Full text of speech of Dr. Maleeha Lodhi on Decolonization issues
We congratulate you and members of the Bureau on assuming office and look forward to a productive
session this year.We also thank the Chair and the Bureau of the Special Committee on Decolonization for their importantwork and express our support for the Committee’s recommendations contained in its Report.
It has been almost 57 years since the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to
Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1960. That there are still 17 non-self governing territories on the agenda of this Committee, home to nearly 2 million people, is a telling reminder that we still have promises to keep to those who yearn for freedom. These colonized territories and people look towards the UN with hope, year after year, but so far without any substantive redress. The legal framework, in the form of relevant General Assembly resolutions and decisions on decolonization, and its plan of action already exists. What is needed is the summoning of political will for its implementation.
The continued existence of colonialism in any form is contrary to the UN Charter and to the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. It is also contrary to the spirit of our times. It is an impediment to the political and socioeconomic growth of the people living under colonial occupation and alien domination. This cannot be justified under any circumstances. We are nearing the end of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. The unfinished agenda of decolonization remains that – unfinished. In order to prevent this third decade from turning into a lost decade, the Special Committee on Decolonization should take stock of current challenges and draw up a practical course of action.
Implementation of the Declaration and the De-colonization Agenda is not limited to the issue of Non-Self
Governing Territories. It also encompasses other peoples, still living under alien occupation and foreign domination. Our aim therefore should be to ensure that all peoples under colonial administration or foreign occupation are allowed to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. The decolonization agenda of the United Nations will remain incomplete without resolution of the long festering dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, among the oldest items on the UN agenda. The right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination has been recognized and promised to them by the UN Security Council and by both India and Pakistan. But they are still waiting for the UN to fulfill its promise of holding a UN supervised Plebiscite to enable them to determine their political destiny. This represents the most persistent failure of the United Nations. India has, for seventy years, prevented the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, through force and fraud, from exercising their fundamental and inalienable right to self-determination. Instead, India has deployed tens of thousands of troops in occupied Kashmir to suppress the legitimate freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people. It uses all methods from barbaric violence and extreme cruelty to fraudulent elections to deprive the Kashmiris of their right to self-determination and perpetuate its unlawful occupation. India has also indulged in the worst form of state terrorism, a war crime, in using pellet guns against unarmed peaceful protesters, leaving a generation of young Kashmiris blinded and maimed for life. This has been aptly described as the first mass blinding in human history. But none of this has extinguished the Kashmiris yearning and aspiration for freedom from occupation. The people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to wage the struggle for their right to self-determination with courage and conviction. And contrary to Indian claims, Jammu and Kashmir never was and never can be an integral part of India. It is disputed territory, the final status of which has yet to be determined in accordance with several resolutions of the UN Security Council.
Similarly, in the Middle East, the tragedy of Palestine has intensified. The continued denial of the right to
self-determination of the Palestinian people is the core underlying cause of conflict and a grave impediment
to lasting peace in the Middle East. Continuation of the illegal policy of settlement construction is progressively eroding the future state of Palestine from within. Pakistan continues to support the just struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom. A strong and viable state of Palestine is the only guarantor of peace in the region.
Colonialism in any form or manifestation is incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations and the
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries. This Committee must recognize the passionate yearning for freedom in all peoples living under the yoke of colonialism and help remove impediments in the path of their independence. The UN has a moral responsibility in this regard and we must all work toward eliminating the remaining vestiges of colonialism.