Seventy-eighth Session,
98th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Declares 2025-2034 Decade of Combating Sand Storms, Decides Botswana will host Landlocked Developing States Conference in Mid-December

193-member Organ Rejects Russian Federation’s Bid to Amend Terms of European Union Participation in Summit of Future

The General Assembly today adopted three draft texts concerning efforts to combat sand and dust storms, the venue for the third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries and speaking arrangements for the upcoming Summit of the Future.

The 193-member organ first adopted the draft resolution titled “United Nations Decade on Combating Sand and Dust Storms (2025-2034)” (document A/78/L.88) without a vote, thus dedicating the 10-year period to the fight against those meteorological phenomena.  By other terms of the text, the Assembly invited the Secretary-General to take appropriate steps to plan and organize the activities of the Decade at the global, regional and country levels.  It also stressed that the cost of all activities that may arise from implementation of the resolution should be met from voluntary contributions, including from the private sector. 

The text was introduced by the representative of Uganda on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China.  He said the text recognizes that such storms are an issue of international concern, “the costs of which are measured in economic, social and environmental terms”.  They increasingly threaten achievement of 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and the resolution therefore aims to enhance international and regional cooperation to prevent, halt and mitigate their effects. 

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the draft resolution titled “Further modalities of the third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries” (document A/78/L.87), by which it accepted with appreciation Botswana’s offer to host the event in Gaborone from 10 to 13 December 2024 and decided that its theme will be “Driving progress through partnerships”.  It also encouraged Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, major groups and other donors to contribute to the trust fund to support both preparations for the Conference and landlocked developing countries’ participation therein.

The text was introduced by the representative of Uganda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  He highlighted the approval of the outcome document to be adopted at the Conference and the preparatory committee’s efforts in that regard.  He also encouraged Member States to participate at the highest possible level — including Heads of State and Government.

Lastly, the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft decision titled “Establishment of the list of speakers for the Summit of the Future” (document A/78/L.77).  By its terms, the Assembly set out the time allotted for statements and the procedural modalities for establishing the initial and subsequent lists of speakers for the Summit of the Future’s plenary meetings, as well as changes thereto.

At the outset, the representative of the Russian Federation introduced an amendment (document A/78/L.81) to that text and questioned why the European Union — as an observer — is being granted greater privileges than other observers, including the State of Palestine.  The Summit of the Future is an event that can be put on an equal footing with a general debate, he pointed out, noting that the bloc should not be granted privileges at this event “over and above” other observers.  This would be in keeping with the Assembly’s decisions, including its 2011 resolution 65/276 on the status of the European Union.

However, the representative of Hungary — speaking for the European Union — said that “L.77” complies with long-standing practice and does not grant the bloc any additional rights or privileges.  By contrast, the amendment “would significantly impact our ability to contribute to the Summit of the Future”, she said, stating that the Russian Federation’s representative presented unfounded legal arguments to justify a politically motivated one.  Unlike the general-debate format, speaking arrangements for the Summit are tailored to that event alone, and the bloc’s speaking order will depend entirely on the outcome of the drawing process for speaking slots.

Responding, the representative of the Russian Federation said that he did not understand why his delegation is being accused of stripping the European Union of its participation.  “We’re not objecting to the participation of the EU,” he said, adding that his delegation is interested in listening to the bloc’s views about various global processes — alongside those of other observers.

The amendment was rejected by a recorded vote of 74 against to 6 in favour (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 55 abstentions.

For information media. Not an official record.