...It should embarrass this institution -- and all of you as representatives of United Nations member states-- that this committee must continue to discuss the situation of Western Sahara. The discussion should have ended long ago, and its people should have exercised their right to self-determination.
The parallels between the situations of Timor-Leste and Western Sahara are clear. In 1975, within weeks, larger neighbors, defying international law and the UN Charter, invaded both countries as they were on the verge of decolonization. For decades, Morocco and Indonesia continued to brutally occupy and illegally exploit the resources of Timor-Leste and Western Sahara in defiance of UN resolutions. The invaders received weapons and diplomatic support from the United States and other powerful countries. Both colonies remained on the General Assembly agenda as non-self-governing territories. Both invasions were clearly condemned by the Security Council. Both peoples suffered horrendous human rights crimes, including torture, disappearances, displacement, and rape. Those who organized and ordered these crimes have yet to be brought to justice. This only encourages others to defy international law....
We urge Morocco and its allies to end their delaying tactics. The United Nations and its member states should fulfill its promise to support decolonization worldwide and more forward with Western Sahara's referendum
There is a truism: "Justice delayed is justice denied." The paraphrase, "Self-determination delayed is self-determination denied," is certainly as true. The people of Timor-Leste had their right self-determination denied for nearly two and one-half decades. The people of Western Sahara have been denied their rights for 34 years and counting. They should not have to wait any longer.UPDATE: ETAN now carries the book International Law and the Question of Western Sahara, which includes a chapter on West Papua and several on the parallels between Timor-Leste and Western Sahara. Go here for more information on how to order.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
ETAN on Western Sahara
excerpts from Statement on Western Sahara Prepared for Delivery to the United Nations Fourth Committee, United Nations, New York, October 2009