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UN Ban Punts on Tahiti Call to End Colonialism by France, Quiet Diplomacy?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 7 -- One of the UN's high points was de-colonialization, but under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon those days are apparently over. Ban traveled to a meeting in New Zealand at which colony Tahiti Nui a/k/a French Polynesia pushed, with support of Pacific Island states, to be included on the agenda of the UN's committee on de-colonialization.

  One would think this would be a no-brainer for Ban Ki-moon, given the UN's historic role in at least ostensibly ending colonialism, for example Adrian Pelt's role in pre-Gaddafi Libya.

  So on September 7 Inner City Press asked Ban's new Deputy Spokesman Eduardo del Buey for Ban's position on Tahiti Nui's request:

Inner City Press: one of the other controversies there had to do with French Polynesia, a move by French Polynesia, to become listed on the UN decolonization list taken up by the Fourth Committee. And since the UN has historically had such a big role in decolonization, I wondered, did he hear about that while he was there? Does he have any view [on] that territory wants to be put on the decolonization list?

  Spokesman del Buey once again said "I will have to find out and get back to you on that." During the rest of the day on September 7, his office did not call or e-mail Inner City Press. Only long after close of business was an answer inserted into the UN's transcript of the noon briefing:

[The Deputy Spokesperson later said that in his press conference in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday, the Secretary-General said that he had listened to the concerns of some leaders, including French Polynesia, concerning the right of self-determination. The Secretary-General noted that it is up to Member States voting in the General Assembly to decide on the re-listing or delisting of any territory as Non-Self-Governing Territory.]

  This "saying" was over an internal "squawk" system which is not heard by any journalist covering, for example, the Security Council. On the substance, while Ban touts his own "quiet diplomacy," to not have have a position on de-colonialization, one of the UN's signature issues, is questionable.

Ban & Juppe, (de) colonialism of Tahiti Nui not shown

  Perhaps in this case it is the pressure of France, which sent its minister Alain Juppe to New Zealand to argue against de-colonialization. It was reported:

For a second time in two weeks, Marie-Luce Penchard has highlighted that French Polynesia is now the French republic’s most autonomous territory. She also points out that France transfers two billion US dollars a year to Tahiti and denounces presenting such a privilege as a colonial relationship. Her statement follows a call by the French Polynesian government to end 170 years of colonisation and last month’s assembly vote on a resolution to be taken to the Forum in Auckland and the UN in New York. To counter Tahiti’s lobbying, the French foreign minister, Alain Juppe, will join the Forum leaders in Auckland.”

 But shouldn't the head of the UN have a position on the right to self-determination? Watch this site.

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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