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Source: Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee)
17 October 2008

General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly
Fourth Committee
11th Meeting (PM)
Meeting Suspended After Challenge to Proposed Revision in Text;
United Kingdom Says New Wording is ‘Back-Door’ Effort to Change Principle

The General Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to take action on one of the two decolonization-related draft texts it had not yet acted on.  Unable to reach consensus, the Committee voted to suspend its proceedings, and will return to the issue on Monday, when it will also begin its consideration of questions related to information. /... Background The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to take action on the draft resolution before it on the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands, which is contained in report of the Special Committee on Decolonization (document A/63/23, p. 64).  (For further details of the text of the draft, see Press Release GA/SPD/400 of 10 October). The Committee was also expected to act on an amendment to part A operative paragraph 2 of that text (document A/C.4/63/L.6).  By the amendment, the words “and where there is no dispute over sovereignty” would be deleted from operative paragraph 2, so that it now reads:  “Also reaffirms that, in the process of decolonization, there is no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which is also a fundamental human right, as recognized under the relevant human rights conventions.” /... Action on Draft Text /... JOHN SAWERS (United Kingdom), making a general statement and drawing the Committee’s attention to part A operative paragraph 2 of draft resolution VI, said the phrase “and where there is no dispute over sovereignty” was new language in that paragraph of this year’s draft.  It qualified the principle of self-determination on issues of decolonization in a way that caused grave concerns.  His delegation proposed that those words be removed to return the text to the language that had commanded consensus last year. /... ... A move now to introduce a restriction to the principle of self-determination by the Committee could have wider ramifications.  He asked the Committee to consider what implications it might have for the people of Western Sahara, as well as the Palestinian people –- particularly the impact of such a restriction on the latter’s right to self-determination, should Israel make a sovereignty claim to the West Bank and Gaza.

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For information media • not an official record

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