Acting upon Recommendation by Second Committee, General Assembly Adopts 43 Texts, Defers Action on Sovereign Debt Restructuring Framework Draft
Resolution on Assistance to Palestinian People Adopted without Vote
The General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial), today adopted 38 resolutions — seven requiring recorded votes — and five decisions on a range of issues relating to strengthening the post-2015 agenda. Those included external debt, creation of a new international economic order, the multidimensional nature of development and poverty, South-South cooperation, liberalization of world trade, promotion of new and renewable sources of energy, and problems of countries in special situations.
By terms of one resolution, adopted by a recorded vote of 125 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Israel, Japan, United States) with 44 abstentions, the Assembly emphasized the importance of a timely, effective, comprehensive and durable solution to the debt problems of developing countries to promote their economic growth and development.
By terms of another resolution, the Assembly underlined the need to better reflect the multidimensional nature of development and poverty, as well as the importance of developing a common understanding among Member States. It also recognized the importance of improving the results-focused delivery of operational activities for the development of the United Nations system, while accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The body approved the text by a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Central African Republic, Israel, Japan, Norway, Republic of Korea, United States), with 43 abstentions.
Through another resolution, adopted by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 44 against, with 7 abstentions (Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Switzerland), the Assembly stressed that South-South cooperation complemented North-South cooperation.
Among the texts not requiring a recorded vote was one through which the Assembly expressed concern at the lack of progress in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations and reiterated the call for flexibility and the political will to break the current impasse.
By terms of another text, adopted without a recorded vote, the Assembly stressed the need to increase the share of new and renewable sources of energy in the global energy mix as an important contribution to achieving universal access to sustainable modern energy services.
It deferred action on a text relating to the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes, pending the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) report on its programme budget implications.
After concluding its work on the Second Committee reports, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a resolution introduced by Italy on behalf of the European Union, on assistance to the Palestinian people. The text urged Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and regional and interregional organizations to extend economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people, in cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization and through official Palestinian institutions.
Speaking today were representatives of Azerbaijan, Italy (speaking for the European Union), United States, Canada (speaking for Australia), Bolivia (speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) and Israel.
Exercising the right of reply were the representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
The General Assembly met this morning to take action on draft resolutions and decisions contained in the reports of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial).
Introduction of Reports
BORG TSIEN THAM (Singapore), Rapporteur of the Committee, introduced the reports and the draft texts contained therein in one intervention.
Action on Texts
Taking up the agenda item information and communications technologies for development, the Assembly considered the report of the Second Committee (document A/69/465) and the resolution and decision contained in it. By the resolution, adopted without a recorded vote, the Assembly expressed concern regarding the digital divide in access to information and communications technologies (ICT) and broadband connectivity between countries at different levels of development. It affirmed the need to empower women and girls, in particular in developing countries, through the use of ICT in education, health care, agriculture, clean drinking water, energy and other fields. The Assembly also decided, without a recorded vote, to acknowledge the Note by the Secretary-General on communication for development programmes in the United Nations system.
The Assembly next decided to take note of the report Macroeconomic policy questions (document A/69/466). By terms of the text titled International trade and development (document A/69/466/Add.1), the body, without a recorded vote, expressed serious concern at the lack of progress in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, reiterated the call for the necessary flexibility and political will in order to break the impasse, and in that regard called for a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and development-oriented outcome of the Doha Development Agenda multilateral trade negotiations. The Assembly also decided, without a recorded vote, to take note of the reports considered by the General Assembly in connection with international trade and development.
By the next resolution, International financial system and development (document A/69/466/Add.2), also adopted without a recorded vote, the Assembly recognized the need to intensify efforts to enhance the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems. Among other things, the body reiterated the need to act decisively to tackle the challenges confronting the global economy in order to ensure balanced, sustained, inclusive and equitable global growth with full and productive employment.
The Assembly decided to defer action on the second text in that cluster, Modalities for the implementation of resolution 68/304, entitled ‘Towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes’, pending the Fifth Committee report on its programme budget implication. The Assembly next approved the text titled External debt sustainability and development, (document A/69/466/Add.3) with a recorded vote of 125 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Israel, Japan, United States), with 44 abstentions. By that resolution, it emphasized the importance of a timely, effective, comprehensive and durable solution to the debt problems of developing countries to promote their economic growth and development.
Next, the Assembly adopted the resolution on follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and the 2008 Review Conference (document A/69/467) without a recorded vote. By its text, the body invited all Member States and other potential donors to consider contributing generously to the Trust Fund for the Follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development.
On sustainable development, the Assembly adopted five resolutions contained in document A/69/468 without a vote. By terms of the first text, International cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, the Assembly urged the international community to provide assistance to that country in formulating and implementing special programmes and projects for the treatment and care of the affected population, as well as in efforts to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in the region.
By a recorded vote of 133 in favour and 30 against, with 7 abstentions (China, Ecuador, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, South Africa, Sri Lanka), the Assembly adopted the text Entrepreneurship for development. In doing so, it emphasized the need for improved regulatory environments and policy initiatives that promote entrepreneurship and foster small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as microenterprises. Further, it stressed the positive role entrepreneurship plays in driving job creation and expanding opportunities for all.
Also by a recorded vote of 170 in favour and 6 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), United States), and 3 abstentions (Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, Tonga), the Assembly adopted the text on oil slick on Lebanese shores. By the text, it requested that Israel assume responsibility for prompt and adequate compensation to Lebanon and other directly affected countries for the costs of repairing the environmental damage caused by the slick. Further, it encouraged Member States and the international donor community to continue their financial and technical support to Lebanon towards achieving the completion of clean-up and rehabilitation operations.
By the next text, Role of transport and transit corridors in ensuring international cooperation for sustainable development, also without a recorded vote, the Assembly called for efforts to promote regional economic integration and cooperation, including by improving cross-border transportation infrastructure, enhancing regional connectivity and facilitating regional trade and investment.
Through the text, Follow-up to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014): Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development, the Assembly invited Governments to take steps to implement the Global Action Programme.
The Assembly also adopted a decision, without a recorded vote, taking note of the Report of the Secretary-General on reliable and stable transit of energy and its role in ensuring sustainable development and international cooperation.
Taking up the next cluster of texts on the same agenda item contained in document A/69/468/Add.1, the Assembly first adopted Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, without a recorded vote. By that text, the body, among other things, welcomed the adoption, at the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States of the SAMOA Pathway.
Next, the Assembly adopted, without a recorded vote, the text on International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Life’, 2005-2015, and further efforts to achieve the sustainable development of water resources. By terms of the text, it encouraged Member States, the Secretariat, organizations of the United Nations system through their coordination mechanisms, including UN-Water, and major groups to accelerate efforts to achieve the internationally agreed water-related goals contained in Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the United Nations Millennium Declaration and “The future we want”.
The Assembly also adopted, without a recorded vote, a decision to acknowledge the note by the Secretary-General on the term of the board of the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The Assembly next adopted two texts contained in document A/69/468/Add.2 without a recorded vote. By terms of the first, Towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations, the Assembly called upon the United Nations system and the international community to assist Caribbean countries in their efforts to ensure the protection of the Sea from degradation and called upon Member States to improve their emergency response capabilities and the containment of environmental damage in the event of natural disasters or an accident relating to maritime navigation.
Through the second text, Follow-up to and Implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, the Assembly welcomed the renewed commitment of the international community to take action to address the vulnerabilities of small island developing States and to continue to seek solutions to support the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway.
It also decided, without a recorded vote, to take note of the Report of the Secretary-General entitled “Towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations’”.
On the next cluster, the Assembly adopted two texts (contained in document A/69/468/Add.3) without a recorded vote. By the first, International cooperation to reduce the impact of the El Nino phenomenon, the Assembly called upon the international community to urgently provide financial, technical and capacity-building support to States likely to be affected by the El Niño phenomenon.
Through the second resolution, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Assembly stressed the importance of the continued substantive consideration of the issue of disaster risk reduction. It also encouraged Member States and the relevant United Nations bodies to take into consideration the important role of coordinated disaster risk reduction activities for the achievement of sustainable development.
The Assembly next adopted the text on protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind (contained in document A/69/468/Add.4), without a vote. By that text, it requested the Secretary-General make provisions for the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate and its subsidiary bodies in his proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017.
Through the next resolution, Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, contained in document A/69/468/Add.5 and adopted without a vote, the Assembly called upon Member States to take urgent action to reverse desertification, land degradation and drought, as appropriate, with the assistance of the United Nations system, and relevant regional and international organizations. Further, the text encouraged the coordination and collaboration of all stakeholders in enhancing the resilience and harnessing the potential of the affected countries.
The Assembly then adopted the text titled Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its contribution to sustainable development (contained in document A/69/468/Add.6) without a vote. Through that resolution, it urged parties to the Convention to facilitate the transfer of technology for the effective implementation of the Convention and called upon Governments and all stakeholders to take measures to mainstream consideration of the socioeconomic impacts and benefits of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Also adopted without a recorded vote was the Report of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (contained in document A/69/468/Add.7). By that resolution, the body urged all Member States and other stakeholders in a position to do so to increase voluntary funding to the Programme, including to the Environment Fund, and noted the need for continued efforts to broaden the donor base and mobilize resources from all sources.
By the resolution Harmony with Nature, contained in document A/69/468/Add.8 and adopted without a vote, the Assembly called for holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development that would guide humanity to live in harmony with nature and lead to restoring the health of the Earth’s ecosystems.
Through the next text, Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy, contained in document A/69/468/Add.9 and adopted without a recorded vote, the Assembly stressed the need to increase the share of new and renewable sources of energy in the global energy mix as an important contribution to achieving universal access to sustainable modern energy services.
The Assembly next turned to the report Implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the resolution contained therein (document A/69/469). By that text, adopted without a vote, the body called upon Member States to participate in the Habitat III Conference in Ecuador in 2016, while ensuring the participation of all relevant stakeholders.
Members then considered the report Globalization and interdependence (document A/69/470) and related resolutions. The first text, International migration and development (document A/69/470/Add.1), was adopted by a recorded vote of 131 in favour and 46 against, with 3 abstentions (Republic of Korea, Tonga, Turkey). By its terms, the Assembly expressed concern about legislation adopted by some States that resulted in measures and practices that might restrict the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants. It reaffirmed that, when exercising their sovereign right to enact and implement migratory and border security measures, States had the duty to comply with their obligations under international law, including international human rights law, in order to ensure full respect for the human rights of migrants.
The Assembly next adopted, without a recorded vote, the resolution titled Promoting and fostering the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening supreme audit institutions. By its terms, the Assembly encouraged Member States to give due consideration to the independence and capacity-building of supreme audit institutions in a manner consistent with their national institutional structures, as well as to the improvement of public accounting systems in accordance with national development plans in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.
The next text, Culture and sustainable development, (document A/69/470/Add.2), was adopted without a vote. Through that text, the Assembly encouraged all Member States, intergovernmental bodies, organizations of the United Nations system, relevant non-governmental organizations and all other relevant stakeholders to continue to give due consideration to culture and sustainable development in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.
The Assembly then turned to the report titled Groups of countries in special situations, (document A/69/471) and adopted the related resolution without a vote. By terms of the text, Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/69/471/Add.1), the Assembly called upon the least developed countries to deliver their commitments made in the Istanbul Programme of Action. The Assembly welcomed the offer of the Government of Turkey to host the comprehensive high-level midterm review, and decided that the event should be held in June 2016.
Speaking in explanation of position, Khanim Ibrahimova, the representative of Azerbaijan, said her country’s ongoing regional conflict stemmed from the occupation of its territory by Armenia. Security Council resolutions had addressed the issue, but Armenia had never complied with the actions required.
Right of Reply
Sofya Simonyan, Armenia’s representative, in exercise of the right of reply, said her delegation supported the text in addressing the needs of landlocked developing countries. In light of more than two decades of blockades from two of her country’s neighbours, she said development should be a focus.
Ceren Hande Özgür, Turkey’s representative, said in exercise of the right of reply, her country had always been ready to work with landlocked developing countries in addressing their needs.
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia had to respect Council resolutions, including addressing displacement of populations.
Taking the floor for a second time in exercise of the right of reply, Armenia’s representative said she was concerned that the delegation of Azerbaijan had not acted in a spirit of cooperation during negotiations on the text by blocking all proposals made by her delegation.
Also taking the floor for a second time, Azerbaijan’s representative said it was unclear why Armenia’s speaker had raised issues of the negotiations. The distorted information did not justify Armenia’s illegal acts, she said.
Through the next text, titled Follow-up to the second United Nations conference on landlocked developing countries (report A/69/471/Add.2), adopted without a vote, the Assembly called upon all international, regional, and subregional organizations to integrate the Vienna Programme of Action into their work, as appropriate, and support landlocked and transit developing countries in the implementation of the Action in a coordinated and coherent manner.
Moving on, the Assembly considered the report Eradication of poverty and other development issues (document A/69/472) and a related resolution, which it adopted without a vote. By that text, Promotion of sustainable tourism, including ecotourism, for poverty eradication and environment protection, the Assembly emphasized the need to optimize the economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits stemming from sustainable tourism in all countries, particularly developing countries.
By terms of the next text, Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017) (document A/69/472/Add.1), and adopted without a recorded vote, the Assembly called upon the international community to take measures to address the root causes of extreme poverty and hunger because of their negative impacts on sustainable development.
In the next resolution, Industrial development cooperation (document A/69/472/Add.2), adopted without a recorded vote, the Assembly emphasized that each country must take the primary responsibility for its own industrial development and that national ownership and leadership were indispensable in the development process. Further, the body underlined the importance of strengthening existing and forging new partnerships at the global, regional and subregional levels towards achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
The Assembly, by the resolution titled World survey on the role of Women in development (document A/69/472/Add.3), adopted without a recorded vote, requested the Secretary-General to update the survey for the consideration of the Assembly at its seventy-fourth session, noting that it should continue to focus on selected emerging development themes that have an impact on the role of women in the economy at the national, regional and international levels.
Considering the next report, Operational activities for development (document A/69/473), the Assembly adopted a resolution on operational activities for development of the United Nations system (A/69/473/Add.1), by which it underlined the need to better reflect the multidimensional nature of development and poverty, as well as the importance of developing a common understanding among Member States. It also recognized the importance of improving the results-focused delivery of operational activities for the development of the United Nations system, while accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The Assembly approved the text by a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Central African Republic, Israel, Japan, Norway, Republic of Korea, United States), with 43 abstentions.
Explanation of Position
In explanation of position, Cecilia Piccioni, the representative of Italy, speaking for the European Union, said she regretted abstaining from voting on the text. The delegation was concerned about the message it sent to the United Nations development system and the concrete consequences for the work of the Funds and Programmes on the ground in partner countries.
Terri Robl, the United States’ representative, said her delegation was disappointed in that a recorded vote was necessary as it undermined efforts made by Member States to come to an agreement. Her delegation had voted against the text out of concerns about certain elements in it. Her delegation was committed to reforming the United Nations development system. However, during future discussions, it was critical to reach a consensus and work towards common goals.
Isabelle Hentic, Canada’s representative, speaking for Australia and itself in explanation of position, said she regretted that the two countries had voted against the resolution. Canada and Australia believed the review and mandate processes provided a space for the United Nations to undertake critical reforms. Both delegations were concerned by how the text reflected a gradual undermining of the integrity of the quadrennial process agreed to years ago. It also set in place a parallel and duplicative process in the Assembly. The United Nations development system could not work without consensus among Member States, she said, adding that rushed or improvised processes were unacceptable.
Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz, Bolivia’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, explaining its position, said the text emphasized the importance of common efforts undertaken by States. It also referred to the level of resources required for development and emphasized the need for critical funding. Efforts had been made to reach a consensus, yet the required responses by partners were not evident. More than two-thirds of Member States had voted for the text, he said, noting that consensus could not be synonymous with the status quo. A change was needed so the Organization and its structures could also change. The Group of 77 would continue to work to reach a consensus.
The Assembly also approved, with a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 44 against, with 7 abstentions (Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Switzerland), a text titled South-South cooperation for development (document A/69/473/Add.2). By terms of that text, the Assembly stressed that South-South cooperation was not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, North-South cooperation. It also reaffirmed the mandate and central role of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation as the focal point for promoting and facilitating South-South and triangular cooperation.
Explanation of Position
In explanation of position on the draft resolution on South-South Cooperation for Development, the representative of Italy, Ms. Piccioni, speaking for the European Union, said she regretted voting against the text. The delegation regretted that institutional and budgetary issues prevented it from reaching consensus. The Union did not support the call for an intersessional meeting in 2015 and the unbalanced language on technology transfer and unfounded request for additional resources for the Office of South-South Cooperation.
Explaining her delegation’s position, Ms. Robl, the United States’ representative, said it was unfortunate that a vote was needed as consensus was so near. She regretted that a politically-driven decision had been taken to force the vote. Unilateral mandates for the United Nations system were inappropriate, she said, noting concern over “red-line” issues, among them a call for an intersessional meeting in 2015. Member States could still pull together to reach consensus in the future.
In explanation of vote, Canada’s representative, Ms. Hentic speaking for Australia and itself, said she regretted having had to vote against the text. She highlighted substantive requests in the text, including an intersessional meeting in 2015, which required additional resources. The United Nations development system could not work without consensus among Member States.
Bolivia’s representative, Mr. Soliz, speaking for the Group of 77 and China, in explanation of position after the vote, said it was important to focus on a constructive approach in order to make concrete decisions. The text highlighted that South-South efforts were a complement to North-South cooperation. He rejected the statements suggesting that the draft was “irresponsible”. Transformational decisions were needed with a view of the ultimate goal: eradicating poverty.
The next text, Agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/69/474), adopted without a recorded vote, had the Assembly reaffirm the commitment to making every effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 in support of developing countries, in particular those countries that were lagging most behind and those Goals where progress was most off track.
By a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, United States) with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tonga, Vanuatu), the Assembly adopted a resolution titled Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/69/475). Through that resolution, the Assembly demanded that Israel cease exploiting, damaging, depleting and endangering the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan. It also called for immediate and safe removal of all unexploded ordnance in the Gaza Strip, and for support for the efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service in that regard.
The Assembly considered the reports Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/69/476) and Programme planning (document A/69/477), and decided, without recorded votes, to take note of both.
Assistance to Palestinian People
Sebastiano Cardi, the representative of Italy, speaking for the European Union, introduced the draft resolution titled Assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/69/L.38). The Union reaffirmed its commitment to provide assistance to the Palestinian people with an aim to strengthen the economy. After several years when the draft text had only contained technical updates, the current draft contained updates on the situation, including the summer conflict in Gaza. As such, a consensus approach continued. Among the text’s elements, a range of issues were addressed, among them an aim to ensure the safety of civilians. The text also underlined the importance of action on reconstruction in Gaza and the importance of the work provided by humanitarian personnel.
Adopting the text without a vote, the Assembly, by its terms, urged Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and regional and interregional organizations to extend economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people, in cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization and through official Palestinian institutions. It stressed the importance of following up on the results of the Cairo conference on Palestine, “Reconstructing Gaza”, to promote economic recovery and reconstruction in a timely and sustainable manner.
Speaking after the adoption, Israel’s representative, Israel Nitzan, said his delegation would submit a written explanation of position to the Secretariat.