General Assembly Resolution Bypasses Right to Self-Determination

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 20 2016 - The Group of 77, joined by China, has expressed disappointment that a key principle has been omitted from a draft resolution on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, namely, the recognition of the inalienable right to self-determination of countries and peoples living under colonialism and foreign occupation.

According to the resolution adopted by consensus by the General Assembly, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development would spend the next three years focusing on a range of specific themes and targets, ranging from eradicating poverty to building resilience to empowering communities.

Following the adoption of the text, Thailand’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77”, not only expressed deep disappointment over the omission but also reiterated the Group’s commitment to that principle as an anchor of the United Nations.

The delegate complained that even a benign reference to the right to self-determination, as proposed by the Group, had been rejected.

While the resolution made no explicit reference to the issue, paragraph 35 of the 2030 Agenda was nonetheless validated in the text’s reaffirmation of the 2030 Agenda itself.

Cautioning that the Group’s flexibility on the issue could not be used as a pretext to adopt a new methodology for future negotiations, he expressed hope that all Member States would engage in future discussions with an open mind in order to leave no one behind.

Many developing countries, members of the Group of 77, also expressed regret deploring the omission of the right to self-determination for countries and peoples living under colonialism and foreign occupation.

Describing occupation as the worst form of human rights violation, he said the right to self-determination was clearly enshrined in the United Nations Charter and many global conventions, and the peoples of the 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories legitimately expected to exercise that right.

He said it was deplorable to hear voices raised against the principle of self-determination in the twenty-first century.  The manner in which the present resolution had been adopted — namely, the flexibility on the part of the Group of 77 — should not constitute a precedent for future intergovernmental work at the United Nations, he stressed.

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