France reminded to respect international law in Tahiti

9:21 am on 25 June 2019

A human rights lawyer says France risks being taken to the International Court of Justice if it fails to honour its international obligations towards French Polynesia.

The flags of French Polynesia, The EU and France

The flags of French Polynesia, The EU and France Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Walter Zweifel

Julian Aguon, of Blue Ocean Law, said since the UN relisted French Polynesia in 2013 as a territory to be decolonised, France has made no moves to honour the indigenous people's inalienable right to self-determination.

Mr Aguon said while France has plans to exploit seabed resources it also has fiduciary obligations.

He said by law the indigenous people have permanent sovereignty over natural resources.

"France is a party both to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. These are binding treaties and they have human rights treaties monitoring bodies associated with them."

Julian Aguon said a precedent was set by the International Court of Justice when it ruled in favour of Nauru which challenged Australia for breaching trusteeship obligations over phosphate mining.