General Assembly Adopts Resolutions on Development, Peace in Africa, Cooperation between United Nations, Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
The General Assembly adopted five consensus resolutions today on Africa’s development and durable peace across the continent, sustainable development, global health and chemical weapons, with the latter surviving a challenge by a competing resolution put forth by the Russian Federation, which also issued a litany of amendments to the text.
By that resolution, titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)”, the Assembly welcomed the effective and ongoing cooperation between the two organizations as set out in the Agreement concerning the relationship between them. The Assembly also took note with grave concern of three reports of the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria in 2017 and 2018, and took note of two decisions of the OPCW Executive Council, one on 9 July 2020 and another on 21 April 2021, in that regard.
The slew of amendments — each of which were handily defeated in recorded votes — sought to delete half the text, including all its references to the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team’s activities and reports pertaining to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. It also sought to expunge the text of references to decisions taken by the OPCW’s Executive Council on the possession and use of chemical weapons by Syria, as well as a reference to the monitoring of the OPCW Technical Secretariat of developments related to any possible use of chemical weapons arising from the aggression against Ukraine.
The representative of the Russian Federation, introducing the competing draft resolution, said it was a “strictly factual” text, devoid of any political bias, which expressed support for cooperation between the United Nations and international and regional organizations. Pointing out that references to Syria and Ukraine in the draft put forth by the Netherlands are attempts to advance specific geopolitical agendas, he also proposed various amendments to that text, as well as a new paragraph.
Countering claims of bias, the representative of the Netherlands said that the text is an update of the one adopted on 3 March 2021, which reflects factual developments that have taken place since then. Further, she said that the text prepared by her delegation is a balanced outcome of consultations and negotiations, which steers clear of any undue controversy.
On that point, the delegate for Syria averred that the Netherlands ignored all appeals from Member States, refused requests to adopt consensus resolutions and placed its narrow political interests first. She added that the Netherlands insisted on politicizing the text, and on transferring the technical debate from the Hague to New York.
In other action, the Assembly adopted a text recognizing the efforts of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, reaffirming the essential role played by the New Partnership Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, welcoming the efforts by development partners to strengthen cooperation with the New Partnership and underscoring the importance of coherent, coordinated implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By other terms, the Assembly recognized the importance of scaling up international tax cooperation, and welcomed the adoption of resolution 77/244 of 30 December 2022, entitled “Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations”.
By a resolution titled “Promotion of durable peace through sustainable development in Africa”, the Assembly welcomed the unanimous adoption of General Assembly resolution 76/305 of 8 September 2022 on financing for peacebuilding, and urged all relevant stakeholders to ensure its operationalization with a view to ensuring adequate, predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding, including in Africa. It also noted that the amount of voluntary contributions has not been sufficient to meet increasing demands for the support of the Peacebuilding Fund, and affirmed that other sources of funding, including assessed contributions, could be used to finance the Fund.
By a resolution on water and sustainable development, the Assembly decided to accredit the organizations identified in a relevant note by the Secretariat and invite them to participate as intergovernmental organizations in the work of the United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028, with observer status.
Also speaking were the representatives of Egypt, Croatia, China, Mexico, India, Venezuela and El Salvador, as well as the European Union.
The representatives of Japan and China spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.
New Partnership for Africa’s Development
PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolutions on “New Partnership for Africa’s Development: progress in implementation and international support” (document A/77/L.45/Rev.1) and “Promotion of durable peace through sustainable development in Africa” (document A/77/L.46). He said “L.45/Rev.1” highlights important progress made by Africa in conjunction with its partners in implementing its various programmes and projects since the last such General Assembly resolution. The text spotlights areas requiring support to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and underscores the importance of coherent and coordinated implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, acknowledging that much needs to be done to overcome challenges in that regard. More support is needed to reduce the effects of and recover from the pandemic to enable the continent to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, he added.
Turning to “L.46”, he said it highlights the crucial role of African countries in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and progress made in this regard, as well as in building peace for sustainable development. Noting that there are many causes of conflict in Africa — with complex internal and external factors causing and perpetuating disputes in many parts of the world, including Africa — he called on the international community to collectively uphold the leadership and ownership of African countries in suppressing conflicts by acting on the root causes of such conflicts. The draft resolution reflects on efforts undertaken by the United Nations, the African Union and other stakeholders to promote peace and development in the continent, outlines areas of concern and calls for increased action and cooperation; specifically, for the United Nations system and multinational partners to deliver expeditiously on their commitments and to support the full, speedy implementation of the provisions of the political declaration on Africa’s development needs, the 2030 Agenda and the Agenda 2063. To prevent conflicts at their earliest stages, he stressed the need to ensure the United Nations system supports the efforts of African countries to achieve sustainable and durable peace. He hoped that both resolutions will be successfully adopted.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) noting that African countries were facing various struggles in sustainable development even before the current crisis, said that ongoing crises have placed severe pressure on Government budgets and public finances and have limited policy space. However, despite these challenges, the continent’s nations have been mobilizing domestic resources to finance crucial investments, enable essential services and promote inclusive growth. Africa’s development is primarily financed through domestic financing, he said, adding that maximizing domestic resource mobilization is crucial for building resilience and debt sustainability. These efforts must be supplemented by comprehensive reform of the global financial architecture, he stressed, calling for tax reform and measures to combat illicit financial flows. Also underscoring the importance of fulfilling official development assistance (ODA) commitments, he added that the operationalization of the loss and damage fund as previously agreed, is crucial for a just transition. It is imperative to improve African leadership and ownership of development processes, he said.
Ms. SZLEZAK, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that Africa and her bloc have a close and long-standing partnership in a number of fields. The Union is Africa’s largest trade, investment and development partner, she noted, adding that the multilateral system, including the Security Council, would benefit from a stronger African voice and representation. Expressing concern about the trend of increasing violence and conflict in Africa, she said the international community needs to support both the presence and the quality of governance structures that can provide public services across the territory.
Noting that the current text has been updated to reflect the strong adverse effects of climate change on sustainable development, she expressed regret that some delegations could not support the reference to the link between the adverse effects of climate change on durable peace. Further, the resolution makes reference to the adoption of Security Council resolution 2634 (2022) on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, she noted. Highlighting the reference to the important General Assembly resolution on financing for peacebuilding that was unanimously adopted in September 2022, she encouraged the Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to reach agreement on assessed contributions for the Peacebuilding Fund in its upcoming session.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), speaking on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission, called for strengthened efforts to promote nation-building as a critical element of peacebuilding and sustaining peace. To this end, he stressed the importance of strengthening national capacities and mitigating the impact of external shocks. Voicing concern over the impact of the multifaceted crisis — triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic — on the socioeconomic conditions of African countries, he said increased budgetary constraints have exacerbated existing inequalities. To build peace, it is crucial to address the root causes of conflict and instability and support the efforts of States in building their capabilities. The Commission underlines the importance of sustainable development for sustaining peace in Africa, including through agricultural modernization. Noting that good governance contributes to the implementation of all Sustainable Development Goals, he said enhanced collaboration between the United Nations, the African Union and African countries should prioritize the processing of data in this area. Africa’s sociocultural diversity is one of its greatest assets, he stressed, encouraging the United Nations to study utilization of traditional leadership structures for strengthening governance in African countries. Calling for meaningful participation of women at all levels, he noted that the empowerment of women and the inclusion of youth should be translated into policies to overcome socioeconomic obstacles.
LIQUN LIU (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, expressed concern over severe challenges Africa faces in terms of food, finance and climate change. Supporting peace and development in the continent is a common responsibility of the international community, he said, stressing the need to provide African countries with targeted help. All countries should adhere to the principle of mutual respect in their relation to Africa, he said, highlighting the importance of non-interference. Detailing China’s projects in Africa, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to working with African countries.
CHRISTIAN TONATIUH GONZÁLEZ JIMÉNEZ (Mexico) said that the 2030 Agenda’s pledge, of leaving no one behind, is more important than ever, as strengthened multilateralism was needed to tackle interrelated crises. Noting that health is a prerequisite for development, he underscored the need to eradicate diseases in the course of active and residual transmission. Outlining his country’s efforts to eliminate malaria, in line with the strategy set out by the World Health Organization (WHO), including stepped up surveillance, tracking mosquito species, and installing mosquito nets in exposed areas, he said Mexico has eliminated the disease in 24 out of its 32 federal entities. However, he expressed regret over a 2022 report that found that 95 per cent of the 11 million deaths from malaria occurred on the African continent and called on States to work together with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria towards concrete, urgent and effective actions to treat malaria in the African continent. He invited developing States and development funds to mobilize resources and strategies to this end and called on African States to strengthen their policies and financial systems to achieve sustainable development. Stressing the need for “quality of action”, he called for discussions to be centralized and for efforts to not be duplicated in committees with less reach than the General Assembly.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the last three years have been particularly challenging for developing nations, due to multiple concerns, including the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many of them had experienced declines on the Human Development Index two years in a row, which erased gains made in the previous five years. Therefore, he underscored the need to support the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, especially given demonstrable limits to structures of cooperation in the face of persisting challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict. He underscored the need to strengthen public health infrastructure; to recognize the spread of terrorism in the continent, and for the international community to support homegrown solutions sustainably. Further, he stressed the need for international partnerships for concessional financing and debt sustainability, and for regulatory frameworks.
ASBINA MARIN SEVILLA (Venezuela), aligning herself with the Group of 77, expressed reservations about operative paragraph 23 of the text concerning promotion of durable peace through sustainable development in Africa. Noting that her country is not a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, she said its regulations are not applicable to conventional or customary law.
CARLOS EFRAIN SEGURA ARAGON (El Salvador) said peace and security in Africa have an impact on stability around the world. Reaffirming support for a multidimensional approach to preventing conflict and peacebuilding in Africa, he expressed concern about the threat posed by armed robbery and piracy on the high seas and called for continued support to affected countries. Reaffirming the importance of maritime security, he said the Law of the Sea Convention does not have exclusive remit to address this issue. There are other instruments that have legal purview on this matter, he said, adding that the approach to language on this topic must not exclusively refer to the Law of the Sea Convention as the only applicable framework on this matter.
The Assembly then approved by consensus “L.45/Rev.1” and “L.46”.
The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union in explanation of vote after the vote, highlighted the link between sustainable development and peace, which is at the heart of this resolution. The European Union is Africa’s largest trade, investment and development partner, she recalled, describing the partnership with Africa as a key priority. Maintaining consensus is also crucial for the bloc. Turning to the food, security and energy crisis, she welcomed the African food production plan to boost food security, nutrition and resilience and stressed the European Union’s continued support to sustainable agriculture in Africa. She also welcomed the call for investments in sustainable energy systems. Moreover, she stressed the importance of engaging in discussions and contributing to further updates of the resolution, including on climate change and other pressing crises facing the world.
The representative of Hungary, aligning herself with the European Union, outlined efforts by her country to respond to problems faced by the African continent, including through initiatives such as the “Hungary Helps Program”, which helps rebuild schools and health-care centres to provide assistance to thousands of internally displaced persons, promoting the social reintegration of families living in poverty, facilitating access to clean water, and supporting the development of sustainable agriculture and renewable energy sources. Hungary disassociates itself from preambular paragraph 20 of “L.45/Rev.1” and operative paragraph 13 of “L.46”, which contain references to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which it did not adopt, she said.
The representative of Türkiye said his country supports efforts to effectuate peace and security in Africa, through bilateral and multilateral partnerships, particularly in the realm of tackling piracy. While expressing support for the general content of the resolution, he said he wished to disassociate from the implied reference made to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in operative paragraph 23 of “L.46”, which mentioned Security Council resolution 2634 (2022).
The representative of Canada stressed the need for balanced and integrated social, economic and environmental development. Expressing reservations concerning operative paragraph 17 of “L.45/Rev.1”, which welcomed the Assembly resolution concerning “Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations”, she said that, while her delegation supports the need for international tax arrangements that will support development efforts, it does not support a tax cooperation process at the United Nations that will duplicate other efforts.
The representative of the United States, highlighting his country’s close partnership with African countries on a number of matters, welcomed the resolution’s references to civil society and human rights. Clarifying his delegation’s position on a number of matters, he said language concerning trade in the resolution has no implications for his country’s trade policies. Further, he added, the terms “illicit financial flows” and “right to development” have no agreed upon definitions.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, expressing support for the overall concept of “L.45/Rev.1”, dissociated himself from operative paragraph 17 which welcomed the tax cooperation resolution. He recalled that that text faced several procedural issues leading up to its adoption, and attempts at compromise were “brushed aside”.
The representative of the United Kingdom, highlighting operative paragraph 15 of that text, said that his country understands the commitment regarding $100 billion per year to be in line with the language in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Next, the Assembly adopted the draft decision concerning “Accreditation and participation of intergovernmental organizations in the United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028 (document A/77/L.52).
The representative of the Russian Federation, raising a point of order, noted that two drafts on the same issue — A/77/L.48 and A/77/L.49 — are on the General Assembly’s agenda. He proposed that the Assembly considers the first submitted draft first.
The representative of the Netherlands strongly objected to the motion proposed by the Russian Federation, stressing that many incidents of chemical weapons use remain to be investigated. She deplored actions taken by the Russian Federation which are not consistent with the working methods of the United Nations.
The representative of the Russian Federation noted that rule 71 of the procedure of the General Assembly stipulates that the Assembly President should decide on the point of order. Given that his delegation’s proposal was made before the representative of the Netherlands spoke, he asked for the first draft submitted to be examined first.
The motion proposed by the representative of the Russian Federation was then rejected by a recorded vote of 55 against to 23 in favour, with 53 abstentions.
United Nations-Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Cooperation
YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), introducing the draft resolution on the “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons” (OPCW) (document A/77/L.49/Rev.1), noted that it is a biannual resolution highlighting cooperation between the two organizations. Noting that her country has submitted the resolution since 1997, she said the text under consideration is an update of the one adopted on 3 March 2021 to reflect factual developments that have taken place since then. Expressing regret over the competing draft resolution put forth by the Russian Federation, she said the text is a balanced outcome of consultations and negotiations, which steers clear of any undue controversy. She urged the Assembly to act on the draft put forward by her first, and to ensure it is the only one to be adopted in order to avoid confusion or duplication.
ALEKSANDR V. SHEVCHENKO (Russian Federation), introducing the draft resolution also titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)” (document A/77/L.48), expressed concern about the politicization of the chemical weapons topic. The goal of this resolution is to express support for cooperation between the United Nations and international and regional organizations, he said, adding that his text is strictly factual and aligned with the agenda item. It is devoid of any political bias, he said, rejecting the accusations against his country, and noting that it was open to meaningful dialogue and negotiations on this text. Also expressing concern about the Assembly not sticking to rules of procedure, as a result of which a draft that was submitted later will be examined first, he said this has far-reaching consequences for the work of the Assembly. Adding that “L.49/Rev.1’s” references to Syria and Ukraine are attempts to advance specific geopolitical agendas, he also proposed various amendments to that text, including a new paragraph, as well as language deleting paragraphs 5 and 7.
The representative of the Netherlands, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on “L.49/Rev.1” stressed that the amendment does not contribute to fair and transparent process and urged Member States to vote no.
The representative of Syria, noting that Western countries should act professionally, said that the Netherlands introduced selective wording to the draft resolution which goes against the practice of adopting resolutions by consensus. Moreover, the Netherlands has ignored all appeals from Member States, refusing requests to adopt consensus resolutions and putting its narrow political interests first, she stressed, adding that the Netherlands insists on politicizing this text and on transferring the technical debate from the Hague to New York. Regarding operative paragraphs 6,7, 8 and 9 — which mention the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team — she said that this team lacked legitimacy, its causes were manipulated and it followed wrong working methods. Operative paragraph 11 is based on information provided by terrorists and the white helmet organizations, she said, stressing that there is evidence that the 2018 Douma chemical attack was falsified and used to instrumentalize the actions of the OPCW Technical Secretariat in Syria.
Also speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Sweden, speaking for the European Union, reaffirmed her bloc’s financial and diplomatic support for OPCW and rejected attacks against its integrity. Noting that the Netherlands’ draft is well-rounded, she deplored the procedural obstacles put forward by the Russian Federation, and said that country is trying to erase the last several years of investigative work done by OPCW. She urged all delegates to vote against the amendment.
The representative of Iran said that this biennial resolution should aim to strengthen the cooperation between the United Nations and OPCW. “L.48” represents a consensual approach, he said, adding that it can put an end to the division and polarization among Member States. “L.49/Rev.1” is an unbalanced text that reflects the views of only a limited number of States, he said, adding that its operative paragraphs 5 to 12 contain irrelevant issues.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that his country had made its comments known multiple times on “L.49/Rev.1”. Stressing that attempts to politicize this issue show that some countries view the United Nations as a platform to transmit their own political agenda. Noting that his delegation’s draft remains on the table, he said calling it a procedural obstacle is wrong.
The representative of Australia expressed full confidence of the impartiality and professionalism of OPCW, adding that “L.49/Rev.1” enjoys was broad support among Member States. Rejecting all attempts to undermine OPCW’s work, he said that the proposed amendment is a continuation of such actions. It does not contribute to good-faith negotiations, he said, welcoming the Netherlands’ continued leadership on this matter.
The representative of Belarus said that the issue of chemical weapons must be considered in a broader context. International security is increasingly fractured with certain countries systematically trying to eliminate their neighbours, he said. A universal document that should facilitate cooperation concerning chemical weapons is now full of private agendas, he said, expressing support for the Russian Federation’s draft.
The Assembly then rejected the oral amendment proposed by the Russian Federation by a recorded vote of 56 against to 12 in favour, with 61 abstentions.
The Assembly then decided to retain operative paragraph 6 of “L.49/Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 11 against, with 38 abstentions.
Next, it decided to retain operative paragraph 7 of “L.49/Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 79 in favour to 11 against, with 37 abstentions; and operative paragraph 8 of that text by a recorded vote of 76 in favour to 11 against, with 40 abstentions.
The Assembly also decided to retain operative paragraph 9 of “L.49/Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 79 in favour to 11 against, with 37 abstentions; and operative paragraph 10 by a recorded vote of 79 in favour, to 10 against (Belarus, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria) with 39 abstentions.
The Assembly further decided to retain operative paragraph 11 of “L.49/Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 81 in favour to 8 against (Belarus, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Syria), with 37 abstentions; and operative paragraph 12 by a recorded vote of 71 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 46 abstentions.
“L.49/Rev.1” as a whole was then adopted by a recorded vote of 112 in favour to 7 against (Belarus, China, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 18 abstentions.
Next, the Assembly took action on the motion proposed by the representative of the Netherlands, namely that the Assembly does not take action on “L.48”. The motion was adopted by a recorded vote of 54 in favour to 12 against, with 61 abstentions.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation voted against the proposal made by the Netherlands. Today’s meeting was a culmination of the discussion on the issue of chemical weapons and how it has been forcefully politicized by a certain group of States, he asserted.
The representative of Mexico expressed profound concern at the growing trend to introduce draft resolutions that compete with others, with no desire to negotiate. The substantive content of drafts “L.48” and “L.49/Rev.1” is acceptable. Both have overlapping elements that could have led to one single text if there had been genuine negotiations, he noted.
The representative of China reaffirmed commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and rejected the growing politicization of that issue. This is poisoning the working atmosphere of OPCW, he said, also expressing concern about the health hazards posed by the large number of weapons abandoned by Japan on Chinese soil more than eight decades ago since the Japanese war of aggression against his country.
Also speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Egypt said that, while his delegation voted in favour of the draft introduced by the Netherlands, he abstained on the votes to retain certain operative paragraphs. This draft resolution must maintain its technical nature, he stressed.
The representative of Malaysia said that his delegation had hoped for a refined draft on this topic, the tabling of two competitive drafts is a move in the wrong direction. He expressed regret that the initiators of the two texts were unable to reach agreement on one text that could enjoy broad support, adding that the operative paragraphs 6 to 12 in the resolution just adopted detract from the main purpose of the text.
Right of Reply
The representative of Japan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, recalled the issue of chemical weapons raised by the Chinese delegation. He reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and its dedication to enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and OPCW.
The representative of China, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, welcomed Japan’s position expressed earlier and voiced hope that Japan will step up efforts to destroy its chemical weapons by 2027 and deal with contaminated soil.