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Bolivia Slams UK "Colonial Marketing," PNG Says France Slow on New Caledonia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 11 -- Decolonization was once the UN's highest calling. Now it is a ritual held in a basement conference room, with some Permanent Members of the second floor Security Council called out but hardly caring. Call it Upstairs, Downstairs.

Friday afternoon in the Fourth Committee, after a week of speeches denouncing the UK for the Malvinas or Falkland Islands, UK Political Coordinator Michael Tatham spoke. He spoke of his country's "modern relationship" with its territories -- if you want to stay, you can.

  Moments later Bolivia's Permanent Representative Sacha Llorenti said that the UK's invocation of self-determination, for which generations fought, was now being used as "colonial marketing."

  Llorenti also took on the United States, calling Puerto Rico a colony and long-jailed Oscar Lopez Rivera a political prisoner.

  Western Sahara was the subject of most speeches; many called for the promised referendum with independence as an option, but Democratic Republic of the Congo for example praised Morocco's no independence as an option, only autonomy plan. It's a French, or Francophonie, thing.

  Papua New Guinea chided France for not turning over education in New Caledonia. Pakistan raised Jammu and Kashmir.

 Through it all, this year's chair of the Committee, the Permanent Representative of El Salvador, kept time by cutting off petitioners but was solicitous to his fellow diplomats, and then to him. He praised Llorenti for asking for a moment of silence to reflect on the consequences of colonialism.

  This Fourth Committee ended before the Third, on Human Rights. There, South Korea and Japan went a few rounds on comfort women, with Japan quoting for an atonement letter and expressing surprise it wasn't just, well, bygones. But what is? Watch this site.

Footnote: given that it was Bolivia's Permanent Representative who slammed the UK, and PNG's who critiqued France, one wondered where PRs Lyall Grant and Araud were. At least with Lyall Grant, one could find him online, tweeted that the OPCW should not have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize (we agree).

 But where was Araud, who skipped out too on the Security Council's Africa trip, after through a colonial process the Press was banned from the trip and others hand-picked, only by France? We'll have more on this.


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