Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in the Joint Debate of the Third Committee Under Agenda Item 73: “Right of the peoples to self-determination” and Agenda Item 72: “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (30 October 2018)

Mr. Chairman,

We thank the Secretary General for his sustained commitment to the right of peoples to self-determination, and welcome his report.

The Report rightly declares the universal realization of the right of all peoples to self-determination as a fundamental condition for the exercise of all other human rights.

We also appreciate the ongoing efforts of the General Assembly, ECOSOC, the Human Rights Council and other relevant bodies to ensure that this all-important right is enjoyed by everyone, without discrimination.

We hope future reports will continue to build on this momentum.

Mr. Chairman,

As a fundamental norm of international law, the right to self-determination is not only enshrined in the UN Charter, but is also an overarching principle in all other landmark documents, including the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

This right also gives meaning to the very first phrase of the UN Charter - ‘we the peoples’. A world that denies some the opportunity to exercise their inalienable right to define their destiny would be contrary to the very essence and spirit of the UN and all that it stands for.

Mr. Chairman,

The exercise of the right to self-determination makes it imperative that the following principles are upheld:

It is unfortunate that despite these clear injunctions of international law and morality, millions continue to live under alien domination and foreign occupation.

Nowhere is this more glaring and tragic than in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where occupying forces have been ruthlessly suppressing the courageous struggle of the people for their right to self-determination for over 70 years.

The people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir were promised this right by the UN Security Council as well as by the governments of India and Pakistan. Their aspiration would have been fulfilled decades ago had India not employed a brutal policy of repression to deny the Kashmiris their right to self-determination.

India continues to hold the future of millions of people hostage. Its forces have unleashed a reign of terror to crush the will of the Kashmiri people to free themselves from occupation.

These violations of human rights have been repeatedly documented by independent human rights observers, the most significant among them being the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who issued a report in June on the situation in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

We endorse the Report’s recommendations that a UN Inquiry Commission be constituted to investigate and redress the gross violations of the human rights of the Kashmiri people.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation would like to reaffirm that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will remain on the UN agenda until the Kashmiri people are allowed to exercise their will, according to the agreed method prescribed by the Security Council – a plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.

Mr. Chairman,

Pakistan is also deeply concerned at the rise of racism, xenophobia and intolerance, and rejects these in the strongest possible terms. We believe such divisive forces pose a grave threat to international peace and security and can undo the work of peacemakers by disrupting the momentum for peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Freedom of expression cannot be used as a pretext to defame any religion or insult its sacred beliefs and personalities.

Pakistan has played an important role in the promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue. We have always sided with forces that work to unite humanity and opposed those who seek to provoke violence through hate speech and defamation of religion.

We are committed to continue our efforts to build bridges of understanding and to challenge and resist those who seek to construct walls of bigotry and hatred, which threaten to reverse the march of modern civilization.

I thank you.