The Baku Initiative Group convened an international conference on “Towards Independence and Fundamental Freedoms: The Role of the C-24 in Ending Colonialism” on June 20, 2024, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Report informs.

The conference took place within the framework of the annual meeting of the United Nations Special Committee on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (C-24). The conference brought together representatives, leaders of independence movements, decolonization experts, MPs, and researchers from Corsica, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Maohi Nui (French Polynesia), Kanaky (New Caledonia), Saint Martin, Bonaire, the US, France, Brazil, the Union of Comoros Islands, Guyana and the Netherlands, which a total of 8 territories currently under the occupation of France and the Netherlands. Diplomats from the permanent missions of El Salvador, Argentina, Syria, Algeria, Brazil, and Palestine at the United Nations also actively participated in the conference.

During his opening address at the conference, the head of the department at the BIG, Elgun Hajiyev, brought to attention the fact that due to the unclear decision by the US government, the Executive Director of the BIG, Abbas Abbasov, has been unable to obtain a visa for the second consecutive year to attend the conference at the UN headquarters. As a result, a video appeal of the Executive Director was disseminated to conference participants.

He noted in his appeal that the recent violation of fundamental human rights by the French government in New Caledonia once again proves the lack of political will of the French Government to implement the resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly against decolonization overseas.

The Executive Director reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the Baku Initiative Group to supporting the just struggle of colonial territories for their independence, even in the face of various pressures from France.

After observing a moment of silence to honor the civilians who lost their lives due to actions by the French police in New Caledonia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Caledonia, M. Forrest, provided a comprehensive account of the alleged illegalities and atrocities committed by the French government in his nation. Minister M. Forrest highlighted that numerous Kanaks, including eight leaders of the independence movement, were subject to unlawful arrests.

The Director for Political Affairs of the Tavini Huiraʻatira party in French Polynesia, Richard Tuheiava, as well as members of the independence movement from Saint-Martin, Corsica, Martinique, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, and Bonaire, addressed the colonial policies implemented by the French and Dutch governments in these territories. They highlighted the gross violations of fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and the failure to meet international obligations. They strongly condemned the continued colonialism policy, ignoring the demands of the indigenous peoples.

The participants expressed profound gratitude to Azerbaijan for effectively conveying the demands and voices of the people they represent to the global community. Finally, they expressed confidence that independence is not far away with the support of the Baku Initiative Group, which plays the role of an international platform.

At the end of the conference, a political declaration was adopted. The participants committed to enhancing their participation in regional and global events organized by the Baku Initiative Group as well as strengthening their struggle within the UN. They denounced the violence of France, a colonial power, in New Caledonia, Corsica and Martinique.