Shocked Pakistan feels UN self-determination vote is a setback
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Shocked Pakistan feels UN self-determination vote is a setback

Contrary to expectations, Islamabad's official view, over the issue of right of self determination in UN, is one of shock & dissatisfaction at the low vote turnout .

india Updated: Nov 25, 2003 20:18 IST

Contrary to expectations that Pakistan would be upbeat over the UN passing the resolution on the right of self-determination, the official view in Islamabad is one of dissatisfaction and shock at the low vote turnout over the issue.

Adopted by a vote of 88-3 on November 20 by the United Nations General Assembly, the passing of the resolution is being viewed as a setback to Pakistan because (a) India instead of Pakistan called for the vote (b) In the past, the same resolution had always been adopted by a consensus and (c) The final result was deemed as being quite unsatisfactory given that that there were 191 UN members.

Only 88 voted in favour of the resolution with India, Bhutan and Mauritius voting against. Four out of the five permanent members of the Security Council abstained, a report in the Daily Times said.

A Pakistan diplomat, who requested anonymity, said: "This resolution had been our creation and was adopted for years through consensus and without a vote. It used to be a genuine moral victory for Pakistan. This year, for whatever reason, India called for a vote, and the end result has been a major setback not only to the very concept of self-determination, a cardinal principal of the UN Charter, but also to our own stated cause."

"This vote has grave symbolic importance. The principle of self- determination has lost the traditional consensus support it always enjoyed, having received less than 50 percent of the UN votes in favour, while the overwhelming majority of member states abstained or deliberately absented themselves only because the resolution was viewed largely in the context of India-Pakistan relations."

"In fact, some countries even withdrew their co-sponsorship of the draft resolution because they felt the prevailing context of the solution was not 'appropriate', nor within the spirit of the universal principal of the right of self-determination. I feel deeply disturbed at this development because it has weakened the moral weight of a concept that Pakistan has always used in support of its position on Kashmir," he added.

The resolution opposes military intervention and occupation that
are threatening to suppress, the right of self-determination of people and nations and declares opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, calling upon those states responsible to cease immediately their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories.

During the debate, the diplomat said that many speakers felt that the universal principle of self-determination had been used to refer to the specific situation between India and Pakistan.

Believing that the context that had prevailed was not appropriate or within the spirit of the universal principle of the right to self-determination, some delegations, including Benin, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Botswana and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines withdrew their co-sponsorship of the draft resolution, he added.

Explaining his vote, India's representative said that Pakistan's statement challenged the unity and territorial integrity of India. He said that the right to self-determination must not be construed to condone any action that would disrupt or threaten the territorial integrity of a state, adding that India would oppose any attempts to misuse the principle of the right to self- determination for ulterior motives.

The right to self-determination implies free elections, democracy, equality, secularism and the rule of law, the Indian representative said, adding that the Government of Pakistan must first ensure the right to self-determination to its own people, before tabling resolutions on the universal right to self- determination.

Pakistan's representative, however, countered by saying that a vote for this principle was not a vote in favour of any issue; it was a vote for the principle involved, a principle central to the United Nations Charter and the basis for the existence of the United Nations.

Countries voting in favour of the resolution were: Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Costa
Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand,
Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen.

Those who voted against were: Bhutan, India, Mauritius. Those who abstained were: The United States, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Cambodia, Colombia, Ctte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uganda, United Kingdom and United Republic of Tanzania.

The following were absent: Afghanistan, Belarus, Central African Republic, Chad, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Nepal, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

First Published: Nov 25, 2003 20:18 IST