Magazine article UN Chronicle

Council for Namibia Sues Netherlands over Namibia's Natural Resources

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Council for Namibia Sues Netherlands over Namibia's Natural Resources

Article excerpt

Council for Namibia sues Netherlands over Namibia's natural resources

IN AN UNPRECEDENTED action, the United Nations Council for Namibia has instituted legal proceedings in the Netherlands against the Dutch uranium enrichment plant Urenco Nederland V.O.F. and its State-controlled managing partner Ultracentrifuge Nederland N.V., as well as the Government of the Netherlands, "to prevent Urenco Nederland V.O.F. from carrying out orders on the basis of purchases of Namibian uranium'. The Council is the legal Administering Authority for the Territory until independence. It is the first time that a United Nations body has sued a Government.

Council President Peter D. Zuze of Zambia said the action was "only a first step by the Council in implementing its decision of May 1985 to institute legal proceedings, as one of various options, to safeguard the natural resources of Namibia'. The writ of summons was served on the defendants on 14 July.

On 23 July, the Netherlands, in a letter (A/42/414) to the Secretary-General called the action "unprecedented', adding that Netherlands electricity companies did not buy Namibian uranium. Urenco Nederland V.O.F. and Ultracentrifuge Nederland N.V. operated within a German, British and Netherlands consortium, Urenco Ltd., established in 1971, that concluded enrichment contracts on behalf of the three partners in the consortium with electricity suppliers. The enrichment processes did not take place in the Netherlands.

The Council's Steering Committee on 2 May 1985 decided to institute legal action, in domestic courts of States and other appropriate bodies, against corporations or individuals who were violating the Council's 1974 Decree No. 1 for the Protection of the Natural Resources of Namibia. The Committee had also decided that those legal proceedings would commence in the Netherlands, against Urenco, a company which it said was known to process Namibian uranium in violation of the Decree.

The Decree forbids any person or entity from searching for, prospecting for, exploring for, taking, extracting, mining, processing, refining, using, selling, exporting or distributing any natural resources, whether animal or mineral, situated or found to be situated within Namibia's territorial limits without the Council's consent and permission.

Other countries against which such action might be taken are: Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Political prisoners

Special Committee demonstrates concern over future of prisoners in southern Africa

In related action, the Special Committee against Apartheid on 5 August marked the 25th anniversary of the imprisonment of black South African political leader Nelson Mandela.

Committee Chairman Joseph N. Garba of Nigeria said Mr. Mandela and others were in prison for "espousing the ideals cherished by the United Nations and humanity'. The apartheid regime, by incarcerating Mr. Mandela and others, hoped it could "make the people forget their leaders and their liberation movements'; however, Mr. Mandela had become and remained an "even more powerful symbol of resistance', Mr. Garba stated.

The Special Committee on 28 August called upon the international anti-apartheid movement to support a world-wide campaign to save the lives of 32 political prisoners now on "death row' in South Africa. The Committee deplored and condemned the "arbitrary application of death sentences as part of an ongoing campaign of persecution and brutality designed to crush and suppress the struggle of the South African people for liberation'.

On the tenth anniversary--11 September--of the death in detention of South African black activist Steven Biko, the Special Committee against Apartheid noted that the circumstances that had led to his death were still present and had even worsened in South Africa. Committee Chairman Joseph N. …

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