General Assembly Adopts Work Programme for Seventy-Eighth Session, Including Agenda Items on High Seas Treaty, Temporarily Occupied Ukrainian Territories
The General Assembly today adopted its work programme for the seventy-eighth session, deciding to include a range of new items on its agenda, including the “Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction” — a historic maritime biodiversity treaty adopted on 19 June by the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction.
Acting on the recommendation of its General Committee, contained in its first report (document A/78/250), the Assembly decided that the general debate, which will be held from 19 to 26 September, will continue on Saturday, 23 September. [The general debate will not be held on Sunday, 24 September, and Monday, 25 September.]
Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the Assembly’s seventy-eighth session, highlighted the General Committee’s other recommendations on the organization of the session, concerning the Committee, rationalization of work, closing date of the session, the general debate and the conduct of meetings, as contained in section II of the report titled “Organization of the session”. The Assembly also took note of the information on the right of reply, particularly the organ’s practice that statements delivered in exercise of the right of reply to addresses made by Heads of State be in writing. Further, it took note of all the information and approved all the recommendations of the Committee contained in Section II of the report.
In so doing, the Assembly endorsed the recommendation that the seventy-eighth session recess on Monday, 4 December, and close on Tuesday, 10 September 2024, by 1 p.m., as well as the recommendations that, during the main part of the session, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) complete its work by Friday, 10 November; the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) by Monday, 13 November; the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) and Sixth Committee (Legal) by Friday, 17 November; the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) by Wednesday, 22 November; and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) by Friday, 1 December.
The Assembly decided to include a range of items on its agenda, including: “Question of the Comorian island of Mayotte”, “The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine”, “Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction”, “Report on the activities of the Ethics Office”, “Observer status for the International Parliamentarians’ Congress in the General Assembly” and “Observer status for the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture in the General Assembly”.
Following the Assembly’s decision to include the item “The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine” on its agenda, the representative of the Russian Federation said her country distances itself from the consensus on the report of the General Committee with respect to the recommendation to include that item on the organ’s agenda, which was adopted by the Committee by a vote by a minority of its members.
Stressing that the item is not in line with the principle of the self-determination of peoples as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, she said that citizens of territories, which Kyiv and a group of its “Western handlers” are trying to present as occupied, made their own free choice in favour of the Russian Federation during referendums. Citing several other reasons, she said: “We urge all delegations who truly wish to resolve the Ukrainian crisis to ignore this item.”
The representative of Sri Lanka, turning to the voting intention on the declaration on Ukraine taken up by the General Committee, said that he has requested that his country’s voting intention be amended to one of an abstention and that it be reflected in the minutes.
Ukraine’s representative stressed that the vigilant attention of the Assembly as the United Nations primary, deliberative, policymaking and representative organ is indispensable in addressing the Russian Federation’s heinous acts of terrorism and reprisals against the civilian population in the occupied territories of her country. It is the collective duty of Member States to thwart the Russian Federation’s efforts to conceal its crimes and closely monitor and demand accountability for all violations of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, she urged.
The Assembly decided to defer consideration of the agenda item “Question of the Malagasy islands of Glorieuses, Juan de Nova, Europa and Bassas da India” to its seventy-ninth session and to include it in the provisional agenda of that session.
Turning to Section IV on the “Allocation of items” in the report and paragraph 101 therein regarding the agenda recommended by the Committee for the Assembly’s adoption, the organ decided to include in the agenda items 3 to 8; the items listed under heading A “Promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and recent United Nations conferences”; the items listed under heading B “Maintenance of international peace and security”; the item listed under heading C “Development of Africa”; the items listed under heading D “Promotion of human rights”; the item listed under heading E “Effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts”; the item listed under heading F “Promotion of justice and international law”; the items listed under heading G “Disarmament”; the items listed under Heading H “Drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”; and the items listed under heading I “Organizational, administrative and other matters”.
The Assembly also took note of and approved all the recommendations contained in paragraphs 105 to 109 and subparagraphs thereto, including the allocation of items listed for plenary meetings, as well as the allocation of the items for consideration by its Main Committees.
The Assembly, recalling its prior resolutions on the matter, noted that the delegations of the Holy See and the State of Palestine would participate in the seventy-eighth session as observer States, and that the European Union would participate as an observer.
The Assembly also authorized the following entities to meet during the main part of the seventy-eighth session, on the strict understanding that all such meetings would be allocated conference services in such a way as to ensure that the work of the General Assembly and its Main Committees is not impeded: the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; the Panel of External Auditors and Board of Auditors; the meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women); the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the Committee on Relations with the Host Country; the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the Independent Audit Advisory Committee; the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction; and the meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; and the Committee on Conferences.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday, 11 September, to hold a debate on the use of the veto.