In his first address at the United Nations General Assembly, President Surangel Whipps Jr. recognized the role the UN had in Palau’s independent movement and called out the limits of Palau’s Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the United States.
Whipps acknowledged the role of the U.S.A. as an administrator under the UN trusteeship mandate to develop the island into “full self-government and self-reliance” that led to the Compact of Free Association between the U.S. and Palau.
He said under the Compact of Free Association, Palau allowed the United States to “control our national security and defense”, a “fundamental element of national sovereignty.”
Such control “allows the U.S. to deny other nations access to our lands and waters, ultimately restricting our association with some members of the international community and limiting prospective economic development opportunities”, added Whipps.
Furthermore, he said, the previous Compact reviews failed because they did not address the “complex dynamics of the modern world” increasing Palau’s vulnerabilities to challenges in today’s world. He expressed confidence though that the current U.S. administration will “correct the deficiencies.”
“Denial rights were mutually agreed upon by the United States to have that right to exclude from our territory any threats to our security, stability, and peace posed by the presence of countries or groups whose activities and policies may be contrary to the US policy, it pertains to military and other security issues,” stated former President Johnson Toribiong whose administration negotiated the first Compact Review Agreement in 2010.
He added, “As far as I’m concerned, there is no other country, which is banned from investing in the country” when asked if denial rights involve economics.
Former President Toribiong posits that Whipps may be trying to put the issue on the table in the next negotiations as one of the reasons why Palau is still underdeveloped.
Palau’s 2nd Compact Review is slated for 2024, a schedule outlined in the Compact of Free Association Agreement.