UNITED NATIONS: A key UN committee has unanimously passed a Pakistan-sponsored resolution reaffirming the right to self-determination for peoples subjected to foreign and alien occupation.

“Certainly, attempts to unilaterally change the status of the territory which have yet to exercise their right to self-determination are illegal,” said Pakistan’s UN envoy Munir Akram while presenting the resolution. This was an obvious reference to India’s Aug 5 decision to annex occupied Kashmir.

The 193-member Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues, adopted the resolution without a vote. Now the resolution, which was co-sponsored by 81 countries, is expected to come up for the General Assembly’s endorsement next month.

Mr Akram argued that “peoples who have been promised the free exercise of a decision on their own political future are obviously embodied to the rights to self-determination”.

The UN Security Council has promised a plebiscite in Kashmir but has done little in the last 70-plus years to make it happen.

Pakistan has been tabling the resolution since 1981 and its adoption highlights issues like Kashmir and Palestine where people have been denied this inalienable right.

Mr Akram told the committee that UN General Assembly’s resolution 2649 of 1970 sees “the acquisition and retention of territory in contravention of the right of the peoples of that territory to self-determination as a gross violation of the UN charter”. This position is also reaffirmed by several Security Council resolutions, he added.

The resolution urges the General Assembly to “reaffirm the universal realisation of the rights of all peoples, including those under colonial, foreign and alien domination, to self-determination as a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019