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Norfolk's Relationship with the United Nations

Norfolk Island appears nowhere on the United Nations' maps of the world. Although Australia signed the UN Charter as a foundation member on November 1, 1945, it did not pass onto the UN the fact that at that time Norfolk Island was a non-self-governing territory, although it was required to do so under the Charter's Article 73e. Thus the UN views Norfolk as a territory of Australia when it is not. It is a separate and distinct Colony of the British Crown placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia.

In 1972 Australia ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. PART I, Article 1 states:

"1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.


3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realisation of the right od self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations."

Australia has not applied the Covenant to Norfolk Island, and has, in fact, acted at times in direct opposition to the rights espoused by the Covenant.

In 1977 the Norfolk Island Council, an elected body having no legal power or authority, was advised of the Australian Government's plans to incorporate Norfolk Island into an Australian electorate. The Council appealed to the UN for protection from these plans after specifically being denied the right of referendum on the issue by the Australian Government. Australia successfully lobbied other UN members to prevent the appeal's being heard.

In 1978 the United Nations Association of Australia issued an extensive report about the status of Norfolk Island in relation to Australia and the UN. It concluded that the official Australian stance on Norfolk Island is "patently ludicrous", and that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs clings to the claim that Norfolk Island is not a non-self-governing territory, but rather a part of metropolitan Australia, on the basis that no other member state of the UN has ever proposed otherwise. And to continue the litany of head-scratching actions, Australia has made 34 declarations to the International Labour Organisation denying that Norfolk is part of metropolitan Australia, stating instead that it is a dependent territory under Australia's authority.

In 1980 the Commonwealth of Australia ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights but neither has that Covenant been applied to Norfolk Island. And again the Australian Government has acted in direct opposition to it in dealing with Norfolk.

Norfolk Island is thwarted in bringing these matters to the attention of the United Nations' General Assembly by the power that Australia holds over neighbouring Pacific nations in the form of foreign aid. Norfolk cannot afford, either, to have its case heard by the International Court of Justice or even to have its constitutional status clarified by Australia's High Court, the later of which is not liable to view the situation impartially.

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