Seventy-eighth session,
57th & 58th Meetings (AM & PM)

General Assembly Adopts 4 Resolutions Ranging from Durable Peace in Africa to Sustainable Tourism, Organ also Concludes Debate on Temporary Occupation of Ukraine

Many Delegates Express Concern over Moscow’s Continued Human Rights Violations in Ukraine, as Organ also Concludes Debate on Temporarily Occupied Territories

The General Assembly adopted four resolutions today on issues ranging from sustainable tourism to durable peace in Africa to the World Social Summit in 2025, as it also concluded its general debate on the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the resolution “‘World Social Summit’ under the title ‘Second World Summit for Social Development’” (document A/78/L.39).

By the text, the Assembly decided to convene the “World Social Summit” to address the gaps and recommit to the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the Programme of Action and give momentum towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  It requested the President of the General Assembly to appoint two co-facilitators for the intergovernmental preparatory process leading up to the Summit.  It also requested the Secretary-General to provide adequate support within existing resources to the preparatory process.

Introducing “L.39”, the representative of Portugal, speaking also on behalf of Chile, the co-facilitator, and the core group members, highlighted the key objectives of the draft:  “The 2025 Summit is our opportunity to revitalize our social agenda by strengthening the social development pillars, namely poverty, eradication, social inclusion, social protection and decent work.”

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Hungary, speaking on behalf of the European Union, highlighted the bloc’s priorities, such as decent work, full and productive employment, social dialogue, adherence to international labour standards and social protection. Underscoring the role of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in promoting social justice in the multilateral system, he noted the importance of cooperation in the preparations for the World Social Summit.  Similarly, the global coalition for social justice should play a crucial role in contributing to the Summit’s objectives.

The representative of the Russian Federation voiced disappointment over the absence of mention of the United Nations Commission for Social Development — a specialized subsidiary body — in the document, urging all parties to harness the Commission’s potential in the preparatory stages of the Summit.

The representative of India pointed to the slow progress made in implementing the Copenhagen Declaration and its Programme of Action since the first Summit, held in 1995.  Highlighting her county’s vision of developing together and leaving no one behind, she noted that 135 million Indians have emerged from multidimensional poverty in the past five years.  The country is also on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 1.2 before the 2030 deadline.

The representative of Pakistan, noting that the intergovernmental preparatory process leading up to the Summit will be limited to discussing the Summit’s modalities and negotiating its political declaration, stressed that the talks on the Summit’s outcomes should not renegotiate its scope.

The representative of Egypt emphasized that the Summit’s outcome should focus solely on social development, aligning with the Copenhagen Declaration and the 2030 Agenda.  The Commission for Social Development — as a functional Commission of the Economic and Social Council — remains the main UN body tasked with follow-up and review of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly.  She also voiced regret that the negotiation environment for the resolution deviated from cooperation, with some delegations imposing their views on the Summit’s content.

The representative of Belarus, noting that poverty eradication in all its forms and manifestations is the most important global challenge, welcomed the initiative to convene in 2025 the Second World Summit for Social Development, which will give an impetus to developing international cooperation for achieving social protection and equality of all people.  “This is precisely what the political declaration of the Summit needs to reflect,” she added.

In other notable action, the Assembly adopted by consensus the resolution titled “Promotion of durable peace through sustainable development in Africa” (document A/78/L.37).

By its terms, the Assembly urged continued support for measures to address poverty eradication and hunger, decent job creation and sustainable development in Africa, including domestic resource mobilization, debt relief, improved market access and intra-African trade.  It expressed grave concern about the growing threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism to the peace, security and socioeconomic development of Africa.  As well, the Assembly called on the Office of Counter-Terrorism and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to intensify cooperation assistance for African Member States and the African Union.

Introducing the draft on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the representative of Uganda noted that it builds on 2023’s resolution and aims to address the root causes of conflict in Africa.  It also promotes durable peace, aligning with the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Botswana, speaking on behalf of the African Group, cited the adoption of resolutions “L.37” and “L.38” as “our collective commitment to the sustainable development and peace on our continent”.  The former is a call to action for enhanced cooperation and support based on African countries’ national priorities, while the latter is a testament to the shared vision for Africa’s prosperity, which emphasizes the importance of international support in achieving the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.  To address the root causes of conflict and foster durable peace, the global community must support the realization of the United Nations Framework Convention on Tax, she added.

The representative of the Russian Federation underscored his country’s commitment to deepen political, economic and humanitarian cooperation with African countries.  Accordingly, he highlighted the second Russia-Africa summit held in July 2023, which resulted in a 20 per cent increase in trade with Africa.

The representative of Hungary disassociated herself from preamble paragraph 24 and operational paragraph 17, recalling that her country neither adopted the Global Compact for Migration nor believes that migration has a positive impact on inclusive growth and development.

The representative of the United Kingdom, noting the critical role of peacekeeping in reducing conflict and increasing stability in Africa, observed that the resolution does not fully reflect the exact language in Security Council resolution 2719 (2023), which provides a model for future UN support to African Union peace operations.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted the resolution “International Year of Sustainable and Resilient Tourism, 2027” (document A/78/L.42), by which it proclaimed 2027 the International Year of Sustainable and Resilient Tourism.

Introducing the draft, the representative of Uzbekistan said that, today, global tourism accounts for 1 in 11 jobs, generating $1.5 trillion in exports.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism accounted for 4.2 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) — the same share as agriculture.  Despite being the hardest hit by the pandemic, tourism is recovering fast.  According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourism ended 2023 at 88 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with an estimated 1.3 billion international arrivals.  Citing this as “a very encouraging signal to the world community”, he stressed the need to keep this positive dynamic while ensuring the sector’s full recovery.

The Assembly then adopted by consensus the draft resolution “New Partnership for Africa’s Development:  progress in implementation and international support” (document A/78/L.38).

By its terms, the Assembly emphasized the need for the United Nations development system to further cooperate with the African Union and the regional economic communities, to follow up on African development priorities.  It also called on the international community to continue its support for the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and expressed deep concern about the recurring food insecurity.  The Assembly further called on African countries to create a domestic environment conducive to encouraging entrepreneurship, supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, especially those owned by women and youth.

Introducing the draft on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the representative of Uganda highlighted the progress made by African countries and the support received by development partners.  The draft places the spotlight on areas that need support, he said, underscoring the need to fulfil all commitments to advance political action for Africa’s sustainable development.  He also noted the immense flexibility shown in the formulation of consensual language throughout the text.

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, highlighted the bloc’s long-standing partnership with the African Union on a wide range of issues, particularly security and development.  “Europe and Africa need each other to build a solid and lasting response to global challenges” — from climate change, financing, energy and food security to strengthening health systems.  In 2024, the resolution focuses on combatting climate change, he observed.

The representative of the United States said that his delegation joined consensus on operative paragraph 1, with the expressed understanding that the draft does not change the current state of customary international law regarding access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. He further disassociated from operative paragraph 21, expressing regret that the characterization of the $100 billion goal is inconsistent with the agreed formulation of the goal in the Paris Agreement process.

The Assembly then continued its general debate on the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.  According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), at least 10,000 civilians have been killed, and more than 18,500 injured — not counting the deaths among soldiers on both sides — during the Russian Federation’s unprovoked war of aggression, which has entered its third year.

Urging for a cessation of hostilities and outlining current mediation efforts to that end, numerous speakers further expressed deep concern about the continued violation of human rights in the temporarily occupied territories, including indiscriminate and intentional attacks against civilian populations and objects, widespread and systematic summary executions, torture, inhumane detention conditions, sexual and gender-based violence and forced transfer and deportation, including of children.  Many also condemned the attempted illegal annexation by the Russian Federation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Among them was the representative of Australia who underscored the need to hold the Russian Federation to account for its illegal attempted annexation of Ukraine’s territory; its serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law; and its deportation of Ukrainian children from regions under temporary Russian control, for which the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants against President Vladimir V. Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. “Ukraine’s fate matters to us all,” he said, adding:  “Any one of us could be next.”

“This war has brought back haunting memories of Europe’s history, with acts of atrocities, including mass graves and torture of civilians,” said the representative of the European Union, speaking in his capacity as observer.  He urged for an independent international investigation into the circumstances of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s sudden death, for which the ultimate responsibility lies with Mr. Putin and Moscow’s authorities.  “Today’s discussion is not just about Ukraine, but about the fate of each and every country in this Hall,” he asserted.

The representative of the Republic of Moldova, aligning himself with the European Union, said that his country continues to host 120,000 Ukrainian refugees.  A temporary protection mechanism was launched almost a year ago, providing legal status and access to essential services.  Pointing out Chisinau’s collaboration with Ukraine, Romania and the European Union to facilitate the transit of goods, he emphasized the importance of “boosting support” to Ukraine as it was at the early stages of the war.  Turning to his country’s security concerns, he spotlighted the discovery of drones and missile debris on its territory.

Echoing such concerns, the representative of Estonia said that, as of today, the Russian Federation has illegally occupied and annexed about 17 per cent of Ukraine’s territory.  Condemning Moscow’s goals “to erase sovereign Ukraine from the map” and Mr. Putin’s “deeply genocidal thinking”, he said:  “in (his) paranoid imagination, Ukraine as a nation does not exist”.  Any opposition in the occupied territories, or increasingly also in the Russian Federation itself, is met with repressions, deportation, imprisonment or extrajudicial killings.  The latest example is “a murder by Putin and his cronies” of the much-feared opposition leader Alexei Navalny, after his poisoning and prolonged torture.

On the “profound and far-reaching consequences” of the war in Ukraine, the representative of Guyana highlighted the “staggering” estimated cost of post-war recovery and reconstruction, which stands at $486 billion.  “In war, there are no winners,” she stated, advocating for “dialogue over destruction and cooperation over conflict”.

“The war in Ukraine continues to send reverberations beyond the battleground,” said Türkiye’s delegate, stressing that the human cost and the physical destruction are “mounting by the day”.  In this war of attrition, a state of relative stalemate prevails on the ground, with no end in sight and little prospect for peace, he said, stating:  “The endgame for this war should not be a binary between a frozen conflict and a forever war.”  Instead, he emphasized, “it is high time that we focus our efforts on crafting the contours of a realistic, sustainable, and above all, a viable peace”.

In the same vein, India’s delegate underscored that the path to peace requires all channels of diplomacy to be open, and steps that endanger the possibility of dialogue and negotiation must be avoided.

The representative of Qatar, speaking on behalf of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, spotlighted current mediation efforts, including Saudi Arabia’s success in ensuring an exchange of prisoners between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as well as Doha’s engagement in the reunification of Ukrainian children with their families in Ukraine. Serious negotiations between the warring parties to extend an agreement allowing for the uninterrupted export of grains from Black Sea ports will ensure stability in food prices and enhance food security, especially in developing countries.

Voicing regret over “the lack of dialogue” between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, Mexico’s delegate urged for a cessation of hostilities through direct negotiations.  On current mediation efforts, she spotlighted Qatar’s initiative to reunite Ukrainian children with their families.  She also underscored the importance of accountability through the implementation of relevant decisions of the International Criminal Court.  As well, she reiterated her country’s “unwavering condemnation” of any threat of the use of nuclear weapons, as well as of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, highlighting Moscow’s unwillingness to halt its invasion, said that 1,500 Russian attacks have been conducted during the first two weeks of February alone, targeting 570 Ukrainian towns and villages.  Just a few days ago, the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka was also captured by Russian troops, causing many casualties.  Urging Moscow to immediately stop its military cooperation with Pyongyang, he stressed that such arms deals threaten not only the authority of Security Council resolutions but also the global non-proliferation regime.

The representative of Israel said that both Ukraine and his own country “are fighting a battle for survival”.  Warning about Moscow’s deepening ties with global forces of destabilization — including Hamas and Iran — he criticized the international community for standing idle.  “If the United Nations cannot do anything to prevent aggression, then there is no longer any justification for this organization to exist,” he emphasized.

Adding to that, Kenya’s delegate said that wars in Ukraine and Gaza undermine the UN’s credibility:  “From them comes a litany of suffering that mocks the promise of the United Nations to ‘never again’.”  However, criticizing the United Nations for its inaction is not enough, he asserted, noting that 2024 represents a crossroads:  the UN will either fade into irrelevance, or its influence will be restored if Member States seize this moment to bolster the institution.  “The path to true, enduring greatness lies not in the fleeting gains of dominance, but in creating a world where all nations, including your own, prosper in lasting security,” he said.

For information media. Not an official record.