Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and let me congratulate you and the rest of the bureau on your selection. It has been an extraordinary year and I would like to appreciate and express our gratitude for the great effort that has been made and the flexibility shown this year to enable this committee to consider the broad issues it covers.
Let me begin, Mr. Chair, by restating that Great Britain’s relationship with its Overseas Territories is a modern one based on partnerships, shared values and the right of the people of each Territory to choose to remain British.
If residents of a Territory choose to remain British, we will maintain and deepen our special relationship with them. The UK and Territory recognize that our relationship brings mutual benefits and responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the UK Government to ensure security and good governance in the Territory and its people. We expect the Overseas Territory Government to meet the same high standards as the UK Government in maintaining the rule of law, respecting human rights and integrity in public life, providing efficient public services and building strong and successful communities. The governments of Great Britain and the Territories Abroad continue to agree that the Territory is self-governing internally, subject only to the United Kingdom, which holds the power to enable the United Kingdom to carry out its obligations under international law.
While Great Britain will carry out all the responsibilities of sovereign power, in terms of our constitutional relations our aim is that the region is internally self-governing. The UK and Territorial Governments Overseas hold a Joint Council annually to monitor and promote collective priorities for action in a spirit of partnership.
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to report that the development of democracy in the Overseas Territory continues. The 2020 elections took place in Anguilla and Bermuda.
Mr. Chair, as we negotiate future relations with the European Union, the UK is fully committed to engaging the Overseas Territories, including Gibraltar, to ensure that their priorities are taken into account at every stage of the process. Given that Gibraltar has a very strong interest in the matter, we have also created a separate Joint Council of UK-Gibraltar Ministries for Gibraltar-EU negotiations.
Turning to the Falkland Islands, the UK has no doubts about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the adjacent maritime territories in both Territories, or about the right to self-determination of Falkland Islanders as enshrined in the United Nations Charter and Article One of the two UN covenants on human rights, by which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. We continue to express our hope for a stronger and more productive relationship with Argentina, including in relation to the Falkland Islands. We believe it is in everyone’s interest. At the same time, we remain firm and fully committed to the rights of the Falkland Islanders to determine their own future. This means that there can be no dialogue about sovereignty unless the Falkland Islands want it.
The 2013 referendum, in which 99.8 per cent of those who voted wished to retain their current status as British Empire Territory, sent a clear message that the people of the Islands do not want dialogue on sovereignty. This desire must be respected.
Mr. Chair, we also have no doubt about our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuing British sovereignty since 1814. We have made a long-term commitment to hand over territorial sovereignty to Mauritius when it is no longer needed for this purpose. defense and we support that commitment. In a region facing increasing threats from state and non-state actors, the strategic location of UK / US joint defense facilities in the Region makes a significant contribution to regional and global security and assists in combating some of the most challenging threats of the modern era. time. The UK is currently providing a support package of around $ 50 million (£ 40 million) to improve Chagossian livelihoods in the communities where they now live: in Mauritius, Seychelles and the United Kingdom. The UK is also committed to maintaining and enhancing the extraordinary biodiversity and ecological integrity of the region.
Mr. Chair, briefly discussed one of the other issues covered by this Committee, the Peaceful Use of Space. I would like to say that while regretting that this Committee was not able to meet in person this year and noted the need for a modest job change until 2021, we are pleased to maintain a leading role in space issues in Vienna, as in disarmament. machines, and in the First Committee, where we put forward for the first time a resolution on reducing space threats through the norms, rules and principles of responsible behavior. We believe it is important to discuss the challenges we face in space in a holistic manner, drawing links across the United Nations system. Unfortunately, the rapidly growing risks to safety, sustainability and security in space do not always respect organizational structures.
Finally, Mr. Chair, it is important for me to restate the old commitment of the United Kingdom to the people of Gibraltar, which has not changed. The United Kingdom will not enter into arrangements whereby the inhabitants of Gibraltar will pass under the sovereignty of another country against their will in a free and democratic manner. The United Kingdom also made it clear that it would not enter into any process of negotiating sovereignty that Gibraltar did not fulfill.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.