General Assembly, in Consensus Text, Bolsters Resolve to Achieve Remaining Millennium Development Goals, Sets Path for Post-2015 Development Agenda
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
32nd Meeting (AM)
General Assembly, in Consensus Text, Bolsters Resolve to Achieve Remaining
Millennium Development Goals, Sets Path for Post-2015 Development Agenda
Delegates Consider Report on Organization’s Work,
Adopt Resolution Ensuring Countries in Arrears Retain Voting Rights
In a consensus text adopted today, the General Assembly resolved that the post-2015 agenda should reinforce the international community’s commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development.
Adoption of the outcome document came on the heels of a special event called by the Assembly President, and held at Headquarters in New York, where the Assembly reviewed progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and outlined the path forward beyond 2015.
“We still have a long way to go,” said the Head of the European Union’s delegation to the United Nationsafter the adoption. “The stakes have never been so high, the challenges so great. But business as usual is not an option.”
Through the adoption of the document, the Assembly resolved to target the most off-track Millennium Development Goals in the remaining time, particularly those related to poverty and hunger, universal access to primary education, child mortality, universal access to reproductive health, environmental sustainability and access to water and sanitation.
The document underlined the central role of a strengthened global partnership, while recognizing the importance of national ownership. It called for the mobilization and effective use of all resources, public and private, domestic and international.
The text also underlined the central imperative of eradicating poverty and underlined the Assembly’s commitment to freeing humanity from hunger as a matter of urgency. It recognized the link between poverty eradication and the promotion of sustainable development and called for a coherent approach that worked towards a single framework and set of goals, while respecting national circumstances, policies and priorities.
Furthermore, the Assembly decided to launch a process of intergovernmental negotiations at the beginning of its sixty-ninth session, which would lead to the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda.
Assembly President John Ashe ( Antigua and Barbuda), who introduced the text, said it was an exciting time, and that while much work remained, “We can now say we have begun the intergovernmental process.” Following the document’s adoption, several speakers welcomed the text and said they hoped it would inform international efforts going forward and lead to a fairer and more prosperous world.
Also today, the Assembly considered the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization, which highlighted the rapid changes the world has undergone, but recognized that too many people had yet to feel a sense of progress or hope in their daily lives. The importance of the rule of law, the prevalence of natural disasters, the plight of resource scarcity, and the near and long-term consequences of political instability were all highlighted in the report.
Some delegates lamented the deaths of nearly 100,000 Syrians, with many noting that 2013 marked the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. They welcomed the report as an opportunity to reflect on key issue areas and to redouble efforts on some of the more troubling challenges facing the Organization. Speakers outlined some of the key priorities that deserved full consideration moving forward, particularly the conflict in Syria and places of instability throughout Africa, the vital necessity of rule of law on the national and international spectrums, concerns over nuclear proliferation and other weapons of war, and the importance of establishing a comprehensive set of tangible, action-oriented sustainable development goals after 2015.
At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly adopted a consensus draft resolution sent to it by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), which allowed five countries to retain their voting rights in the Assembly until the end of its sixty-eighth session despite being in arrears on their annual contributions to the Organization. They included Central African Republic, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia.
Also delivering statements were the representatives of Fiji (on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China), Ireland, United States, Japan, Egypt, Brunei Darussalam (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), India, Mongolia, China, Malaysia, Argentina, Cameroon, Nepal and Pakistan.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 14 October, to consider reports of the International Criminal Tribunals.
The General Assembly met this morning to take up a report of its Fifth Committee on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations (document A/68/504), a draft resolution under its agenda item on the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields; Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, submitted by the Assembly President titled outcome document of the special event to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (document A/68/L.4). It also considered the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization (document A/68/1).
Action on draft resolutions
At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly adopted without a vote a draft text recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations (document A/68/504). By its terms, the Assembly agreed that the failure of the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia to pay the full minimum amount needed to avoid the application of Article 19 of the Charter was due to conditions beyond their control;, and decided to allow those countries to vote in the Assembly until the end of its sixty-eighth session.
The Assembly then took up a draft resolution on the outcome document of the special event to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (document A/68/L.4).
Introducing that draft, JOHN ASHE ( Antigua and Barbuda), Assembly President, said going forward new levels of support would be needed by all stakeholders. Countries would need to make every effort to mobilize resources and donor countries must meet their commitments. The outcome document spoke to those processes leading up to the post-2015 development agenda and underscored the preparations for the agenda. “While there is much to be done, we can now say we have begun the intergovernmental process,” he said. “It is indeed an exciting time for our United Nations.”
The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote.
Speaking after the vote, PETER THOMSON ( Fiji), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China, underscored the importance of the documents in capturing the international community’s collective will towards achieving development aspirations in this millennium.
DAVID DONOGHUE ( Ireland) said the outcome document called for particular attention for the most off-track Millennium Development Goals and highlighted the need for a strengthened global partnership. The road map in the document would lead towards the discussions on the post-2015 agenda.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union delegation, welcomed the document as a key step forward that paved the way for a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous world for all, a world free of poverty. He also welcomed the resolve to target the most off-track Millennium Development Goals. Among and within developing countries, those who had been left furthest behind required the most urgent attention and support. “We still have a long way to go,” he said. “The stakes have never been so high, the challenges so great. But business as usual is not an option.”
TERRI ROBL ( United States) said the outcome reflected the strength of the world’s collective commitment to fight poverty. Going forward, the Assembly should be mindful of the budget for 2014.
HAJIME UEDA ( Japan) said the document was an important step towards shaping the post-2015 development agenda.
MOHAMED KHALIL ( Egypt) welcomed the adoption, stressing that poverty eradication was critical to consider on the road to development. The world had undergone far-reaching changes in the past two decades, yet developing countries still faced serious problems in advancing development and changing the international economic system.
The Assembly then considered the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (document A/68/1).
DATO ABDUL GHAFAR ISMAIL (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that there was a need for the United Nations to constantly keep up and adapt to changing trends as well as anticipate and address emerging and new challenges accordingly, adding that ASEAN would continue to cooperate with the 193-member body. The theme of the Association this year, “Our People, Our Future together”, aimed at highlighting the role of its people played in community building efforts towards ensuring the region’s future, which would also contribute to the global development process.
On security matters, ASEAN would continue to contribute to international peace and security based on the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes, he said, adding that the Association upheld the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia as an essential instrument for governing stable relations between and among parties within and outside the region. He also outlined efforts by the region’s countries in disaster management, humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping and human rights.
SATISH CHANDRA MISRA, Member of Parliament from India, said time was running out and fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals should be a top priority for the Organization. Eradicating poverty must remain the core objective of the post-2015 development agenda, including under the sustainable development goals. Resource mobilization for sustainable development was also critical. On the security front, he called on Member States to conclude the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism. “We need concerted global action. Such action should be predicated on ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism and aimed at systematically dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism,” he said. India would remain committed to United Nations peacekeeping activities. He acknowledged the increasingly complex security environment peacekeepers operated within. It was imperative to hold to account anyone who threatened and attacked peacekeepers. Reform of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, was also a key issue moving forward. He called for immediately beginning “real negotiations” based on a negotiation text and with a result-based timeline to reform the Council.
OD OCH ( Mongolia ) said that while the Millennium Development Goals had improved the lives of billions of people, the international community must take further steps on pressing issues, such as poverty, maternal mortality, education and unemployment. Mongolia considered literacy amongst its top concerns and actively promoted literacy and education initiatives on the national, regional and international levels. Mongolia initiated the United Nations Literacy Decade from 2003 to 2012, which was marked by millions of young people and adults becoming literate. “Education for Democracy” was another initiative Mongolia presented during the last Assembly session, which recognized education as key to democratic institutions, human rights and the achievement of development goals. Greener and sustainable economic development should be adequately reflected in the post-2015 agenda. Mongolia was extremely vulnerable to climate change, which hurt the livelihoods, health and well-being of its citizens; particularly nomadic herders. His country would like to see a United Nations convention on water resources management. Mongolia also looked to improve and strengthen its involvement in United Nations peacekeeping operations, while it supported efforts toward nuclear disarmament and the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones.
LIU JIEYI ( China) said that the world was undergoing profound changes and new challenges kept emerging. He commended the United Nations’ work in promoting peace and security, human rights and development over the last year. The Syrian conflict remained the focus of the international community. China welcomed the resolution adopted by the Council on Syria’s chemical weapons. A political solution was the only way out and efforts in that regard should go hand in hand with the destruction of chemical weapons. He hoped the second Geneva Conference on Syria would be held soon. Efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals should be continued. The post-2015 global development agenda should be set at an early date. In defining the agenda, the international community should take into account the challenges faced by developing countries, particularly African countries, least developed countries and small island developing States, he said, calling for renewed international support. Each country had the right to choose its own path of development, based on its specific situation.
KAZUYOSHI UMEMOTO ( Japan ) said his country was firmly committed to the promotion of the rule of law through its support of international courts and tribunals and believed it was strongly related to the enhancement of human rights. Japan strongly condemned human rights violations in places like Syria and North Korea and pledged to contribute to regional and world stability. Japan would continue to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, while it welcomed the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund. Japan deplored the humanitarian situation in Syria, and it would continue to proactively provide humanitarian assistance to refugees. The principles of human security must be incorporated into the post-2015 development agenda. Two points in particular — universal health coverage and disaster risk reduction — should be given greater attention. Japan was determined to promote efforts to mainstream the concept of human security worldwide. He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete steps toward denuclearization and urged Member States to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible. The situation in Syria exposed the need for Council reform, a task that was long overdue and one member States should tackle with urgency.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) stressed that in formulating the sustainable development goals, Member States should keep in mind the interests of developing countries, especially the least developed countries. “The SDGs (sustainable development goals) should not be only for developing countries to undertake as a kind of conditionality or a set of new obligations that apply only to them,” he said, stressing that the principle of common but differentiated responsibility must be applied in a holistic way when defining the goals. The international community should also ensure the process to form the new goals was coherent with the post-2015 development agenda process, and would not in any way undermine the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Development could not be achieved without peace, security and stability, he continued, expressing concerns over the devastating effects of conflict and instability on civilians in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and calling for concrete solutions. Malaysia was a firm believer in resolving conflicts through peaceful means. The “principle of moderation” should be applied in mediation. As there were limited resources available to the United Nations due to the world economic situation, Member States would continue to demand greater transparency and accountability. He expressed hope that the Capital Master Plan would be completed on time and within budget.
MATEO ESTREME ( Argentina) said the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda were ongoing tasks. Over that last decade, the level of poverty in Argentina declined by 87 per cent to its current 5.4 per cent. However, inequality among countries existed, with each country having its own needs and requirements for sustainable development. Since Millennium Goal 8 had not lived up to expectations as it was not clearly defined, discussions for the post-2015 agenda must consolidate realistic targets that could be monitored and achieved. Turning to Syria, he said the United Nations’ credibility had been jeopardized by indecision in the Council and that reform efforts should include removing the right of veto. A negotiated outcome to the crises must be found, and the Council’s recent unity over chemical weapons and the humanitarian crisis could be the foundation to do so. On peace-keeping operations, Argentina had voted for Council resolution 2098 regarding Democratic Republic of the Congo, with concerns about the creation of an intervention force, as that was a sharp departure from the tradition peacekeeping operations.
MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon) supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to resolve conflict in Africa and for the Organization’s peacekeeping operations and activities to support elections. Noting that climate change had become a major issue requiring urgent action, he said contributions of countries like Cameroon to sustainable development began with managing resources that were beneficial to the whole world. Africa had reaffirmed its leadership in implementing programmes with partnerships and follow-up measures. There was a need for a firm will on the part of States to improve efforts to promote and protect human rights following up on commitments made to international instruments. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts on humanitarian assistance, international justice and disarmament and appreciated actions taken to combat illicit drugs, organized crime and terrorism. Overall, he applauded the Secretary-General’s actions of doing more with less and supported efforts to modernize the Organization and hoped that would move forward in full consultation with Member States.
DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI ( Nepal) cautioned about the potential problems if the task of defining the post-2015 global development agenda lacked careful planning: the exercise might not be adequately informed by all voices; the agenda might not encompass or avoid all that it should; and the outcome might not correspond to the specific needs on the ground. More importantly, there might be a disconnection between the task at the global level and at national levels. “We have numerous examples of agreeing on time bound, say 10-year, programmes of action, and spending the first half of that period figuring out how all that could be integrated into the national scheme of things for implementation and follow up,” he said. Parallel efforts to engage national machineries right from the planning phase was important to forge a “sense of participation, partnership, ownership, attachment and commitment”, which were all essential to ensure that the intended results would be achieved. Therefore, he called on the Assembly President and the Secretary-General to schedule the planning meetings and activities carefully and judiciously to “ensure justice and balance among issues and countries as well as cross themes and regions”.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said that in defining the post-2015 global development agenda, the international community should ensure that economic, social and environmental issues would be addressed in a holistic manner, and that developing countries could get much-needed support, including financing for development. He commended the Secretary-General’s efforts in facilitating the agreement on the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region, and welcomed the Council’s resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons, expressing hope the second Geneva Conference could be held soon, leading to a political solution to the crisis. Expressing regret about the impasse on nuclear disarmament, he said breakthroughs were possible if the four issues of nuclear disarmament, fissile materials, a ban on nuclear tests in outer space, and negative security assurance could be addressed simultaneously without hierarchies. The Council should reflect the interests of all countries, not the ambitions of a few, he said, calling for that body to become more representative, democratic, transparent and accountable.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD ( Egypt) said his country was concerned about the decline in official development assistance (ODA) and hoped developed countries would meet their commitments. The Secretary-General’s report focused on developed countries and their contributions and did not take into account the developing countries efforts. He welcomed more efforts by the United Nations to assist African countries, particularly financing peacebuilding programmes that bore in mind the specificity of each country and its history. He was concerned about the treatment of the situation in his country in the chapter on international security. The situation was national, he said, and the Government of Egypt was committed to implementing the road map to holding presidential elections in May 2014. Regarding justice and international law, he recognized its importance, adding that peaceful means should be used to settle disputes. On disarmament, he supported the 2014 conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East as well as the universalization of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Arms Trade Treaty on conventional weapons should take account of the rights of States to acquire those arms. Egypt was ready to open a dialogue during this Assembly session in order to move forward in its development efforts.
Right of Reply
Exercising his right of reply, the representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea fully resented the statement made by Japan’s representative on abduction issues. The continued attempt by the Japanese delegate to raise the already resolved abduction issues aimed at hiding their past human crimes against the Korean people. Japan should settle its past crimes against humanity rather than playing tricks with abduction issues. On nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula, his delegation had already stated the origin of the issues, which began with the United States and its hostility towards his country. The United States had defined the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as an enemy. His country possessed a nuclear deterrent because it had to counter that threat, he said, adding that United States cruisers, destroyers and warships were engaging in a military exercise.
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