New York, 20 November 2021 (TDI): A crucial Third committee of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a Resolution reiterating the right to self-determination for peoples subjected to colonial, foreign, and alien occupation on Thursday, with Pakistan describing it as a “cardinal value” of the UN.

The Resolution, proposed by Pakistan, was co-sponsored by 73 countries and passed without a vote in the 193-member Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian, and cultural matters.

The resolution, which Pakistan has sponsored since 1981, strives to draw attention to peoples around the world who are still fighting for their intrinsic right to self-determination, such as those in Kashmir and Palestine.

It is anticipated to be voted on by the General Assembly next month.

Ambassador Munir Akram’s remarks

Munir Akram, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, introduced the proposal by saying that the General Assembly has not only defined the breadth of the right to self-determination, but also the methods and processes for realising it. As a result, it served as the foundation for all human rights and international law.

“Today, self-determination has been crystallized as a peremptory norm of international law and the international community is obligated to fulfill this right for all peoples under subjugation, alien domination and foreign occupation”, he said.

Ambassador Akram added, “Almost all former colonies and subjugated peoples, who are represented in this Assembly today as sovereign nations, secured their independence by exercising their right to self-determination”.

“This was often realized through free and fair referendums, or a plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. There are, however, situations where occupied peoples are being systematically denied this right and are obliged to struggle for the realization of this right,” he remarked.

Adding that “the means by which occupying powers continue to suppress the legitimate struggles for self-determination are often brutal and violent; including naked military force, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, rape and sexual violence, torture, curfews, communication blackouts, lockdown of civilian populations, illegal settlements and demographic changes”.

“These actions are among the gravest violations of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions as well as fundamental human rights enunciated in the core human rights conventions. These illegal actions suppress, subvert and delay the realization of the right to self-determination.”

The Draft Resolution

The General Assembly would reaffirm the universal realisation of all peoples’ rights to self-determination, including those under colonial, foreign, and alien dominance, as a fundamental requirement for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights, under the terms of the draught resolution.

The resolution also stated the General Assembly’s unequivocal opposition to foreign military intervention, invasion, and occupation, which have resulted in the suppression of peoples’ right to self-determination and other human rights in some regions of the world.

It demanded that all military interventions in and occupations of foreign countries and territories, as well as all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation, and abuse, be halted immediately.

The Assembly further expresses its sorrow for the millions of refugees and displaced persons who have been uprooted as a result of these atrocities, and proclaims their right to return to their homes in safety and honour.

It calls on the Human Rights Council to pay special attention to human rights violations caused by foreign military intervention, invasion, or occupation, particularly the right to self-determination.

It further requests that the Secretary-General submit a report on this matter to the General Assembly’s next session.

Earlier, the Third Committee of the UNGA unanimously adopted a Pakistan-sponsored resolution on countering disinformation. For more information, click here.