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UN as Protector or Abuser of Human Rights?

March 5, 2013

UN as Protector or Abuser of Human Rights?

by Andrew Johnson / March 5th, 2013

What is a colony?

It is “A region politically controlled by a distant country,” a territory and its people under the political control of a remote or foreign administration. A colony, or “non-self-governing territory”, is also external to UN membership although the occupying or foreign administrating State may be a member of the UN, see UN Charter chapter XI.

West Papua and West Papuan people become subject to a Dutch colonial claim during the 19th century and were subject to that foreign rule when the Dutch in 1962 signed an agreement asking the United Nations as a foreign power to occupy and administrate West Papua’s affairs. The agreement commonly known as the ‘New York Agreement‘ was drafted by the American government for the Netherlands, Indonesia, and the United Nations to sign.

What is a trust territory?

It is concept created in chapter 12 of the Charter (constitution) of the United Nations, it is a colony for which the United Nations and its Security Council in the form of the “Trusteeship Council” has accepted responsibility.

One type of “trust territory” is a colony which the colonial power and United Nations has voluntarily placed under the “trusteeship system”, see Article 77 part 1(c) of the UN Charter. But chapter 12 of the Charter has mistakes:

  1. UN trusteeship does not require consent of the colony, and
  2. a “trusteeship agreement” does not need to use the word trusteeship or tell the world’s public that the UN has made the territory subject to the trusteeship system.

What are the “General Assembly” and “Security Council”? They are organs (part) of the United Nations defined in chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the UN Charter. Only the Security Council under chapter 7 articles 42 and 48 may use UN forces, but the General Assembly can direct UN forces to occupy a colony by approving a trusteeship agreement under article 85 and chapter 12 of the UN Charter.

Is West Papua a trust territory?

The General Assembly approved the New York Agreement in 1962 by making General Assembly resolution 1752 (XVII), see 17th session of the General Assembly. Also in 1962 UN troops occupied West Papua, see UN Historical Summary and the 1962 UN Yearbook — pages 124-128.

West Papua has never been on the agenda of the UN Security Council nor has the territory been the subject of any Security Council resolution. Neither under its chosen name West Papua nor the colonial names, West New Guinea, Netherlands New Guinea, Irian Jaya, Irian Barat, nor the current Indonesian Province name.

Conclusion: Yes, West Papua is a UN trust territory because that is the only way that General Assembly resolution 1752 (XVII) was able to authorise the deployment of UN troops from Pakistan to occupy the colony of West Papua.

Conclusion: Yes, when you read the requirements of chapter XII of the Charter of the United Nations you will discover that the 1962 agreement is written in accordance with each of the several requirements, including the final requirement that it be approved by the General Assembly. The 1962 agreement has the form and exercises the functions of a trusteeship agreement because is is a trusteeship agreement for the United Nations to accept responsibility for West New Guinea, West Papua.

Why would the UN do this without telling the public?

Because the UN’s largest contributor the United States wanted the colony to be in the hands of Indonesia, see US Dept. of State Summary; and Indonesia would not sign the agreement if it was publicly understood that West Papua would be an UN trust territory.

When would UN trusteeship end?

The UN Charter makes one provision for ending its international responsibility in article 78 of the UN Charter:

Article 78
The trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality.

Did the “Act of Free Choice” change anything?

No, the event which Indonesia calls the “Act of Free Choice” was notrecognised by the United Nations (either the General Assembly or International Court of Justice) as either a referendum or a display of “self-determination” by the West Papuan people. It does not matter what Indonesia says, nor does it matter what Jakarta’s supporters like Australian Senator for New South Wales Bob Carr say. Only the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has jurisdiction to say with authority if the people of West Papua have granted their sovereignty to a foreign power, and without a ICJ decision only a majority agreement by the UN General Assembly would have any meaning at the United Nations.

The 1962 agreement (the New York Agreement) does describe the normal requirement for recognition of the people’s decision by the UN General Assembly majority; a vote by all male and female adults who are not foreign nationals.

What are the international obligations of the United Nations to a trust territory?

Article 76
The basic objectives of the trusteeship system, in accordance with the Purposes of the United Nations laid down in Article 1 of the present Charter, shall be:
to further international peace and security;
to promote the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the trust territories, and their progressive development towards self-government or independence as may be appropriate to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned, and as may be provided by the terms of each trusteeship agreement;
to encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion, and to encourage recognition of the interdependence of the peoples of the world; and
to ensure equal treatment in social, economic, and commercial matters for all Members of the United Nations and their nationals, and also equal treatment for the latter in the administration of justice, without prejudice to the attainment of the foregoing objectives and subject to the provisions of Article 80.

Article 87
The General Assembly and, under its authority, the Trusteeship Council, in carrying out their functions, may:
consider reports submitted by the administering authority;
accept petitions and examine them in consultation with the administering authority;
provide for periodic visits to the respective trust territories at times agreed upon with the administering authority; and
take these and other actions in conformity with the terms of the trusteeship agreements.

Article 88
The Trusteeship Council shall formulate a questionnaire on the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of the inhabitants of each trust territory, and the administering authority for each trust territory within the competence of the General Assembly shall make an annual report to the General Assembly upon the basis of such questionnaire.

General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV)
1514 (XV). Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples
The General Assembly,
Mindful of the determination proclaimed by the peoples of the world in the Charter of the United Nations to reaffirm

Declares that:
1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.
2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
3. Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.
4. All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected.
5. Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.
6. Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
7. All States shall observe faithfully and strictly the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the present Declaration on the basis of equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of all States, and respect for the sovereign rights of all peoples and their territorial integrity.
947th plenary meeting,
14 December 1960.

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