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10/19/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/19/2021 19:33

General Assembly President Calls on Global Community to Leave Behind Ugly History, ‘From Conflict to Colonialism’, as Fourth Committee Opens General Debate

Against the backdrop of profound anxiety wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating global challenges, the President of the General Assembly today urged Member States to "leave behind the uglier aspects of our history, from conflict to colonialism" and unite around a better future, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) began its annual general debate.

Echoing his call, speakers called for more progress in the realization of the right to self-determination by the world's remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories. Touching on a range of topics on the Committee's far-reaching agenda, they also reiterated their support to the vital work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and highlighted the important role of United Nations peacekeeping operations deployed around the globe.

In opening remarks, General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid (Maldives) observed that, while the United Nations has achieved many milestones in the decolonization process, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remain in limbo. As for the longstanding struggle of the Palestinian people, he reiterated that a two-State solution is the only peaceful way forward. In that vein, he said that while UNRWA's programmes in the region improve the lives of millions of refugees, the Agency continues to face a funding gap of over $100 million. That discrepancy puts at risk the education of over half a million children and threatens to halt the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines at a critical stage, with a fourth wave looming.

The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, observed that the group's members remain the largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Urging Member States to fulfil their financial contributions in full, on time and without conditions, he asked the Secretariat to settle any outstanding reimbursements for troop- and police-contributing countries without delay. He joined other speakers in voicing deep concern over the recent spike in attacks against peacekeepers and the increase in disinformation campaigns targeting peacekeeping missions, while urging all stakeholders to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers and to achieve greater representation of women among their ranks.

Also on the issue of peacekeeping, the representative of the European Union, in the bloc's capacity as observer, welcomed United Nations efforts to strengthen its peacekeeping system's ability to deal with sexual exploitation and abuse cases in a swift and decisive manner. Noting that European Union member States as a bloc remain the second-largest financial contributor to United Nations peace operations, he said it is also a staunch and predictable supporter of UNRWA, "a stabilizing force in the region".

Many speakers also addressed issues in the Committee's decolonization agenda cluster, referring to specific Territories or disputes, or calling more broadly for accelerated action on decolonization by the United Nations. The representative of Mexico, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), pointed to the fact that many of the 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories are geographically located in his region. He urged the United Nations to stay committed to their decolonization, further calling upon the administering Powers to take steps towards that goal.

Among other topics raised by speakers today were the effects of atomic radiation, questions relating to information and multilingualism and Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, as well as international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

Also speaking were the representatives of Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Group of Arab States), Saint Vincent and Grenadines (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Brazil (on behalf of Southern Common Market and Associated States), Guatemala (on behalf of Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana), Colombia (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Spanish), New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia) and Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Melanesian Spearhead Group).

The representatives of Mexico, Argentina, Egypt and Ecuador delivered national statements, while the representatives of the United Kingdom, Iran, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 20 October, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, observed that much of the world is currently living in a state of anxiety, looking to the United Nations for hope. Recalling that the Organization has achieved many milestones in the decolonization process, he nevertheless stressed that there are still 17 Non‑Self‑Governing Territories that remain in limbo. As for the long‑standing struggle of the Palestinian people, he reiterated that a two‑State solution is the only peaceful pathway forward. In that context, the programmes of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) improve the lives of millions of refugees in the region, yet the Agency has a funding gap of more than $100 million. That discrepancy puts at risk the education of more than half a million children and could potentially halt the rollout of COVID‑19 vaccines at a critical stage, with a fourth wave looming.

Turning to United Nations peace operations, he called on all stakeholders to streamline and strengthen the effectiveness of the Organization's deployed missions and redouble efforts to meet their obligations outlined in the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations. On outer space matters, he stressed that all activities in that arena must remain peaceful and driven by scientific curiosity. Humanity has looked to the stars since the dawn of civilization, he said, recalling the clear night sky visible in his own home country, the Maldives. "As we delve deeper into its expanse, let us leave behind the uglier aspects of our history, from conflict to colonialism, and preserve space as a common good," he concluded.

Statements

KAMAL ALIZADA (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, underscored the importance of the work carried out by UNRWA and reiterated the group's strong support for it. In light of the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions and instability in the region, which severely affects Palestine refugees, he urged the international community to step up its support to the Agency, taking into account the recurrent, severe financial shortfalls that affect its vital humanitarian programmes. Highlighting the need to address the prolonged crisis in the Gaza Strip in accordance with international law, he called for the full and immediate lifting of the illegal Gaza blockade. Reaffirming the group's commitment to promoting a just, lasting, comprehensive and peaceful solution to the Question of Palestine in all its aspects, he called for international action, particularly by the Security Council, to ensure accountability for and a cessation of the violations committed by the occupying Power, failure of which will foster impunity and diminish the prospects for peace.

He further pointed to persistent, grave human rights violations committed by Israel and noted the need to follow up on the recommendations outlined in the 2021 report by the Secretary‑General on the protection of the Palestinian civilian population, as well as to mobilize collective efforts to achieve a peaceful outcome on the basis of a two‑State solution within pre‑1967 borders. Turning to peacekeeping, he observed that the group's members remain the largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping operations and expressed support for the "Action for Peacekeeping Plus" initiative, as well as for the work of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. He urged Member States to fulfil their financial contributions in full, on time and without conditions, and asked the Secretariat to settle any outstanding reimbursements for troop‑ and police‑contributing countries without delay. Expressing deep concern over the recent spike in attacks against peacekeepers and the increase in disinformation campaigns targeting peacekeeping missions, he urged all stakeholders to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers and to achieve greater representation of women.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), noted that some of the 17 territories that still remain as Non‑Self‑Governing Territories are geographically located in his region. The United Nations must remain committed to the decolonization of those territories, he stressed, calling upon the administering Powers to adopt all necessary measures, taking into account the specific situation in each case, which includes the colonial situations defined as "special and particular". Reiterating the Community's commitment to continue working to make the region of Latin America and the Caribbean free of colonialism and colonies, he called on the Department of Global Communications to redouble its efforts to spread information aimed at promoting decolonization.

Reiterating the Community's strong support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas*, he noted that the countries of the region have stated their permanent interest in having the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom resume negotiations. The question of Puerto Rico, he noted, has been considered by the Committee for 48 years, with 37 resolutions and decisions approved by consensus, reaffirming the inalienable right of the island's people to self‑determination. Also stressing the importance of taking measures to facilitate the sustainable growth of the fragile economies of small island territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific ‑ which constitute most of the world's Non‑Self‑Governing Territories ‑ he underscored that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands must be permitted to meaningfully participate in determining their own future.

ABDALLAH Y. AL‑MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, stated that the long‑standing issue of the Occupied Palestinian Territory remains unresolved despite numerous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination, he further noted that the occupying Power refuses to grant that right and continues to ignore international law. He also cited attempts to change the legal historic status of holy sites and the use of coercive measures and illegal force against women and children - all of which worsens the humanitarian situation in the area. In that context, he said a lasting and comprehensive peace should be a strategic choice and result in the creation of an independent Palestinian State. To that end, he underlined the efforts of UNRWA, which provide hope to the Palestinians for a better future and a dignified life and called on the international community to provide financial and political support to the Agency. He further stressed that the group refuses any attempts to ignore the right of the Palestinian people to return.

Speaking in his national capacity, he underlined that support to the Palestinian cause is an essential part of his country's foreign policy. He welcomed Morocco's efforts to find a political solution to the question of Western Sahara and for the Moroccan Sahara's inclusion as part of Morocco, stressing that such a solution is in line with international resolutions. Welcoming the two round tables on the Western Sahara held in Geneva, as well as the appointment of the Secretary‑General's new personal envoy, he went on to condemn attempts to undermine Morocco's sovereignty in the area. On the territorial dispute in the Persian Gulf, he said his country supports the legitimate rights of the United Arab Emirates to its sovereignty over Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs islands, and welcomed that country's efforts to find a solution to that question through direct negotiations.

INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and CELAC, said the group is satisfied that the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) is working in partnership with the people and Government of Haiti to strengthen political stability and good governance. As Haiti rebuilds politically, it needs stronger emergency response systems, including the provision of vaccines and more low‑cost housing. Turning to the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative and its priorities for the 2021‑2013 period, she noted the greater focus on cooperation with host countries, strategic communications and operational integration. CARICOM views the upcoming 2021 United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference in Seoul, Republic of Korea, as an opportunity for Member States to commit to and meet the challenges facing the Organization's peace operations.

She went on to express support for the Department of Global Communications and the network of United Nations Information Centres as they disseminate reliable, accurate and science‑based information. CARICOM is committed to combat the spread of disinformation and misinformation, she said, noting that it ensures its communications technology is securely managed through the CARICOM Cyber Security and Cybercrime Action Plan. Welcoming the Department's implementation of a global communications strategy and its commitment to monitoring and evaluation, she endorsed the Verified campaign's efforts to counter misinformation surrounding the COVID‑19 pandemic, while promoting international cooperation. It is evident that the United Nations Information Centres are a key asset in the response to the pandemic and have shown their continued relevance and effectiveness in the CARICOM region. That includes providing communications support for the roll‑out of vaccines under the COVAX facility, transmitting inputs for daily briefings and giving support to Resident Coordinators' offices as well as United Nations country teams.

MOHAMMAD K. KOBA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressed that outer space must be used peacefully and its benefits should be shared with all countries, regardless of their size. Improving space access should be the priority for the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, he said, calling for the development of a legal framework to address those issues.

Turning to the United Nations peace operations, he reported that ASEAN countries deploy close to 5,000 troops to the Organization's various deployed missions. Those operations should be developed around political solutions with clear and achievable mandates, he said, adding that the Secretariat must settle any outstanding peacekeeping reimbursements. As the safety and security of peacekeepers is crucial, he called on host countries to investigate crimes against troops and bring the perpetrators to justice. Special political missions are also an essential tool in responding to international conflicts, he noted, emphasizing the importance of their close coordination with host countries. As for questions relating to information, he expressed concern over the proliferation of disinformation and underscored the Department of Global Communications' important role as a voice of truth. In that context, he encouraged the Department to strengthen its partnership with regional organizations to raise awareness about United Nations activities.

RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil), speaking on behalf of Southern Common Market and associated States (MERCOSUR), reiterated his support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute related to the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. Recalling that the Special Committee on Decolonization recognized that the question of the Malvinas is a sovereignty dispute involving Argentina and the United Kingdom, he noted that a peaceful and negotiated settlement is the only way to bring an end to the dispute. Citing relevant General Assembly resolutions, he noted that the parties to such a dispute should refrain from adopting unilateral decisions and called upon the United Kingdom to end its exploration and exploitation of natural resources, as well as its military exercises in the vicinity. In that context, he recognized the right of Argentina to undertake legal action in response to unauthorized activities in that area and reiterated that the South Atlantic is a zone of peace and cooperation.

LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala), speaking on behalf of Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA), spoke on decolonization matters, reporting that his group's Member States support the legitimate rights of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands. Indeed, there is great interest among countries throughout the region for resumed negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom in order to find a peaceful and lasting solution in accordance with relevant United Nations pronouncements. He went on to note the important contributions made by the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples during its consideration of the matter.

NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Spanish, noted that the Group has the mandate to promote and position the Spanish language within the United Nations work, as well as to defend multilingualism, which ensures that the essential messages of the United Nations can be successfully disseminated in an inclusive and reliable manner. In that context, she welcomed the efforts of the Secretary‑General and the Under‑Secretary‑General for Global Communications to promote effective communication in all six official languages of the United Nations. Multilingualism helps not only to achieve the Organization's mandates but also to promote the values of the United Nations, such as inclusion, transparency and accountability.

Highlighting the important role of the Spanish language, she called for full compliance with, and implementation of, the principle of parity for all official United Nations languages. A balanced allocation of resources is urgently needed, she noted, calling for improvements in the publication process for international treaties and agreements in all six languages. Noting that Spanish is a language with a rich diversity of linguistic expressions, she urged the appropriate use of its rules and forms, including on digital information platforms, social media and news pages. Welcoming the implementation of the first global communications strategy, she drew attention to the success of the "Pause" campaign in countering the adverse effects of disinformation by circulating accurate and reliable information on the pandemic. She further asked that the Secretary‑General's sectoral reports on the effects of COVID‑19 be made available in the six official languages, while citing a recent report that found a significant increase in the use of the United Nations Spanish‑language websites.

CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia, said the COVID‑19 pandemic illustrated the agility of United Nations peacekeeping operations. Expressing support for the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative, he said the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of United Nations Peacekeeping also provides timely direction on the importance of understanding and harnessing technology in support of peace operations. The upcoming ministerial‑level meeting on those topics offers an opportunity to address ongoing capability gaps and bolster training opportunities and capacity‑building, through sustained partnerships.

Stressing that peacekeepers deserve a process that fairly and promptly investigates and prosecutes the perpetrators of crimes and attacks against them, he said New Zealand, Canada and Australia are encouraged by partnership work underway in that arena. That includes the Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping initiative, which aims to strengthen early warning and rapid response systems and improve the comprehensive approach to protection. However, more can be done with the integration of new technologies. Training and resources are key to providing the strong analysis and situational awareness needed to protect civilians and keep peacekeepers safe, he said.

MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, lauded positive developments in New Caledonia's self‑determination process over the past decade, which have culminated in two successful self‑determination referenda and the setting of a third on 12 December 2021. He expressed concern, however, that impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic in that Territory have created an unconducive environment for the referendum's just, credible, transparent and peaceful conduct. New Caledonia is currently under a state of health emergency until 15 November, with only about 30 per cent of its total population vaccinated against the virus.

He outlined some of New Caledonia's COVID‑19 containment measures, which include special travel permits and the closure of non‑essential businesses, including shops and public transport. Despite declining cases, fear of the virus has affected the entire population due to increasing rates of hospitalization and deaths. Emphasizing that the voter registration campaign will be practically challenging, he said it will be difficult or impossible to set up decentralized voting bureaus, which would concentrate many people in one place for several hours. Against that backdrop, he called on France, the administering Power, to consider deferring the third self‑determination referendum to an appropriate time when the situation improves.

BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, turned first to the matter of mine action, reiterating the bloc's commitment to achieving a mine‑free world by 2025. On the effects of atomic radiation, he welcomed the Committee's work on medical exposure to atomic radiation as well as on public exposure to ionizing radiation from natural sources, other radiation sources and discharges to the environment - both of which are European Union priorities. On the peaceful use of outer space, he said the space treaties developed under the auspices of the United Nations constitute the cornerstone of international space law, noting that the bloc is considering taking steps towards the acceptance of the rights and obligations contained in relevant treaties on outer space. He went on to reaffirm the commitment of the European Union to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict through a two‑State solution, while noting its readiness to work with both parties towards the resumption of meaningful negotiations to resolve all final status issues. He also stressed the importance of UNRWA - a stabilizing force in the region - to which the European Union remains a staunch and predictable supporter.

Calling on Israel to halt its continued settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem, he ruled out the possibility of recognizing any changes to the pre‑1967 borders. He also emphasized the importance of functioning democratic Palestinian institutions, adding that a date should be set for national elections in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip. Turning to the question of peacekeeping operations, he said the European Union's Member States remain their second‑largest financial contributor. He emphasized the importance of political solutions to conflicts, as well as prevention through mediation and peacebuilding, while also underlining the bloc's support for the indispensable role of women in peacekeeping and welcoming United Nations efforts to strengthen the system's ability to deal with sexual exploitation and abuse in a swift and decisive manner. On questions related to information, he praised the Department of Global Communications' Verified campaign as a model which the European Union supports, and welcomed the Department's focus on COVID‑19 vaccination as a source of hope going forward.

BRUNO RÍOS SÁNCHEZ (Mexico) called for joint efforts to foster policy that helps mitigate the effects of climate disasters on Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. He recognized the validity of Argentina's sovereign right over the Malvinas Islands and called for the resumption of negotiations between the United Kingdom and Argentina on the matter. Likewise, there must be continued discussions between relevant parties in the Western Sahara, he said, welcoming the appointment of the Secretary‑General's new special envoy. Turning to UNRWA, he said the Agency's work is fundamental to ensure the human rights of the Palestinian people. Against that backdrop, sustainable funding must be guaranteed with particular attention paid to health and education, he said, recalling that Mexico contributed $750,000 in 2020. As for peacekeeping operations, he said the COVID‑19 crisis demonstrated how important it is for missions to be able to adapt. They must also focus on peacebuilding tasks, transitions and drawdown processes, he said, adding that special political missions are central instruments to achieving lasting peace and are increasingly relevant for the Organization given the changing nature of conflicts. Noting that his delegation will present a resolution on the broad review of special political missions along with Finland, he underscored that current and future mandates must provide synergies with actors on the ground and national groups to ensure smooth transitions and lasting peace.

MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), associating herself with CELAC, MERCOSUR and the Group of Friends of Spanish, underlined that Argentina and the United Kingdom should engage in negotiations to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute over the Malvinas Islands. However, despite continued calls, the United Kingdom refuses to engage in talks. Noting that the latter seeks to justify its violation of Argentina's territorial integrity by invoking the principle of self-determination - which is contrary to the provisions of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries - she pointed to the implantation of "British subjects" on the islands, paving the way for colonial control. Emphasizing that her country has consistently demonstrated its respect for the interests of the inhabitants of the Malvinas, she added that the United Kingdom failed to respond to Argentina's offer to provide the inhabitants of the islands with food, medical supplies and humanitarian flights during the COVID‑19 pandemic. Her Government launched a bursary programme for students from the Malvinas to pursue undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate education at the six universities in Patagonia. She further pointed out that the United Kingdom continues to carry out unilateral actions in the disputed area, including the exploration and illegal exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources in violation of relevant resolutions.

OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the need and international responsibility to eradicate landmines, recalling that Egypt itself has around 22 million mines. Turning to outer space matters, he reported that Egypt has developed a strategy for satellites that follow the Nile River and surrounding cities and established a space agency. On decolonization issues, he expressed concern over Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including violence committed by settlers and the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Urging the international community to finally take tangible steps toward a two‑State solution, he went on to stress the need to support UNRWA so it is able to carry out its programmes and reforms. Turning to information matters, he highlighted the importance of United Nations Information Centres in tackling pandemic‑related disinformation. On peace operations, he cited attacks on missions and called for clear information and intelligence to protect peacekeepers. Special political missions are also an essential tool for peacebuilding, he went on, adding that those mandates must be realistic and practical.

CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador), noting that 17 Non‑Self‑Governing Territories remain, called for the promotion of dialogue and cooperation between administering Powers and territories. To that end, he reiterated his country's support for the right of peoples under colonial occupation to self‑determination and independence. On the question of Palestine, he said a peaceful, lasting and fair solution should be based on the existence of two States and called for more assistance to the Palestinian people. On the issue of Western Sahara, he said a mutually acceptable political solution should be found in line with the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolution 2414 (2018). Resumption of bilateral negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom is the only way to resolve the question of the Malvinas Islands, he said. Noting that peacekeeping represents a tangible example of the interconnected nature of the three pillars of the United Nations, he went on to say that Ecuador supports the balanced and rational use of outer space, and welcomes the efforts to develop international law in that area. He further acknowledged multilingualism as a driver of unity and diversity, specifically highlighting that the Spanish language has increasingly become the second language used for the visits to the United Nations website and its social media pages.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said there is no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands or the right to self‑determination of the people there. The referendum held sent a clear message that the people do not want a further conversation about self‑determination. Therefore, while the United Kingdom stands ready to engage with Argentina, it will not consider the topic of self‑determination. His country remains committed to defending the right of the Falkland Islanders to develop their own natural resources as they see fit. He also stressed that there was no indigenous population or settled people on the islands prior to 1833, noting that the population has developed from migration from Europe.

The representative of Iran, responding to Saudi Arabia's claims regarding Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs islands, described those as baseless. Iran does not recognize the existence of any dispute with the United Arab Emirates, he stressed, adding that the islands referenced have been part of the territorial integrity of Iran for many years. In that context, his country is ready to continue bilateral talks with the United Arab Emirates with a view to overcoming any misunderstanding.

The representative of Argentina reiterated that the Malvinas Islands are an integral part of her country and are illegally occupied by the United Kingdom, as recognized by various international bodies. There have been 10 United Nations resolutions adopted on the matter that recognize the dispute and call on both countries to resume negotiations. He went on to reiterate that the principle of self‑determination does not apply to the dispute over the Malvinas, and, as a result, the vote that was held there was a unilateral British initiative and holds no international legal value.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates reaffirmed that the three contested Gulf islands are a part of his country's territory. In that context, he appealed for Iran to respond and find a peaceful solution through negotiations or through the international legal system.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, responding to the remarks made by the representative of Iran, reiterated that the contested islands ‑ Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs - are an integral part of the territories of the United Arab Emirates. In that vein, he expressed support for the peaceful means sought by that country to address the dispute.

The representative of Iran, also addressing that matter, stated that "unfounded claims" on territorial integrity are irrelevant to the Committee's work. Emphasizing that the representative of Saudi Arabia used today's meeting to push forward its interests in the Persian Gulf region, he further urged all States to observe the principles of good neighbourliness and international law and to avoid policies that spread hatred and sectarianism.

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* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).