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By Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The United Nations is meant to represent the bright future of humanity, the uniting of diverse peoples and countries under common causes for our collective betterment.
Conservative elements in certain countries see the UN as floating above the world, infringing on national sovereignty, but in truth the UN is simply a reflection of it. It can be no better and no worse than individual countries allow.
As one US politician once noted, the purpose of the UN is not to take the world to heaven, but rather prevent the world from dragging itself down to hell.
In terms of Guam’s continuing colonial status, blaming the UN, the government of Guam or the people of Guam doesn’t make sense. We don’t live in days where hundreds of millions of people are fighting in bloody wars for independence and decolonisation. We live in the age where, given the harsh and tragic lessons of the past, colonisers are supposed to give up their colonies and faithfully support aspirations for decolonization.
This is the way the world should be, not the way it is. The US has fallen far short of its obligation to assist Guam and its colonised people in moving ahead in a process of decolonisation. This is due to a mixture of imperial apathy, colonial ignorance and military/strategic self-interest. For smaller countries, the UN and the international community have clear options to try to compel a recalcitrant nation to adhere to its commitments. But for larger countries, especially those with large militaries and permanent seats on the Security Council, the UN is usually powerless.
Solidarity is key
International solidarity is key, as allies can advocate on your behalf and try to reason with countries to stop their obstruction. But in terms of the UN infrastructure itself, one way a long-stagnant process of decolonization can hopefully be kick-started is through visiting missions.
Since the 1960s, several dozen UN visiting missions have been undertaken to visit various non-self-governing territories. These missions provide important on-the-ground information to the UN and draw international attention to issues that an administering power may want to keep hidden.
A mission visited Guam in 1979 to witness a vote on the proposed constitution for the island. The visiting mission consisted of Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, and Syria. They spent eight days on island, meeting with government officials and community groups.
Much of what the community expressed to the visiting mission persists today. The main issues of contention in Guam’s relationship to the US was lack of voting rights and democratic participation, but also Guam’s inability to control the basics of its economy due to federal immigration control and federal policies such as The Jones Act.
A visiting mission will not solve our decolonisation dilemma, but it is a step in the right direction. We currently reside in a place of political invisibility. We have a great deal of military visibility, as we saw this past week in terms of North Korean threats to the island. But in political terms, as a place in need of assistance in moving to the next stage of our political development, we lack the allies and a presence in any international conversations.
A visiting mission and the attention it might garner could help to fix that.
Michael Lujan Bevacqua is an author, artist, activist and assistant professor of Chamorro studies at the University of Guam.
SOURCE: PACIFIC DAILY NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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