Statement by Mr. Jeffrey Salim Waheed, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations,

The Right of Peoples to Self-Determination

Madam Chair,

On behalf of my delegation, I thank the Secretary General for his report on the right of peoples to self-determination. I would also like to express my gratitude to the bodies that have contributed to the United Nations' work on this matter, including the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Human Rights Council, and the special mandate holders. Their work facilitates the progressive realisation of the right to self-determination by peoples under colonial, foreign or alien occupation around the world today.

Madam Chair,

We have come a long way. When the United Nations was first founded, almost a third of the world's people lived in non-self-governing territories, under colonial rule. Over the last few decades, we have seen the steady progress of decolonisation and the formation of new, sovereign states. Most recently, in the 1990s, several of our Pacific island friends rightly gained their independence. The right of self-determination is now universally accepted as a norm of international law, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and binding on all parties to the International Covenants on Human Rights.

As the General Assembly reaffirmed last year in its resolution on this subject, "self-determination is a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights and for the preservation and promotion of such rights." That resolution called upon States responsible for acts of foreign military intervention, aggression or occupation to cease immediately. Yet foreign occupation remains a reality in some parts of the world. Millions of people remain stripped of the right to govern themselves and determine their own futures; to freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources; and to maintain their own means of subsistence. The denial of this basic right to self-determination often entails a denial of other fundamental rights, such as civil liberties, the right to own property, the right to an adequate standard of living, and cultural rights. It is no coincidence that those who are denied political status tend to be the poorest and most repressed in the countries where they live. The principles of human dignity, justice, and equity therefore demand an end to all foreign military occupations and acts of aggression.

Madam Chair,

The nations of the world have an obligation under international law to respect and promote the right to self-determination. To that end, we cannot condone the deprivation of this inherent right by anyone, anywhere. Where occupied peoples have called for our help, the international community has a duty to act.

The Palestinian people have made this call time and time again. Yet, self-determination has eluded them for far too long. Earlier this week, this Committee heard from the Special Rapporteur reporting on human rights violations on the ground in the Palestinian occupied territories. The Maldives is deeply concerned about the tragic loss of civilian lives, and the worsening situation of human rights abuse in Palestine.

We join the growing call of States and institutions, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for a two-state solution as the only viable solution to this multi-decade conflict. The only way to peace and stability is to allow a democratic, sovereign and contiguous State of Palestine to be established on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. This United Nations must guarantee the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people.

Madam Chair,

The path to self-determination need not be mired by violence and conflict. The Maldives believes that questions over self-determination should be resolved through engagement in inclusive, consultative mechanisms encouraging the exchange of information. Diverse ethnic and linguistic groups within a territory must be incorporated into the decision making process, to ensure that all people are adequately represented. These are the necessary, practical implications of self-determination and sovereignty. The will of the governed is the only thing that gives legitimacy to the Governments that make up this United Nations.

Thank you.