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95th & 96th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/12436

Speakers Debate Terms, Merits of Cross-Border Aid Operations in Syria’s North-West, as General Assembly Considers Security Council Text Vetoed by Russian Federation

Resolutions on Law of Sea, Sustainable Development in African Also Adopted

After the Russian Federation vetoed a draft Security Council resolution on 8 July which would have injected certainty and predictability into the humanitarian response in Syria, the General Assembly today held a debate on the issue, with delegates expressing diverging views on the formula for — and merits of — renewing aid deliveries through the Bab al-Hawa crossing in the country’s north-west.

The debate — held under the Assembly’s new standing mandate to convene within 10 working days on a situation in which a veto is cast — preceded an intense afternoon of action, as delegates adopted two decisions and three resolutions on topics ranging from the law of the sea and disaster relief to sustainable development in Africa.  (See Press Release GA/12417.)

The Russian Federation’s delegate defended his country’s decision to veto a draft sponsored by Ireland and Norway that would have allowed cross-border aid to pass through Bab al-Hawa for 12 months, unless decided otherwise after six months.  Resolution 2585 (2021) — which establishes the “6+6” formula — is flawed, he said, in that it does not outline a specific way to end the renewal if Council members deem progress to be insufficient.  The Russian Federation had insisted that renewal would require a separate resolution, a position Western members rejected when they voted against a competing draft submitted by his delegation.

Syria’s representative agreed, pointing to the “major shortcomings” of resolution 2585 (2021), which provides only one means of cross-border access and does not respect Syria’s sovereignty.  No mechanism exists to ensure humanitarian aid does not fall into the hands of terrorists on the Council’s list.  These concerns were met with intentional disregard by the United States, United Kingdom and France.  He agreed with the rejection of the draft extending the terms of resolution 2585 (2021) for another year, without any amendments.

However, Ireland’s representative called the solitary veto “an unconscionable act”, placing the critical lifeline for 4 million Syrians at risk, while Norway’s delegate stressed:  “We cannot have another situation where people, humanitarian organizations and United Nations staff in north-west Syria “have to sit and wait while Security Council negotiations run into overtime”.

The United States delegate pointed out that the Russian Federation has vetoed 17 Council resolutions on Syria since the start of the conflict there, seeking to shield “the Assad regime” from accountability and prop up its tattered standing in the international community.  Türkiye's delegate said the veto is being used as a license to pursue self-interest.  With power over all United Nations organs, the Assembly can hold the Council to account.  “We have the quality of voice and vote,” he said.

In the afternoon, the Assembly adopted five texts, notably endorsing the declaration adopted at the United Nations Ocean Conference, held in Lisbon from 27 June to 1 July.  By another, it decided to convene the first United Nations Pledging Conference for Development Activities in its adjusted format the first half of 2023.

By a resolution on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the Assembly welcomed the progress made by African countries in working to deepen democracy, human rights, good governance and sound economic management.  Among other things, it encouraged them to strengthen and expand local and regional infrastructure, and more broadly called for targeted investments in national health systems.

In another resolution the Assembly decided to defer consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa to its seventy-seventh session.

In final action, the Assembly failed to adopt a resolution titled “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance”, by a recorded vote of 77 against, to 9 in favour, with 45 abstentions.  Had it passed, the Assembly would have decided to defer consideration of its subitem titled “Strengthening of international cooperation and coordination of efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster” to its seventy-eighth session.

The General Assembly will meet again at a time and date to be announced.

Situation in the Middle East

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said the negative vote cast by a permanent Security Council member is the consequence of a tactical struggle, attempting to portray the opponent in a negative light.  During the 8 July Council meeting, the Russian Federation voted against a draft on the extension of the cross-border mechanism into Syria, as presented by Ireland and Norway.  Subsequently, the United States, United Kingdom and France voted against a Russian draft on the topic.  The reason for the disagreement was related to a single point:  a scheme whereby the provision of cross-border humanitarian assistance, after six months, could be extended for another six months.  His delegation had insisted that this would require a separate resolution, however Western countries tried to secure an extension immediately, for one year.

He stressed that Council resolution 2585 (2021) was not duly implemented.  This largely occurred because the text did not create a mechanism for non‑extension after half a year if Security Council members deemed progress to be insufficient.  Rather, the implementation of its measures began in May, just before the expiration of the resolution, with the sole goal of placating Syria and the Russian Federation before another extension.  He denounced the “sly” nature of former Western colleagues in their refusal to consider a six-month extension, determining that any measures to fine-tune the humanitarian system was something they had no intention of doing.  Syria and the Russian Federation could not tolerate this situation.  Recalling that the mechanism from neighbouring States into Syria was launched in 2014, when Syria was being ripped apart by terrorists and was not able to provide aid to all in need, he said it was designed exclusively as an emergency temporary measure to help those being ravaged by a terrorist presence.

He said the only areas not under Government control today are those beyond the Euphrates, where the United States loots resources, and in the Idlib de‑escalation zone, which is occupied by Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham.  Noting that Syria views the cross-border mechanism as illegitimate and insists that it ultimately be shuttered, he said the mechanism violates Assembly resolution 46/182, outlining the need for consent of the host State and affirming its key role in aid delivery.  Nothing prevents Syria’s sovereignty from being respected except the unwillingness of Western countries to stop supporting terrorists that they trained to oust legitimate authorities.  He called for provisions on ensuring that cross-line deliveries replace the cross-border mechanism, noting that his country will not object to another six-month extension if members respect what was agreed in resolution 2585 (2021) related to cross-line deliveries, early recovery projects and greater transparency for the cross-border mechanism.  On 8 July, the Russian Federation protected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.  “Who will protect you if you allow yourselves to be dragged into another’s games?”, he asked.  Also on 8 July, former Western partners, due to political considerations, preferred to provoke the Russian Federation’s veto.  He advocated for expanding the Council to States in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Venezuela on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, said that, despite the fact that Syria joined consensus on Assembly resolution 76/262, his delegation and others believe that this resolution is being abused in a political manner that does not serve its declared objectives nor the agenda item for which it was tabled:  strengthening the United Nations system.  Council members must uphold their responsibilities under the Charter, he said, noting that the Organization’s founders included a clear voting system.  Yet, some Member States are using the Council to impose the agenda of some countries at the expense others.  The unfair geographic distribution of the Council does not reflect today’s realities, he said, adding that some Western Council members, including members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), are pushing forward their own agendas.  They do this by tabling non-consensual resolutions that are not in the interest of some Member States, especially developing countries.

Stressing that Syrians are suffering from an unfair war and unilateral coercive measures, he said his delegation has been very concerned with the implementation of Council resolution 2585 (2021) and its major shortcomings.  That text provides only one means of cross-border access and does not respect Syrian sovereignty.  No mechanism exists to make sure humanitarian aid does not fall into the hands of terrorists on the Council’s list.  The concerns of Syria and the Russian Federation have been met with intentional disregard, he said, adding that the United States, United Kingdom and France have created obstacles to the implementation of Council resolution 2585 (2021).  He agreed with the Russian Federation’s position and its rejection of the draft resolution extending the terms of resolution 2585 (2021) for another year, without any amendments or enhancement to respond to the needs of Syrians in an effective, transparent and measurable manner.  The Russian Federation’s position respects Syria’s sovereignty — which is underlined in all relevant Council resolutions — and understands the need to alleviate the Syrian people’s suffering.  The Russian Federation’s vote against the draft resolution was necessary to curb the disinformation of the three Western countries, which have manipulated public opinion.  While they claim they are concerned with humanitarian issues, they are in fact imposing illegal, immoral coercive measures that have had a catastrophic impact on the Syrian people.

THIBAULT CAMELLI, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, noted that the proposal by Ireland and Norway for a full year renewal of the cross-border mechanism at Bab al-Hawa had wide support from Council members, with 13 votes in favour.  He expressed deep regret over the veto cast by the Russian Federation, noting that the Secretary-General, European Union and the humanitarian community had also continuously called for a 12-month renewal.  For now, aid can continue crossing at Bab al-Hawa, the single remaining border crossing.  While a six-month renewal of cross-border access is an “important outcome”, he urged the Council to renew the mechanism for a further six months by January 2023.  “There is simply no viable alternative to the cross-border operation to meet the needs of millions of people in north-west Syria,” he stressed, stressing that humanitarian actions must not be disrupted or politicized and that needs in Syria will likely increase amid the food crisis caused by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.  The European Union is the largest donor supporting Syrians and the region, he said, pointing to its recent €4.8 billion pledge for 2022 and beyond.

MARIE-LOUISE KOCH WEGTER (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said she deeply regrets that the Russian Federation’s use of the veto forced the Council to ignore the urgent humanitarian needs of the Syrian people on the ground.  “We must put humanitarian needs above politics,” she said.  There are no humanitarian grounds to justify a veto on cross-border assistance to those in  need, she said, stressing that this is yet another example of the veto’s abuse by a permanent Council member.  Today’s debate provides a much-needed occasion for the Russian Federation to explain itself and for other Member States to express their opinion.  Since the outbreak of the war in Syria in 2011, the Russian Federation has used its veto 17 times in relation to the Syrian conflict alone, she observed.  This adds woes to an already dire situation.

In 2014, there were four border-crossings that helped to ensure food, water, shelter, critical medical services and other life-saving support for Syrians in need, she said.  Today, due to consecutive Russian vetoes, there is one last lifeline through the Bab al-Hawa crossing.  The Russian Federation’s use of the veto disregards the calls of the Secretary-General and the humanitarian community.  She strongly expected the Council will deliver and renew the mandate in January 2023 at the latest, based on the Syrian people’s humanitarian needs.  Noting that the use yet again of the veto underscores the need for Council reform, she encouraged all Member States to support the French-Mexican initiative and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Code of Conduct.

JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), speaking for the Friends of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, said the bloc was created in response to the urgent need to defend Charter principles against the resort to unilateralism, attacks against multilateralism, claims of “non-existent exceptionalism” and “so‑called rules” that have never been discussed transparently.  Noting that the adoption of Council resolution 2642 (2022) makes today’s meeting unnecessary, he welcomed the Russian Federation’s transparency in outlining its reasons for casting the veto.  Any Council outcome must guarantee full respect for Syria’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.  The legitimate priorities of States concerned must be taken into account to ensure their full ownership of related processes.  He voiced support for the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality, and the lifting of all unilateral coercive measures against Syria, as their illegal application impedes its economic and social development.  In his national capacity, he encouraged delegates to address why the United States, France and United Kingdom voted against draft S/2022/541 on the cross-border mechanism.

OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), also speaking on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands and aligning himself with the European Union, deeply regretted the outcome of the Council’s 8 July vote and the Russian Federation’s use of its veto against the resolution to extend the cross-border mechanism for 12 months.  The Secretary-General, the entire humanitarian community and most Council members specifically called for the renewal of Council resolution 2585 (2021), yet the Russian Federation alone chose to ignore this call, undermining the ability to effectively deliver humanitarian aid to more than 4 million people in need.  While welcoming the compromise reached in Council resolution 2642 (2022), he expressed worries about the operational impact of a six-month renewal, stressing that humanitarian actors risk being caught in a perpetual cycle of contingency planning, undermining the effectiveness of and trust in their operations.

The Russian Federation’s use of the veto on 8 July blocked the path towards predictable, cross-border humanitarian access to north-west Syria, he said.  Without a political solution in line with Council resolution 2254 (2015), the conflict in Syria will simply not end.  He repeated the European Union position that unless and until such a solution is firmly underway, the bloc will not finance any reconstruction effort, nor lift sanctions or normalize relations.  He urged all Council members and the wider United Nations membership to uphold international humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law.

SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), speaking for the Pacific Island Forum, expressed disappointment that the Russian Federation voted to block a humanitarian resolution.  While welcoming the extension of the cross-border mechanism, “the delay and uncertainty has been unacceptable, and completely avoidable”, he stressed, noting that provision of humanitarian assistance should fully align with international humanitarian law.  “Providing people with the means of survival in their most difficult circumstances should be above geopolitics,” he insisted, noting that 12 million people in Syria suffer from food insecurity — 2.5 million of them are severely affected.  He described use of the veto to block a resolution that would provide operational certainty to humanitarian organizations for a minimum 12 months as a “travesty”, stressing that his delegation has consistently opposed unconstrained veto use.  “We can see clearly how outdated and obstructionist the veto really can be,” he remarked.

DONAL KENNEALLY (Ireland), noting that his country and Ireland as co‑sponsors engaged in “careful and diligent” dialogue with all Council members, humanitarian actors and many members of the Assembly.  On 8 July, their draft received the support of the vast majority of Council members, however, it was subject to a solitary veto, cast by the Russian Federation, placing the lifeline for 4 million Syrians at risk, an “unconscionable act”.  Four days later, the Council adopted resolution 2642 (2022), proposed by the co-sponsors.  Noting that the six-month renewal is shorter than they had hoped, than the humanitarian community had requested, and than aid beneficiaries need, the Bab al-Hawa crossing does remain open.  “Cross border operations save and sustain lives,” he said. “This is a fact.”  Today, Assembly delegates have a say, and the Security Council needs to hear and heed those voices.

MONA JUUL (Norway) expressed deep regret over the sole use of the veto by the Russian Federation, preventing the adoption of text that would have set up a “6+6” extension of the cross-border aid operation into Syria — a formula which already presented a “significant” and fair compromise from the 12 months that the Secretary-General and humanitarian agencies said was the minimum needed to serve 4.1 million people.  For humanitarian organizations, a predictable mandate is necessary to implement the aid response via cross-border, cross-line and early recovery projects.  “We cannot have another situation where people, humanitarian organizations and United Nations staff in north-west Syria “have to sit and wait while Security Council negotiations run into overtime”, she insisted.

ÖNCÜ KEÇLI (Türkiye) said that, despite the support of a great majority of its members, the Council had to settle for a six-month extension of the cross‑border mechanism, whose mandate will end on 10 January 2023, in the dead of winter.  Describing Syria’s north-west as an “unforgiving landscape”, he said this is the worst time to reconsider life-saving support.  It is highly unlikely that a viable alternative will be conceived in the next six months.  Since 1945, everything has changed — except the veto — which is weaponized to avoid carrying out the Council’s mandate and used as a license to pursue self-interest.  This is why the international community has lost trust in the United Nations.  With power over all United Nations organs, the Assembly can hold the Council to account.  “We have the quality of voice and vote,” he said.  No member can abuse its privileges to pursue its own interests.  Humanitarian access must be governed by humanitarian law, not self-serving veto privileges.  Ending the suffering in Syria’s north-west is a moral and humanitarian imperative.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that, when Assembly resolution 76/262 was adopted, he supported its general push towards enhancing transparency before the wider membership, yet was concerned about some of the initiative’s aspects, particularly the blurring of the mandates of the Council and the Assembly.  He noted that today’s situation is different than last month's debate, when just one draft resolution was not adopted by the Council, due to negative votes of permanent members resulting in no outcome.  This time, the Council was dealing with concurring draft resolutions and a text was adopted four days after the veto.  If the Council moved from stalemate on 8 July to a “possible compromise” on the 12 July, one can question whether today’s debate is really necessary if Member States wish to avoid politicizing and blurring the mandates of the Council and the Assembly, he said.  The compromise on the length of the authorization’s extension was an initial period of six months, until 10 January 2023, and then a new resolution to allow a further period of six months.  Meanwhile, the Council will hold interactive dialogues with all stakeholders involved in the operations.  The Secretary-General will prepare a report to be presented by 10 December.  “Let us work so that, in January, we have a compromise ahead of time, so that essential assistance is not interrupted in the middle of the winter when needs are higher,” he said.

DAI BING (China), noting that the crisis in Syria has gone on for 11 years, said China has always supported the United Nations and international community in extending humanitarian relief to the Syrian people and has actively delivered humanitarian support through multiple channels.  The Chinese Government’s position on the humanitarian issue has been consistent and clear:  There must be respect for Syria’s sovereignty and ownership.  Cross-line delivery should become the main avenue for the delivery of humanitarian aid and the cross‑border mechanism should be a temporary arrangement that should transition at a greater pace towards cross-line delivery with clear timelines for drawing cross‑border aid to an end.  Unilateral sanctions have negatively impacted the country’s socioeconomic recovery and development and they must be lifted, he said.  Council resolution 2642 (2022) allows for a more flexible arrangement to renewing authority for cross border delivery for aid to Syria, he said, adding that effective solutions can be found through dialogue and consultation.

RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) underscoring that “we should not be here today”, said that there is no justification for the Russian Federation’s 8 July decision to veto the draft resolution to deliver assistance to over 4 million people suffering from 11 years of war.  Noting that today’s meeting is intended to promote accountability for the use of the veto power, he stressed that, in vetoing a resolution authorizing humanitarian aid to vulnerable Syrians, one Council member abused that power.  Despite calls for increased aid from the Secretary-General, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and the Syrians themselves, one country chose not to put humanitarian needs first, and rather than scaling-up aid, scaled it down.  Since the start of the conflict in Syria, the Russian Federation has vetoed 17 Council resolutions on Syria, seeking to shield the Assad regime from accountability and to prop up the regime’s tattered standing in the international community.  He pointed out that the Council has a cross-border aid mandate because the Assad regime has a well-documented history of corruption, stealing aid and denying it to communities in need.

Stressing that the Russian Federation continues to prioritize narrow Russian interests instead of finding a way out of the devastating conflict, he called on that country and the Syrian regime to engage constructively in finding a political solution pursuant to resolution 2254 (2015).  The Russian Federation’s veto has consequences, as the first of the two six-month extensions contemplated by resolution 2642 (2022) will end in January, when humanitarian needs will be greatest.  This timeline risks leaving vulnerable Syrians without blankets, heating items and food in the coldest month if the second extension is not adopted.  He went on to emphasize that the scale of the United Nations cross‑border mechanism is “immense”, requiring detailed, long-term planning.  Without certainty as to the duration of its authorization, humanitarian organizations’ ability to organize supply chains, retain staff and plan operations will be severely impacted.

Calling on the international community to come together and “firewall” any further politicization of this purely humanitarian issue, he said that the United States will work with “any and every country” that prioritizes delivering aid to the most vulnerable.  There is a different way to resolve this matter — where no veto is used and the entire Council comes together in the spirit of solidarity.  The Council has done this before and must do so again.  “The Syrian people are counting on us to deliver,” he added.

NJAMBI KINYUNGU (Kenya) said that, as the Council’s E-10 [10 elected members of the Security Council] Coordinator for July, the Kenyan delegation enabled a conversation that confirmed elected members’ support for the draft resolution tabled by Norway and Ireland, which called for a 12-month renewal.  The E-10 played a constructive role to bridge divides and identify useful compromises between Council members.  A lasting lesson that the Assembly can take is that elected members, who are ready to work across divides, are important to the Council.  He said he is convinced that E-10 unity is an important pillar of an effective Council, adding that the role of this elected block should be strengthened procedurally and considered during fundamental Council reform.  It is also important that the permanent members use the E-10 as a bridge to unity and necessary compromises in the implementation of the mandate.  As Kenya draws close to the end of its term in the Council, he said its primary motivation has been to support every measure that relieves the Syrian people’s humanitarian suffering.

RICHARD CROKER (United Kingdom) said the use of the veto is a heavy responsibility and should not be taken lightly.  It has been 50 years since the United Kingdom last vetoed a Council resolution unilaterally.  The Russian Federation has used the veto 18 times since 2011 to block the Council’s efforts to protect the Syrian people.  This is in addition to numerous other times, including to protect itself after its illegal invasion of Ukraine.  These 18 vetoes are a significant cause of the international community’s failure to protect the Syrian people from the Assad remine.  This failure has undermined and weakened the Council and it should weigh heavily on the Council’s collective conscience.  The Russian Federation’s unilateral use of the veto, to block a humanitarian resolution for a mechanism upon which 2.4 million people rely, is particularly egregious, he said, also commending Norway and Ireland for their efforts to secure a resolution that would maintain this vital humanitarian lifeline.  It should be clear that under resolution 2642 (2022), the Council’s intent is to maintain this mechanism for 12 months.

WADID BENAABOU (France) expressed regret over the Russian Federation’s use of the veto, describing the renewal in resolution 2642 (2022) as a precarious one, as it expires in the depths of winter without a firm guarantee of renewal.  Even if cross-line convoys were regularly dispatched, they would not replace the 800 that cross Syria’s border with Türkiye each month.  France will be vigilant to ensure the Council allows the humanitarian community to meet the immense needs in Syria, he added, underscoring that France will not finance Syria’s reconstruction or lift sanctions unless a political process is undertaken, in line with resolution 2254 (2015).

Action — Operational Activities for Development

In the afternoon, the Assembly turned its attention to five texts, first adopting without a vote a decision titled, “United Nations Pledging Conference for Development Activities” (document A/76/L.73), deciding to convene the first Pledging Conference in its adjusted format in the first half of 2023, shortly after the Economic and Social Council operational activities for development segment.

The Assembly then adopted a resolution submitted by its President titled “Our ocean, our future, our responsibility” (document A/76/L.72), endorsing the declaration of the same name, adopted by the 2022 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14:  Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development held in Lisbon from 27 June to 1 July.

The representative of Venezuela said that, while his delegation supported the declaration adopted at the Conference, it has reservations about references to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, despite that Venezuela is not a party.  Venezuela’s support should not be interpreted as having changed its position on that Convention.

Action — New Partnership for Africa's Development

ALEENA MAJID (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution “New Partnership for Africa’s Development:  Progress in Implementation and International Support” (document A/76/L.59/Rev.1).

Noting that African countries have strengthened their commitments and actions in the area of socioeconomic development, she highlighted their crucial role in transforming the development agenda through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  The draft is a shared pledge by Africa and all its partners to put the continent on a path to sustainable growth and development.  The Group of 77 and China has always supported the Group of African States’ ambition to encourage international cooperation in a spirit of mutual benefit and international solidarity, she said.

The draft resolution was adopted by consensus.

After the vote, the representative of Hungary said the Government remained committed to promote development in Africa yet paragraph 18 of the text contains references to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  Hungary does not participate in its implementation.  Migration has no positive impact on inclusive growth and development.  She said her Government prefers to provide assistance to third countries locally to create stable conditions in their countries so people can safely remain.  Therefore, Hungary dissociates itself from paragraph 18 of this resolution.

The representative of the Czech Republic said that it partners with countries in Africa to promote democracy, human rights and good governance.  The Czech Republic did not join the Global Compact or participate in the intergovernmental conference in Marrakech.  It dissociates itself from paragraph 18.

Ms. MAJEED (Pakistan), speaking again for the Group of 77 and China, then introduced the draft resolution titled “Implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/76/L.60). 

Noting that the resolution highlights the crucial role of African countries in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, she said that — despite recent progress — the global health crisis has directly affected Africa’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and address the many threats to its peace and stability.  Partnerships are essential — particularly in pooling efforts and means of action in the areas of crisis prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding — and the international community should collectively uphold the leadership and ownership of African countries in suppressing conflicts by acting on the root causes of the same.  She went on to stress the importance of ensuring that the United Nations system supports African countries’ efforts to achieve sustainable, durable peace.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution by consensus.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Hungary said that, while sustainable development in Africa is important, paragraph 11 of the resolution refers to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  Hungary did not adopt that instrument and does not participate in its implementation.  She said that, instead of promoting or facilitating migration, the international community should focus on providing assistance to create local conditions more conducive to stable growth and development.  As such, her delegation disassociates itself from that paragraph.

The representative of the Czech Republic, recalling her statement pertaining to the vote on the previous draft resolution, also disassociated herself from paragraph 11.

Action — Strengthening Coordination of Humanitarian/Disaster Relief Assistance

PAVEL EVSEENKO (Belarus) then introduced the draft decision titled “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance” (document A/76/L.71).

He said that the text proposes deferring consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 74/114 on the persistent legacy of the Chernobyl disaster to the General Assembly’s seventy-eighth session.  In submitting this draft decision, Belarus is guided by the importance of international cooperation on overcoming the long-term impacts of the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the unacceptability of politicizing such cooperation.  Belarus has borne the heaviest burden, as around 35 per cent of the radiocaesium fallout on the European continent is on its territory.  He emphasized that this issue is one of the very few subjects on which the international community can and must unite, rather than making it another opportunity for mutual recriminations.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Ukraine recalled the history of the accident, in which the Soviet Union tried to conceal the real scale of the tragedy by pushing crowds of people to hold a 1 May 1986 parade in Kyiv.  The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is located on Ukraine’s territory, and he said his delegation is “shocked by the attempt to conceal information about the current situation in the facility”.  Considering the most recent developments around the Plant, it is urgent and necessary to secure the General Assembly’s right to receive timely, credible updates on the current situation and its implications for international efforts to mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.  Rejecting this attempt to suspend the General Assembly’s rights without credible explanation as to why the body should do so, he requested a recorded vote on the draft decision and urged Member States to vote against it.

The representative of the Czech Republic, speaking for the European Union, said that, in light of recent, concerning developments around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant due to the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, it is critical to receive timely updates from the Secretary-General on such developments’ implications for international efforts to mitigate and minimize the Chernobyl disaster.  He rejected Belarus’ proposal to postpone the Secretary‑General’s report and consideration thereof to the General Assembly’s seventy‑eighth session.

The Assembly did not adopt the draft decision by a recorded vote of 77 against to 9 in favour, with 45 abstentions.

Also speaking today on the veto were representatives of Costa Rica, Albania, Canada, Singapore, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, Mexico, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Japan, Qatar, Malta, Estonia, Slovenia, Dominican Republic, Chile, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Italy, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Guatemala, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Hungary, Nicaragua, Portugal, Belarus and the Republic of Korea, as well as of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

For information media. Not an official record.