UN vs. Colonialism: A Third Decade

United Nations (Prensa Latina) The United Nations has declared this the Third International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism, imposed by the persistent condition of colonialism in 16 so-called non-autonomous territories, and particularly the case of Puerto Rico.

  The proclamation of that third decade (2011-2020) was decided Dec. 10 by the UN General Assembly in a resolution passed 130-3 (United States, Israel and United Kingdom), with 20 abstentions.

Four days later, the General Assembly commemorated the 50th anniversary of Resolution 1514, which contains a declaration on the concession of independence to colonized countries and peoples.

The two previous decades against colonialism were 1990-2000 and 2001-2010, and the idea of a third emerged at the summit conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in July 2009.

During the decade that has just concluded, Timor Leste was the only colonial territory that won its sovereignty (2002) after having proclaimed its independence in 1975 and defeating subsequent Indonesian occupation.

The UN resolution called for increasing efforts to fulfill an existing action plan for the elimination of colonialism.

Likewise, it urged the so-called administrative powers to cooperate in drawing up a working program, case by case, for non-autonomous territories and to comply with existing decolonization accords.

Also in December, the top UN body passed another resolution ratifying the inalienable right of all peoples in non-autonomous territories to self-determination, including independence.

The text emphasizes that the continuation of colonialism in any form or manifestation is incompatible with the UN Charter, the declaration on the granting of independence to colonized countries and peoples, and international law.

Moreover, it expresses deep concern over the fact that 50 years after 1514 was passed, “colonialism still has not been completely eradicated in the world.”

The official list of territories under UN attention include Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Malvinas Islands (Falklands), Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Monserrat, St. Helena, Gibraltar and Pitcairn, all under control of the United Kingdom.

Likewise, it includes the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa (all under U.S. control); New Caledonia (France); Tokelau (New Zealand), and Western Sahara (former Spanish colony occupied by Morrocco).

The decolonization committee also oversees the Puerto Rico issue as a special case and is attempting to get it reincorporated as a colonial territory, after it had held that condition until 1953.

Many resolutions by that committee have reaffirmed the inalienable right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and independence, and consider them to be a Latin American people with their own, distinct identity.

The Western Sahara conflict is the most dynamic colonial issue in the UN, an organization that is obliged, without complying, to hold a plebiscite on self-determination in that territory occupied by Morrocco since 1976.

To do so, the UN since 1991 has had a Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara, comprised at present by 230 troops from more than 20 countries.

Three weeks ago, the General Assembly passed a resolution on the conflict stating “the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination and independence.”

The UN is hosting negotiations between the Polisario Front of the Sahrawi people and Morrocco, informal at this moment, after holding various rounds of official talks in June 2007 and March 2008, which were suspended.

The latest resolution adopted by the General Assembly welcomed those contacts as part of the process toward a “political, just, enduring and mutually acceptable solution that will lead to the self-determination of the people of the Western Sahara.”

A key issue for beginning the Third International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism.

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