalf of the Territory’s people.  Yet, the decisions of lawmakers and judges in Washington, D.C., had a significant impact on the people of Guam and its economy.  The Special Committee on Decolonization and the leaders of Guam had undertaken an effort to bring to the people choices on the Territory’s future:  remain an unincorporated territory; relax the relationship with the United States; or become a member state of the administering Power.  Parallel to the local government’s efforts to determine Guam’s political status was a concern over the United States military’s refocusing of forces in the Pacific, he said.  While many on Guam supported the build-up, the local government had been working to grow its economy outside the shift of United States so that the Territory would not be left with a bust when the build-up ended.  Regardless, he reiterated that Guam could not allow its people and its island to remain in limbo; Guam was determined to be removed from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

JUDITH T. WON PAT, Guam, said the most acute threat to a legitimate exercise of decolonization of Guam was the incessant militarization of the island by its administering Power, the United States, of which its people were now facing a new wave.  In an official Record of Decision issued in August, the United States military had laid out a detailed plan for a military build-up, allowing for the construction of military bases, the relocation of 5,000 United States Marines to Guam, and other steps, she said.  On the basis of that and other initiatives, the General Assembly should pass a Guam-specific resolution to the effect that escalating United States military activities and/or installations on Guam were an unlawful impediment to self-determination.  She noted that an active lawsuit in the federal district court of Guam, Davis v Guam, represented a “dangerous development in the legal realm”, affecting the colonized people, or “native inhabitants of Guam”.  Finally, on access and resource alienation, she called for a resolution reiterating the right of a non-self-governing people to the permanent sovereignty over their natural resources, and clarifying Guam’s right to information about the United States-Federated States of Micronesia treaty on the delimitation of a maritime boundary.

Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

PETER HAMILTON, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), cited the previous day’s meeting during which the United Kingdom’s representative had stated that there was no doubt as to the Territory’s sovereignty, and that there could be no dialogue until its inhabitants wanted it.  Describing himself as a British citizen, he said he did not speak for the British position, nor the Argentine position, nor that of the islanders.  “I speak as one of the many who would like to see a resolution of the dispute which divides Britain from Argentina and Latin America,” he said.  The Fourth Committee and the Special Committee had overseen the matter patiently for 50 years, he noted, adding that he was present today to break the deadlock.  Both Committees had “lost their sharpness and focus and force in their application”, he said, asking them to play a more active role on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  Since the United Nations had determined that the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were not a people with a right to self-determination, the substance of the matter in that case was not the independence of the inhabitants, but the sovereignty of the Territory.

Question of French Polynesia

RICHARD ARIIHAU TUHEIAVA, Member, House of Assembly of French Polynesia, expressed appreciation for the Special Committee’s adoption in June 2015 of recommendations on the Territory.  Noting that decolonization was fundamentally about justice, he said that justice delayed was justice denied.  Despite United Nations resolutions confirming that the ownership, control and permanent sovereignty over natural resources lay with the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the administering Power continued unilaterally to usurp the Polynesian people’s marine resources, including “strategic metals” such as rare earths, manganese and cobalt.  In so doing, it deprived them of the means to build a sustainable economic and social future, and to move away from economic dependency.  Other forms of France’s economic exploitation included taxes paid to the French treasury by airlines landing at the Polynesian people’s own international airport, as well as its control over other revenue-generating sectors, he said.

The representative of the Solomon Islands asked whether the people of French Polynesia would benefit from a regional fact-finding mission.

Mr. TUHEIVA responded by saying that such a fact-finding mission would provide valuable information necessary to the Special Committee, the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly.

Question of French Polynesia

CARLYLE CORBIN, Senior Fellow, Dependency Studies Project, said that, in establishing the substantive basis for re-inscription, a self-governance assessment of French Polynesia had been undertaken to ascertain the level of self-governance according to recognized international standards.  The diagnostic tool of self-governance indicators (SGIs) had been used to determine the nature of the political status and the relationship between the Territory and administering Power.  The assessment had concluded that French Polynesia was a dependency governance arrangement which had been modernized over time — in form and nomenclature — but not in substance, he noted.  There remained a significant political imbalance and a high degree of unilateral authority exercised by the administering Power in the political, socio-economic, strategic dimensions and other areas, he said.  The assessment had ultimately determined that French Polynesia “did not meet the recognized international standards for full measure of self-government through autonomous governance”.  That had provided the substantive basis for the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 67/265, re-inscribing the Territory on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, he stated.
The representative of the Solomon Islands, speaking on a point of order, questioned whether the working papers prepared by the Secretariat contained political analyses of Territories under colonialization.

Mr. CORBIN responded by saying that the Secretariat did not have the political analysis, but the Territories had taken it upon themselves to do their own political analysis to ensure that they were up to the standards of international law.

MOETAI BROTHERSON, Third Deputy Mayor of Faa’a, French Polynesia, Ma’ohi Nui, said that the Secretary-General’s report on the impact of the 30-year-long period of nuclear testing in French Polynesia had been released in July 2014, yet had been “oddly” circulated one month after the Special Committee had completed its work, preventing that body from discussing the study.  Furthermore, the report was not comprehensive, but rather a mere compilation of replies from just two United Nations agencies out of some 22 requests for information.  He asked Member States to consider other reports on the effects of atomic radiation or nuclear testing, as well as to add French Polynesia to the work programme of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.  In November 2014, he recalled, the Assembly of French Polynesia had adopted a resolution calling on France to acknowledge the colonial nature of its nuclear testing and to create a committee to assess the financial damage caused by the occupation.  However, no reference to that resolution had been made in the Secretariat working paper or the draft resolution, he pointed out.  Underscoring that their dependent status had denied survivors justice and reparation, he called for the full implementation of the approved mandates.

The representative of the Solomon Islands asked whether the Special Committee had been advised about the General Assembly’s resolution on restitution for the 30 years of nuclear testing.
Mr. BROTHERSON replied that the resolution had been sent to the Special Committee in early 2014 and was publicly available.

Procedural Discussion on Document A/C.4/70/7

On a procedural matter discussed by the Committee yesterday — the question of including petitioners 36 and 45 on Western Sahara in the list of petitioners to be heard by the Committee — the Chair recalled that the Committee had heard from those petitioners for the last three years.  He therefore proposed that the Committee adopt document A/C.4/70/7 in its entirety through a consensus decision.

The representative of Algeria said the list distributed was not the same as that placed online, adding that not enough progress had been made on the matter since yesterday.  In step with the Committee’s mandate, all petitioners wishing to be heard must absolutely restrict their statements to the subject of the territory relevant to their intervention.  It was “abnormal” for petitioners to appear before the Committee to say they were going to speak about Western Sahara, but speak instead about another territory or country, he pointed out, emphasizing the need to ensure strict respect for the terms of the Committee’s mandate.

A discussion with the Chair ensued, with the representatives of Namibia and Uganda expressing support for Algeria’s position and strongly rejecting the inclusion of the two petitioners on the list.
The representative of Morocco said he also wished to find a solution to the problem at hand, adding that he understood Algeria’s concerns because that country was nervous to hear from workers in the Tindouf camp who had seen the interruption of humanitarian aid.

The representative of Algeria spoke twice on a point of order, calling for the Committee’s procedures to be respected.

The representative of Senegal said the Committee must give all petitioners an opportunity to address the Committee, stressing that the issue of refugees should not be treated “piecemeal”.  It must be tackled by the Committee.

Following the discussion, the Chair said there was a growing consensus that the petitioners should be heard, and that he would, for his part, ensure that all petitioners focused their remarks on the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He then ruled that the petitioners be retained.
The Committee then decided to grant hearings to the petitioners listed in document A/C.4/70/7.

Question of Western Sahara

The representative of Algeria, speaking on a point of order, pointed out that the item on the agenda was not Moroccan Sahara, but Western Sahara.  The Committee must stick to the issue on the agenda, he stressed.

ANDREW ROSEMARINE, an international attorney, said that Morocco’s autonomy proposal, as presented to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2007, was the best possible solution to the dispute.  It combined a very large degree of self-determination for the Sahrawi people with an emphasis on negotiations, while aiming to build a modern, democratic society based on the rule of law, collective and individual freedoms, as well as economic and social development.  Furthermore, it promised reconciliation, he asserted.  In addition to all of those benefits, Morocco guaranteed to all Saharan that they would hold a privileged position and play a leading role in the bodies and institutions of the region without discrimination or exclusion.  The Saharan populations would themselves run their own affairs democratically and have the financial resources for the region’s development, he said.  Could Morocco be trusted to deliver? he asked.  Yes, for the international community had seen that, during the Arab Spring, it had granted democratic freedoms to its own people as well as lasting economic growth.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in exercise of the right of reply in response to the statement by Spain, reaffirmed his country’s sovereignty over Gibraltar.  Its people enjoyed the right to self-determination, and a “modern and mature” relationship existed between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, which remained committed to the Territory.  The United Kingdom regretted that Spain had withdrawn formally from talks in 2011, and sought a constructive move to “ad hoc talks” on issues of mutual importance.  Although Spain had ruled out trilateral talks, Gibraltar’s active participation in any dialogue was “non-negotiable”, he emphasized.  In addition, the United Kingdom also had sovereignty over Gibraltar’s waters and would continue to use its defence forces to counter illegal Spanish incursions.  He expressed confidence that Gibraltar’s tax regime was in compliance with all European Union and international tax standards. In addition, the creation of a reef in the waters of Gibraltar was designed to increase fish stocks and was consistent with international best practices.  The European Union had decided that Gibraltar had not breached its environmental regulations, he said.

The representative of Spain, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, underscored the importance of the doctrine of self-determination.  The most important thing was the decolonization of Gibraltar and the restitution of sovereign Spanish territory.  The issue should be resolved through bilateral negotiations in the context of the Brussels Declaration of 1984, he said, adding that the interest of the population should be taken into account, but they could not be a party to any dialogue.  The illegal and ongoing occupation by the British did not give them the right to acquire sovereignty, he said, rejecting the reference to “illegal incursions into British waters”.  Spain had no doubt as to the limits of its territories, and its ships would continue to patrol Spanish waters.  On tax matters, he said it made no sense to sign agreements if they were not followed.  Spain had a legal process pending before the European Union and in Spanish courts with regard to environmental practices in Gibraltar.

[1] A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

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