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'Guam resolution a political attack'

Saturday, November 11, 2017

WASHINGTON/HAGÃ...TÑA - The US government has rejected a United Nations resolution on Guam related to decolonisation.

The resolution calls for several actions — including a report on the environmental impact of military activities on island — and reaffirms the right of the people of Guam to determine their political status.

The US voted against the resolution adopted by the UN Special Political and Decolonisation Committee or Fourth Committee and called the addition of certain language in the measure a political attack by some UN members.

The resolution was approved by a vote of 80 in favour, nine against and 62 abstentions. Besides the US, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Malawi and Ukraine voted against the resolution.

"We are deeply disappointed today to have been forced, as a result of counterproductive additions primarily on the part of the Venezuelan delegation, to call a vote and vote against the resolution on the question of Guam for the first time in over 20 years," the US stated.

Part of the US contention lies with language urging the avoidance of military activities. The US stated it has the sovereign right to conduct military activities in accordance with its security interests and that language within the resolution broadens presumptions that a military presence is counter to the rights and interest of the people of Guam and other territories.

The U.S. added that there is no factual basis to assume that the people of Guam are uniformly opposed to military activities or that these activities are harmful to the environment as suggested by the resolution.

"We must also reject, as a waste of UN resources, the unnecessary new request for a UN environmental study on the impact of military activities in Guam," the U.S.

The U.S. also stated that the resolution "dangerously mischaracterises" regional tensions as a result of North Korean action. While the UN must continue to address the provocative statements from the hermit kingdom, it is "incorrect" to make the assertion that the entire region faces tensions as a result of "one nation's conduct."

The United States also took exception to criticism of the U.S. District Court ruling that found Guam's plebiscite unconstitutional on the grounds of race-based discrimination.

"Guam is one of the United States' most multicultural societies," the U.S. stated.

"The United States has long supported the right of self-determination for the people of Guam and continues to do so today. Guam's Legislature passed a law, however, that restricts the plebiscite to those with roots on Guam since 1950.... The court found these limitations to be a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution's guarantees…of voting rights."

While the U.S. objected to aspects of the resolution, Amanda Blas, chairwoman of the Commission on Decolonisation, stated that its passage is a "big step" toward Guam's self-determination.

"We've seen great progress at the U.N. in terms of Guam's decolonization recently," Blas stated. "From the governor's request for a visiting mission to the largest delegation from Guam addressing the Fourth Committee this summer, I believe this is a great indication of where we are heading when it comes to self-determination."

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