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Statement by His Excellency Mr. Michael R. Ten-Pow, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Guyana, in the General Debate of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) on all decolonization items - 7 October 2016

Friday, 07 October 2016
H.E. Ambassador Michael Ten-Pow
UN General Debate Fourth Committee

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

Allow me first to congratulate you on your election as Chairman of the Committee during this 71st session of the General Assembly and to express my best wishes for your successful stewardship of the Committee’s work.  I also wish to congratulate the other members of the Bureau on their election. My delegation pledges its full support to you as we collectively work towards completing the agenda allocated to the Fourth Committee.

Let me say as well that my delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Chairman,

The right to self-determination is a core principle of the United Nations and must be respected and upheld for all peoples everywhere in accordance with international law.  It is a right enshrined in the Charter of the Organization, in various resolutions of the Assembly, and in a number of international legal instruments.  In recognition of this inalienable right, more than 80 former colonies, including Guyana, with a combined population of over 750 million people, have been granted independence since the establishment of the United Nations in 1945.

The issue of decolonization remains on the agenda of the United Nations, however, on account of the fact that there are still nearly 2 million people in various regions across the globe who are still unable to exercise their right to self-determination. Greater efforts are therefore needed to promote continued dialogue between the administering Powers of the territories in question, the Special Committee, and the colonized peoples themselves with a view to advancing the decolonization process in these territories.

Mr. Chairman,

Colonization deprives colonized people of their right to pursue their own economic, social and cultural development. It is an affront to the dignity and worth of the human person and has serious implications for the international community as a whole.  It is a grave injustice that a people’s development should be suspended because of their inability to fully exercise sovereignty over their national territory and over the decision-making processes that govern their affairs.   As the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples aptly observes, colonialism’s effects are not simply limited to those who remain under the jurisdiction of an external Power. Its impact extends to the international community as a whole, since it “militates against the United Nations ideal of universal peace” and “prevents the development of international economic cooperation.”  For these reasons, the fact that there are 17 territories still classified as “Non-Self Governing Territories” should be of concern to all Member States and we should therefore commit ourselves anew to the process of decolonization and to doing all within our power to ensure that the peoples of these territories can exercise the same rights of equality and self-determination that the rest of us enjoy.   

Mr. Chairman,

I wish to make a specific comment on the question of Western Sahara, which is currently the only Non-Self Governing Territory in Africa.

As a matter of principle, the Government of Guyana supports the long-recognized right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and independence and is pleased with the efforts of the Secretary-General and of his Personal Envoy to bring about a lasting, peaceful, and mutually acceptable political solution that will lead to the exercise of this right to self-determination by the Sahrawi people.  The Government of Guyana calls on all the parties involved to have constructive engagements on the future of Western Sahara with a view to achieving measurable progress on the decolonization of the Sahrawi people.  We also wish to underscore the need for all engagements to be undertaken in a spirit of mutual respect among all the parties and with respect for all of the provisions of the United Nations on the subject of decolonization, particularly General Assembly resolution 1514 adopted at the fifteenth session of the Assembly on 14 December 1960, the provisions of Chapter XI of the Charter, and the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It is imperative that a definitive solution be reached on this long-standing issue. For its part, Guyana remains supportive of the efforts being made to bring about a solution.

Mr. Chairman,

A look at my own region of Latin America and the Caribbean would reveal that the decolonization process has not yet been completed but, as affirmed by the CELAC Heads of Government, including the President of Guyana, at their Summit in Ecuador in January of this year, we are committed to “ensur[ing] that the region of Latin America and the Caribbean is free of colonialism and colonies.”  We urge Member States of other regions that still have a presence of colonialism to also take decisive steps to bring about its termination.

Mr. Chairman,

There are four years remaining before the end of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. The onus is on us, Member States of the United Nations, to do everything within our power to ensure that this Third International Decade does not end without any measurable achievements in the quest for complete decolonization across the globe.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, let me reiterate my Government’s unwavering commitment to the right to self-determination of all peoples everywhere and to urge that every effort be made to bring about a rapid end to colonization in all its manifestations. 

The Government of Guyana pledges its full support to that effort.

I thank you.