Seventy-eighth Session,
76th & 77th Meetings (AM & PM)

‘Make Peace More Profitable Than War,’ General Assembly Hears, as It Adopts Text to Mark 25 Years Of Landmark Declaration on Culture of Peace

193-member Organ Adopts 4 Other Drafts, but Some Delegates Voice Concerns on Resolution on Global Health

As speakers discussed the importance of collective efforts to promote a culture of peace in a world torn by conflict and crisis, the General Assembly today adopted a draft resolution in pursuit of that goal, in addition to draft texts on a variety of other topics.

The draft resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/78/L.57), adopted without a vote, proposes several activities to observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action, including the convening of a day-long high-level forum during the 163-member organ’s seventy-eighth session. 

The representative of Bangladesh, who introduced the draft, recalled that Dhaka, in 1998, initiated the process leading to the Declaration, stating that his country — born out of a devastating war rooted in discrimination, intolerance and subjugation — made promoting peace fundamental to its foreign policy.  Today, amid spiralling conflict, “we must rekindle the brighter and harmonious faculties of the human minds, foster respect for equality and equal value of all human beings,” he urged. “And, most importantly, we must make peace more profitable than war.” 

In a debate on the topic, Member States outlined their views on what must be done at the international and national levels to promote a culture of peace in a fractious global context.

The representative of Brunei Darussalam, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recognized the necessity of institutionalizing a culture of prevention amid today’s sustainable-development challenges, socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination.  Voicing concern over borderless threats — such as extremist ideologies — she underscored the need to promote tolerance and mutual respect, adding: “Achieving peace among peoples and nations requires collective efforts, transcending individual endeavours.”

Similarly, the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, underlined the importance of multilateralism and observed: “This is the only way to respond collectively and efficiently to global crises, challenges and threats that no one can tackle alone.”  Additionally, she underscored the need to ensure freedom of the press and to protect civic space, both online and offline, and spotlighted the importance of safeguarding freedom of religion and instilling a culture of peace in children through inclusive, quality education.

For his part, Venezuela’s representative, speaking for the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, warned against mistakenly justifying racism, racial discrimination and hate speech by invoking the freedom of expression.  In that context, he condemned anti-religious sentiment, the glorification of Nazism and the stigmatization of migrants.  “Fostering understanding and respect among various cultures and religions is of paramount importance in our shared pursuit of global peace,” he emphasized.

Bahrain’s representative, also stressing the need to promote dialogue, understanding and mutual respect among religions, detailed his country’s efforts to promote tolerance and coexistence at the international and regional levels.  These include establishing the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence and calling for the adoption of an international convention to criminalize religious or racial hate speech.  He also joined others in calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibility and stop the “current catastrophic humanitarian situation” in Gaza.

“Development and prosperity cannot be envisaged in a society that does not enjoy peace,” such as in Gaza, stressed the representative of Mauritania, also pointing out:  “We cannot preserve peace and stability in the midst of poverty and inequality.” Mauritania, therefore, created a national commission to provide health and education services and assist the victims of historical injustice.  He also spotlighted his country’s diplomatic efforts to enshrine peace in Africa.

In the same vein, Togo’s peace strategy for the Sahel and West Africa is based on exporting its vision of positive, authentic peace “which goes beyond the simple lack of war”, said that country’s representative.  Such vision supports democratic transitions, reconciliation efforts through mediation and inclusive governance, he said, also stressing that African ownership and responsibility are key concepts for managing crises on the continent.  Underlining the African Union’s peace and security architecture, he quoted former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela to observe:  “It is so easy to break and to destroy — heroes are those who make peace and who build.”

The Assembly also adopted some other texts, among which was the draft resolution titled “Global health and foreign policy:  addressing global health challenges in the foreign policy space” (document A/78/L.62), as amended.  By the text, the 193-member organ urged Member States to continue to consider health issues in the formulation of foreign policy. 

Introducing the draft, the representative of South Africa emphasized that “no single country can overcome a global pandemic on its own”.  The text, therefore, addresses international efforts to strengthen global health and recognizes that the supply of health products and access to relevant technology must be secured for all countries.  Additionally, he said that the text urges for timely, equitable and unhindered access to safe, affordable, effective and quality medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics — especially during health emergencies.

Some delegations, however, proposed revisions to the text.  The representative of Belgium introduced an amendment to operative paragraph 22 (document A/78/L.64), stating that although the word “unhindered” is not a taboo, European Union delegations “cannot accept false narratives about sanctions, intellectual-property rights and possibly other unnamed issues behind opaque formulations that are then used against us in other discussions”.  He therefore asked for this term to be deleted, adding that his delegation will disassociate from it if the amendment does not pass.

Introducing another amendment (document A/78/L.65) was Switzerland’s representative, who — despite joining consensus on large parts of the text — disassociated from preambular paragraph 29 as it “seriously undermines the protection of intellectual-property rights by omitting the caveats on the transfer of technology and know-how”.  She therefore proposed including the caveats “on voluntary and mutually agreed terms” in that paragraph.

Ukraine’s representative also introduced an amendment (document A/78/L.66), proposing to add a preambular paragraph.  He stressed that the resolution should encompass all aspects that affect global efforts in the health domain.  The impact of armed conflict on health-care systems is one such aspect, and its implications for health care are similar in all armed-conflict situations.  Therefore, as the absence of a relevant provision in the draft resolution would “reduce its relevance and credibility”, he said the amendment reflects the important nexus between armed conflict and health.

The Assembly then rejected two of the three amendments, “L.64” and “L.65”, by recorded votes of 48 in favour to 103 against, with 4 abstentions (India, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Togo), and 49 in favour to 103 against, with 3 abstentions (India, Mauritius, Togo), respectively.  However, it adopted “L.66” without a vote.

Following a request by the United States for a recorded vote on preambular paragraph 29 and operative paragraph 22, the Assembly retained both by votes of 103 in favour to 48 against, with 1 abstention (India), and 107 in favour to 47 against, with 1 abstention (India), respectively, before adopting draft resolution “L.62” as a whole, as amended by “L.66”, without a vote.

A draft resolution (document A/78/L.60), which proclaims 24 May International Day of the Markhor, was also adopted without a vote.  The representative of Tajikistan, who introduced the text, said that this “ecologically significant species” — found across central and south Asia — was categorized as “threatened” in 2014.  Preserving the species and its natural habitat is not only an ecological necessity — such conservation efforts will also yield economic benefits, he observed.  Acknowledging the importance of national and regional initiatives to establish mechanisms to that end, he spotlighted the ninth World Conference on Mountain Ungulates to be held by Tajikistan in October.

The Assembly also adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution (document A/78/L.59), which declares 2026 International Year of the Woman Farmer.  The representative of the United States, who presented the text, said that women farmers are the backbone of global agriculture.  Yet, they are more likely to face food insecurity, which undermines their health, perpetuates unjust cycles of poverty and results in poor health outcomes.  Through this observance, the global community can raise awareness of women’s essential role in agriculture and overcome the barriers they face to feed future generations.

The Assembly also adopted a draft decision (document A/78/L.61) without a vote to approve the participation of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector stakeholders listed in its annex in the upcoming third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries.

For information media. Not an official record.