In debate on Item 3: “Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights” at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Pakistan and Algeria insisted that the right to self-determination is the foremost human right.

At the close of Friday’s meeting, Pakistan said, “Effective exercise of the right to self-determination is a prerequisite for other human rights and freedoms. Only when self-determination has been achieved can people ensure full enjoyment of all rights without discrimination.”

It went on to justify acts of terror in the name of advocating for this right. “The legitimate struggles of peoples for the right to self determination cannot be questioned by equating them with terrorism,” it said.

Pakistan explained that the right to self-determination cannot be exercised under conditions of “foreign occupation,” pointing to Palestine and Kashmir as examples. “The unresolved status of these areas continues to haunt the conscience of the international community.”

This morning, Algeria stated its support for Pakistan’s remarks, adding “Contempt for the right to self-determination leads to a loss of all other rights… Any attempt to sacrifice the right would be a step backwards.”

At the same time, it clarified that the right only extends to “occupied territories,” for which a State’s right to “territorial integrity” cannot be invoked.

(Editor’s note: Interestingly, Algeria does not define what constitutes “foreign occupation” and who exactly has the right to “advocate for self-determination” and who not. Both Pakistan and Algeria did not see the Tamils of Sri Lanka as having any such right and instead condemned their terror tactics. They also both vigorously defended Sri Lanka’s “right to territorial integrity” and “sovereignty” during the Special Session to address rights violations in that country. A double standard?)

On the other hand, Morocco countered that the right to self-determination, as invoked in the 1960s, is “obsolete.” It made the statement while exercising its right of reply on allegations of occupying the Western Sahara and denying the rights of its people to self-determination. “International law is based on the nation state,” it said. “The UN Charter and relevant Security Council resolutions are based on the responsibility to ensure state security.”



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