General Assembly Adopts 5 Resolutions, Including Texts on Revitalizing Its Own Work, Designating 2021 ‘International Year of Peace and Trust’

GA/12174
12 September 2019
Seventy-third Session, 106th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Adopts 5 Resolutions, Including Texts on Revitalizing Its Own Work, Designating 2021 ‘International Year of Peace and Trust’

Delegates Take Note of Security Council Report for 2018 upon Concluding Debate

The General Assembly adopted five resolutions today — including one aiming to revitalize the 193-member organ and another designating 2021 as the “International Year of Peace and Trust” — while concluding its debate on the annual report of the Security Council.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly first adopted the draft resolution “Consolidating gains and accelerating efforts to control and eliminate malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa, by 2030” (document A/73/L.109).  By that text, the Assembly called for increased support for the implementation of international commitments and goals pertaining to the fight against malaria — including Goal 3, target 3.3, of the Sustainable Development Goals — as well as related targets outlined in the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016‑2030 of the World Health Organization (WHO).

By other terms, the Assembly urged the international community, United Nations agencies, as well as private organizations and foundations, to support the implementation of the WHO Strategy, including by supporting the complementary Action and Investment to Defeat Malaria 2016‑2030 plan, and for the Organization’s country-level programmes and activities to meet internationally agreed targets on malaria.

Also by the text, the Assembly urged malaria-endemic countries to work towards financial sustainability, to increase national resources allocated to malaria control and to create favourable conditions for working with the private sector to improve access to quality malaria services, while building on synergies with other development priorities, including the strengthening of health systems and engagement with development partners on implementing an effective vector‑control response.

Presenting the draft resolution for action, Eswatini’s representative said the 2019 text retains the language of the 2018 version, with the exception of a few technical updates and new paragraphs highlighting current developments.

After the adoption, the representative of the United States said that his delegation joined the consensus but disassociated itself from operative paragraph 33, which reaffirms the right to use the provisions contained in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.  Whereas the United States is ready to work with WHO in the fight against malaria, he said, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda emanating from the third International Conference on Financing for Development — the text refers to both — are non‑binding and do not create new obligations for Member States.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted the resolution “International Year of Peace and Trust, 2021” (document A/73/L.110), declaring 2021 as such.  It underlined that the International Year constitutes a means of mobilizing international efforts to promote peace and trust among nations on the basis of political dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation in order to build sustainable peace, solidarity and harmony.

Turkmenistan’s representative presented the text, emphasizing that it  can help to advance the culture of peace.

The Assembly also adopted, again without a vote, the draft resolution “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries” (document A/73/L.111).  By its terms, the Assembly took note, with appreciation, of the final declaration of the twelfth Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, held in Santa Maria, Cabo Verde, on 17 and 18 July 2018.

Further by the text, the Assembly stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation between the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries and United Nations specialized agencies and other entities and programmes.

Submitting the text for action, Cabo Verde’s representative said it aims to deepen the partnership between the Community and the United Nations in pursuit of common objectives, particularly in the areas of human rights, poverty eradication, sustainable development and sustaining peace.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution “Scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fourth World Conference on Women” (document A/73/L.115).  By it’s the terms of that text, the Assembly decided to convene, in New York on 23 September 2020, a day-long high-level meeting on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fourth World Conference on Women under the theme “Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.

Before the adoption, the representative of the United States described civil society actors as “the eyes and ears” on the ground protecting human rights.  While the United States welcomes the draft’s reference to civil society participation during the high-level meeting, it remains concerned about the trend among some States of restricting civil society participation at the United Nations.  Expressing disappointment with the handling of negotiations, he said that his delegation sought to retain language, “human rights defenders”, which somehow was removed from the final text due to the preference of a small number of States.

The President of the General Assembly then called attention to operative paragraph 6 of the text, saying it was agreed in the spirit of consensus.  The modalities provide a solid base from which to review implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as remaining gaps, she added, emphasizing that gender equality and the empowerment of women are preconditions for a fair and just society and for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.

Following the adoption, the European Union’s Deputy Head of Delegation spoke on behalf of the bloc’s member States, as well as a group of other countries, emphasizing that civil society and human rights defenders play a major role in protecting and promoting human rights.  While welcoming the participation of civil society at the high-level event, those countries remain concerned about the growing trend of restricting that participation at the United Nations, he said.

The Assembly then went on to adopt, without a vote, the draft resolution “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”, contained in the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly (document A/73/956).  By its terms, the Assembly decided to establish, at its seventy-fourth session, an ad hoc working group open to all Member States, with the aim of identifying further ways to enhance the organ’s role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency by building on the progress achieved in past sessions, and on previous resolutions.

Tabling the draft resolution, the Assembly President noted that the Ad Hoc Working Group achieved tangible results, including the streamlining of text in the resolution by reducing the number of operative paragraphs to 62, as opposed to 101 in 2018.  It also made progress by including language on the need to limit the proliferation of high-level and side events held in the margins of the General Assembly’s general debate, she said.

After the adoption, an observer for the State of Palestine spoke on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noting that the alignment of the Assembly’s work with the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals require more in-depth analysis and elaboration.  It is also premature to identify duplications and overlaps, she said, emphasizing that a set of criteria must first be elaborated.

Costa Rica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, commented on the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, stressing the crucial need to define a clear timeline, from the submission of candidates, through their interactive dialogues with Member States, to the Security Council’s recommendation and the General Assembly’s appointment resolution.  Collective discussions within the Council on the merit, skill and experience of individual candidates would enhance the organ’s decision-making, he said, calling for regular public briefings by the Council on developments in the nomination process and open communication of straw poll results.

Slovakia’s representative, Co-Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group, emphasized the importance of multilateralism, mutual respect and compromise in revitalizing the General Assembly.

Jordan’s representative, the other Co-Chair, stressed that the Assembly’s revitalization is critical to the success of overall United Nations reform.  The 2019 resolution is action-oriented and less repetitive, reflecting the commitment of Member States to a stronger and more efficient Assembly, he said.

In other business, the Assembly took note of the “Report of the Security Council for 2018” (document A/73/2), following the conclusion of its debate on that document.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 16 September, to continue its work.

Statements

ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) noted that this is the third year in which the Council’s report is late, which significantly undermines the Assembly’s ability to examine its work.  The 2018 report failed to mention violations of Council resolutions on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the status of East Jerusalem, nor did it reflect the Council’s deadlock over the Palestinian question.  Calling for root-and-branch reform of the Council — including the formalization of its rules of procedure and enlargement of its membership to no fewer than 26 Member States — she expressed concern about the unjustified expansion of the Council agenda and its consideration of issues that do not necessarily represent immediate threats to international peace and security.

SERGIO MANRIQUE TREJO BLANCO (El Salvador) said the report could be enriched with more in-depth analysis of the challenges faced by the Council, as well as proposals as to how to address them.  More independent analysis would facilitate discussion of reform and enable Member States to make recommendations.  The report should include an analysis of the Council’s decision-making processes and clarify why permanent members exercise their veto, he said, proposing that the 2019 report be submitted no later than the spring, as per Note 507, and circulated to all Member States at least two weeks before it is presented to the Assembly.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico) said it is not good practice to submit the Council’s report when the Assembly is about to wind up its session.  Whereas Mexico welcomes the attention that the Council has given to Latin American and Caribbean issues, the report failed to mention the reason why a permanent member cast negative votes against draft resolutions in April and May 2018, he recalled.  Given the backdrop of paralysis within the Council, the Assembly must ensure that the United Nations is not a passive witness to conflicts leading to mass atrocities, he stressed.  Permanent members should refrain from wielding the veto, particularly in cases of mass atrocities, he said, urging the international community to support the joint initiative by France and Mexico to enhance the Council’s working methods.

MONA JUUL (Norway) said the report, which should have been submitted to the Assembly last spring, is still largely a list of meetings held and letters received.  Ideally, it should include an assessment of the Council’s work, the impact of that work and possible areas for further action, she noted, while announcing that Norway and “Security Council Report” will launch a handbook on Council practice and procedure this week.  She called upon the Council and the President of the Assembly to explore ways to strengthen dialogue.

MARIA ANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy) noted that the report does not say much about Council inaction.  It lists those instances, namely Syria and the Middle East, in which the veto was exercised, but says nothing about other occasions when the threat of the veto prevented the Council from taking action, she said.  Recalling a proposal by Liechtenstein that the Assembly conduct a debate every time the veto is wielded, she said a system of checks and balances restricting use of, or the threat to use, the veto is one way to hold the Council accountable.  Enlarging the number of elected members would make the Council more accountable while also preventing inaction resulting from veto use, she added.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia), noting that late submission of the report is becoming a trend, emphasized the importance of the Council continuing to consider the situation in her country, given the grave human rights situation in its occupied regions and the ongoing militarization and occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.  As per Article 27 of the Charter of the United Nations, use of the veto should be restricted when a permanent member is involved in a conflict or situation under consideration by the Council, she pointed out.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) said the trend towards more regular open Council meetings must be maintained.  He also emphasized the importance of closer cooperation between the Council and regional and subregional organizations to ensure effective management and resolution of conflict.  While taking note of efforts to improve the content and presentation of the report, he emphasized, however, that the Council must continue to explore ways to improve its analytical content and scope.  Information on the Council’s website, while valuable, cannot replace the information contained in a timely report.  He went on to stress the need to foster stronger links between the Council and troop- and police‑contributing countries.

RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, noted that the current report did not reflect comments by Member States upon the submission of the 2017 edition, emphasizing that being accountable means considering what the Assembly has to say.  Costa Rica is pleased to see the Council’s progress in regularizing its norms and processes, he said, adding that the report presents the Assembly with an opportunity to consider the reasons for divisions among Council members.  He went on to express support for Liechtenstein’s initiative regarding the veto and urged the Council to respect established procedures in order to enhance transparency and accountability.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that, in recent years, the Council has been most effective in dealing in internal conflicts and crises, particularly in Africa, but less effective in addressing threats and breaches of international peace and security.  It actively pursues the implementation of some resolutions while ignoring others, she added.  Recalling that the Council has adopted at least 11 resolutions on the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, she said that, when it fails to ensure implementation, the consequences are paid in blood over generations.  Warning that unilateral action and gross violations of Council resolutions threaten the rules-based international order, as well as the Council’s legitimacy and credibility, she said Pakistan seeks a Council that is democratic, effective, accountable to Member States and “in sync” with the contemporary world.  However, reform of the Council cannot be hostage to the individual national pursuit of permanent seats, she stressed.

DIANI JIMESHA PRINCE (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), noting that her country will begin its tenure as a non-permanent Council member on 1 January 2020, said the report’s late submission left Member States at a disadvantage.  Debating the report is not a formality, she said, emphasizing that, rather, it fosters interaction between the Council and the Assembly.  She added that the report should focus more on analysis.

KHODADAD SEIFI PARGOU (Iran) said the Assembly should consider ways to stop certain permanent members from misusing their power and furthering their own narrow national interests.  A 2018 attempt by the United States to have the Council discuss an internal issue in Iran is a clear example of such misuse.  He went on to emphasize that the Council must listen to the demands by Member States for maximum restraint in invoking Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

POLLY IOANNOU (Cyprus) said the number of conflicts in the world today demonstrates that the Council’s performance is suboptimal.  At the same time, nothing in the Charter prevents the Assembly from debating international peace and security, and it should consider its role in propelling the Council to act on principles rather than power.  Emphasizing that small States with long-standing conflicts depend on an effective Council, she said that decisions on peacekeeping missions must be based solely on peace and security criteria.  The $6.7 peacekeeping budget is high, but much less than the alternative, she said, underlining the need for Member States on the Council’s agenda, or directly affected by a conflict under its consideration, to have more access to its work.

JIKITA DE SCHOT (New Zealand), associating herself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the report should not be a box-ticking exercise, but rather give a sense of the Council’s performance vis-à-vis global challenges and threats to international peace and security.  It is clear from the latest report that the Council was defined by its divisions in 2018, he said, pointing out that the threat and use of the veto means that differences of opinion between permanent Council members can rapidly calcify into inaction.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said that improved working methods, including timely submission of the report, would enhance the Council’s legitimacy and authority.  The current report lacks the kind of self-analysis that would provide a basis for improving the way in which the Council operates, she said, noting that its introductory narrative should attempt to assess the organ’s effectiveness.  Emphasizing that Ireland wishes to see an end to veto use, particularly in cases of actual or potential mass atrocity, she welcomed the Council’s increased focus on thematic issues, while pointing out that mainstreaming thematic priorities across individual country situations remains a work in progress.

KRISTEL KAEVAL (Estonia) echoed the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s call for greater transparency and accountability towards the Organization’s wider membership regarding the Council’s work.  It is unfortunate that the 2018 report was submitted so late, she said, pointing out that Estonia is an incoming Council member.

ANNA KARIN ENESTRÖM (Sweden), associating herself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, recalled her country’s tenure as a non-permanent member in 2017‑2018, said misuse of the veto by permanent members undermined the Council’s legitimacy.  “The political cost of misusing the veto must increase,” she added, recommending that the Assembly exercise “some sort of veto accountability”.  Efforts to reform the Council must be accompanied by continuous improvements to its current working methods, adding that elected members have an important role in that regard.

YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) pointed out that key Council demands regarding Nagorny Karabakh, including the withdrawal of occupying forces, have yet to be implemented.  Armenia is attempting to downplay the relevance of Council resolutions while obstructing the conflict-settlement process and attempting to consolidate the status quo, he said.  The international community must insist on implementation of Council resolutions dealing with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict and on Armenia’s strict compliance with its international obligations, he emphasized.

SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India) described the Council’s report as “a bland summary and listing of meetings and outcome documents”.  A report lacking in substance and submitted so late fails to generate the attention required for proper discussions, he said.  The report also lacks analysis of United Nations peacekeeping operations, including how they are run, the problems they face and why certain mandates are amended, scaled down or ended, he noted.  Emphasizing that the Council neither reflects nor represents the aspirations and views of Member States, he said the only solution is comprehensive reform that includes more permanent and non-permanent members.  He went on to state that his delegation did not wish to dignify with a response baseless accusations about a geographical space that is a hub of terrorism.

Right of Reply

The representative of Armenia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Azerbaijan’s delegate ignored reality and injected a distorted, one‑sided interpretation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The representative of Azerbaijan, noting that international obligation derives from the United Nations Charter, said Armenia is not in compliance with that document.  However, Azerbaijan’s positions are reflected in documents submitted to the Council and the Assembly, he added.

The representative of Armenia said the absence of responses from Azerbaijan to his questions indicates that its delegate’s remarks are unfounded.  Armenia’s delegation presented exhaustive communications regarding Council resolutions, he added.

The representative of Azerbaijan described the remarks by Armenia’s delegate as a set of distortions, emphasizing that the Nagorny Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts are under occupation by that country, which is incompatible with international law.

For information media. Not an official record.