Agreement Reached on Global Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance, as General Assembly Adopts Political Declaration
Speakers Also Discuss Secretary-General’s Annual Report on United Nations Work
Acting by consensus this morning, the General Assembly adopted a political declaration aimed at combating the global threats posed by antimicrobial resistance, which could include significant development backslides and millions of deaths each year if unaddressed.
The Political Declaration was first endorsed by Member States during a recent high-level meeting (see Press Release GA/11825 of 21 September), making antimicrobial resistance the fourth health topic — along with HIV/AIDS, Ebola and non-communicable diseases — to be addressed in the Assembly’s 71-year history.
By the terms of the Declaration, Member States committed to developing multisectoral national action plans on antimicrobial resistance in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global action plan on the issue. Endorsing a concerted “One Health” approach — which linked various sectors and actors in defence of human, animal and environmental health — they also agreed to mobilize adequate, predictable and sustained resources to implement those programmes and pledged to raise awareness of the phenomenon around the world.
Acknowledging that resistance to antimicrobial medicines was largely due to the inappropriate use of such drugs in the fields of public health, animal, food, agriculture and aquaculture sectors, Member States called on WHO and other relevant agencies to finalize a global framework to support the development, control, distribution and appropriate use of new antimicrobial medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions.
Among other things, they also called on the Secretary-General to establish an ad hoc inter-agency coordination group, co-chaired by his Executive Office and WHO, to provide practical guidance for approaches needed to ensure sustained effective global action to address antimicrobial resistance.
Speaking following the Declaration’s adoption, the representative of Mexico said health must occupy a central role on the United Nations agenda. The Assembly had now, at the highest level, dealt with the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, which was one of the greatest threats faced by the world today. Indeed, he said, resistant pathogens were multiplying in people, animals and food and threatened to kill up to 10 million people annually by 2050.
“This is a slow tsunami which respects no borders,” he continued, stressing that the international community must act in concert to address the challenge. Antimicrobial resistance was not a North-South issue but a global threat, he added, stressing that developed countries must commit to international cooperation and that both the food and pharmaceutical industries must deepen their involvement on the issue.
Also today, the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s annual report on the work of the Organization (document A/71/1), which described the last 10 years as a decade of “tectonic turbulence and exponential change”. Among other key aspects of the United Nations mandate, the report outlined efforts over the past year to promote sustained economic growth and sustainable development, maintain international peace and security, boost development in Africa and promote and protect human rights.
Speaking on that item, South Africa’s representative declared: “The United Nations must remain at the apex of multilateralism in addressing the global challenges that we face.” The Organization must be fit for purpose to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, as that need had never been greater. Joining other delegations in spotlighting the growing threat of terrorism — which continued to sow devastation, kill and maim innocent people, foster fear and entrench the forces of poverty — he said military approaches alone could not address that challenge and the United Nations was best placed to lead the coordination of international counter-terrorism efforts.
Costa Rica’s delegate was among those expressing support for the array of international agreements negotiated over the last year, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. “We must now prepare ourselves for the most important and complex stage — implementation,” he said in that regard. Describing progress made by the United Nations under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s tenure, he pointed in particular to strides in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and the establishment of the Human Rights Up Front initiative.
Meanwhile, a number of speakers voiced concern over institutional aspects of the Organization’s work, with the representative of Belarus warning against “over-bureaucratization” and emphasizing that the United Nations was giving up on its spirit of unity. Increasingly, he said, Member States were taking part in unilateral action and analysis of international law. Many countries were concerned that the very beginning of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation was engrossed with creating resolutions and reports, he said, emphasizing that such actions could “worsen” the image of the Organization.
Drawing attention to the need to reform the Security Council in particular, India’s representative said that from Syria to South Sudan, the 15-member body had become unresponsive to needs and ineffective in how it met challenges. At best, the Council could be described as an interesting and “random mix of ad-hocism, scrambling and political paralysis”, he said, adding that the 31 United Nations entities dealing with some aspect of countering terrorism had made clear that “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Pakistan, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Iran, Cuba and Libya.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Pakistan.
The Assembly will reconvene Thursday, 6 October, at 10 a.m. to take up matters related to the election of members of the International Law Commission, as well as the revitalization of its work.
VADIM PISAREVICH (Belarus), speaking on the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization, said that much remained to be done to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals were more successful than the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in the areas of ending new and existing conflicts and combating climate change. Short-sighted policies and failure to pay attention to problems earlier, including the migration phenomenon, had accelerated development challenges. The United Nations was giving up on its spirit of unity. Increasingly, Member States were taking part in unilateral action and analysis of international law. It was also important to discuss the “in-house life” of the Organization and its logistics, which were not always in line with Member States. The Secretariat had created many bureaucratic rules, which often impeded progress. Additional funding for the United Nations should be voluntary. Emphasizing the importance of publishing the Journal of the United Nations in all six official languages, he drew attention to the role of translation and interpretation as a trust-building measure and suggested an International Day to honour the work of translators and interpreters.
He warned against “over-bureaucratization” and emphasized the need for rules. Many countries were concerned that the very beginning of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was now engrossed with creating resolutions and reports. “We will worsen the image of the United Nations,” he said, urging for the focus to be on the needs of people. The Organization must be the coordinating centre for those countries that needed assistance in sustainable development, particularly in the area of technology. National Governments “more than anyone” knew the concerns of their people. The international development system must help countries to attain results. To that end, the United Nations must pay more attention to middle-income countries where two thirds of the world’s poor lived. Strengthening the United Nations meant pursuing policy that brought back authority, he concluded.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the Secretary-General’s report provided a comprehensive account of the work of the Organization in the past year and identified challenges for the next. The world had recently made progress towards achieving sustainable development with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but questions remained about its ability to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Indeed, turmoil in the Middle East, conflicts raging from Syria, Libya and Yemen to Afghanistan, tensions in and around Europe, the continued plight of people living under foreign occupation in Kashmir and Palestine, the unprecedented scale of suffering caused by dislocation, the growing threat of violent extremism and the spread of intolerance were indications of work that remained to be done. “In our turbulent yet interdependent world, the United Nations remains indispensable to restore order and ensure global peace, stability and prosperity,” she said, adding that a more representative, accountable and transparent Organization was needed, including through comprehensive and democratic reform of the Security Council.
Emphasizing that the terrorist threat had become more pervasive and posed an even greater danger to international peace and security, she said Pakistan had been at the forefront of the global campaign to eliminate that scourge. Calling on the United Nations to play its due role in promoting the principles of its Charter by living up to its longstanding obligations to the people of Kashmir, she said India continued to deny their right to self-determination and their right to receive moral and political support from the international community. In that regard, she called on the Organization to play its role in ending human rights abuses and facilitate a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute, and reiterated her country’s demands for an independent inquiry into those abuses. In recent weeks, India had created conditions that posed a threat to peace and security in the region by engaging in unprovoked shelling across parts of the line of control.
WU HAITAO (China) said that, over the past year, the United Nations had advocated for multilateralism in the fields of peace, security, development, climate change and others. In the current session, the international community should work to construct a “common system for the human being” and to address global challenges. First and foremost, it must adhere to the principles of its Charter and create a peaceful global climate, including by advocating for a new global security doctrine. The Organization should increase inputs to development, in particular by working to eliminate hunger and poverty and implement the 2030 Agenda. In that regard, he said, developed countries should make good on their official development assistance (ODA) commitments, and developing countries should explore development paths that were suitable to their national situations. He also underscored the need to address the plight of refugees and stressed that on climate change Member States must adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.
Recalling that President Xi Jinping had recently put forward several important suggestions on new ways to support the United Nations, he said the recent Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in China had also set forth a new vision for the promotion of global economic development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. During the Assembly’s recent high-level general debate, China had pledged to provide additional assistance to developing countries. As one of the Security Council’s five permanent members and one of the world’s largest developing countries, China also contributed significantly to global peace and international order.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), affirmed the importance of the Association’s extensive ties to the United Nations and looked forward to continued support and co-sponsorship of the biennial resolution on cooperation between the two organizations. He underlined the complementarity between the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 to uplift living standards of the region’s people in an inclusive and sustainable manner, and outlined plans of the Association that were working to narrow the development gap among its members.
In addition to supporting the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, ASEAN, he said, was committed to strengthening the management of the region’s diverse ecosystems through what he called a “landscape-based” approach to build climate resilience. The ASEAN intergovernmental commission on human rights had engaged in awareness-raising activities and a consolidated approach to disaster reduction had been adopted. On peace and stability, ASEAN welcomed the accession of non-regional States to the Association’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and affirmed the commitment of the region to remaining a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone. Denouncing all acts of terrorism, he recalled the adoption of the Langkawi Declaration that outlined measures to promote moderation and curb extremism. Noting the establishment of the ASEAN Community last year, he reiterated the Association’s resolve to strengthen cooperation with the United Nations in all areas of mutual interest.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran deal, and non-compliance by some other participants should be duly reflected in relevant Secretariat reports. He expressed concern over persistent non-compliance by nuclear-weapon States with their obligations. On the issue of human rights, Iran disagreed with the report’s analysis on the death penalty and the status attributed to the responsibility to protect doctrine. One lesson learned from the Millennium Development Goals was that deviating from a commitment to partnership could lead to under-achievement. It was critical to keep international cooperation on the right track, especially in the first years of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.
HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba) said recent adoptions and declarations on a myriad of issues such as climate change, development and migration represented a global milestone; however, there were still many obstacles to achieving all those goals. Multilateralism was being challenged by war, aggression, soft coups and regime change. Some countries continued to violate national sovereignty under the pretext of fighting terrorism. For Cuba, building on principles outlined in the United Nations Charter required the full integrity of States and the non-interference in the affairs of others. Some 795 million people still suffered from hunger and 17,000 children still died every day from mostly preventable diseases. That was an unjust and profoundly unequal order, he said, urging the end of unilateral measures by industrial countries. He rejected interventionism under the pretext of humanitarian aid and called for an international peace and security climate, an essential precondition for the achievement of sustainable development.
It was important to reject the use or even the threat of use of force against any State, he said. The full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals required new capacities and an international mechanism that ensured the transfer of environment-friendly technology. Citing that last year was the worst year of climate change, he urged immediate action to reverse its effects. The Paris Agreement was a good first step, but in addition, industrialized countries had to bear their responsibility and end their insatiable consumption patterns. It was unacceptable that efforts to combat terrorism provided cover to perpetrate violations of human rights. As it stood now, the international order was unfair and required United Nations reform to make the world more democratic. The General Assembly must be revitalized and bolstered to honour the Charter. He also expressed support for Security Council reform and said that it was important to create a more inclusive environment.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that in an increasingly interconnected world, response mechanisms in the “only global organization of our time” were inadequate. From Syria to South Sudan, the Security Council in a variety of ways had become unresponsive to needs and ineffective in how it met challenges. “It is a body that ponders for six months on whether to sanction leaders of organizations it had itself designated as terrorist entities,” he said. At best, the Security Council could be described as an interesting and “random mix of ad-hocism, scrambling and political paralysis”, he added. Meanwhile, public consciousness was being ravaged daily by the incessant acts of terrorism targeting innocent people. With 31 entities within the United Nations dealing with some aspect of countering terrorism, it was clear that inaction was best described by an old adage: “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
Clearly, coherence and coordination were missing and it had become near impossible to argue United Nations relevance on the issue of terrorism, he said. The choice of relevancy required a willingness to address what was “staring us in the face”, and yet “we look away”. No amount of misuse of international platforms of Pakistan would change the situation regarding Kashmir, he said. On peacekeeping, a plethora of tasks and “Christmas tree mandates” without adequate funding and departure from well-established principles of impartiality were just part of the burgeoning philosophical dilemma facing peacekeeping missions. “Peacekeepers turning into predators is a worst nightmare come true,” he added. India had fully supported the initiative to create a trust fund for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. It was disappointing, however, that only three other countries had stepped up since then.
JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica), expressing support for the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, emphasized that “we must now prepare ourselves for the most important and complex stage — implementation.” Outlining progress made by the United Nations under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s tenure, he pointed in particular to strides in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. Such progress was illustrated by the establishment of a high-level panel on the empowerment of women, which Costa Rica co-chaired. Other important achievements included the work of the Human Rights Up Front initiative, which had strengthened the Organization’s ability to respond to human rights violations and to pursue preventative efforts in that regard.
WOUTER ZAAYMAN (South Africa) stressed that “the United Nations must remain at the apex of multilateralism in addressing the global challenges that we face”. The Organization must be fit for purpose to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, as that need had never been greater. Emphasizing the importance of a preventive approach in that regard, he said global peace and stability would remain elusive if the nexus between security and development went unaddressed. Among other things, he welcomed the Assembly’s recognition of the increasing role that regional organizations such as the African Union played in peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts. Furthermore, he spotlighted the growing threat of terrorism, which continued to sow devastation, kill and maim innocent people, foster fear and entrench the forces of poverty. To counter the narratives and ideologies of terrorism in the medium to long term, international cooperation must address the conditions and contexts that drove it. Military approaches alone could not address that challenge and the United Nations was best placed to lead the coordination of international counterterrorism efforts.
ADEH SHALTUT (Libya) said that topics covered in the Secretary-General’s report, namely sustainable development, human rights, peace and security, and migration, were all critically important. Libya was in a transitional phase which had led to many meetings and the formation of the Presidential Council which had begun its work last month. Migration concerned all States, but for Libya it was particularly important to address as it was located along the Mediterranean and was greatly suffering from the phenomenon. He expressed sympathy for those who had found themselves in a difficult situation; however, Libya was in no position to help. “This is a major question and requires the United Nations and developed countries to assist,” he added.
The international community must work to establish development projects in countries of origin, he said. Employment opportunities were vital to prevent situations and catastrophes that forced people to leave their homes and countries. For its part, Libya had and would continue to cooperate with all United Nations organs, including the Security Council and Human Rights Council. The cooperation remained fruitful and proactive to assist Libya as it attempted to surface from two years of political dilemma. Libya was also helping in the fight against terrorism and remained ready to cooperate with the United Nations.
Right of Reply
The representative of Pakistan, responding to India, said the issue of Jammu and Kashmir could not be wished away by fanciful claims and cast aside by empty rhetoric. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir must be dealt with in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. There was a need to start a dialogue and resolve the issue in line with the wishes of the Kashmiri people.