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Seventy-sixth Session,
48th & 49th Meeting (AM & PM)
GA/12394

General Assembly Adopts 51 Resolutions, 13 Decisions Forwarded by Fourth, Sixth Committees

Members Adopt Five Additional Texts, Concluding Debates on Culture of Peace, Law of the Sea

Acting on the recommendations of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and Sixth Committee (Legal), the General Assembly today adopted a total of 51 resolutions and 13 decisions on items ranging from decolonization to the power, study and dissemination of international law.

The 193-member Assembly also adopted five additional resolutions meant to promote a culture of peace, prevent armed conflict in Ukraine and protect the world’s oceans and fish stocks.

Taking up the Fourth Committee’s body of work for the seventy-sixth session, the Assembly adopted 34 draft resolutions and 3 draft decisions that spanned Israeli-Palestinian affairs, decolonization, atomic radiation and outer space matters, among other topics.

Members adopted three draft resolutions related to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), each by a recorded vote.  A text titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees” was adopted by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Rwanda, United States, Uruguay, Zambia).  By its terms, the Assembly noted with regret that the situation of Palestine refugees continues to be a matter of grave concern and the refugees continue to require assistance to meet their basic health, education and living needs.  Further by its terms, the Assembly called on all donors to continue to strengthen their efforts to meet the Agency’s anticipated needs and commended the Agency for its provision of vital assistance as well as its role as a stabilizing factor in the region.

Members also took action on three texts related to Israeli practices and settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, adopting a draft resolution titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories” by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 18 against, with 73 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the Assembly demanded that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee in implementing its mandate.  It further expressed grave concern about the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of unlawful Israeli practices and measures, and called for the immediate cessation of all illegal Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the wall, among other measures.

The Assembly then took action on a number of texts related to decolonization matters, including the adoption of a draft resolution titled “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73(e) of the Charter of the United Nations” by a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).  By its terms, the Assembly requested that administering Powers transmit or continue to regularly transmit to the Secretary-General statistical and other technical information relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year.

Turning to the Sixth Committee’s body of work for the seventy-sixth session, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, 17 draft resolutions and 10 draft decisions.  Those touched on items ranging from the work of bodies such as the International Law Commission and the Commission on International Trade Law, to administrative issues that impact the Organization’s work, such as the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country and requests for observer status in the Assembly.

Among the Sixth Committee texts adopted was a draft resolution concerning the Organization’s flagship legal education initiative, the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.  By its terms, the Assembly provided the mandate in 2022 for the organization and award of fellowships for the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law and the International Law Fellowship Programme; the development of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law; and the publication and dissemination of legal texts, as well as for the websites maintained by the Office of Legal Affairs.

Another resolution forwarded by the Sixth Committee and adopted by the Assembly concerned “Protection of the Atmosphere”.  By its terms, the Assembly welcomed the conclusion of the work of the International Law Commission on the protection of the atmosphere and its adoption of the draft preamble, guidelines and commentaries thereto.  By other terms, the Assembly brought those texts to the attention of States, international organizations and all who may be called upon to deal with the subject, encouraging their widest possible dissemination.

In the morning, the Assembly completed its debate on the theme “Culture of peace”, which began on 6 December (see Press Release GA/12392).  Acting without a vote, it adopted a resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”, by whose terms the Assembly encouraged Member States, United Nations entities, and regional and subregional organizations to help youth understand and respect human dignity, pluralism and diversity, and discourage their participation in terrorism, violent extremism, xenophobia and discrimination.

Speaking in explanation of position on that item, the representative of the United Arab Emirates said a culture of peace is essential to combat violence and conflict, and the pandemic has tested the international community, regardless of borders.  She pointed to the “Global Alliance for Tolerance” initiative, launched by the United Arab Emirates in the context of its 2020 Expo, as an example of the country’s efforts to promote peace and recalled the Assembly resolution on the International Day of Human Fraternity, which was sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution titled “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to none against, with 9 abstentions (Armenia, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Norway, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States).  By its terms, the Assembly called on Member States and relevant actors, including political and religious leaders, to promote inclusion in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and combat racism, xenophobia, hate speech, violence and discrimination.

Turning to its agenda item of the prevention of armed conflict, the Assembly then adopted a draft resolution titled “Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov”, by a recorded vote of 62 in favour to 22 against, with 55 abstentions.  By its terms, members urged the Russian Federation, as the occupying Power, to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its military forces from Crimea and end its temporary occupation of the territory of Ukraine without delay.  It also called on the Russian Federation to refrain from efforts to extend its jurisdiction over the nuclear facilities and material in Crimea.

In introducing the resolution, the representative of Ukraine said the territory of Crimea continues to host a disproportionate number of weapons.  He said the Russian Federation is conducting regular military exercises, combined with intense snap exercises in Crimea, which destabilize the region.

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the Russian Federation called on delegations to vote against the completely unrealistic Ukrainian draft, which does not help to resolve the internal conflict in that country.  The text fuels the sick fantasies spread by the country’s regime about the situation in Russian Crimea, he said, adding that the patently false nature of the information is clear to any visitor to this open and prosperous Russian region.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Lithuania, on behalf of eight Nordic and Baltic countries, expressed concern about the Crimean Peninsula’s increased militarization by the Russian Federation.  Describing that country’s military build-up around the Ukrainian borders as deeply worrying, he urged Moscow to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces.

The Assembly also concluded its debate on the item “Oceans and the law of the sea”, which began on 7 December (see Press Release GA/12393).  Members adopted two related draft resolutions, both introduced that day, including a consensus text titled “Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments.”

The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution titled “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 1 against (Turkey) with 4 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador, Nigeria, Venezuela).

Speaking before that vote, Albert Hoffman, President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, addressed the Assembly and recalled that the Tribunal celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary on 1 October.  The Tribunal has established itself as the primary judicial body for States parties to the Law of the Sea Convention.  Adi Asenaca Navoti, speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, reaffirmed that the Convention on the Law of the Sea, along with its two implementation agreements, sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.

Also speaking today on the Culture of Peace issue were representatives of Egypt, Syria, Algeria and Bolivia.

Speaking in explanation of position on that item were the representatives of Armenia, Slovenia, United States, Ukraine, Argentina and Azerbaijan.  The representative of the European Union spoke in its capacity as observer.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Speaking in explanation of position on the prevention of armed conflict were the representatives of Syria, Singapore, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Belarus, Republic of Korea, United States, Georgia, United Kingdom, Poland, Dominican Republic and Cyprus.  The representative of the European Union spoke in its capacity as observer.

Speaking on the two resolutions relating to the Ocean and the law of the sea were the representatives of Argentina, Turkey, El Salvador, Venezuela and Colombia.

The representative of China spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 10 December, to discuss the strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance and take up five draft resolutions.

Culture of Peace

The Assembly began the meeting by resuming its debate on the culture of peace and considering two draft resolutions on this agenda item.  (For background, please see Press Release GA/12392 of 6 December).

MOHAMED OMAR ELFAROUK HASSAN MOHAMED (Egypt) said that the scale of the international transformation could have been an opportunity to create a culture of peace, which should promote living together and tolerance, but technology has contributed to an increase in violence, aggravated by the pandemic, with serious consequences.  Optimism about vaccines and the effectiveness of the COVAX facility has dissipated in the face of inequalities in vaccine access.  He encouraged intellectuals and the media to play their role in fighting against hatred, ignorance and exclusion and in opposing extremism.  Deploring that social networks participate in the recruitment of terrorists using false religious pretexts, he recalled Egypt’s strong commitment to the culture of peace, both at the regional level and in its work with the United Nations.

WAEL AL KHALIL (Syria) said that a culture of peace cannot be maintained without respect for international law.  However, the major challenge to the implementation of a culture of peace is that some States attempt to dominate the Organization by putting its mechanisms at the service of their own interests while hiding practices that ignore the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.  Collective will is needed to establish dialogue and cooperative action and put an end to hegemonic policies.  The international community must move from words to deeds, he said, emphasizing the need to combat the recent proliferation of extremist policies, the undermining of religions, xenophobia and ignoring the plight of refugees and migrants.

KHAULA ALI KHAMIS OBAID ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates), stressing that a culture of peace is essential for combating violence and conflict, noted that the COVID‑19 pandemic has been a test for the international community, regardless of borders.  Highlighting her country’s fiftieth anniversary, she reaffirmed its commitment to be a haven of tolerance and coexistence, as well as a beacon of well-being and peace.  Drawing attention to the noble values held in common by the entire world and advocated by all religions over the centuries, she said the Emirates involves all parts of society, notably the most vulnerable, in all aspects of life at the national, regional and international levels.  Also pointing to the “Global Alliance for Tolerance” initiative, launched by her country in the context of its 2020 Expo, she recalled the Assembly resolution on the International Day of Human Fraternity, which was sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

ZAKIA IGHIL (Algeria) said global solidarity and multilateral cooperation have emerged as crucial components of moving forward in the COVID‑19 recovery.  However, while the recovery efforts from the pandemic are ongoing, the unequal access to the vaccines undermines the efforts to end the pandemic globally.  Moreover, inequality, poverty, hunger and unemployment are widening.  Racism, hate speech and extremism are also on the rise.  Concrete actions are needed to realize the culture of peace by addressing the root causes of conflicts, including through decolonialization, combating violent extremism, eradicating poverty and fostering the rule of law, she asserted.  On promoting dialogue, Algeria has been a mediator for the conflict in Mali, leading to the signing of the peace agreement and national reconciliation in that country.  Algeria has also worked to launch and promote the inter‑Libyan dialogue, with a view toward a peaceful settlement of disputes in the region, she underscored.

JUAN MARCELO ZAMBRANA TORRELIO (Bolivia) said the Organization has a founding mandate to bring about a culture of peace.  This mandate is now linked to other concepts such as sustainable development and greater equality between women and men.  One of the goals of “Transforming our world:  the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” is to bring about a peaceful society without violence.  The world has been artificially divided and conflict and intolerance are worsening.  He expressed concern about increasing tensions due to the COVID‑19 pandemic and climate change crises, which have had a major humanitarian cost.  Bolivia has opted for a culture of peace and a culture of dialogue and diplomacy between nations to bring about peace.  Peace can be brought about if there is equality for everyone.  Yet intolerance has worsened in the pandemic era, he said, stressing the need for equal, universal access to vaccines.  The international community must keep working together to foster a revitalized and inclusive multilateralism.

Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, the representative of Armenia said that the draft resolution concerning promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue has many valuable provisions, but preambular paragraph 35 refers to an event held in a Member State with a long‑standing record of gross violations of human rights.  Noting that in 2020, amid an unprecedented global pandemic, Azerbaijan launched an aggressive war, that was accompanied by intentional destruction and desecration of the Armenian Christian heritage, he added that when relevant United Nations departments prepare reports on promotion of a culture of peace, it is imperative they pay attention to the context, in  which international events are being organized, and their real intent, before referring to such events as “key global platform for promoting intercultural dialogue”.  Due regard should also be given to the record of the host country, he said, requesting a vote on the draft resolution.

The Assembly then adopted a resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/76/L.19) without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly encouraged Member States, United Nations entities, regional and subregional organizations to consider instituting mechanisms to involve youth in the promotion of a culture of peace, tolerance and intercultural and interreligious dialogue, and to develop an understanding of respect for human dignity, pluralism and diversity, including through education programmes, that could discourage their participation in acts of terrorism, violent extremism, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination.

It also urged the relevant authorities to provide age-appropriate education in children’s schools that builds a culture of peace and non-violence, including lessons in mutual understanding, respect, tolerance, active and global citizenship and human rights.  The Secretary-General was asked to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session a report on actions taken by Member States to implement the resolution and on heightened activities by the Organization and its affiliated agencies to implement the Programme of Action and to promote a culture of peace and non-violence.

Next, the Assembly adopted a resolution titled “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/76/L.21), by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to none against, with 9 abstentions (Armenia, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Norway, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States).

By its terms, the Assembly called upon Member States, which have the primary responsibility to counter discrimination and hate speech, and all relevant actors, including political and religious leaders, to promote inclusion and unity in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic and to combat racism, xenophobia, hate speech, violence and discrimination.  It invited Member States to further promote reconciliation to help to ensure durable peace and sustained development, including by working with faith leaders and communities and through reconciliatory measures and acts of service, and by encouraging forgiveness and compassion among individuals.  It also invited Member States to disseminate values of religious tolerance and interreligious dialogue through educational programmes.

In an explanation of position after the vote, the representative of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret that the resolution duplicates and distorts the provisions of two other resolutions, one pertaining to freedom of religion and belief, and the other to combating discrimination.  As such, he said there is no need for the current resolution to address and redefine the same issues.  His delegation also regrets the lack of stronger affirmation of the positive intercultural and interrelational dialogue contained in the text, he said.  Furthermore, throughout negotiations, the European Union submitted proposals to enhance language regarding safeguards against human rights.  While his delegation believes the balance of the text could have been improved further, he welcomed the decision to biannualize the resolution.

Also speaking in explanation of position after adoption, the representative of the United States reaffirmed her country’s commitment to rejecting violence as well as interreligious and intercultural dialogue.  Clarifying her country’s position on the text concerning follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, she voiced strong reservations about paragraph 15 where the text suggests that protections for freedoms of expression and religion or belief are at odds with one another.  “Protecting the freedom of religion and the freedom of expression promotes mutual respect and pluralism,” she said.

The representative of Ukraine acknowledged the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue for the purposes of peace and supported all steps to promote cultural diversity and religious pluralism.  Ukraine does not support the inclusion of the reference to the intentions of the Inter‑Parliamentary Union, he said.  Regrettably, the Russian Federation attempts to make all international events it hosts serve the goal of whitewashing its aggressive policies against sovereign States and repressive practices in the occupied areas, he asserted.  Drawing attention to the ongoing pressure put on religious communities in the temporary occupied autonomous Republic of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, Lugansk and Donetsk territories of Ukraine, he condemned the human rights violations perpetrated by the Russian Federation.

The representative of Argentina said he voted in favour of the resolution because dialogue can help contribute to peace.  Argentina has the broadest respect for religious freedom and promotes an understanding of a wide range of beliefs and cultures.  His Government believes in combating all forms of discrimination.  International human rights laws compel States to adopt moderate approaches.  Argentina recognizes that all people have a right to religious freedom and the freedoms of expression and assembly, as long as any actions do not incite violence.  Yet the draft resolution places an unnecessary emphasis on limiting the right to the freedom of expression, he said.

The representative of Azerbaijan noted that the resolution welcomes the declaration of the Seventh Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations held in Baku.  He denounced the irrelevant comments of Armenia as counterproductive to the objectives of this text.  He said that he regretted that Armenia's hostile position had prevented the General Assembly from adopting this text by consensus.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Armenia said the Government of Azerbaijan is investing significant resources in an attempt to whitewash its State policy of instigating identity-based violence and committing atrocity crimes against Armenians.  Those window-dressing exercises are meant to distract the attention of the international community from the systemic destruction of Armenian areas under Azerbaijan’s control.  Azerbaijan continues to hold events aimed at demonizing Armenians, he said.  Indeed, the crimes of Azerbaijan and atmosphere of impunity in the Nagorno-Karabakh region prove that guaranteeing the physical security of the Armenians is impossible so long as the area remains under Azerbaijani jurisdiction.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Azerbaijan said it is his country’s sovereign right to participate in or contribute to international events.  Armenia’s attempt to challenge resolutions that mention Azerbaijan’s status as a host country is irresponsible and unethical.  He also condemned Armenia’s attempts to portray itself as the centre of civilization, adding that the country is monocultural and has unleashed aggression against his country.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Armenia refuted the allegations made by the delegation of Azerbaijan.  The level of indoctrination of the Azerbaijani population, especially young people, with Armenophobia, glorification of masterminds of the Armenian genocide and their portrayal as saviours, is just one example of ill-mindedness, he warned.  The gross violation of the rights of minorities in Azerbaijan is documented, he noted, describing the protection of ethnic and religious minorities as Armenia’s “indisputable priority”.  In Armenia, minorities are able to practice their religion and exercise their linguistic rights, he added.

The representative of Azerbaijan said the representative of Armenia, instead of replying, has chosen fabrications and distortions that are irrelevant and out of context and which fail to respond to his argument.  Attacks against a Member State demonstrate ill breeding.  The Armenian Government is irresponsible and works against common norms and values.  It cannot protect minorities if the country says they do not exist in the country.  He expressed hope that instead of sowing disrespect, Armenia would seek to normalize its relations and know that mutual respect represents richness.

Prevention of Armed Conflict

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), introducing a draft resolution titled “Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov” (document A/76/L.22), said it focuses on the progressive militarization by the Russian Federation of the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.  Currently, that territory of Crimea continues to host a disproportionate number of weapons, he said.  The Russian Federation is conducting regular military exercises combined with intense snap exercises in Crimea that destabilize the region.

He said this year’s draft resolution contains a number of important elements, focusing on the unprovoked build-up of forces in and around Ukraine, the ongoing inflow of weapons, the support of efforts within the Crimea Platform to address challenges stemming from the progressive militarization of the peninsula and parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the need for the Russian Federation to ensure transparency over its military activity in occupied Crimea and the interference and blocking of both commercial vessels and government ships, sailing under various flags.

By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly would urge the Russian Federation, as the occupying Power, to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its military forces from Crimea and end its temporary occupation of the territory of Ukraine without delay.  It also would call upon the Russian Federation to refrain from efforts to extend its jurisdiction over the nuclear facilities and material in Crimea.

The Assembly would condemn the Russian Federation’s increasing military presence in parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, including the Kerch Strait, as well as its harassment of commercial vessels and its restriction of international shipping there, which further aggravates the economic and social situation in the broader Donetsk region.  The Assembly would also condemn the Russian Federation’s construction and opening of the Kerch Strait bridge and the railway bridge, which form a part of the Tavrida highway project, between the Russian Federation and the temporarily occupied Crimea, which facilitates the further militarization of Crimea and restricts the size of vessels that can reach the Ukrainian ports on the Azov coast.

The representative of Syria, in an explanation of position before the vote, noted the negative practices carried out by several States which undermine the resolution and exploit the agenda item by putting forward politically driven texts.  Though the people of Crimea reaffirmed their willingness to remain part of the Russian Federation, Western Governments continue to meddle in other States’ internal affairs.  Those Governments should respect the will of the people of Crimea, 80 per cent of whom voted to remain part of the Russian Federation.  As such, she called upon all Member States to vote against the resolution.

The representative of the Russian Federation called on delegations to vote against the completely unrealistic Ukrainian draft which in no way helps to resolve the internal conflict in that country.  Further, that text fuels the sick fantasies spread by the country’s regime about the situation in Russian Crimea, he said, adding that the patently false nature of this is clear to any visitor to this open and prosperous Russian region.  Rejecting the “hopelessly blinded and reckless Maidan madness of the Ukrainian authorities” and the paranoia which has seized the country, he appealed to European and United States colleagues, to “take away the matches” before they ignite yet another war in Europe.

The Assembly then adopted “L.22” by a recorded vote of 62 in favour to 22 against, with 55 abstentions.

Explaining her position after the vote, the representative of Singapore said her small country is deeply committed to multilateralism that is firmly grounded in respect for international law.

The representative of Indonesia said its position is unchanged and it is against any annexation of any territory, a practice that is contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Indonesia places the highest importance on the principles of non‑interference of all countries, he said, adding that there is no military solution to this situation.  Indonesia abstained from the vote as some portions of the resolution may undermine elements for dialogue.  The principles of democracy pave the way for a lasting peace, he underscored.

The representative of Iran emphasized that resolutions to conflict must include diplomatic dialogue between the concerned parties.  In that context, he called on Member States to resist the politicization of United Nations mechanisms which could sow division among States and prevent resolution.  Topics on the Security Council agenda should not be reconsidered in the General Assembly, he said, stressing that such consideration would have little if any utility to finding a resolution.

The representative of Mexico said she abstained from the vote on the draft put forward by the delegation of Ukraine, noting that this resolution did not enjoy broad consultation nor was it open to comments from the General Assembly.  Rejecting the use and the threat of use of force, she called on all parties involved to respect the territorial unity of Ukraine.

The representative of Belarus, in explanation of vote, said country-specific resolutions are used as a tool for political accusations.  The adoption of such documents backfires and escalates confrontation, he warned, adding that the discussed document is one-sided and politicized, cherry-picking issues from a whole range of destabilizing factors in the region.  This undermines opportunities to seek a peaceful solution to the situation, he added.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said her Government always supports and upholds the integrity of Ukraine, and it hopes the border situation does not further escalate.

The representative of the United States welcomed the adoption of the resolution, a document that allows the international community to reiterate its commitment to the political sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which has been subjected for eight years to Russian aggression and occupation of some of its territories.  He added that the current intensification of Russian anti-Ukrainian propaganda on social networks is reminiscent of the climate preceding the Ukrainian invasion.  No one is fooled by the way the Russian Federation presents the countries they attack as aggressors, he stressed.  He also asked the General Assembly to take the full measure of the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Crimea.  The United States will never recognize the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, he said, stressing:  “Crimea is Ukrainian.”

The representative of Lithuania, speaking on behalf of eight Nordic and Baltic countries, expressed concern about the increased militarization of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation.  That includes, in particular, the transfers of highly destabilizing weapons’ systems and military personnel to Crimea, multiple military exercises, the construction of vessels, closure of parts of the Black Sea to non‑Russian military and government ships and other activities.  In addition, the escalatory nature of the Russian Federation’s military build-up around the Ukrainian borders is deeply worrying, he said.  As such, he urged the Russian Federation to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces.  Expressing further concern about the human rights violations in Crimea, targeting primarily the Crimean Tatars, he called on the Russian Federation to allow unhindered access to the areas currently not under Ukraine’s control to be given to the international organizations and human rights monitoring bodies.

Also speaking in explanation of position, a representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said the bloc does not and will not recognize the legal annexation of the autonomous Republic of Crimea by the Russian Federation.  Reaffirming commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, he stressed that the Russian Federation’s actions are in blatant breach of international law.  He also noted reports by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to which Russian citizenship and conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been imposed on Crimean residents in violation of international humanitarian law.

The representative of Georgia, speaking in his national capacity, associated himself with the European Union and condemned the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol and continuous violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including instigating conflict in eastern Ukraine.  The Russian Federation’s massive military build‑up in Crimea, the Black and Azov Seas and at Ukraine’s borders significantly undermines the security of the wider Black Sea region and has serious global implications.  The Russian Federation’s actions to change borders of sovereign nations by force directly contradicts international law and the rules-based order, as well as the United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, he stressed, calling on the international community to take prompt and resolute actions to make the Russian Federation abide by the principles and norms of international law and to deter its further aggressions.

The representative of the United Kingdom reaffirmed his Government’s unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.  The Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 was a flagrant violation of its international commitments and demonstrated a clear disregard for the rules-based international order.  Since then, the Russian Federation’s actions in Crimea have remained a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all States.  He reiterated that the United Kingdom does not and will not recognize the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea, which remains an integral part of Ukraine.  He also expressed deep concern about the Russian Federation’s continued pattern of destabilizing activity and military build-ups on Ukraine’s border and in illegally annexed Crimea.  “This resolution’s adoption sends a strong signal to Russia that its threatening and destabilizing behaviour is unacceptable,” he said.

The representative of Poland, aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, condemned the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.  His country will continue to deem it illegal in the light of international law and contrary to the key principles of the rules-based international order.  He reiterated his strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.  He expressed concern about the ongoing Russian military build‑up along the Ukrainian borders.  It is for the second time this year that thousands of Russian military troops with hundreds of tanks, artillery systems and other advanced weaponry became gathered there, he stated.  A realistic de-escalation of the situation can be achieved only after the Russian troops are withdrawn.

The representative of Japan then took the floor to point out that although he had voted in favour of the draft, his vote was not recorded.

Oceans and Law of the Sea

Next, the Assembly resumed its consideration of the oceans and the law of the sea, taking up two related texts, including “Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments” (document A/76/L.18), and “Oceans and the law of the sea” (document A/76/L.20).  (For background, please see Press Release GA/12393 of 7 December.)

The representative of the Dominican Republic said that despite the various agreements, texts and efforts undertaken, the sea remains fragile.  Sad realities include the fact that coral reefs and biodiversity are dying out due to oceanic acidification caused by global warming.  He welcomed efforts made by the Convention and said the forthcoming United Nations Oceans Conference is an important opportunity to gain momentum and to promote solutions on a scientific basis that lead to new global initiatives.

The representative of Cyprus, noting that her delegation has co-sponsored both resolutions, condemned the futile attempt to question the Convention, which she described as “the constitution for the oceans” and the indisputable legal framework for all activities in the oceans.  The Convention represents a carefully crafted balance among the rights and interests of all States, irrespective of their specific characteristics, she said, adding that it reflects customary international law enforceable by and against nations that are not party to the Convention.  Highlighting the responsibility of all States to ensure that all inter-State arrangements they enter into, including maritime delimitations, are in line with international law, she added that no State should demand special treatment or encroach on the rights of other States.

ALBERT HOFFMANN, President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, said that due to the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic, the Tribunal’s fiftieth and fifty-first sessions were held in a hybrid format.  Further, the Tribunal amended its rules of procedure to provide that, as an exceptional measure for public health, security or other compelling reasons, the Tribunal’s hearings, readings of judgments or meetings would be held entirely or in part by video link.  From 13 to 19 October 2020, a Special Chamber of the Tribunal held a hearing in a hybrid format on the Dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

He detailed the procedural history relating to that dispute, including preliminary objections raised by the Maldives over the United Kingdom’s third-party status to the proceedings and the Special Chamber’s jurisdiction to determine the disputed sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago.  In ruling on these preliminary objections, the Special Chamber considered a germane advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and a General Assembly resolution.  The Special Chamber ultimately rejected these preliminary objections, and the merits phase of this case — previously suspended — has now resumed.  He also outlined the procedural history of the second case on the Tribunal’s docket — The M/T “San Padre Pio” (No.2) Case (Switzerland/Nigeria) — and noted that the opening of oral proceedings thereon has been postponed.

Recalling that the Tribunal celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary on 1 October, he said that the same has established itself over that time as the primary judicial body for States parties to the Law of the Sea Convention.  One of the reasons for that privileged role is the availability of efficient, fair procedures before the Tribunal that respond to the needs of States parties.  On this, he spotlighted the Tribunal’s unique procedure for applications for the prompt release of a vessel or its crew detained by authorities of a State party due to fisheries or marine-pollution offenses.  He stressed that arrest and detention of a vessel and its crew raise humanitarian and economic concerns, which worsen the longer detention continues.

He went on to say that such arrests are a frequent occurrence in international navigation, and the Tribunal remains available to entertain future applications for prompt release, balancing the rights and obligations of coastal and flag States.  Emphasizing that the Convention is still fit for purpose in the contemporary era, he highlighted its “framework” nature — with its many rules of reference requiring States parties to observe provisions in other relevant instruments — and its adaptability, achieved through the work of international courts and tribunals.  On that point, he provided a brief jurisprudential survey of the Tribunal’s work, including its interpretation of the Convention to promote the progressive development of international law and its case law pertaining to the interplay between marine environmental considerations and the Convention.  He then reported on the Tribunal’s capacity-building activities, including workshops to familiarize legal advisers — particularly from developing countries — with the Convention’s dispute-settlement mechanisms.

ADI ASENACA NAVOTI, speaking on behalf of the Secretary‑General of the International Seabed Authority, reaffirmed that the Convention on the Law of the Sea and its two implementation agreements set out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.  As the international organization tasked with organizing and controlling those activities, protecting the marine environment and promoting and encouraging scientific research for the benefit of all, the Authority is a critical part of the oceans’ governance architecture.  She noted that its Secretariat recently issued three publications on the relevance of the Convention and the 1994 implementing agreement for least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States to support development and reiterated that all of them — especially landlocked States — should join the Convention and take full advantage of the legal regime for the oceans.

She recalled that in one year, despite COVID‑19‑related travel restrictions, more than 600 individuals have benefited from at least one capacity development initiative implemented by the Authority — an increasing number of them women.  She further cited efforts to expand capacity development opportunities for developing States in marine scientific research, including empowering women scientists, and highlighted widespread partner support for the “Women in Deep‑Sea Research” project.  With significant progress made in implementing the Action Plan in support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, she expressed hope that it will reinforce international momentum towards advancing scientific knowledge and understanding of deep‑sea ecosystems.  Pointing out that as part of the fortieth anniversary of the Convention in 2022, the Authority will organize the first ever Women in the Law of the Sea Conference, she said the Convention’s legal regime reflects a vision of a more equal society with access to marine resources assured for developed and developing States, rich and poor, large and small.  However, achieving that vision urgently requires international cooperation and the commitment of all States, she said.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution “L.18” by consensus.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution titled “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” (document A/76.L.20) — which was introduced on 7 December — by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 1 against (Turkey) with 4 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador, Nigeria, Venezuela).

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Argentina stated that the recommendations contained in the resolution cannot be considered as applying to States that are not parties to the Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Nothing in the wording of that text can be interpreted differently, he added, stressing the international obligation not to deny the rights of the riparian States with regard to their continental shelf, as such rights are contained in applicable international conventions.

Also speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Turkey said the scope of the current resolution has expanded significantly over the years, even though many of the issues it deals with are tackled in a more holistic manner in the related annual reports of the Secretary‑General.  Turkey is not a party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea and has consistently disagreed with the view that the latter has a “universal and unified character”.  Therefore, the language in the resolution adopted today that is based on the Convention cannot and should not set a precedent for other resolutions, he stressed, also drawing attention to the risks posed by one-sided interpretations of international law and the invocation of the Convention to justify maximalist claims.

Action on Draft Resolutions Forwarded by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization)

The Assembly then took up reports submitted by its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on the following agenda items:  University for Peace (document A/76/412); Assistance in mine action (document A/76/413); Effects of atomic radiation (document A/76/414); International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/76/415); Assistance to Palestine refugees (document A/76/416); Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (document A/76/417); Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects (document A/76/418); and Comprehensive review of special political missions (document A/76/419).

It also considered Fourth Committee reports on:  Information in the service of Humanity (document A/76/420); Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations (document A/76/421); Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/76/422); Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations (document A/76/423); Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/76/424); Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/76/425); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/76/427); and Programme planning (document A/76/426).

YOUSSOUF ADEN MOUSSA (Djibouti), Rapporteur of the Fourth Committee, introduced those reports, saying they contain 34 draft resolutions and 3 draft decisions negotiated over the course of 16 formal and 2 informal meetings, which were held due to the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic.  Recalling the high level of cooperation throughout the session, he reported that the Committee was able to fulfil its mandate and to complete its work within the time allotted by the General Assembly.

First, the Assembly took up a draft resolution titled “University for Peace” (document A/C.4/76/L.11), adopting it without a vote.  By the terms of the text, the Assembly requested the University to find viable ways to further strengthen cooperation with the United Nations system.  In addition, it requested the Secretary-General to expand the scope for using the services of the University as part of his conflict resolution and peacebuilding effort through the training of staff, especially those concerned with peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  It also requested States to take the lead in supporting the mission of the University by recognizing the institution and, when possible, making financial contributions.

The Assembly then adopted a consensus text titled “Assistance in mine action” (document A/C.4/76/L.15/Rev.1).  By its terms, the Assembly urged Member States, in particular those that have the capacity to do so, as well as the United Nations system, to provide assistance to mine-affected States.  It also encouraged Member States and relevant organizations to ensure that mine action programmes take into account risk education and the rights, specific needs and requirements of victims and persons with disabilities.  By other terms, the Assembly encouraged States to support victims’ access to appropriate medical care, education and skills training and income-earning opportunities.

The Assembly adopted a draft resolution titled “Effects of atomic radiation” (document A/C.4/76/L.5), also without a vote, by whose terms it supported the work of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and encouraged the body’s Secretariat to disseminate the findings of an updated evaluation on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, released on 9 March 2021, in particular to the public.  It further requested the Scientific Committee to continue its work, including its important activities to increase knowledge of the levels, effects and risks of ionizing radiation from all sources, and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session.  The Assembly also requested that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) continue, within existing resources, to service the Scientific Committee and disseminate its findings to Member States, the scientific community and the public.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution titled “International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space” (document A/C.4/76/L.3/Rev.1).  By its terms, the Assembly urged all Member States to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  Further by that text, it requested the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to continue to consider, as a matter of priority, ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session.  It further urged the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities (UN-Space) to continue to examine how space science and technology and their applications could contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  By other terms, the Assembly decided that Angola, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Panama and Slovenia shall become members of the Committee.

The Assembly then took up a series of draft resolutions (documents A/C.4/76/L.12-L.14) relating to “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (L.12); “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)” (L.13); and “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (L.14).

Prior to action on those items, the representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of position, said the deep hypocrisy and systematic bias of the resolutions before the Assembly have been acknowledged by an increasing number of delegations.  The resolutions focus on false narratives instead of recognizing the positive momentum Israel and its partners achieve every day towards peace.  Moreover, no United Nations agency should engage in a politically driven agenda.  Stressing that UNRWA’s definition of “refugees” will not contribute to a positive resolution of the issue, she added that the report before the Assembly on Israeli practices is detached from reality and should be voted against.  In recent weeks, Israeli civilians came under attack by Hamas and other terror groups, yet the United Nations chose to remain silent, resulting in deliberate failures of terror condemnation.  Instead, the Organization chooses to continue to pass resolutions exclusively condemning Israel.

The Assembly first adopted a text titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (document A/C.4/76/L.12) by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Rwanda, United States, Uruguay, Zambia).  By its terms, the Assembly noted with regret that the situation of Palestine refugees continues to be a matter of grave concern.   The refugees continue to require assistance to meet their basic health, education and living needs.  Further, the Assembly called on all donors to continue to strengthen their efforts to meet the Agency’s anticipated needs and commends the Agency for its provision of vital assistance as well as its role as a stabilizing factor in the region.

Taking up a draft resolution titled “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” (document A/C.4/76/L.13), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 6 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Rwanda, Uruguay, Zambia).  By its terms, the Assembly expressed its grave concern about attempts to discredit UNRWA despite its proven operational capacity and consistent implementation of its mandate.  It also urged Israel to expeditiously reimburse the Agency for all transit charges incurred and other financial losses sustained as a result of delays and restrictions on movement and access imposed by that country.  Moreover, the Assembly called upon Israel to cease obstructing the Agency’s movement and access as well as to cease levying taxes, extra fees and charges.

The Assembly went on to adopt a draft resolution titled “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (document A/C.4/76/L.14) by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 8 abstentions (Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Kiribati, Togo, Zambia).  By the terms of that text, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to take all appropriate steps to protect Arab properties, assets and property rights in Israel.  It further called upon Israel to render all facilities and assistance to the Secretary-General in implementation of the resolution.  The Assembly urged both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues within the framework of final-status peace negotiations.

The Assembly narrowly adopted a draft resolution titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories” (document A/C.4/76/L.7) by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 18 against, with 73 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the Assembly demanded that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee in implementing its mandate.  It expressed grave concern about the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of unlawful Israeli practices and measures and called for the immediate cessation of all illegal Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the wall, among other measures.

Next, the Assembly took up a draft resolution titled “The occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/76/L.8), adopting it by a recorded vote of 149 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 23 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the organ called upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, and in particular to desist from establishing settlements.  Further, it called upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.

The Assembly also adopted — by a recorded vote of 146 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Hungary, Israel, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 20 abstentions — a draft titled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/76/L.9).  By its terms, the Assembly condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as violations of international humanitarian law.  It deplored Israel’s construction and expansion of settlements in and around occupied East Jerusalem, as well as its ongoing settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, which further fragment and undermine the contiguity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  By other terms, the Assembly also condemned Israel’s demolition of Palestinian buildings in the neighbourhood of Wadi al-Hummus, in the village of Sur Bahir, south of occupied East Jerusalem.

On other matters, the Assembly adopted a consensus text titled “Comprehensive review of special political missions” (document A/C.4/76/L.10).  By its terms, the members stressed the need for the United Nations to continue improving its capabilities in the pacific settlement of disputes, including the mediation, prevention and resolution of conflict as well as peacebuilding and sustaining peace.  The Assembly also stressed the need for enhanced coordination and cooperation between special political missions and concerned regional and subregional organizations, and emphasized that the United Nations should ensure a more coordinated approach to strengthen the ability of special political missions to deliver on their mandates and should contribute to ensuring their enhanced accountability, coherence and effectiveness.

Turning to questions relating to information, the Assembly adopted two draft resolutions by consensus.

It first adopted, without a vote, draft resolution A — “Information in the service of humanity”, contained in the report on the forty-first session of the Committee on Information (document A/76/21, chapter IV, p.11).  By the terms of that text, the Assembly urged all countries and organizations concerned to ensure the free and effective performance of journalists’ professional tasks and condemn all attacks against them.  It further urged States and organizations to enhance regional efforts and cooperation among developing countries, as well as cooperation between developed and developing countries, to strengthen communications capacities and to improve media infrastructure, especially in the areas of training and dissemination of information.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly went on to adopt draft resolution B — “United Nations global communications policies and activities” — contained in the same report (chapter IV, p.12).  By its terms, the Assembly underlined the need for reform of the United Nations Department of Global Communications to take into account the priorities set out by the Committee on Information in that regard, and the importance of carrying out appropriate consultations with Member States.  It also expressed concerns about the exponential spread of disinformation and misinformation, thereby increasing the need for the dissemination of factual, clear, accessible, multilingual and science-based information.  By other terms, it called for intensified cooperation for the effective dissemination of scientific knowledge, best practices and information regarding new diagnostics, drugs, future COVID-19 vaccines and relevant guidelines.  It called for promoting a “One Health” approach to prevent and tackle the risks of zoonotic diseases and pandemics such as COVID-19.  In addition, the Assembly reiterated its growing concern that the issuance of daily press releases has not been expanded to all official languages, and said the Department must design a strategy to deliver to that end, at the latest by the forty-third session of the Committee on Information.

The Assembly then took action on a number of texts related to decolonization matters, adopting a draft resolution titled “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73(e) of the Charter of the United Nations” (contained in document A/76/23, chapter XIII, p.40) by a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).  By its terms, the Assembly requested that administering Powers transmit or continue to regularly transmit to the Secretary-General statistical and other technical information relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year.

The Assembly also adopted the draft resolution titled “Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories” (contained in the same report, chapter XIII, p.42) by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).  By the terms of that text, the Assembly reaffirmed its deep concern over the number and scale of natural disasters in the course of 2017 and their devastating impact on Caribbean Non-Self-Governing Territories.  It further expressed concern about activities aimed at exploiting the natural and human resources of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to the detriment of their inhabitants.

Also requiring a recorded vote was a draft resolution titled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (contained in chapter XIII, p.45).  The Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 52 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly recommended that all States intensify their efforts to ensure full and effective implementation of the Declaration through specialized agencies and other entities of the United Nations system.  It also requested administering Powers to facilitate the participation of appointed and elected representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the relevant meetings and conferences of the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution titled “Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories” (document A/C.4/76/L.2), by whose terms the Assembly urged administering Powers to take effective measures to ensure widespread and continuous dissemination of State-offered study and training facilities information in Territories and provide all facilities necessary to enable students to avail themselves of such offers.

Members then took up a series of texts also under the Fourth Committee’s decolonization cluster, which were contained in the 2021 Report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/76/425).

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted several decolonization drafts on the “Question of Western Sahara” (A/C.4/76/L.6)”; “Question of American Samoa” (draft resolution IV, chapter XIII, p. 50); “Question of Anguilla” (draft resolution V, chapter XIII, p. 55); “Question of Bermuda” (draft resolution VI, chapter XIII, p.44); “Question of the British Virgin Islands” (draft resolution VII, chapter XIII, p.48); “Question of the Cayman Islands” (draft resolution VIII, chapter XIII, p.52); “Question of French Polynesia” (draft resolution IX, chapter XIII, p.56); “Question of Guam” (draft resolution X, chapter XIII, p.60); “Question of Montserrat” (draft resolution XI, chapter XIII, p.66); “Question of New Caledonia” (draft resolution XII, chapter XIII, p.71); “Question of Pitcairn” (draft resolution XIII, chapter XIII, p.78); “Question of Saint Helena” (draft resolution XIV, chapter XIII, p.82); “Question of Tokelau” (draft resolution XV, chapter XIII, p.86); “Question of the Turks and Caicos Islands” (draft resolution XVI, chapter XIII, p.90); and “Question of the United States Virgin Islands” (draft resolution XVII, chapter XIII, p.95).

Taking up another draft resolution contained in the same report, titled “Dissemination of information on decolonization” (draft resolution XVIII, chapter XIII, p.120), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Liberia, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (Togo).  By its terms, the Assembly requested the Department of Global Communications to continue its efforts to update web-based information on the assistance programmes available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories.  It also requested that the Department, and the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, implement the recommendations of the Special Committee on Decolonization.

The Assembly also adopted another draft resolution in the same report, titled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” (draft resolution XIX, chapter XIII, p.122), by a recorded vote of 132 votes in favour to 4 against (Israel, Liberia, United Kingdom, United States), with 42 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly called upon administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee to develop and finalize a constructive programme of work for the Non-Self-Governing Territories to facilitate implementation of the Special Committee’s mandate as well as relevant resolutions.  Moreover, it called upon administering Powers to ensure that economic and other activities in the Territories do not adversely affect the interests of their peoples but instead promote development, and to terminate military activities and eliminate military bases in the Territories.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft decision titled “Question of Gibraltar” (document A/C.4/76/L.4), and another draft decision titled “Proposed programme of work and timetable of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) for the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly” (document A/C.4/76/L.16).

Action on Draft Resolutions forwarded by the Sixth Committee (Legal)

The Assembly then turned to the reports of the Sixth Committee (Legal) on the following agenda items:  Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (document A/76/470); United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fifty-fourth session (document A/76/471); United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/76/472); International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-second session (document A/76/473); Crimes against humanity (document A/76/474);  Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization; and Rule of law at the national and international levels (document A/76/476).

Also before the Assembly were the Sixth Committee reports on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (document A/76/477); Protection of persons in the event of disasters (document A/76/495); Strengthening and promoting the international treaty framework (document A/75/496): Measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/76/478); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/76/489); Programme planning (document A/76/490) and Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/76/480).

Further Sixth Committee reports included those on observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States (document A/76/481); Eurasian Economic Union (document A/76/482); Community of Democracies (document A/76/483); Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat (document A/76/484); Global Environment Facility (document A/76/485); International Organization of Employers (document A/76/486); International Trade Union Confederation (document A/76/487); Boao Forum for Asia (document A/76/488) and International Solar Alliance (document A/76/497).

ANA L. VILLALOBOS-BRENES (Costa Rica), Rapporteur of the Sixth Committee, introduced that body’s reports addressing 22 substantive and 3 procedural agenda items that had been allocated to the Committee.  With the exception of the election of officers, they represented the Organization’s priorities in the legal sphere, including promotion of justice and international law, drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.  She then introduced the reports by heading order and gave an overview of the texts.

Noting that all the draft resolutions and draft decisions had been approved by the Sixth Committee without a vote, she hoped that the Assembly would do the same.  Noting that there was no report in respect of the agenda item, “Election of officers of the Main Committees”, she said that consistent with previous practice, elections for the Sixth Committee’s seventy‑seventh session would be taken up at a later stage in the course of the current session.

The General Assembly then turned to the report, “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission” (document A/76/470), adopting the draft resolution contained therein without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly expressed its concern with respect to all alleged crimes on the part of United Nations officials and experts on mission, including allegations of fraud, corruption and other financial crimes.  It urged the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that his zero‑tolerance policy for criminal activities is fully implemented in a coherent and coordinated manner throughout the United Nations.  It also called upon all entities in the United Nations to inform and to cooperate fully with the Office of Legal Affairs in all cases involving allegations that a crime may have been committed by a United Nations official or expert on mission.

The General Assembly then turned to the four draft resolutions contained in the “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its fifty‑fourth session” (document A/76/471), postponing action on the first draft resolution contained therein — titled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fifty-fourth session” — to a later date, in order to allow time for the review of its programme budget implications by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). 

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the text titled “Mediation Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law”, by which the Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to make all efforts to ensure the Rules became generally known and available.

Also adopted without a vote was a draft resolution concerning “Expedited Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law”.   By its terms, the Assembly recommended the use of the UNCITRAL Expedited Arbitration Rules in the settlement of disputes arising in the context of international commercial relations.

Acting again by consensus, the Assembly then adopted a draft resolution titled “Enlargement of the membership of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law”, by whose terms it increased the Commission’s membership from 60 to 70 States.   The 10 additional members would be elected for a term of six years in accordance with the following rules:  Two from African States; two from Asia‑Pacific States; two from Eastern European States; two from Latin American and Caribbean States; and two from Western European and other States.

The Assembly, without a vote, next adopted a draft resolution titled “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law” (contained in document A/76/472).  By the terms of that text, the Assembly provided the mandate in 2022 for the organization and award of fellowships for the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law and the International Law Fellowship Programme; the development of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law; and the publication and dissemination of legal texts as well as for the websites maintained by the Office of Legal Affairs.  It also requested the Secretary‑General to maintain resources in the proposed programme budget for 2023 and authorized him to expand such activities using voluntary contributions.  In addition, the Assembly commended the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat for the cost‑saving measures undertaken with regard to the International Law Fellowship Programme and the Regional Courses and urged the Secretary‑General to conduct interactive online workshops when the training programmes cannot take place in person owing to the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The Assembly then turned to the resolution contained in the “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy‑second session” (document A/76/473).  By the terms of the text, which was adopted without a vote, members encouraged the International Law Commission to account for Member States’ capacity and views — as well as the Commission’s workload — when including topics in its current programme of work.  It stressed the desirability of further enhancing the dialogue between the Commission and the Sixth Committee and encouraged the continued practice of informal consultations between members of both bodies throughout the year.

Also contained in that report was a draft resolution titled “Protection of the Atmosphere, which the Assembly also adopted by consensus.  By its terms, members welcomed the conclusion of the work of the International Law Commission on the protection of the atmosphere and its adoption of the draft preamble, guidelines and commentaries thereto.  The Assembly brought these texts to the attention of States, international organizations and all who may be called upon to deal with the subject, encouraging their widest possible dissemination.

The Assembly went on to adopt another draft resolution contained in the International Law Commission’s report, titled “Provisional application of treaties”, adopting it without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly welcomed the conclusion of the International Law Commission’s work on the provisional application of treaties and its adoption of the draft guidelines and draft annex constituting the Guide to Provisional Application of Treaties.  It also brought the Guide to the attention of States and international organizations for their consideration, thereby encouraging its widest possible dissemination.

Also by consensus, the Assembly then adopted a draft resolution concerning “Crimes against humanity” (contained in document A/76/474), in which it expressed its appreciation to the International Law Commission for its continuing contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law and noted, once again, the International Law Commission’s draft articles on prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.  It also decided to include the topic in the seventy‑seventh session’s provisional agenda.

Speaking in explanation of position after that adoption, the representative of Mexico referred to the remarks his delegation delivered during the Sixth Committee’s consideration of this text and disassociated himself from the draft resolution.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization” (document A/76/475).  By its terms, the General Assembly decided that the Special Charter Committee shall hold its next session from 22 February to 2 March 2022, requesting that the Committee continue its consideration of all proposals concerning the question of the maintenance of international peace and security.  It also requested that the Special Charter Committee consider other proposals relating to that topic, including strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations or arrangements and the question of the implementation of the provisions of the Charter relating to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions.

The Assembly also took up another draft resolution contained in that report, titled “Fortieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes”, adopting it without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly recognized the Manila Declaration as a concrete accomplishment of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and welcomed the fortieth anniversary of its adoption while reiterating its call to all States to observe and promote the Declaration.

Speaking after adoption, the representative of the Philippines expressed gratitude to all delegates for adopting that text by consensus and recalled the circumstances in which this “landmark declaration” was adopted in 1982 by the General Assembly on the basis of a text prepared by the Special Charter Committee, at the initiative of the Non‑Aligned Movement.

Turning to a draft resolution titled “The rule of law at the national and international levels” (contained in document A/76/476), the Assembly adopted it without a vote.  In that report, the Assembly stressed the importance of adherence to the rule of law at the national level and the need to strengthen support to Member States, upon their request, in the domestic implementation of their respective international obligations through enhanced technical assistance and capacity‑building.  It also called for dialogue to be enhanced among all stakeholders with a view to placing national perspectives at the centre of rule of law assistance in order to strengthen national ownership.  Further, it called on the Secretary‑General and the United Nations to systematically address aspects of the rule of law in relevant activities — including the participation of women in such activities — while recognizing the importance of the rule of law to virtually all areas of United Nations engagement.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution titled “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction” (contained in document A/76/477), by whose terms it invited a working group of the Sixth Committee to consider and comment on the question “what should be the role and purpose of universal jurisdiction” in its discussions on the topic during the seventy‑seventh session.  The Assembly also invited Member States and relevant observers to the Assembly to submit, before 29 April 2022, information and observations on the scope and application of universal jurisdiction, and requested the Secretary‑General to submit a report based on the same to the Assembly at its seventy‑seventh session.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution titled “Protection of persons in the event of disasters” (contained in document A/76/495).  By its terms, the working group will report to the Sixth Committee at the General Assembly’s seventy-ninth session on its outcome.  The Assembly encouraged Member States to continue the substantive dialogue on an informal basis intersessionally.  The Assembly also decided to examine the draft articles and to consider further the International Law Commission’s recommendation for the elaboration of a convention by the General Assembly or by an international conference of plenipotentiaries based on the draft articles, or any other potential course of action with respect to the draft articles.

Adopting a draft resolution titled “Strengthening and promoting the international treaty framework” (contained in document A/76/496) by consensus, the General Assembly welcomed the organization of workshops on treaty law and practice by the Treaty Section at Headquarters and encouraged the Treaty Section to continue to organize these workshops as regularly as possible, including through the use of information and communications technology when necessary.  The Assembly also welcomed efforts to build the capacity of States in treaty law and practice and called upon the Secretary‑General to ensure the expedited publication of the United Nations Treaty Series.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote a draft resolution titled “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (contained in document A/76/478).  By the terms of that text, the Assembly urged all States that have not yet done so to consider becoming parties to the relevant conventions and called upon all States to cooperate to prevent and suppress terrorist acts.  Further, it urged all States and the Secretary‑General to make the best use of the existing institutions of the United Nations.  The Assembly, also noting that the United Nations Counter‑Terrorism Centre is supporting the implementation of the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy, encouraged all Member States to collaborate with the Centre and to contribute to the implementation of its activities.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote a draft decision contained in the report titled “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/76/489).  By the terms of that decision, the Assembly noted that the Sixth Committee has decided to adopt the provisional programme of work for the seventy‑seventh session of the General Assembly, as proposed by the Bureau.

The Assembly next considered the “Provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee for the seventy‑seventh session” (contained in document A/76/490), which required no further action.

Adopting without a vote a draft resolution titled “Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country” (contained document A/76/480), the Assembly strongly urged the host country to remove all remaining travel restrictions imposed on staff of certain missions and staff members of the Secretariat of certain nationalities.  The Assembly acknowledged the lifting of the more stringent travel restrictions applicable to one mission, while remaining concerned about the more stringent travel restrictions that continue to affect another mission and the statements of affected delegations that travel restrictions impede their ability to carry out their functions and negatively impact their staff and families.  In addition, it expressed serious concern regarding the non‑issuance of entry visas to certain representatives of certain Member States and stressed the need for the permanent missions and the United Nations to benefit from appropriate banking services.

Members then adopted a draft decision, by consensus, titled “Observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States in the General Assembly” (contained in document A/76/481).  By its terms, the sponsors requested that the General Assembly defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States in the General Assembly until the seventy‑seventh session.

Also adopted by the Assembly without a vote was a draft decision titled “Observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union in the General Assembly” (document A/76/482), in which the sponsors requested that the Assembly defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union in the General Assembly until the seventy‑seventh session of the Assembly.

Members then adopted a draft decision titled “Observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly” (contained in document A/76/483) in which the sponsors requested the Assembly to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly until the seventy‑seventh session of the Assembly. 

The Assembly also adopted, without a vote, a draft decision titled “Observer status for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat in the General Assembly” (contained in document A/76/484) in which the sponsors requested the General Assembly to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly until the seventy-seventh session of the Assembly. 

It adopted, also by consensus, a draft decision to defer the request, “Observer status for the Global Environment Facility in the General Assembly” (contained in document A/76/485), until the Assembly’s seventy-seventh session.

Also before the Assembly was a draft decision titled “Observer status for the International Organization of Employers in the General Assembly” (contained in document A/76/486).  By the terms of that text, the sponsors requested that the General Assembly defer a decision on the request for observer status for the International Organization of Employers in the General Assembly until the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly.  The decision was adopted without a vote.

The Assembly also adopted a draft decision titled “Observer status for the International Trade Union Confederation in the General Assembly” (contained in document A/76/487).  By the terms of that text, the sponsors requested that the General Assembly defer a decision on the request for observer status for the International Trade Union Confederation in the General Assembly until the organ’s seventy-seventh session.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision titled “Observer status for the Boao Forum for Asia in the General Assembly” (contained in document A/76/488), adopting it without a vote.  By that text, the sponsors requested that the General Assembly defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Boao Forum for Asia in the General Assembly until its seventy‑seventh session.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote a draft resolution titled “Observer status for the International Solar Alliance in the General Assembly” (contained in document A/76/497).  By its terms, the Assembly invited the Alliance to participate in its sessions and work in the capacity of observer.  A multilateral project in the context of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, it offers low‑cost energy in response to the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 7 on low-cost energy and Goal 14, on urgent action on climate change.

Speaking in explanation of position after that adoption, the representative of India, also on behalf of France, thanked the delegates for supporting observer status for the International Solar Alliance, which was conceived as a joint effort to mobilize efforts against climate change through deployment of solar energy solutions.  The organization has become an example of positive global climate action, he said.

Oceans and the Law of the Sea

The Assembly then returned to its earlier consideration of the agenda item “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” to hear remaining speakers.

The representative of El Salvador, speaking in explanation of position on that item, pointed out that the preservation of the oceans also guarantees the food security of millions of people, and that it is becoming more important due to climate change and rising sea levels that are causing the displacement of populations.  For that reason, she voiced regret that the resolution refers exclusively to the application of the Convention on the Law of the Sea as the only framework applicable to ocean activities, since there are other instruments of international law that can provide a multidimensional approach to the preservation of the oceans.  Recalling that El Salvador is not a party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, she disassociated herself from the language included in the paragraphs of resolution “L.20” that refer to the universal and exclusive character of this instrument.  She added that according to other General Assembly resolutions, neither participation in the negotiations on “L.20” nor their outcome can affect the legal situation of countries that are not party to the Convention or other related agreements.  She voiced further regret that her country’s proposal to refer to other instruments of international law, such as the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, was not accepted in the negotiations of paragraph 179 of the draft resolution, to the detriment of a multidimensional approach.

The representative of Venezuela, also speaking in explanation of position, said his country is not a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or to the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.  As a result, he said, the rules contained therein are not applicable to Venezuela.  The Convention does not have universal participation, unlike many other multilateral instruments.  Regarding the Assembly’s resolution on that matter, he said that it had positive aspects, but regretted the presence of elements that would lead Venezuela to express reservations.  A new update of the terms of the Convention should be considered, as there are new situations for which it has proven to be insufficient, he said.  Although not a party to the 1995 Agreement on Sustainable Fisheries, the fisheries and aquaculture sector is a priority for Venezuela, whose national development plan is complemented by a wide range of laws.  In the interest of consensus, his country supported draft resolution “L.18”, but it abstained from voting on draft resolution “L.20”.

The representative of Colombia, also speaking in explanation of position, said draft resolution “L.20” contains references to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is not recognized in Colombian customary law.  As a non-State party to the Convention, Colombia is forced to express its reservations, she said, reiterating that her country is not bound by references to the Convention.

Right of Reply

The representative of China, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the statement made by the representative of Japan contained erroneous remarks about the water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site, claiming that the water discharged is safe and not contaminated.  In fact, the water contains a large amount of radionuclides, which are not found in nature, he said, adding that there is no precedent for their release in the world.  Research shows that there are strong ocean currents in the Fukushima area and, as a result, if contaminated water is released, it will spread all over the world in a matter of years.  As such, the treatment of Fukushima water is of collective global interest, and Japan’s unilateral decision to discharge contaminated water is a cause for great concern.  Unless agreed by stakeholders in the region and relevant international organizations, Japan must not discharge water into the sea without authorization, he stressed.

For information media. Not an official record.